In recent months it has become apparent that opportunistic individuals are seeking to capitalise on the changes that came into effect after 1 October 2014 with respect the issuing of permits for Oreochromis Niloticus.
Presently there is high demand for fingerlings and brood stock of Nile Tilapia and there are a number of people trading in this species that do not have the required permits.
Please note that any importation, farming or sale of Nile Tilapia requires permits that are issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs, which allows the permit holder to carry out restricted activities involving alien and invasive species.
Visit http://www.invasives.org.za/permits.html for application forms and more details regarding the permits.
It is a matter of grave concern for us that people are trading without the necessary permits. You run the risk of being issued with a compliance and enforcement notice in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 2004 (act no. 10 of 2004) Alien and Invasive Species Regulations, 2014.
The regulation clearly states that any person who contravenes or fails to comply with a provision of these regulations is guilty of an offence and is liable, on conviction, to-
(a) a fine not exceeding five million rand, and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding R10 million; or
(b) imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years; or
(c) to both such fine and imprisonment.
If the illegal sale of Nile Tilapia fingerlings leads to the damage of biodiversity there is an option open to the Department of Environmental Affairs in the regulations, which allows them to hold an individual responsible for costs of rehabilitation of the biodiversity.
In our discussions with senior officials at the department they have clearly stated that they will not hesitate to use this option where they feel it is necessary. We think it is readily apparent to everyone that the financial implications of such a decision by the department, can be financial crippling for anyone found guilty of a transgression
As TAASA Exco, we share in the excitement and enthusiasm that is currently being felt by farmers for the future development of the sector. We also understand and appreciate the anxiety felt by those farmers who have made extensive investments in the future potential of this sector.
We know it is tempting to look at individual government departments and view them as under resourced and ill-equipped to enforce regulations. However, the reality is that government departments can call on a pool of enforcement resources, which if brought to bear on our sector or individuals within it, will have very severe consequences.
As an Exco we are acutely aware of the fact that our members want rapid change and access to the best commercial fish possible. We are confident that you will see the opportunities you want unfolding this year.
We therefore appeal to all our members to operate within the regulatory framework or run the risk of creating problems for yourself and the sector, which will have far reaching repercussions. If the current irresponsible approach by certain individuals persists, we will have no choice but to report their actions to the relevant authorities.