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National Plan of Action on Sharks Under the Spotlight

November 19, 2020

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

Effective communication and coordination from scientific evidence and advice to policy and management action is one of the recommendations of the expert panel on sharks.

The environment, forestry and fisheries minister, Barbara Creecy, highlighted this during an address at the Expert Panel Review of South Africa’s National Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks.

The minister added that the panel “urges timeous feedback amongst units within the Department, a significant shortening of the lag time between scientific advice and management action, and the transparent and rapid communication with stakeholders”.

The South African National Plan of Action (NPOA) for sharks, published in 2013, identified actions that ought to be taken to improve conservation and management of sharks related to South African Fisheries.

According to the minister, the panel of experts voiced concern on the “slow progress on the actions around data gathering and reporting, development of regulatory tools and implementation of recommendations for sustainable management”.

Other recommendations include the development of measurable indicators to track the progress and completion of actions; the ecosystem effects of fishing and spatial conservation and management measures need to be adequately covered in the plan; stronger focus needed on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and improved monitoring, surveillance and enforcement of compliance – recreational fisheries need to be monitored and better regulated and use of technology to improve monitoring and evaluation of management actions and compliance with permit conditions.

Meanwhile, in an address at the first general meeting of the Environmental Assessment Practitioners Association of South Africa, the deputy minister of environment, forestry and fisheries, Makhotso Sotyu, confirmed that the section 24H regulations are being amended to address immediate implementation challenges.

Consultation on the draft regulations will commence in the new year.

Section 24H of the National Environmental Management Act deals with registration authorities.

The Environmental Assessment Practitioners Association of South Africa was appointed three years ago as the sole registration authority.

The deputy minister called on all Environmental Assessment Practitioners to “register with the relevant registration body whilst we as the Department go through the extension period for the Section 24H Registration Authority Regulations amendment process”.

The deputy minister also indicated that the environment, forestry and fisheries department is “currently investigating the possibility for the environmental practitioner profession to be governed as part of the functions of an existing registration body”.