Not fisheries as well!

Staff Writer | Apr 08, 2019
Fisheries has fallen prey to all the delinquency to be found in Eskom et al.

In a depressing sense of deja vu the Sunday Times reports that the government’s fisheries branch has had to stop paying for its own research and patrol fleet, and suspend vital research to assess fish population numbers.

This is due to administrative collapse at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries due to infighting between senior officials.

Large amounts have been spent on legal bills for officials fighting each other, but the department can’t afford officials to monitor commercial fishing.Deputy director-general Siphokazi Ndudane, summoned to parliament in March to account for the shambles, conceded her department was in “meltdown".

She and minister Senzeni Zokwana claim the mess is largely due to a clash with Director-general Mike Mlengana. But several fishing stakeholders say the meltdown has also to do with capacity constraints and mismanagement:

  • The fishing industry, which pays hefty levies to the state, has been funding its own stock surveys due to the collapse of the government programme;
  • Most of the department's research and patrol vessels have been grounded due to payment delays. Private companies have chipped in to fund a survey voyage, but the department has yet to pay the necessary management fee to the South African Maritime Safety Authority, which manages the fleet.

Without credible stock assessment the flagship hake fishery, which employs more than 7,000 people, will lose the global certification needed to get access to the European market - which absorbs 70% of SA's fish exports. Ndudane said it would be rectified as SA could not afford to relinquish certification.

The National Prosecuting Authority has documents detailing how confidential west coast rock lobster quota information was recently leaked by a department official.

Ndudane, who has been implicated in fraud, extortion, forgery and theft, is back at work after a brief suspension.

Ndudane has said, however, the problems were not insurmountable and long-awaited fishing rights allocations were still on track for next year.

In the meantime cadre deployment ensures that the lunatics keep running the asylum.


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