Fishing Industry Needs a Dedicated Ministry of Specialists to Help It Thrive

Cape Times (South Africa), August 22, 2006 | Go to article overview

Fishing Industry Needs a Dedicated Ministry of Specialists to Help It Thrive


BYLINE: Geoff Knipe and Tony Ehrenreich

If only it was so easy to solve the problems in the fishing industry, we would be very happy. Regretfully, Arthur Mills (Cape Times, "Let's give the sea a break and farm fish on dry land", August 14), it is a highly complex matter, which will require many solutions, and will take a host of disciplines to correct.

Nevertheless, Mills must be congratulated for his contribution toward solving the problems facing the industry.

Aquaculture has a vital role to play, but the scope of this industry must be broadened beyond what he suggests, if it is to help us win the day.

It is perfectly correct to propose that the heat must be taken off our national resources, and that "all" our potentials must be investigated, as we must generate sufficient cash to pay a decent, sustainable living wage to workers in the fishing industry.

We must also create sound investment potential in fishing, to justify the very heavy investments required to make the wheels turn successfully.

The quota system is undoubtedly one of the crocodiles left behind by the apartheid regime that continues to harm our people.

Under the leadership of Environment Affairs Minister Valli Moosa, this crocodile took on an unfortunate new shape that left many comrades aghast.

A great wisdom that emanated in China, and was passed to us via Arab traders thousands of years ago, says: "Always start business with what you have in hand."

To marginalise trained and skilled operatives in a specialised industry such as fishing was certainly not the right, or intelligent, thing to do.

It smacks of incompetent management, and the unfortunate use of politics to hide the true facts.

If national government insists on maintaining central control of fishing, then it must demonstrate - through performance excellence - that it has the competency to justify this stance.

We have a growing crisis in fishing, while at the same time we have all the conditions to be highly successful.

We must now think of ways to justify a new ministry which will specialise in fishing, and we must also think of ways to fund it. It is clear to us that the national government has grossly underestimated the true value of the fishing industry to the country, and has just tagged fishing onto the environmental portfolio as an afterthought.

This has been a disastrous mistake that has cost the nation. Fishing needs the focus of people with specialised knowledge to help it grow and show its potential.

Opening game parks and roads and infrastructure for tourism is highly commendable, but fishing requires the full-time attention of a minister who has an understanding of at least the fundamentals of a successful fishing industry.

Unfortunately, in the last 50 years we have only had one minister who really knew how to manage and control the fishing industry, and he passed away many years ago.

Cosatu is a labour-orientated organisation and a member of the tripartite alliance that governs the country. …

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