Fisheries Ministry prepared for court battle

Minister Joemat-Pettersson is prepared to take her fight to the courts to clear her department’s name.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry says it will be heading to the courts in a bid to clear its name.

This come after a scathing report released by the public protector.

In the report titled 'Docked Vessels', the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela advises the President to take disciplinary action against Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson for reckless spending.

It appears Joemat-Pettersson is prepared to take her fight to the courts.

The public protector report relates to the awarding of an R800 million tender.

The contentious tender was for the staffing and maintenance of the country's fleet of fishing patrol vessels.

The public protector found the awarding of the tender to be improper as it did not comply with the departments supply chain management requirements.

But Joemat-Pettersson has announced the matter is being reviewed.

The tender issue is not the only issue to put under the microscope in the fisheries department recently.

In February, Minister Joemat-Pettersson announced the appointed of an independent body to audit the fishing rights allocation process.

This was after 250 fishing licenses where awarded to fishermen at the beginning of the year even though more than 1,560 applied in the traditional line fishing sector.

After months of coming under attack by the fishing industry, Joemat-Pettersson appointed the independent body and also extended the period in which fishermen can appeal the process which saw many not receiving a fishing permit.

A listening campaign was also scheduled in an effort to hear the fishing grievances in the Western Cape.

Earlier this month over 100 Western Cape fishermen and their families gathered outside the fisheries department offices in the Cape Town CBD in protest against the removal of the acting head Desmond Stevens.

Stevens was in the spotlight due to controversy around the allocation of fishing rights with the SA Commercial Linefish Association taking legal action against him and the department.