Thank you Honourable Chairperson and Minister. Let me say at the outset as the IFP, we support this budget vote. Environment, bio-diversity and conversation is very close to our hearts, as it is to the heart of our leader, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP, who recently received an international award for the role he has played in promoting bio-diversity and conservation over the years.
Honourable Chairperson, Honourable Minister, you raised the issue of ocean spaces earlier on, as well as the 22 Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s). I want to focus two minutes of my time on Marine Protected Areas and bring to your attention the fact that there are some regulations that are soon to be promulgated, in about 18 months or so, with regard to MPA’s and marine conservancy areas. Now there are certain disputes Chairperson that have arisen in the Clansthal and the Aliwal Shoal areas, where the Conservancies have now been pitted against the Rock Anglers and the Line Fishermen. What we would like you to do Honourable minister is to get a report from Mr Xola Mkefe who has been very sensible in his approach; He was there making presentations and you would find that some of the objectors or some of those who are supporting the regulations are not supporting it for the sake of protecting the marine resources but rather for personal and selfish interests. They want the privileges that they gained pre-1994 to be entrenched through regulation. I am glad Honourable Minister that you are nodding your head in agreement!
In this particular area, there are people who claim that they have rights right up to the high water mark, Admiralty rights. These were rights that were granted to them in the days of the Queen, hundreds of years ago, and we must not allow this to happen at the expense of bona fide Line Fishermen and Rock Anglers. They cannot destroy the marine resources. It is the trawlers and the big commercial fishing vessels that are depleting our fishing reserves; they are de facto responsible for destroying our fishing grounds.
Honourable Minister, I also request that you investigate notice boards that the Conservancy has put up and I took a photograph of the notice board which says: ‘You are in the Marine Conversation Zone, Marine Living Resources Act 1998. Please do not fish or remove any marine life in this area. Please help us preserve this area as a marine nursery and regeneration zone’. Now people come there unsuspecting, and they think it’s an official marine notice and they are really intimidated by it. Please look at this very, very carefully because we cannot allow these privileges to be maintained.
Chairperson, in the one and a half minutes that I have left I also want to raise the issue of the captive-bred or canned-lion hunting. Recently, as a party, we marched with other people in support of a total ban in South Africa of the barbaric practice of captive-bred or canned-lion hunting. Together with the Honourable Chief Whip of the ruling party and members of the portfolio committee I attended a movie called ‘Blood Lions’, where we saw how unscrupulous people in certain parts of the province make money from getting hunters from America and other parts of the Western world to shoot these helpless, domesticated and drugged lions and make a fortune for themselves. I am going to be so bold from this podium to even suggest, madam minister, that there could be officials at different government department levels who are aiding and abetting some of these people to make the kind of money that they earn in dollars and I put it to you that this is a matter that requires further investigation.
There is an organisation called Four Paws who have received over 500,000 hard-copy signed petitions which call for a ban of canned lion hunting. These petitions will be presented to Parliament soon.
Lastly, Chairperson, on the question of Rhino which is another South African treasure under severe threat by poaching syndicates, we require the most stringent protection and criminal sanction and we are glad that recently you have had a team out there assisting in apprehending these perpetrators.
The CITES Conference of Parties will be taking place in Johannesburg towards the end of September, 2016, and we really would like South Africans to support calls to upgrade our Rhino to appendix 1.
Let this be the year that South Africa continues to take a stand on behalf of its environment and animals.
Once again we support this budget vote.