Joemat-Pettersson shocked and dismayed by DA statement

Minister rejects criticism of the call to relocate Fisheries branch to Pretoria

Media statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the mooted relocation Fisheries Branch to Pretoria

1 Mar 2012

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson has noted with shock and dismay the statement issued by Democratic Alliance in response to her call to foster unity in her department.

On Tuesday, addressing the parliamentary portfolio committee Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told members of parliament that the Fisheries branch of the department, formerly known as Marine and Coastal Management (MCM), continues to work as an island from the main body.

This she said created duplications with the work head office does and also painted a picture of MCM being an independent body which is not governed by her department. The Minister further lamented that as it currently stood, MCM had a bias towards the Western Cape and mainly big business in exclusion of the rest of the country and the small fisher folk.

However, in his expediency, DA's Pieter van Dallen, who was not only sitting in the same, but opposite the Minister, chose to ignore the Minister's words in their entirety choosing only to focus on the call to relocate MCM from Pretoria to Cape Town.

Van Dallen claims that 80% of commercial fishing activity takes place in the coastal region of the Western Cape. This is both untrue and unsustainable.

"Yes historically the previous government concentrated commercial fishing in the Western Cape, created this artificial strength. In the process KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape were under-developed and the Northern Cape completely ignored," said Joemat-Pettersson.

The DA needs to note that if the playing field were to be levelled, and fisheries spread across the country, Western Cape would represent far less than the 80% of commercial farming. It is also important to note that the fishing stocks are depleted in the Western Cape and spreading our resources to other parts of the country - including in the rivers for aquaculture - will not only see more areas of the country contributing to fishing stocks, but it will also allow more players, specifically small fishing communities participating in this rather lily-white industry.

All national departments are headquartered in Pretoria. This does not mean there is no provincial, regional and local representation. This should also hold for Fisheries and their representation should spread beyond only the Western Cape.

"Truth of the matter is that the DA government in the Western Cape has been lobbying to take over MCM and run it as their fiefdom, and their opposition to our plans is not an objective one, but one based on political expediency to exclude the majority of South Africans access to our marine resources," Minister concluded.

Statement issued by Rams Mabote, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, March 1 2012

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