FOSAF would like to update you on the facts of the situation regarding trout in our country especially as it affects flyfishers and the trout value chain. This flows from the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries & Environmental Affairs (DFFE) losing yet another application for leave to appeal on the case relating to FOSAF’s challenge of the department’s failure to properly consult on the (then proposed) listing of trout as an invasive (harmful) species under the Alien & Invasive Species (AIS) Regulations. FOSAF won the case in September 2021. The DFFE applied for leave to appeal the judgement, but this was refused by the High Court judge in September 2022. Despite losing twice with costs, the DFFE petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal in November 2022 but on 5 February 2023 the SCA refused the DFFE’s application with costs. Having lost with costs repeatedly FOSAF, its allies such as the NTA (Northern Trout Association) and Aquaculture SA (AquaSA) one would have thought that the DFFE would have accepted the judgement. However, we have now been informed that that the DFFE have recently approached the Constitutional Court to overturn the judgement. This means our legal team will once again have to prepare an answering affidavit.

 

FOSAF has since about 2005 been largely responsible for defending the trout value chain from impractical efforts to have trout listed as an invasive species. This has dragged on for years and the uncertainty has done considerable damage to the whole trout value chain.

However, as things currently stand trout have been listed as invasive, but the implementation thereof is suspended until the Trout Task Team (set up by the Minister after FOSAF and AquaSA opposed the 2020 AIS Regulations) is able to find practical solutions to resolve the matter.  Both the FOSAF and the Northern Trout Association are on the Task Team, but very slow progress has been made on the matter due to the long delays and covid. It is hoped the meeting could take place in April.

In Mpumalanga flyfishing destinations are faced with a major increase in the cost of permits for stocking trout. This situation the NTA has reluctantly accepted for the time being until the Task Team mentioned above has reached an acceptable solution to the trout matter.

From FOSAF’s point of view, we would like to see the DFFE and other authorities implementing the original agreement reached at the 2014 Phakisa conference.  The effect of this is where trout occur, they will not be listed. This would be based on the detailed maps agreed to by all stakeholders including the DFFE and the provinces in the extensive mapping process that took place from 2015 to 2017. The cost to the trout value chain of recording the data and securing these maps was about R250 000 borne mainly by the NTA. As you are aware the DFFE subsequently reneged on the agreement and attempted to change the maps. However, if the Concourt reaffirms the decision of the High Court and SCA and this might take some time we hope that the department will now be in a more cooperative mood. If the Phakisa agreement is accepted, we believe that the current permitting system for trout stocking in the agreed trout zones will no longer be required in Mpumalanga or elsewhere.

Another hurdle confronting the trout value chain (of which FOSAF is a stakeholder) is the draft Aquaculture Development Bill. This proposed legislation is quite unnecessary as all that is required are amendments to current agricultural legislation. We believe this is an obvious move to extend government’s control over aquaculture and then agriculture with the accompanying rent seeking activities which goes with unnecessary licencing, inspectors etc. Representatives from AquaSA (including FOSAF and the NTA) have engaged with the DFFE, but as yet little progress has been made.

Yet another cause for concern is the proposed National Freshwater (Inland) Wild Capture Fisheries Policy which has been approved by cabinet and promulgated. Recently an Implementation Plan was published for public comment.  Very few of the proposals put forward by stakeholders such as FOSAF appeared to have been taken account of.

In conclusion this is just a brief outline of what FOSAF has been doing to represent flyfishing interests and the general public. We urge all people who are not yet members of NGOs like FOSAF that you join these bodies to help support and fund our efforts to represent your views to the authorities. To join FOSAF please go to http://www.fosaf.org.za/join.php.

 

 

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