The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the country’s marine patrol vessels are back in the press this week as the government toys with idea of taking responsibility for the vessels away from DAFF completely and handing it to the Department of Transport’s SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
According to a senior shipping source, the idea behind the move would be to place the patrol ships under a department with marine safety responsibilities and disaster management expertise. The question is whether a body tasked with implementing safety standards on vessels should necessarily be owning vessels themselves.
Although this makes sense from a safety perspective, where does the responsibility for research then lie?
According to another article in the press, more and more novices are being drawn into the world of perlemoen poaching. Recently police have made a number of arrests in areas such as Khayelitsha and Nyanga, areas not traditionally associated with perlemoen poaching. According to Shaheen Moolla, chief executive of the marine research company Feike, “The reality is that poaching in these areas has been on the increase for some time.”
Carol Moses of DAFF added that, “Poaching is not an isolated criminal activity and poachers often work in association with illegal drug dealers and other organised crime elements.”
The result is that the poaching of our country’s perlemoen now needs to be addressed from many different angles and a unified, co-operative front will need to be established if there is any hope of seeing our perlemoen 30 years from now.
Also making news this week was the open letter to Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. A group of academics from UCT, the University of the Western Cape, the Oceanographic Institute and Rhodes University, as well as the World Wild Life Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Masifundise Development Trust have written a letter to the Minister calling for an extension to the time given for public feedback on important upcoming legislation. The public was initially given six weeks to comment on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill, but this was subsequently cut to three weeks.
We wait to hear her response – if there is one.