- The South African government for the first time has allocated tuna longline and swordfish longline commercial fishing rights to local fishermen. Historically, South Africa's valuable longline tuna and swordfish stocks have been exploited by foreign coastal states.
The South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism today announced that it had allocated 12 tuna longline and 14 swordfish longline commercial fishing rights for a period of 10 years. The allocation of these commercial fishing rights "marks a watershed in the history of this fishery," the Department noted.
So far, South Africa's tuna and swordfish stocks were sold to fishing vessels of foreign states. When these agreements expired in January 2003, the Department was already exploring the possibility of a South African large pelagic fishery through an experimental large pelagic fishery.
It was then decided to establish such a local fishery. By the end of 2003, a draft policy on the allocation of commercial fishing rights was published for comment. By March 2004, a re-worked policy and invitation to apply for commercial large pelagic fishing rights was published. Prospective applicants were given until 17 September 2004 to lodge their applications.
The allocation has met an important objective of the policy - being "the South Africanisation of the fishery," Carol Moses of the Department today said. The allocation of tuna and swordfish fishing rights also has a strong social profile.
Of the 12 tuna directed rights allocated, 92 percent are to entities owned by so-called "historically disadvantaged persons", which in terms of the policy, includes women. Of the 14 swordfish directed rights allocated, 78.6 percent are to the same type of entities. All the rights allocated were allocated to South African owned entities.
The Department has issued notification letters to each applicant informing it whether its application has been successful or not. The letters include reasons for the decision and the assessment of the decision. In addition, a document describing the Process for the Allocation and General Reasons for the Decisions in the Large Pelagic Fishery has been published.
South Africa, Morocco and Namibia are among the few countries in Africa successfully "nationalising" their fish stocks after previously mainly selling quotas to vessels from Europe and East Asia. Prior to allocating fishing rights to own nationals, these governments have invested in establishing a national fisheries management and in fishing vessels and new technology.
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