2009 Annual General Meeting
Other than a few minor issues the major item taking up our time this year has been working with MCM on data collection in an attempt to provide the scientists with better figures for their effort calculations.
The other issue has been the security at the entrance to the PE Harbour.
Squid Data and Closed Seasons
In an attempt to provide more accurate data, MCM introduced the yellow book in 2006. This replaced the old line fish blue book. After looking at the 2008 data earlier this year and comparing these figures to actual industry figures, certain obvious inconsistencies were discovered. Scientists from MCM came to Port Elizabeth to verify figures and look at the flow of the data.
Some problems were highlighted at the subsequent Scientific Working Group. One of the issues was the submission procedure to MCM, both from within MCM as well as the Right Holders not following the correct procedure as per permit conditions. We may expect some changes in this regard for next year, or maybe even by the opening of the new season. The other major problem was skippers not completing the yellow book forms correctly, i.e. missing dates, right holder names, squid permit numbers, vessel names and area codes. All this has resulted in the working group adopting a precautionary approach and recommending that the status quo be maintained for next year, but they would review the data in February 2010.
As mentioned, there are plans to change the procedure of handing in our statistics and the whole verification and flow of these documents until they are captured. There are also plans to simplify the format of the yellow book, i.e. to make it easier for the skippers to complete.
I cannot emphasise how important it is that we educate our skippers and ensure that they complete these documents properly. It is also important that we as Right Holders properly submit these documents to MCM as per permit conditions and obtain proof of this. I was absolutely astounded when the scientists showed me proof of the poorly completed forms and Right Holders who have not even bothered to submit.
If we ARE WANTING the extra closed seasons reduced, it is essential that we get our house in order in this regards. As long as the scientists cannot trust the data, they will always adopt a precautionary approach.
Having said this, the department also has their own internal problems, but until we get our ducks in a row, I cannot comment on this. Accurate data that the scientist and SASMIA can trust is essential in the successful management of the effort in our industry.
It is nice to see that at the Scientific Working Group meetings the scientists are very eager to work with industry to resolve this and to allow us to optimally exploit this resource.
Due to the status quo scenario for next year we will again have our regular 5 weeks in October/November, as well as the additional 6 weeks. We currently have the additional 6 weeks as 23 week periods, one in March and one in July. We have the option to change this and I feel it may be worth our while to relook at these dates.
As you all know, TNPA wanted to introduce strict new security measures at the entrance to the PE Harbour. These could have greatly hampered our members who operate out of this Port. Together with EOCAF and other interested parties, SASMIA engaged lawyers and began to fight against this.
The outcome of this is that they are now looking to declare the area from Baakens River Bridge to the ore berth, a fishing and recreational zone with lesser security. To this end a security forum has been established to manage and implement this. SASMIA is a member of this forum and will do our best to ensure that any security measures implemented do not negatively affect our members' operations.
Unfortunately it seems the only way you can get Government departments to take notice of one's concerns / complaints and comments is to engage them through the use of lawyers. As a result we can expect an increase in legal fees. This is, in my opinion, money well spent and almost unavoidable.
In conclusion I would like to thank the committee for their support and in particular Juanita, Greg, Richard, Tony and Jim. SASMIA at present enjoys the support of a vast majority (95%) of the industry. It is only with this kind of support that we can retain our credibility with the Department and other bodies, thereby promoting the best interests of the industry.