Applications for marine research permits

 

introduction -the beginning
Introduction / background
terms of reference / scope and limitations
Activities requiring mandatory supporting documents
Application procedure, closing date and enquiries/contacts
Criteria for evaluation
Documents to note and for download

 

Introduction 

 

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DFFE), Branches: Oceans and Coasts and Fisheries Management are coordinating the application and evaluation process for permits for research purposes, as envisaged under section 83 of the Marine Living Resources Act. All applications should be submitted through a structured process, which will allow proper and timely evaluation of applications.  The DFFE are cognisant of the dynamic nature of the research environment which may necessitate occasional ad-hoc permit applications, which will be entertained in exceptional circumstances, noting that lack of planning shall not be considered an exceptional circumstance. In such cases, turnaround times will be solely based on availability of reviewers as it is considered out of season.

Automatic rejection

Due to the amount of effort associated with this process, the DFFE urges all applicants to conduct due diligence before submitting their applications. DFFE emphasises that incomplete applications will be automatically rejected; these include lack of supporting documents and outdated/expired certifications. Applicants are therefore requested to read this document in full prior to submission of an application with the DFFE.

 

Terms of reference / scope and limitations

 

Eligibility

The following are eligible to apply:

  • a recognised South African research organisation wanting to conduct research and utilise marine living resources for research and teaching purposes;
  • an organ of state with a research mandate;
  • a South African organisation which has a formal affiliation or written research agreement with a South African University/ a recognized/registered research organisation /State organ with a research mandate;
  • a non-South Africa University that has a written research agreement with a South African organisation stipulated in a-c above;
  • a South Africa registered research vessel undertaking research approved by the vessel owning research organisation or a chartering research organisation in a-c;
  • a research vessel registered in another sovereign state wishing to conduct research in collaboration with the South African government and/or research organisation(s) stipulated in a-c
  • a private organisation wanting to perform monitoring to evaluate the effects of anthropogenic stresses on marine living resources and ecosystems, excluding marine aquaculture organisations; or
  • an organisation appointed/designated by the Department/s to conduct research on its/their behalf.

Ad-hoc applications

Ad-hoc applications will be considered under exceptional circumstances. The onus is on the applicant to convincingly demonstrate exceptional nature of the circumstance(s). The department reserves the right not to process these applications; and in case they are processed, ad hoc applications may be considered ONLY on a quarterly basis. No “urgent’’ applications will be considered.

Research effort

The department reserves the right to decline applications for bona fide projects if they will increase human impact through research disturbance on the target species. This will be strictly implemented for research on endangered species. Applicants are therefore urged to first explore collaborative approaches to similar research questions on the same species.

Decision letters and appeals

The department shall issue decision letters to all the declined permits. These are intended to clarify applicants on reasons for declining and to limit the number of appeals lodged to the Minister.

Universities and large institutions

The department is cutting back and will not be issuing blanket permits to all universities and large institutions anymore. We see the vast amounts of samples being requested annually it is cause for great concern. We understand that universities must be able to collect samples for students. BUT universities must be more mindful about what is collected; not to collect excessively and then not to use samples wastefully. Collecting vast amounts of samples has a large impact on our biodiversity which is under increasing pressure. We all need to be cognisant of the impact of our collection requests 

Sampling requests need to be more specific, projects must be listed and sample use must be listed and the numbers need to be realistic.

 

Activities requiring mandatory supporting documents

 

Research activities inside a marine protected areas

All research activities conducted inside of MPAs are required to be registered with and approved by the relevant Regulatory Authority. Applications for research within MPAs must be accompanied by proof of registration and approval from the relevant Managing Authority. In an event that concurrent applications are lodged with the DFFE and a Managing Authority, the DFFE shall withhold a permit until such time the responsible Managing Authority confirms approval of the project in writing.

Applications involving small boat research

  • Research boats require an annually renewable Certificate of Fitness in terms of the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations, 2007.  Applications for research activities to be conducted off boat shall include as supporting document a valid South African Maritime Authority’s certificate of fitness.
  • Skippers of the vessels also require a Small Vessel Certificate of Competence in accordance with the regulations. A valid skipper’s ticket shall be included as supporting document.
  • In an event that a charter will be secured, details of the charter company and supporting documents in (a) should be lodged with the DFFE at least two weeks prior to commencement of diving activities.

Applications involving divers

  • All diving operations for research purposes shall comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act No. 85 of 1993), Diving regulations, 2001. Details of divers, copies of their certificates, dive plan etc. must be lodged with the Department during application process.
  • In an event that diving services will be outsourced, details of the contracting company and their divers shall be lodged with the DFFE two weeks prior to commencement of diving activities.

Applications involving remotely piloted aircraft (RPAS)

  • Operating and flying RPAS (also known as drones) may only be done in terms of Part 101 of the Civil Aviation Act, 2009 (Act No.3 of 2009): Eighth Amendment of the Civil Aviation Regulations, 2015.
  • Valid registration documents of the pilot and the RPAS (in terms of a), shall be lodged with the DFFE with the application.
  • In an event that RPAS services will be outsourced, details of the contracting company and supporting documents (in terms of b) shall be lodged with the DFFE two weeks prior to commencement of flying activities.

