LAW: Judgement By the High CourtÂ on Fishing Permits Noted
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VIKING Inshore Fishing notes and recognises the decision by the Western Cape High Court that the interim interdict previously granted by the court - which prevented the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) from awarding permits in the inshore trawl fishery - should not be made final.
However, Viking also notes that the court’s ruling was not unanimous and that one of the three presiding judges handed down a dissenting judgement, finding that Viking did demonstrate a clear right to the interdict originally granted in January.
Viking Inshore Fishing interdicted the DAFF from issuing the permits that would have allowed it to implement its 2016 rights allocation decisions in the inshore trawl fishery. It did so because the DAFF’s allocation resulted in a 60% reduction to Viking Inshore Fishing’s quota for hake and sole, despite the company’s empowerment credentials. This dramatic reduction in quota would place Viking’s fish processing factory and the jobs of 179 workers in Mossel Bay at risk. The factory has been closed since the legal action began and workers have either been employed outside Mossel Bay or paid while sitting at home. Viking submitted that the mechanism used by the DAFF to allocate tonnages to the fishery wasunconstitutional and procedurally flawed.
Tim Reddell, Group Operations Director for Viking Fishing Holdings, said: “We understand the need for transformation but still believe the allocation process was ill-conceived and does not adequately take into account the investments made and jobs created by the established industry. We will study the judgement in detail”.
“Our court action was never about denying new entrants fair access to marine resources. It was never about protecting so-called “white interests” or “directors’ profits.” It was always about giving our shareholding workers in a closely-knit family business the ability to provide for their families”.
Reddell said Viking would, as a constructive industry player committed to transformation, continue to engage with the DAFF.
“We have a great deal of expertise, proven fishing capacity and an ethical, sustainable business model to utilise for a greater and wider good,” he said.
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