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Q&A with SADSTIA's new chairman, Terence Brown

The South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA), one of the most influential organisations in the local fishing industry, has announced a significant change in its Executive Committee. Newly elected SADSTIA chair, Terence Brown, talks about the need for new leadership, and the issues that concern the deep-sea trawling industry right now.
The SADSTIA Executive Committee includes (back row): Johann Augustyn (Secretary), Madoda Khumalo (head of SADSTIA’s Scientific Committee), Trevor Wilson and Arthur Shipalana. In front are vice chairman, Donovan Brickles and chairman, Terence Brown.
Q: On 15 June, the SADSTIA Executive Committee stood down and a new and more representative Executive Committee was elected. What are the reasons for this dramatic change in leadership?

Terence Brown: The previous SADSTIA leadership recognised that it was time for a new generation of managers to lead the Association into the fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) we are looking ahead to in 2020 – and beyond. All of the new committee members have decades of experience in the fishing industry – it was time for us to step up and take on leadership roles.

I think it’s important to say that the previous SADSTIA leadership will continue to play a role in SADSTIA. They will provide guidance and advice and their voices will be heard. It would be foolish to disregard the knowledge and experience of executives who work at the highest level in the international seafood industry. But the Executive Committee is the decision-making body.

Q: Why is the leadership of SADSTIA so important?

TB: The deep-sea trawling industry accounts for about half of the value of the production of South Africa’s commercial fisheries. It employs thousands of people. The fishery is sustainable and internationally competitive. So, yes, it’s a vitally important fishery and SADSTIA plays an important role in its management. For example, SADSTIA puts a lot of time and effort into maintaining the certification by the Marine Stewardship Council because the trawl fishery’s certification is vital to its international competitiveness and profitability. In this instance, and in many others, it is better for the members to act as a collective, rather than as individual right-holders or individual companies.

Q: Does the change in leadership represent real transformation or is it just window dressing?

TB: The new committee members represent the next generation of leaders of our industry. The change in leadership is radical, in that it is a complete change, but it is not radical in the sense that it was expected. We have been waiting in the wings, we have been prepared for this leadership role. I would argue that the racial make up of the committee is much less relevant than the competencies of the new members of the Committee. Each of us has years of experience in fleet management, factory management, marine science, quality management, stakeholder relations and many other areas.

However, I also think there is room for improvement. For example, we do not have any females on the SADSTIA Executive Committee. Why is that? We have women working at sea, we have women in leadership positions and we have female quota holders. So, one of my goals is to increase the representation of females in SADSTIA.  

Q: As chairman of the SADSTIA Executive Committee, what do you think are some of the burning issues facing the deep-sea trawling industry right now?

TB: As an industry, we are acutely aware that our rights will come to an end in 2020 and we expect and hope that the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) of 2020 will kick off as early as next year. So, I think that communication and cooperation with the government regulator, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF), is perhaps the burning issue of the moment. We want to establish a relationship of trust and cooperation with DAFF because we need to engage with the Department around policies, scoring mechanisms, etcetera, etcetera. There is a lot of work to be done in preparation for FRAP 2020 and, as the representative body of the deep-sea trawling industry, we are committed to working constructively with the Department towards 2020.

We have just received the outcome of the matter that was before the courts for the past six months: the application by Viking Inshore Fishing for an interdict against the DAFF’s FRAP 2015/16 process, so already we have some clarity from the courts. This is another burning issue and as right-holders and members of SADSTIA we are studying the two judgements that came from the court very closely. The conclusion of this case also gives us, as the fishing industry, the opportunity to rebuild relationships with the Department because, naturally, a court case like this creates animosity.

Although it’s not a burning issue, maintaining the MSC certification is an important issue for SADSTIA. I believe that the MSC certification is not only good for the industry – it’s effectively a seal of approval that really matters in the markets in which we operate – but it also holds the promise of perpetual sustainability. Our fishery is sustainable and we want to keep it that way, not because of the markets, but because a sustainable fishery is good for the industry and good for the country. It means we can continue providing good jobs and benefits – opportunities, taxes, levies – in perpetuity.

Q: As chairman of SADSTIA, what is your vision for the Association?

TB: The vision is to be recognised as an association that is representative of the industry it serves, but also recognised internationally an industry that is a frontrunner in the sustainable fishing of a whitefish resource. South Africa and Namibia together catch only about two percent of the global whitefish catch, but our industry is recognised internationally. You know, when we go to international conferences, people always say “you’re doing a good job down there in South Africa” and we are proud of that and of course we want to maintain that. It’s a matter of continuing SADSTIA’s proud track record.
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SADSTIA reacts to Western Cape High Court ruling in the Viking Inshore Fishing matter

SADSTIA has noted the judgement of the Western Cape High Court in the Viking Inshore Fishing matter and is studying both judgements in order to learn as much as it can from the Court’s ruling.

Earlier this week the Court ruled that the interim interdict previously granted by the court - which prevented the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) from awarding permits in the inshore trawl fishery - should not be made final.

“SADSTIA has followed the case with interest and is reading the two judgements very closely”, said the Association’s chairman, Terence Brown, “the outcome of this case has implications for the allocation of rights to the deep-sea trawl fishery which will take place in 2020.”

“As an industry we are very relieved that fishing will now resume on the south coast. The livelihoods of approximately 1000 people have been negatively affected by the suspension of fishing off Mossel Bay and Port Elizabeth over the past six months.”
Read more »
Read more about the deep-sea trawling industry on Wikipedia.
SADSTIA is an association of South African trawler owners and operators.
 
SADSTIA’s members participate in a sustainable and well-managed, MSC-certified fishery; produce food, sustain 7050 good jobs — with regular wages and employee benefits; and generate valuable export earnings for South Africa.
 
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