Court interdict to suspend hake trawling 'unlawful' - minister | Fin24
 
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Court interdict to suspend hake trawling 'unlawful' - minister

Jan 06 2017 13:15
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – The Western Cape High Court ruling granting an interdict which suspends hake inshore trawling is unlawful and undermines his authority, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said at a media briefing on Friday. 

Zokwana said he was “greatly perturbed” by the interim interdict granted by Judge Lee Bozalek on Tuesday, following an application from Viking Inshore Fishing which was unhappy about the new fishing quotas that had come into effect since the beginning of the year. 

“Of greatest concern is that the court order denies my legal right and obligation as the minister to decide any appeals that may be filed in terms of the provisions of the Marine Living Resources Act,” Zokwana said. 

He said there is an internal appeals process fishing companies could follow if they are unhappy about the quota allocation. The appeals will be heard in March. 

“The court disregarded that there’s an internal remedy process. But instead of following the internal appeals procedure through my office,” Zowana said, “Viking Fishing ran to court.” 

He added that the fact that no hake fishing is currently taking place should be laid at the door of Viking Fishing. 

“In essence, the interim order suspends all fishing in the R300m per year hake inshore trawl and sole fishery,” Zokwana said. 

“In total 27 right holders have been stopped from undertaking commercial fishing of hake and sole until such time as the full review application is heard and decided. This could be months away and result in the loss of an entire fishing season.” 

The ministry is urgently consulting its legal team to determine the most appropriate way forward, which includes a review of the court order. 

Zokwana called Viking Fishing’s court bid “short-sighted” and particularly damaging to the empowerment of medium-sized black-owned businesses, which have recently received rights in the hake inshore trawling fishery. 

READ: Hake inshore trawling temporarily suspended 

“These smaller players are expected to commence fishing now and many are exclusively reliant on hake inshore trawling for their turnover and economic viability. They now face an entirely uncertain and possibly financially crippling future.” 

On the other hand, Viking holds rights in a number of other fishery sectors such as the KwaZulu-Natal Prawn Trawl, Hake Deep-Sea Trawl and aquaculture sectors, said Zokwana. 

“They have indirect control over quotas in the form of catching, processing and marketing agreements with other right holders, notably sectors such as lobster, abalone, seaweed, hake handline and squid fisheries.

“Over and above, the Viking Group lands or has access to a huge by-catch, mainly linefish in their hake operations,” Zokwane said. 

The ministry has in the meantime halted the processing and issuing of all hake inshore trawl fishing permits. No hake inshore trawl and sole fishing has commenced. 

“However, should the decision be made to review the interim order,” Zokwana said, “the department will communicate its decision with all right holders who will then be instructed on how to commence with the exercising of their respective hake trawl fishing rights.”

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