2004 Annual General Meeting
The 2004 squid season started off with excellent catches following the closed season, which continued well into March. This was fortunate as the high volumes cushioned the effect of the strong Rand to a large extent but did put pressure on the market. Thereafter catches tailed off quite dramatically, only improving shortly before the 2004 closing. The beach price remains low and rising fuel costs are a worrying factor. The constant attrition of increased levies and fees are eroding profits at an alarming rate. On the positive side, I am cautiously optimistic about the opening with reports of squid and eggs over a wide area extending as far west as the Breede River, and beyond. It will be interesting to see what the scientists find in the closed season.
This year saw a huge amount of work put into EOCAF and the establishment of a "Statutory Council" for the squid industry by Nanda Nieuwoudt and her team. There have been some further developments on this front. Nanda has requested to address the meeting in this regard.
Following last years AGM the main issues requiring attention were:
- The formation of, and participation in, the proposed "Squid Management Working Group"
- MCM's proposed compilation of sectoral "Operations Manuals".
- The development and operation of an independent database with a view to providing a snapshot of the industry which would include the level of transformation as well as to provide accurate catch return data.
A meeting was held with Mr Horst Kleinschmidt and Mr Svein Munkjefjord at the department regarding these and other matters.
Without going into too much detail, the current status of the above is as follows:
An invitation was received from Mr Buthelezi of MCM to nominate a participant in the proposed "Squid Management Working Group". In that letter he requested confirmation of the number of rights holders represented by our organization and stated that "other" rights holders organizations in the squid industry would also be invited to nominate a participant (s). SASMIA membership is open anyone with a commercial interest in the squid industry and not only rights holders. An analysis was done of the SASMIA membership versus rights holders in the squid industry and we concluded that in excess of eighty percent of squid rights holders are represented by SASMIA. We felt that a single representative on this working group was insufficient and that no other group with a working knowledge of the industry existed. I put this to Mr Buthelezi at a subsequent meeting and felt that our points were positively received. Mr Buthelezi has since left the department. I recommend that three prospective participants be nominated at this meeting (together with alternates, and in order of priority) in readiness for the eventual formation of the group.
The compilation of the Squid Operations Manual has lagged behind in favour of those of other fisheries. The concept of an independent database was rejected by MCM who felt that this would usurp a core function of the department.
To facilitate the process, a joint MCM/SASMIA project was approved for funding at yesterdays research committee meeting. This project will be headed up by Dr Ane' Oosthuizen of Rhodes University. The objectives of the project are:
- To develop an operational protocol for the management of the squid fishery.
- To develop a complete protocol for the collection of accurate, standardized fisheries data.
The expected results are
- A formal OMP and data collection protocol accepted and supported by industry and MCM.
- An Operations Manual and Management Working Group.
- An inclusive database.
The benefits to SASMIA and the squid industry will be:
- A functional and co-operative management system.
- Resource management decisions based on accurate reliable data.
A copy of the complete funding application will be attached to the minutes for your further information.
The proposed snapshot of transformation in the squid industry was accepted with enthusiasm by MCM who then expanded the initiative which has resulted in the current ESS survey questionnaire which you will have recently received. A pilot study of 38 rights holders was initially conducted to test the data. I believe that the results of this study will go a long way towards silencing the malicious and unsubstantiated criticism of transformation levels in the squid industry.
The "vessel length" controversy rages on unabated with MCM having decided that they will now only consider the SAMSA safety certificate measurement. I wonder if they are aware that SAMSA use two different standards for measuring vessels of the types used in the squid industry. The incoming committee will have to follow up on that one.
Congratulations to Betsy Ings on having been appointed to the TETA Mancom. We are lucky to have such a diligent lady looking out for our industry's interests.
Warning bells are ringing for the SASMIA research fund. This year there were only two tenders to catch the closed season fish. The successful tenders were for fifteen rands per kilogram and the vessels are "Galaxy" and "Silver Taurus". The research fund has been the basis for some world class research on our resource. I recommend that the incoming committee consider ways of boosting the fund in the event that the strong rand persists.
You will have noticed that I have not made mention of the coming allocations. That is because anything I say would be about fifty percent speculation and fifty percent trepidation.
In conclusion, thank you to the committee, Moray, and all the others who have assisted and supported me this year. It is often a thankless task but I believe that SASMIA is the glue that holds this industry together. Once the above issues have been finalized and long term rights have been allocated, I believe that we will enjoy stability in our industry and will be able to get on with the job.