Speech delivered by Minister Creecy during the Blue Justice Conference: Norwegian Government

10 December 2020
 

  • Programme Director
  • ​the Honourable Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg
  • Minister of Fisheries and Seafood of Norway Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen
  • Minister of Fisheries of Greenland Jens Immanuelsen,
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Casten N. Nemra,
  • Director General, National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority of Liberia, Emma Metieh Glassco
  • Minister for International Development of Noway, Dag-Inge Ulstein and all dignitaries present here at today’s Blue Justice Conference

Allow me to begin by thanking you for inviting me to participate in this digital High Level event co-hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the North Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence Group aimed at finding lasting solutions to criminal use of our marine resources.

Allow me at the outset to acknowledge that all of us have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. I take this opportunity to express my condolences to all of you who have lost friends and love ones or have been otherwise affected.

South Africa is honoured to be part of the Blue Justice Project which aims to support developing countries to implement the Copenhagen Declaration. Central to this important global initiative is a fair Blue Economy for all – one that promotes the rights of small-scale fisher communities in a coastal economy free from criminality.

Currently the South African fishing sector contributes approximately R10 Billion ($667 million) to GDP, and supports 50 000 formal jobs and 27000 informal jobs (2018 figures).Since 2019, for the first time ever, government has allocated 15 year fishing rights to 10 363 small scale fishers, organized into 132 cooperatives nation-wide.

While the fishing sector as a whole was declared an essential service throughout different stages of lock-down, the sector has not been un scathed by the pandemic. Market disruption impacted heavily on the abalone and West Coast Rock Lobster sectors in particular causing sustained hardship for fisher men and women and their communities.

South Africa’s fisheries sector like many in the world is severely impacted by organised crime.

Research by the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that Southern and East Africa lose in the region of R12.2 billion to illegal and unreported fishing every year.

The FAO further estimates that 85% of fish stocks worldwide are now fully exploited, and illegal fishing is one of the main contributors. As we all know Excellencies, organised crime deprives state of national revenue and threatens the legitimate fishing industry and the livelihoods of those that rely on it.

Consequently, in May 2016, South Africa entered into a partnership with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Fisheries Branch and Nelson Mandela University to Launch FishFORCE. 

The purpose of the partnership has been to combat sea fisheries crime and related criminal activities by providing training to all those at the forefront of fisheries crime prevention.

Through the partnership, training has been offered to Fisheries Control Officers (FCOs), police officers and prosecutors in South Africa as well as in other states in the SADC region. 

Allow me today to thank the generosity of the Norwegian government who has provided grant funding totalling forty-five million rand (R45 000 000) to Nelson Mandela University.

Through the FishFORCE Academy grant I am pleased to share the following achievements:

  • Increased capacity in the oceans domain for environmental conservation and protection.
  • A definitive strengthening of coordination and cooperation between the relevant agencies and mechanisms for cross border investigation of fisheries/environmental crimes.
  • Harnessing of expertise, stimulation of research and promotion of law enforcement activities in the fisheries/environmental fields.

It is important today to welcome the Blue Justice Project that will build on the significant achievements of the Fishforce project.

Across the globe progressive thinking makes a link between sustainable development, beneficiation of local communities and successful resource conservation and protection.

Small scale fishing communities in South Africa have been officially recognised and organised into cooperatives and supported by my Department. This support includes the granting of 15 year fishing rights, capacitating fishing cooperatives through providing access to business skills training and development finance and loans provided by Government, and through planned infrastructure upgrades to small harbours used by fishing communities.

Apart from giving a bigger share of the market to small scale fishers than has previously been the case, species basket allocations to the sector are also aimed at sustainably managing fisheries resources.

Small scale fishers were also supported by the South African Government during the hardest periods of the covid-19 lockdown, through extending the validity of fishing and harvesting permits, and through the provision of food parcels.

Through the Blue Justice Project, South Africa will receive support not only to strengthen its battles against fisheries and related environmental crimes and support the protection of marine resources, but it will also help us to build collaborative as opposed to adversarial relations with small scale fishing communities.

The Blue Justice Project will also continue sponsoring and funding Regional Coastal patrols both on the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, helping us to protect our marine resources as key national resources.

In closing allow me to once again thank our partners and assure you of our commitment to strengthening the local and global networks. The Blue Justice Project can only bode well for our country and our fishing communities.   

 

I Thank You.