ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES - Update on the NEM:BA AIS Regulations

Environmental issue/project: Update on the NEM:BA AIS Regulations
Date: 2011-10-20

Name of person reporting: Dr Bill Bainbridge
Email address: wrbainbr@iafrica.com
Phone: 033-3869133

Description of issue:
The short reply to what is happening about the long-awaited revised draft regulations of the NEM:BA Alien and Invasive Species regulations (with special reference to trout), is that unfortunately, in this instance, no news is NOT good news! We, from the Environmental Committee of FOSAF, have grown weary of writing “No Progress” reports to stakeholders. Most would of us who have been involved in the long and arduous process of commenting on official documents are so frustrated and annoyed at the lack of progress from the Department Environmental Affairs (DEA) over the better part of a decade, that it has become difficult in the extreme to retain focus. All that we can report is that the flurry of activity over producing maps for demarcated areas, which showed areas in which trout may be permanently maintained (compared to areas in which trout would not be condoned) seems to have come to naught. This is because the authorities failed to accept the advice provided by FOSAF and possibly other organisations - that there is no provision in the Act for the Minister to grant exemptions for an invasive species (such as trout). Such exemption formed the basis of the provision allowing for demarcated areas and DEA only came to this realisation when they took expert legal advice, recently. Despite a number of e-mails sent by Ilan Lax, our FOSAF Chairman to the relevant official in DEA requesting that we be kept informed of developments, we remain entirely in the dark about their current thinking. We are beyond guessing what will happen next. The only sensible comment that we can make at present is that stakeholders should NOT relax their vigilance. We are firmly of the opinion that this issue has NOT gone away, but until the authorities issue some official statement to which we can respond, there is nothing we can do – except possibly go fishing!

Review of Issue
Latest update on the NEM:BA regulations & AIS listings pertaining to trout. FOSAF and Trout SA note that the Minister of Environmental Affairs has published the Lists and Regulations on Alien and Invasive Species. Rainbow trout and brown trout have not been listed at present. This is because the approach to regulating trout is still being discussed between the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), FOSAF and Trout SA. FOSAF and Trout SA welcome the decision to postpone the listing of trout. We applaud the efforts of Government at national and provincial levels to fast-track and build an enabling environment for aquaculture as part of the National Development Plan. This has facilitated recent discussions between the DEA, FOSAF and Trout SA and other interested and affected parties, in Durban. We also welcome the opportunity to further discuss and refine the in-principle consensus regarding the AIS Regulations and trout that has emerged. We remain committed to finding a workable and simple set of solutions aimed at achieving self-regulation and audited compliance. It is important that such a solution will address the concerns of the parties and must provide an enabling environment for a sustainable trout-based aquaculture industry together with its full value chain in South Africa. Ilan Lax National Chairman: FOSAF

Review of Issue
An agreement was reached in 2014 between FOSAF/Trout SA and DEA during the Phakisa process that where trout occur they will not be listed as invasive and the industry would move to self-regulation. In addition the trout aquaculture would be promoted. This agreement was confirmed at both provincial and national level. FOSAF/Trout SA then produced shape files in order the map "where trout occur". It appears that the DEA are now reneging on this agreement and are promoting their own agenda without consulting all stakeholders. Moreover a number of meetings to discuss these problems both in Pretoria have been cancelled, some at very short notice, by the DEA and the Mpumalanga Parks Board. FOSAF/Trout SA have therefore had no choice but to escalate the matter to the level of the DG of the DEA.

Review of Issue
For a complete review on this issue since 2005 go to http://www.fosaf.co.za/read-Archives-181.php. At the moment all the mapping of areas where are present has been completed. The next phase will be to agree on the regulatory framework and how to balance this with any significant biodiversity concerns which may mean at least another year of hard work. This will include intensive negotiation on the future of aquaculture and the production of trout for both table consumption and stocking purposes.

Current Issues:

  1. Prospecting for diamonds on the border of the Greater Lakenvlei Protected Environment -Dullstroom
  2. Court Case regarding proposed amendments to the Alien & Invasive Lists & Regulations
  3. Massive pollution of the Vaal River Barrage and downstream
  4. Trout translocation project in the Western Cape by FOSAF and the CPS.
  5. Clanwilliam sandfish in trouble
  6. Fish lose sense of smell in polluted waters
  7. New fish disease (EUS) widespread in Southern Africa
  8. Proposed amendment to Coastal Management Act
  9. Update on the NEM:BA AIS Regulations
  10. William Bower open cast coal mine - near Dullstroom