Fisheries A titanic failure
South Africa’s hake trawl industry has been placed under serious threat by a spot of maritime bungling on the part of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who has suspended the contract for the country’s fleet of survey and inspection vessels, now tied up uselessly alongside in Simonstown, next to a couple of arms-deal submarines one assumes. This means they’ve missed this year’s survey, required by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for certification of the catch, which means the fisheries could lose their membership of the Council next month. This would block us from northern European markets even as demand in cash-strapped southern Europe dries up, which in turn would leave us with a glut of unaccredited hake on our local market, a price collapse in the R2.89billion industry and the potential loss of around 5,000 jobs. The not-particularly-vertical, although heartwarming, upside is that the fishing industry itself has charted a survey vessel, with its own inspectors as crew, in a last-ditch attempt to ward off de-accreditation.
Comment: There are not plenty more fish in the sea. But if we’re going to exploit them as a resource, we should at least attempt to do it responsibly – and profitably.