Applications involving invasive sampling techniques on animals

  • Guidelines on the care and use of animals for scientific purposes was published by South African Bureau of Standards (SANS 10386:2008 Edition 1). “This standard covers all live non-human vertebrates and higher invertebrates such as the advanced members from the Cephalopoda and Decapoda. It also covers eggs, foetuses and embryos and their treatment in a humane manner where development of an integrated nervous system is evident”.
  • Invasive research shall be first approved by a relevant ethics committee and a copy lodged with the application. Invasive research may include, but not limited to drawing of blood, plucking of feathers, branding, marking, prolonged handling, restraining, biopsy sampling, deployment of acoustic/satellite tags, behavioral modification experiments, etc.
  • The DFFE reserves the right to seek a second opinion on approved techniques should it be deemed necessary. This should not be construed as an indictment on the Ethics Committee involved; but should rather be seen and welcomed as an additional layer in protecting animals/research subjects.
  • No application involving invasive techniques without an ethics approval will be considered.

Applications from researchers outside of South Africa

  • Researchers from Academic Institutions and research organisation registered outside the South African jurisdiction must work in collaboration with a recognised South African Academic Institution or recognised organisation stipulated in 2(a-c).
  • Involvement of students who are citizens of South Africa and/or registered at a South African University may better the chances of project support for International projects.
  • Letters of cooperation/agreement/collaboration or signed formal agreements shall be lodged with the application.

Samples collected that will be leaving the country must have benefit sharing agreements as per the Nagoya protocol and bioprospecting regulations as set out by the Department.

 

Application procedure, closing date and enquiries

 

Only applications submitted on the official application form will be considered. These should be sent by e-mail to researchpermits@environment.gov.za, with the subject-line heading “research permit application”.

  • There has been a past tendency to complete the application form sparsely and then just attaching a research proposal. Please complete the application form as detailed as possible. The research proposal does not replace the requirement for a fully complete the application form.
  • Note that there is a restriction on the maximum size of attachments that can be received of 4 MB. Should the application and supporting documents exceed 4MB, applicants are urged to use online file-sharing platforms and provide a link to the documents in the e-mail text.

Deadlines for applications: applications must be submitted /reach the department by the end of last business day of 19 November 2021

The department will endeavor to issue a reference number for each application within seven (7) working days after the closing date. Should this not be the case, please contact:The  Delegated Authority: Research Permits using researchpermits@environment.gov.za and copy Melleney Cope (mcope@environment.gov.za) to ensure that your application has been received.

 

Criteria for evaluation

Applications will be evaluated according to applicant eligibility, resource sustainability, biodiversity and ecosystem considerations and the ethical treatment of animals.  For the most part, we defer to the animal ethics policies of the institutions under whose auspices the research is conducted.  However, some cases may also be referred to an appropriate Departmental Ethics Committee for consideration.

 

Overview of the application and evaluation process

 

October

November

December

 

Week 1

Week 2

 

Week 3

 

Week 4

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Applications received

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledge receipt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review and feedback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permit preparation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Response to applicants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Period of issue of permits

Permits are only issued for a maximum for twelve months.  It is therefore not possible to issue permits for longer than a maximum of one year at a time.

Permits for related activities

  • Research involving beach driving (off road driving)
    A separate permit must be applied for from the DEA Chief Directorate: Integrated Coastal Management (ORVPermitting@environment.gov.za). The application for the research permit must precede that for the beach driving permit.
  • Research involving diving in dive ban areas
    A separate permit must be applied for from the DAFF Customer Services (CScapplications@daff.gov.za) The application for the research permit must precede that for the dive ban permit.
  • Permits to export whole organisms (dead or alive) or parts thereof for research and/or educational purposes
    A separate export permit must be applied for from DAFF Customer Services (CScapplications@daff.gov.za The application for the research permit must precede that for the export permit.
  • Permits to import whole organisms (dead or alive) or parts thereof for research and/or educational purposes
    A separate import permit must be applied for from DAFF Customer Services (CScapplications@daff.gov.za).
  • Permits for museums and public display
    A separate permit must be applied for from the Directorate: Oceans Conservation Strategies. (OCPermits@environment.gov.za).
  • Permits for filming
    A separate permit must be applied for from the Directorate: Oceans Conservation Strategies. (OCPermits@ environment.gov.za ) .
  • Permits for boat based whale watching permits
    A separate permit must be applied for from the DEA Chief Directorate: Integrated Coastal Management. (OCPermits@environment.gov.za).
  • Permits for white shark cage diving
    A separate permit must be applied for from the DEA Chief Directorate: Integrated Coastal Management. (OCPermits@environment.gov.za).
  • Foreign vessels wishing to undertake research in South African waters
    A separate foreign vessel permit must be applied for through the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO).

 

Documents to note and documents for download