Vik­ing in fish­ing rights bat­tle

Court rul­ing puts on ice Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries’ lat­est al­lo­ca­tions

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Sandile Mchunu

VIK­ING In­shore Fish­ing has won the first round of a bat­tle against the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries fol­low­ing a Cape High Court rul­ing in favour of its in­ter­dict against new fish­ing rights.

Vik­ing Fish­ing ear­lier claimed by grant­ing the rights to new en­trants it would lead to job losses in its op­er­a­tions as the com­pany’s quota would be cut by 60 per­cent.

In­shore hake trawl­ing will be sus­pended un­til the re­view ap­pli­ca­tion is heard on Fe­bru­ary 6.

The rul­ing puts on ice the depart­ment’s lat­est al­lo­ca­tion of fish­ing rights and quan­tum in the hake in­shore trawl and sole fish­ery sec­tor as it seeks to im­ple­ment its af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion trans­for­ma­tion cri­te­ria.

Un­fair

Judge Lee Boza­lek ruled last week that Vik­ing Fish­ing had es­tab­lished a prima fa­cie case that the rights al­lo­ca­tions were “un­law­ful, ir­ra­tional and pro­ce­du­rally un­fair” and that the com­pany had a rea­son­able prospect of suc­cess on ap­peal and in re­view pro­ceed­ings.

Tim Red­dell, a Vik­ing Fish­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive, said: “A 60 per­cent cut in our quota will dev­as­tate our busi­ness and see us lay-up three or four ves­sels – leav­ing their skip­pers and fish­ing crews with­out work − and in due course close down our hake and sole han­dling, pack­ing and pro­cess­ing fac­tory in Mos­sel Bay.

“This would de­stroy the em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties we have cre­ated over many years. We de­cided we couldn’t do that to our peo­ple.”

Vik­ing In­shore Fish­ing was among the 27 fish­ing com­pa­nies that have been af­fected by the new fish­ing per­mits.

Ac­cord­ing to IOL, Vik­ings’ court pa­pers in­di­cated its black own­er­ship num­bers were at 33.2 per­cent, re­sult­ing in al­lo­ca­tion re­duc­tion which was then given to new en­trants that met the trans­for­ma­tion cri­te­ria.

The com­pany also said 179 em­ploy­ees were in dan­ger of los­ing their jobs should the quota cut go ahead.

Red­dell said the court ac­knowl­edged that the quota cut would have caused ir­repara­ble harm to their busi­ness.

De­stroy

“We are of the view that cut­ting the quo­tas of ex­ist­ing right-hold­ers, par­tic­u­larly those that have built up fish­ing fleets, pro­cess­ing in­fra­struc­ture and mar­ket­ing net­works over sev­eral decades in favour of ir­ra­tionally pro­mot­ing new en­trants will de­stroy value, as op­posed to cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in the fish­ing in­dus­try. Many scarce jobs, as well as food se­cu­rity and eco­nomic ben­e­fits will be lost,” he said.

Speak­ing in a press con­fer­ence on Fri­day after the rul­ing, Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries Sen­zeni Zok­wana said the in­ter­dict was un­law­ful and un­der­mined his author­ity.

Zok­wana said there were in­ter­nal ap­peal pro­cesses that fish­ing com­pa­nies could fol­low if they were un­happy with the quota al­lo­ca­tion.

“The court dis­re­garded that there is an in­ter­nal rem­edy process. In­stead of fol­low­ing the in­ter­nal ap­peals pro­ce­dure through my of­fice, Vik­ing Fish­ing ran to court,” said Zok­wana.

Many scarce jobs, as well as food se­cu­rity and eco­nomic ben­e­fits will be lost.

PHOTO: LEON LESTRADE

A court or­der halt­ing fish­ing in the in­shore trawl fish­ery is nec­es­sary to save jobs, says Vik­ing In­shore Fish­ing.

PHOTO: NI­CHOLAS RAMA

Vik­ing In­shore Fish­ing claims that grant­ing of the rights to new en­trants will lead to job losses in its op­er­a­tions as the com­pany’s quota will be cut by 60 per­cent.

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