FOSAF NEWS - Trout Wars: Why was the 2014 Phakisa agreement not implemented?

Introduction:

This is a brief update report on recent events in the on-going NEMBA AIS regulations saga.  It provides some background since late 2016 and then contextualises recent developments.

 

Background:

Previous updates ended with the mapping exercise to show where trout occur having been largely amicably completed. 

The next phase of the process was to agree on the regulatory framework and how to balance any significant biodiversity concerns. A meeting was set for mid-January 2017 to discuss the regulatory framework and to then look at all the maps.

We had agreed in a teleconference in early December with DEA that they would provide all the relevant maps and other supporting documentation as soon as possible so that we could consult, obtain mandates and prepare in time.

However the information was not supplied in time and the maps were in a different format which again created unnecessary confusion and suspicion. We together with most flyfishing stakeholders decided not to attend the meeting.  I was very encouraged by this show of unity. 

We continued to request the promised information and data as well as the properly revised and labelled maps, in an agreed format. Although this had been repeatedly promised so that we could prepare for a proposed next meeting to negotiate and agree the outstanding aspects with DEA and the Provinces such information has not been made available. 

Recent developments:

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has recently (by letter dated 10 July 2017) told stakeholders that they intend listing trout as invasive across the country, an even harsher listing than many other angling prey fish species such as bass. FOSAF and Trout SA are certain that this listing is not correct in South Africa, neither from a legal standpoint nor scientifically. DEA have failed to provide any clear evidence for this.  In fact, in many respects trout have been beneficial in South Africa creating jobs and underpinning the economies of many towns like Dullstroom, Underberg Himeville and Rhodes. The decision by the DEA is very disappointing.  The win-win compromise was reached back in July 2014 during the Phakisa Ocean Labs conference held at Durban. The government’s decision to come to this agreement was recorded as a positive outcome in the Phakisa report.

The cost to the trout value chain and other stakeholders has been enormous running to over a million Rand over the last 10 years and the damage to the industry has been immense. Despite our good faith efforts to work together with the DEA and other official agencies they have unilaterally revoked the agreement while previously appearing to be working with us.  This reflects bad faith. 

The DEA assure stakeholders that they are addressing vital problems such as habitat destruction and pollution but we all know that these things are getting worse. To make matters worse some landowners have become fed up with the over-regulation associated with trout preferring to stock other species which is illegal without a permit but very simple to carry out and with little risk of prosecution.

The draft Aquaculture Development Bill is another example of a major threat to the trout value chain. Most trout fishing is dependent on waters being stocked regularly by trout farms and the government is says it is keen to see fresh water fish farming expanding, as promoted by the Phakisa project. Unfortunately, this is not happening and most investment is heading to Lesotho even though South Africa only produces about half the trout required for table consumption.

Once again, sustainable development is being strangled by inappropriate and impractical over-regulation, much of which appears unlawful.

Roger Krohn, chairman of Aquaculture SA, (FOSAF is part of Trout SA, which in turn is part of Aqua SA) has written to the Phakisa Steering Committee in October 2017 to express concern that the Phakisa agreement on trout has still not been implemented and requesting an intervention.

To read his letter click here

We will keep you posted on developments.

Ilan Lax FOSAF National chairman

22 October 2017

Return to News