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Fishing right allocation ill-conceived, flawed - Viking

Jul 06 2017 20:11
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – Viking Inshore Fishing maintains that the process followed by the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries to grant fishing rights was ill-conceived, unconstitutional and procedurally flawed.

The fishing company was reacting to a Western Cape High Court ruling on Wednesday lifting an interdict that prevents existing and new entrants from operating in the Hake Inshore Trawl sector.

READ: Court lifts 6-month suspension of hake fishing 

In January this year, Judge Lee Bozalek made an interim ruling after an application had been submitted by Viking Inshore Fishing, which disputed the new quotas, which came into effect since the beginning of 2017.

In its application, Viking was seeking for the total suspension of hake fishing rights until an internal appeals process for fishing rights had been concluded and Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwane had taken a final decision regarding the fishing quotas. 

Viking said in its statement it applied for a permanent suspension because the Department’s allocation resulted in a 60% reduction to Viking Inshore Fishing’s quota for hake and sole, despite the company’s empowerment credentials.

Tim Reddell, group operations director, told Fin24 earlier that the company obtained 92.7% on its BEE scorecard, but that it was disregarded by the Department.

“This dramatic reduction in quota would place Viking’s fish processing factory and the jobs of 179 workers in Mossel Bay at risk,” Reddell said in the statement.

READ: Viking Fishing director: We were trying to save jobs 

“The factory has been closed since the legal action began and workers have either been employed outside Mossel Bay or paid while sitting at home.”

Reddell said Viking understands the need for transformation but still believes the allocation process was "ill-conceived and does not adequately take into account the investments made and jobs created by the established industry".

He added that Viking’s court action was never about denying new entrants fair access to marine resources. 

“It was never about protecting so-called white interests or directors’ profits. It was always about giving our shareholding workers in a closely-knit family business the ability to provide for their families.”

He told Fin24 later by phone that Viking is “in it for the long haul”, as it is purchasing vessels and building infrastructure.

“If we hadn’t performed and hadn’t transformed and hadn’t done what the Department required of us I would have put my tail between my legs and left. But the point is by their very own scorecard we did well. So why punish companies that are doing well?”

Reddell said Viking would, as a constructive industry player committed to transformation, continue to engage with the Department.

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

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