Posted by: Natalie Janse | March 27, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 27 March 2015

A group of local fishermen were lucky to escape with their lives this week after being accidentally fired upon by a warship involved in military exercises offshore of Cape Agulhas.  According to the press, the incident took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning during a joint naval exercise between the SA Navy and the German Navy.  It is believed that the fishing vessel was mistaken for one of the small radio-controlled vessels being used as a targets during the exercise.

Luckily no one was injured and both the SA and the German Navy have stated that they are aware of the incident and will be releasing a joint statement once the incident had been thoroughly investigated.

Also covered in the press this week was the visit by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies to to the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone.  The minister was informed that workers would require a dramatic skills upgrade if they hoped to benefit from employment opportunities on the oil rigs at Saldanha Bay.

Peter Jordaan, Saldanha Bay councillor said, “There is a misalignment of the skills required and supply of skills.  Besides the normal qualification for welding, people working on oil rigs also need the American Bureau of Standards qualification and, because of this, many local guys would not qualify to work on an oil rig.”

The department is in the process of establishing a plan to assist with the required skills training.

 

Posted by: Natalie Janse | March 20, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 20 March 2015

Forensic report findings reported in the press this week have described the policy regarding small scale fisheries as ambiguous and contradicting the National Development Plan.

These findings were revealed by a forensic report carried out by Emang Basadi Legal and Forensic Services and commissioned by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to review the work of the fisheries branch.

The report stated:  “Allegations of departmental interference are common and in some cases likely to be true.  Currently it is perceived that only some individuals are benefitting.”

More damning evidence against a process that has been fraught with problems from day one.

Meanwhile, also featured in the press this week are the discussions taking place between the ministers of fisheries, environment and transport to establish a single and co-ordinated structure to manage the fisheries research and patrol vessels.

DAFF minister, Senzeni Zokwana said, “In some instances we have been found wanting in the processes.  We will look at a possible well co-ordinated process by which all three departments can have one structure that manages them.”

The press has also assisted in promoting the South African Navy Festival taking place in Simon’s Town this weekend.  With 12 national and international navy vessels to be seen, as well as dog shows and live music, there is guarantee to be something for everyone.

“The reason we hold this festival is to present our work and ships to the public,” said Lieutenant Leverne Benjamin.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | March 13, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 13 March 2015

Covered in the press this week was the official opening of the Transformation Display at the SA Naval Museum in Simon’s Town.  The display is designed to showcase the previously unrecognised contributions made by soldiers of colour through history.

Vice-Admiral Johannes Mudimu set the wheels of change in motion in 2005 when he became Chief of the Navy. Mudimu was the first black chief appointed and, at the time of his appointment, felt that the museum was not offering a balanced perspective of race and gender within the navy.

Lieutenant-Commander Leon Steyn, museum curator said, “The museum had a mainly white-dominated historic display, and although this represented a good history, it did not represent all the races who were part of the navy’s history.

“Back then, whites and coloureds were integrated when they were at sea, sharing each other’s bunks.  It was sad because once they reached shore, they would have to go back to living apart because of apartheid’s rules and regulations.”

With the opening of this display the role of many people and events who contributed to the transformation of the SA Navy will receive the recognition that they deserve.

Steyn hopes that the new display will also open healthy discussions and debate regarding South Africa’s rich and varied naval history.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | March 6, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 6 March 2015

Perlemoen arrests have made headlines again this week with another five people being arrested after a raid on a house in Kuilsriver.  Three Chinese nationals and two Zimbabweans were arrested at the scene where wet and dry perlemoen to the value of R3.2 million was discovered.  The five appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

Managing director of Maersk Line South Africa, Jonathan Horn’s comments with regard to South Africa no longer being the only gateway into Africa have also made headlines this week.

At the group’s global results report in Durban, Horn pointed out that ports in both east and west Africa were catching up with South African ports.

“If you look at the emerging markets of West and East Africa, they are slightly smaller, but their growth rates there are increasing significantly and on a much higher level.  South Africa is certainly not the only gateway to Africa anymore,” said Horn.

Also making the news is the strike by Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) members at two crayfish packaging companies in Hout Bay and Saldanha.  The strike is due to a dispute over the manner in which worker-related negotiations should be conducted.

The factories are Inkosi Keta Marine in Hout Bay and the Live Fish Tanks on the West Coast. Fawu national fishing sector organiser, Zolani Mbanjwa said, “We, as Fawu, are pushing for collective negotiations with the two companies.  The dispute started when we tried to consolidate the recognition agreement for both companies under one agreement.  But the companies refused to enter into the agreement.”

Keta marine’s labourer relations manager, Frederi Steyn-Visser said the issue had been referred to the CCMA for a resolution.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | February 27, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 27 February 2015

Making headlines this week is the confiscation of R2 million worth of crayfish tails by police near Lwandle in Cape Town.  The three individuals involved will appear in court today.  Andre Traut, police spokesman said, “The three suspects are due to appear … on charges of illegal possession and transportation of an excessive amount of crayfish tails.  The legal limit for an individual to possess crayfish is four per permit.”

