2007-11-20 : Speech by Marthinus van Schalkwyk

Discussions on how hunters are affected by gun laws.

2007-11-20 : Speech by Marthinus van Schalkwyk

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2007-11-23 07:20

http://www.info.gov.za/speeches/2007/07112112151004.htm


Speech by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs and
Tourism at the Annual General Meeting of the Professional Hunters
Association of South Africa (PHASA)
20 November 2007


Introduction


In 2004 when I was appointed as Minister, there were a number of people
who were surprised and uneasy with my decision to accept an invitation
to address your annual event in that year. Some even advised me to
decline the invitation in 2004. Because ethical, responsible hunting and
conservation are two sides of the same coin, it is clear that it was the
correct decision.


Although we will not always agree on every matter, I am of the firm
belief that the professional hunting sector has an important partnership
role to play in our approach both to conservation and tourism and I am
fully committed to strengthening and improving the relationship between
our department and this sector.


Economic contribution


Game farming and hunting contributes significantly to conservation,
tourism development, job creation and sustainable development in rural
areas. It is integrated with various sectors of the economy. It is an
important foreign currency earner and its contribution to the gross
national product is substantial. I am very optimistic about the future
of this industry and the great potential to further nurture and promote
its economic and conservation worth.


The key issue is sustainable utilisation. We are equally determined to
ensure that our laws and international commitments are respected and
upheld, and will not hesitate to act swiftly and harshly against
unethical or irresponsible hunters who overstep or ignore our
regulations. In this regard I want to thank PHASA for the stand it has
taken against canned lion hunting and taking disciplinary action against
members who do not adhere to your code of conduct.


Regulations


There are a number of issues we have engaged on with the industry over
the past few years. Regular and structured dialogue between our
department and this sector was a very important issue that was raised at
our previous meeting. The Wildlife Forum has been successfully
established to provide for such a dialogue and it is clear that these
interactions are bearing fruit.


Firstly, due to fragmented and in many cases inconsistent provincial
conservation legislation that provided inadequate protection for
wildlife, the need was identified to develop national regulatory framework.
This culminated in the regulations pertaining to Threatened or Protected
Species (TOPS).


In short these regulations aim to:


* address the canned hunting issue, as it explicitly prohibits the
hunting of listed large predators under certain conditions
* address illegal hunting and unethical hunting methods and devices
* provide formal recognition by our department to hunting organizations.


I am aware of the capacity challenges faced by some of the provinces
with regard to permitting and licensing. The turnaround time is an area
that PHASA and the game farmers have raised with me. I will discuss this
challenge with the MECs responsible for environment. The implementation
of these regulations will be the first step of a two-step process to
clean up the hunting and game farming industry. The next step will be to
promote even greater uniformity with regard to elements of the hunting
industry. We will introduce national norms and standards that provide a
framework for provincial regulation and further streamline permitting.
This will also be developed in close consultation with the industry,
provincial authorities and other stakeholders. We will make it easier
for you to operate as industry. We will ensure that the same rules and
standards will apply to everyone equally and we will strengthen
government’s hand to ensure compliance and enforcement. This will root
out those rogue elements that give the whole industry a bad name.


Secondly, the consultative process on these norms and standards will aim
to:


* search for best practices or minimum standards pertaining to hunting
that need to be adhered to
* standardise conditions under which permits may be or must be issued by
provincial conservation authorities and requirements in terms of
equipment to be used
* further explore models for self regulation in the hunting industry.


I know that some of your members may have interests in the elephant
safari industry. I also want to address you as ethically and responsible
game farmers and hunters today. I am aware of the current debate on
alleged cruelty inflicted on elephants in captivity. I made the
following commitment when I published the draft norms and standards for
elephant management in February this year.


"I also insist, however, that the management of our natural resources
should be conducted ethically, humanely and rationally. Wilful cruelty
to animals must be condemned and avoided at all costs. The Digital
Nervous System (DNS), I believe, is a well balanced document that
addresses the interests and welfare of elephants in equal measure to the
options for controlling elephant populations."


Words have meaning. These were not just words on paper. They constituted
a firm commitment. Some of the allegations conveyed to me about the
captive elephant industry points to the possible existence of totally
unacceptable practices. I am personally determined to get to the bottom
of it. I want to assure you today that government will crack down on any
cruelty and will effectively regulate the environment of elephants in
captivity, whether that is done by our department, the department of
agriculture or on the basis of an arrangement between us. For us this is
a serious and urgent issue.


Transformation


It is encouraging to note that PHASA has itself identified
transformation and empowerment as issues of concern. Our department is
engaging with the industry to develop a BEE Score Card in an effort to
transform the industry. As a department we always prefer industry-led
transformation. Regulation is always a last resort but it will be
applied if a sector does not demonstrate the will for real and lasting
change.


There are so many opportunities for black economic empowerment (BEE)
partnerships with communities living on communal land adjacent to game
farms, with communities who have had suitable land resituated to them
and also with small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and
entrepreneurs especially in tourism. The training of emerging
professional hunters is an area in which PHASA has already been active.


I want to acknowledge the R700 000 that was raised earlier this year
through the African Wildlife Heritage Gala Dinner for training black
students. Transformation and empowerment goes beyond ownership,
management, employment and skills. Professional Hunting will only truly
be embraced by all South African communities when clients from these
communities are also developed ­ a longer-term challenge for PHASA.


Conclusion


In conclusion, commercial game farming and professional hunting has a
key role to play in nature conservation and tourism in South Africa. I
am aware that quite a number of species were effectively saved from
extinction by private landowners and professional hunting sustains jobs
and brings much-needed revenue into some of our most depressed areas.
Over the past three years I have appreciated our working relationship
with this industry. It has been a vibrant and robust interaction as we
jointly came to grips with a number of issues, including the
interpretation of societal values on ethics in the hunting industry and
giving practical content to sustainable use. Together we have changed
much in the last three years and I can assure you that we will look back
on many more changes by 2010.


We should not shy away from a robust debate over the next few years as
government continues to shape the regulatory environment and industry
continues to ask how they could flourish in a responsible and
sustainable way within that regulatory framework.


From the side of government be assured of my support for the sector and
for your efforts, but always remember the importance of partnership in
this equation.
I wish you the very best for the rest of the conference. I am looking
forward to further engagements with this industry.


I thank you.


Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
20 November 2007
Source: Department of Environmental Affairs (http://www.deat.gov.za)
What have YOU done for YOUR rights today?
GOSA
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