Sea Fishery boats spending too much time in port

Nov 6, 2006
Author: P&S

A parliamentary committee has been told that the four sea fishery patrol boats, acquired recently for nearly half a billion rand, are spending too much time in port on account of the cost of running them.

The vessels are operated by the Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) and cost on average R690,000 a day to keep at sea or R220,000 per day while in harbour. Because of a shortage of finance the vessels, the Sarah Baartman, Lilian Ngoyi, Ruth First and Victoria Mxenge are spending an average of 175 days a year at sea, compared to an optimum of 250 days.

The environmental affairs portfolio committee was told that even then some of the time spent at sea was not on patrol but doing charter work. Environment minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said it had been a mistake to buy the vessels, saying the Marine Living Resources Fund which had been created to raise the operating costs of the vessels, was unable to generate sufficient money.

The fund raises money through selling confiscated items such as abalone and also from levies on fish products, the cost of permits and from license fees, which was not proving sufficient.

However the fund has also drawn criticism from the auditor general for a lack of internal controls and having not proper accounting systems in place. The minister said that in retrospect it had been a mistake creating a fund outside of his department.

Meanwhile the Treasury will provide R35 million to cover the shortfall for the four vessels for the current financial year and will assist with financing them over the next three years.



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