Ongoing deaths of fishermen unacceptable
13 Sep 2012
The ongoing deaths of fishermen in South African seas are unacceptable, whether it is a death of one or two fishermen at a time. This is what the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Lulu Johnson, told the Department’s Acting Director-General, Mr Sipho Ntombela, earlier this week.
Mr Johnson said the death of a human being is a serious matter at any time, not only when it is a massacre such as the recent deaths at the Marikana mine. The death of just one person is a very serious issue, he said. “Fishermen die at sea like flies and the toll has reached quite alarming proportions.”
The deaths of fishermen at sea is characterising the South African fishing industry of the new political dispensation in a bad light. “A worrying issue in this trend is the fact that the poor fishermen who continue to die are the same ones who were victims during apartheid. It is as if the apartheid government was not replaced 18 years ago. Enough is enough,” emphasised Mr Johnson.
He told the Acting Director-General that some of the fishermen simply disappear and, as their families are not informed by the fishing companies, they have to draw their own conclusions about the fate of the men. “These companies don’t take the fishermen seriously, hence they don’t even report to their families when they are dead at sea,” Mr Johnson said.
Mr Ntombela briefed the Committee on short-, medium- and long-term plans for the management of the fisheries division, including the transfer of functions from the Department of Environmental Affairs to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
He told the Committee that fisheries management has not been fully integrated into the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. “The internal integration process currently being undertaken aims to unify functions and processes,” he said.
Members of the Committee heard that although integration is still ongoing, the fisheries function was transferred in April 2010 from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
According to Mr Ntombela, the integration strategy included full consultation with unions to ensure that they fully understand the impact of integration. He said the process enjoys overwhelming support from all members of staff.
Members of the Committee told the Acting Director-General to accelerate the integration of the fisheries division within the department as the ongoing deaths of fishermen could be attributed to the delayed integration.
Issued by: Parliament of South Africa
13 Sep 2012
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