The Marine Living Resources Act
The advent of democracy in 1994 brought with it strong demands for the transformation of the fishing industry and the broadening of access to marine living resources. In 1995, the Fisheries Policy Development Committee was established to advise government on how best to transform the industry. The committee was headed by Mandla Gxanyana, formerly a senior office bearer with the Food and Agriculture Workers’ Union (FAWU) and as such became informally known as the “Mandla Committee”. However, the committee’s final recommendations, achieved after extensive debate and furious discussion, were largely ignored by the government.
The promulgation of the Marine Living Resources Act in 1998 led to significant changes in the management and administration of fisheries in South Africa. However, the government was poorly prepared to implement new systems of allocation and inundated with applications for fishing rights from hopeful new entrants. It was only in 2000, when government embarked on a process to allocate medium-term fishing rights (2002 to 2005) and later long-term fishing rights (2006), that it managed to overcome the biggest legal difficulties associated with the allocation of rights. Interestingly, the process of allocating medium-term and long-term fishing rights gave rise to the first serious schism in SADSTIA. Prior to these allocations, the association had generally been able to reach a compromise consensus. It is worth noting that in preparing for the allocation of rights between 2000 and 2006, many members of SADSTIA pioneered black economic empowerment arrangements. They embraced the notions of black ownership, black management and affirmative procurement long before their counterparts in other industries.