Don't penalise old fishing rights holders - AG
08 April 2020 | Fishing
The attorney-general has advised fisheries minister Albert Kawana that old fishing rights holders should not be discriminated against when new rights are issued.
Kawana recently wrote to the AG to seek advice on the allocation of fishing quotas to current and prospective rights holders.
Under current provisions, the ministry can grant fishing rights for seven years, with an option to extend the term to ten years.
Another option is to grant fishing rights for 10 years, with the possibility of extending the term to 15 years.
The third option is to grant 15-year fishing rights, with the possibility of extending the term to 20 years.
Kawana wrote to newly appointed attorney-general Festus Mbandeka to get an opinion on whether he could grant fishing rights to existing rights holders.
“We wish to advise that the Act does not provide for discriminatory treatment of previous rights holders on the sole basis that they participated in the harvesting of marine resources under a 20-year right or any time-bound right for that matter,” Mbandeka replied.
“Previous rights holders are eligible to be granted new rights to harvest marine resources, as is the case with any other applicant, provided that they submit applications that meet all applicable requirements and if such applicants meet the requisite conditions and criteria thereto.
“Conversely, the minister may refuse to grant the applications of any or all previous rights holders if they do not meet the requirements and conditions,” Mbandeka's letter added.
The fisheries ministry had received 5 190 fishing rights applications by 31 August 2018 for the 90 to 120 rights available. This presented a massive increase from previous applications, which ranged from 500 to 1 500.
Kawana was not available for comment on the allocation of new fishing rights.