An Economic and Sectoral Study of the South African Fishing Industry
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The introduction of constitutional democracy in South Africa required the redrafting of most Acts of parliament to promote goals of social equity and redress of the consequences of past racial discrimination. The introduction of the Marine Living Resource Act of 1998 required the State to “restructure the fishing industry to address historical imbalances and to achieve equity within all branches of the fishing industry”, but provided no specific strategic policy guidelines for achieving this end. The initial burden of implementing this social agenda fell on government fisheries biologists and a series of interventions with profound economic, legal and political consequences were embarked upon without any proper framework for understanding the expected outcomes. The focus of “restructuring” was a series of annual fishing rights allocation processes whereby fishing quota was redistributed away from historically white, larger, companies to smaller, mostly black, new entrants into the industry. This process was far from smooth and resulted in a number of legal challenges of government decisions, instability within many fisheries, and a tremendous strain on the under-equipped manpower resources within the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism’s Marine and Coastal Management Branch (MCM).
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