A plan by agriculture, forestry & fisheries minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to move the fisheries branch of her department from Cape Town to Pretoria has been criticised by the SA Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association.
The opposition DA, which of course runs the Western Cape, has also protested against the plan to relocate the branch - marine & coastal management - to the capital.
Roy Bross, secretary of the trawling association, of which all the major SA fishing companies are members, says the argument that has developed between the parties is "totally unnecessary" and that the minister should reconsider.
"The old [National Party] government also tried to do it in the 1970s but they reversed their decision, deciding it really was much better in the Western Cape. For better or for worse, this is where the fish are and though some stocks are depleted, as the minister says, others are in very good health, for which she should be congratulated."
Bross says the industry needs the department to be in the Western Cape to continue their close relationship.
"If they were in Pretoria there would be a disconnect. The fishers and the administrators would be too far apart."Plan to move 'not thought through properly'
Joemat-Pettersson mentions a need to "spread resources, including in the rivers for aquaculture". Bross replies: "Significant aquaculture takes place mainly in the Western Cape, because it has been carried forward by fishing people. And I can't see how other coastal areas will benefit from a move to Pretoria. Cape Town is the centre of the industry, decreed so by geography, biology and resources. It's the way the wind blows."
In response to the minister's reference to the "lily-white" fishing industry, Bross says: "Cape Town is simply SA's biggest fishing community. It is spread out all over, including in Khayelitsha."
Joemat-Pettersson unveiled her plan to the agriculture, forestry & fisheries portfolio committee, accusing marine & coastal of bias towards the Western Cape and big business.
DA spokesman Pieter van Dalen replied: "Exactly how taking a coastal management unit away from the coast will help is difficult to fathom. Talk about a fish out of water."
He also asked what would happen to the 7000 marine & coastal staff in Cape Town. "This has clearly not been thought through properly."
Joemat-Pettersson responded to his claim that 80% of commercial fishing activity took place in the Western Cape: "Yes, historically the previous government concentrated commercial fishing in the Western Cape and created this artificial strength. All national departments are headquartered in Pretoria. This does not mean there is no provincial, regional and local representation. For fisheries, their representation should spread beyond only the Western Cape."
Source: Financial Mail
via I-Net Bridge