After the publishing of the directives by the Department Environment, Forestry and Fisheries in the Government Gazette 14 May 2020, Vol. 659, No. 43323 by Minister Barbara Creecy, rumours began to surface that changes to the Meat Safety Regulations by the Department Agriculture, were intended to only benefit certain individuals.
This handout from the GAME MEAT INDUSTRY FORUM is for distribution to all persons with an interest in the South African wildlife and game meat industry.
ESTABLISHMENT OF A GAME MEAT INDUSTRY FORUM
Stakeholders involved throughout the full value chain of the South African wildlife industry – from farm to fork – came together during June 2019 to discuss the possibility and need for a formal South African game meat forum. With the finalisation of Game Meat Regulations then already dormant for almost a decade, organisations and individuals realised that the lack of a unified, collective voice within the game meat industry, caused major confusion amongst government and retailers in South Africa.
These initial discussions during June 2019, eventually resulted in the establishment of a Game Meat Industry Forum (GMIF) on 20 September 2019. The current composition of the Forum, with representation of the majority stakeholder organisations within the game meat industry, serves as confirmation of the need thereof. Member organisations of the GMIF represent abattoirs, communities, culling teams, local hunters, outfitters, professional hunters, wildlife ranchers including specialist advisors and a game meat distribution company. The Terms of Reference acknowledges member organisations’ accountability to their respective constituencies and institutions, as well as member organisations’ and individuals’ accountability to one another within the Forum, on resolutions taken and actions to be implemented.
GMIF ACTIVITIES: SEPTEMBER 2019 TO MAY 2020
With an estimated 300 000 local hunters and thousands of others within all the respective sectors, the GMIF realises that not everybody within the South African wildlife industry is necessarily informed about the GMIF and its activities over the past few months. This handout is for distribution to all GMIF organisations and everybody with an interest in the South African wildlife and game meat industry.
- Status and content of Game Meat Regulations
One of the GMIF’s first priorities was to request an update from the relevant government department regarding the content of the final Game Meat Regulations which were last published for public comment two years earlier. Simultaneously, the GMIF also requested an indication of the status of the Regulations and when it would be implemented.
The above was extremely important as the GMIF was aware of certain clauses in the previous draft Regulations which were “problematic” and which, amongst others, included:
- A quota to be placed on the number of animals that may be hunted by an individual hunter during a specific period;
- Confusion about the different processes to be followed regarding meat inspections (own consumption vs meat for the commercial market);
- The lack of definitions for e.g. own use (whether that would include making game meat available to extended family and friends), donations, harvesting, and hunting; and
- Other technical issues.
- GMIF Proposals to the Game Meat Regulations
The GMIF’s request to the relevant Director was just in time, as feedback was that the Regulations were on the Minister’s desk to be signed for implementation.
The GMIF Steering Committee requested an urgent meeting with the Director and his colleagues during which concerns were raised about the above.
The GMIF was informed that the signing of the Regulations would be put on hold for a period of time, allowing the GMIF to make certain proposals on specific areas of concern. The GMIF’s proposals to be presented to the Department, will specifically attend to the concerns as stipulated in par. 1 above.
As an example, GMIF members all agreed at the June 2019 meeting that NO QUOTAS should be applicable to hunters. It was also generally agreed that the Regulations should be very clear about the fact that, although meat for commercial use is subject to meat inspections, that it would not be applicable to meat for own consumption by hunters. The GMIF has since considered various other proposals to also be submitted to the Department, which will amongst others include definitions for own consumption, donations, etc.
- Representation at the Meat Inspectors Advisory Forum
Another priority was to ensure that the GMIF is represented at the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform’s (DARDLR) Meat Inspectors Advisory Forum (MIAF) where decisions and policies that will have an impact on the game meat industry, are discussed and finalised.
The GMIF was successful in its application and was allowed to have two representatives at this government forum (MIAF).
- GMIF Communication to COVID-19 NATJOINTS
The GMIF approached and engaged with the chairperson of the COVID-19 NATJOINTS Social Impact Task team during April to discuss the possibility of wildlife ranchers and communities with wildlife, to provide game meat to the hungry and needy in our country during these challenging times, within an economically sustainable model for game ranchers. This is still work-in-progress and GMIF is awaiting feedback from the relevant task team.
- GMIF comments on EMS Foundation proposal to SA Government to ban the eating of game meat
When the EMS Foundation made proposals to three South African government departments to ban the consumption of game meat, the GMIF issued a press release, engaged in radio interviews and addressed letters to the three ministries.
- Coronavirus Level 4 Directives – Culling of Wildlife
With the Coronavirus Level 4 Directives published for the wildlife industry on 14 May 2020, the GMIF discussed the issue of culling wildlife to ensure aligned guidelines to constituencies of GMIF members’ organisations to be guided by the relevant Level 4 Regulations and Directives.
- Game species listed on the Meat Safety Act Schedule
GMIF members also discussed the input of the forum and individual organisations to the DARDLR about the proposed inclusion of game species in a Meat Safety Act schedule. Comments on the proposal should reach the Department by the end of June. GMIF agrees that it would be important to include all indigenous and non-indigenous species that can be legally hunted within South Africa to ensure that the meat (protein) can be used when hunted. Furthermore, it was agreed that the GMIF would draft an informative document about game meat as a by-product of hunts, to be made available as a legal source of protein.
All these actions are quite an achievement! Within eight months of its existence, the GMIF has already represented abattoirs, communities, culling teams, hunters, professional hunters, outfitters and wildlife ranchers on various levels, in its effort to create a vibrant game meat economy whilst protecting the rights and privileges of its members.