SA fishing gets to grips with empowerment conundrum

Black economic empowerment within South Africa’s commercial fishing industry, including the key hake, pelagic, rock lobster and abalone fisheries, appears to be well on track.

This is according to figures contained in a recently published report measuring the extent of the transformation that has taken place in the sector since 1994.

The benchmark report, the first of its kind, shows the

participation of historically disadvantaged individuals (HDIs) within the industry in terms of ownership, management and TAC (total allowable catch) allocations.

It defines HDIs as those people who, in the past, ”were disadvantaged on the basis of their race”.

Up until the early 1990s, control of South Africa’s fisheries was firmly in the hands of a few large and predominantly white-owned companies.

The report — by the Department of Environmental Affairs — acknowledges that changing this has meant treading a fine line between transformation and destabilising the industry.

”Key… was the conundrum of how to advantage black-owned enterprises that had been prevented from gaining access to marine resources, without unduly penalising established companies that have significant investments (in the industry).”

Citing what it calls latest and most accurate figures available, the report says that in the hake longline sector, fishing rights have been granted to 141 companies.

A total of 89% of these are black owned, 70% are

black managed, and 90% of the TAC is in black hands.

In the hake deep-sea sector — comprising 53 companies, and the mainstay of the commercial fishing industry — the figures are 74% black owned and 53%black managed, with 25% of TAC in the hands of majority black-owned companies.

Black ownership of companies in the pelagic, West Coast rock lobster and abalone fisheries is 73%, 66% and 88% respectively.

Access to TAC by black-owned companies in the same sectors is 75%, 60% and 84% respectively.

In a foreword to the report, Environmental and Tourism Minister Valli Moosa says the figures ”clearly demonstrate that government

has been successful in its endeavours to introduce change to the industry”.

He also warns that, in many fisheries, ”there is an obvious lack of representivity at senior management level”.

This, he says, needs to be addressed in the future.

South Africa’s fishing industry contributes about R2-billion each year to the country’s economy, creating about 28 000 direct and 60 000 indirect jobs in the process. – Sapa

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Richard Davies
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