Viking in fishing rights battle
Court ruling puts on ice Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ latest allocations
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.
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.
“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.
A court order halting fishing in the inshore trawl fishery is necessary to save jobs, says Viking Inshore Fishing.
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.