Plastic pollution is back in the headlines this week with a new study revealing that certain corals actually eat  plastic particles as if they were food.The study, conducted by researchers from James Cook University in Australia, found that corals ate plastic particles at a rate only slightly lower than their normal rate of feeding on marine plankton.  The result of this is that the coral may then not be able to digest their normal food which would obviously impact on the safety of the species in the future.

This points back to the ever growing concern surrounding plastic pollution in our oceans and the impact this ultimately has on fisheries, tourism and the marine environment.

Also making headlines this week is the official opening of the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary in Gansbaai. The rehabilitation centre is a project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and consists of eight new buildings and two new swimming pools especially designed for the rehabilitation of the African penguin and other seabirds.

The centre is able to accommodate up to 300 penguins at one time and in a crisis, such as an oil spill, up to 1,000 penguins.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | February 20, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 20 February 2015

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the decision to once again extend all long-term commercial fishing rights has made headlines this week.  DAFF is apparently in need of more time to sort out the fishing rights allocation process in general and, therefore, existing fishing rights due to expire this year have been extended, in some sectors for up to one year.

The department said that the extensions would allow  for a “well managed and transparent” allocation process.  This news follows in the wake of the disastrous fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) of 2013 over which there was such an outcry that the then Minister of Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, called for a forensic audit.  The ultimate findings of the audit were that the FRAP of 2013 had been legally faulty and that it was simply not possible to correct these faults. You can read more about the extensions and implications in the forthcoming issue of Maritime Review Africa.

The war against perlemoen poaching continues and it was reported in the press this week that another R1 million worth of illegally fished perlemoen was confiscated by police in Somerset West.  A 26 year old man was arrested and taken in for questioning after 1958 perlemoen were found in his possession.  His initial court appearance was set for this week.

The SA Agulhas II has returned from her 14 month mission to Antarctica.  The vessel was photographed by various press agencies as she docked at the V&A Waterfront after fourteen months in Antarctica.  On board was Christiaan Crous, member of the scientific research group Sanae 14 who was quoted as saying that the trip was unbelievable, but just too short.

 

Posted by: Natalie Janse | February 13, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 13 February 2015

Officials in Elands Bay have been battling a severe case of red tide in the area this week.  There have been several headlines throughout the week describing how authorities are wading through hundreds of tons of West Coast Rock Lobster which washed up on the beaches in the area.  Live specimens were removed, placed in tanks and later relocated to safer waters and the remaining dead animals were taken to local dumps for fear of them being washing back into the ocean.

Red tide is caused by phytoplankton in the water which drastically lowers oxygen levels causing the death of many sea creatures, including West Coast Rock Lobster.

Lionel Adendorf, Director of Communications Services for DAFF was part of the clean-up operation, but also took the opportunity to warn the public that should anyone be found with any of the rock lobster in their possession they would be fined or arrested unless they had the appropriate permit allowing them to fish for West Coast Rock Lobster.

The Costa Concordia also made headlines this week as the captain of the stricken vessel heard his fate in an Italian court room.  Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the 2012 shipwreck which led to the deaths of 32 people.  He was found guilty of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.

Schettino has admitted some responsibility, but denied any blame for the deaths that occurred during the evacuation.

Costa Cruises, the owners of the ocean liner,  was also held liable for the accident and was ordered to pay a 1 million Euro fine, as well as 30 000 Euros compensation to each passenger on board and millions of Euros in compensation to the Italian government, the region of Tuscany and the island of Giglio for environmental damage.

The Greenpeace sailing boat, Rainbow Warrior is in the news this week as she docked in Cape Town en route to Port Elizabeth and Durban.  The public is invited on board the vessel free of charge this weekend to learn about the activities of the Greenpeace group.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | February 7, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 6 February 2015

The abalone poaching crisis has again received some coverage in the press this week. Large areas of Hout Bay beaches reveal sad abalone graveyards as abalone shells lie knee deep in some places, pointing to the fact that abalone poaching is still rampant in this part of the world.

Markus Burgener of the wildlife trade monitoring network, Traffic, said, ”It’s a huge problem because it is such a well established business now, well run and obviously worth a lot of money.”

“It’s really a difficult thing to turn around now. You need a much bigger budget and different enforcement tactics to keep abalone in the water.

Interestingly Burgener also pointed out that poaching is not just a random crime, but is often in response to the extreme poverty experienced in various coastal towns. He, therefore, added that one would need to look at, at minimum, a five year strategy to find alternate employment opportunities to poaching.

The  Ocean Basket restaurant chain made headlines this week having to explain to both customers and the Advertising Standards Authoruty of SA (ASA), as to why it served a Pangasius fish which is harvested from fresh water and not sea water, as is expected from the restaurant.

Marketing analyst, Chris Moerdyk, seems to think that the chain need not be too concerned about its brand image after the incident. “It takes quite a lot to damage a brand and I do not think this will do it.”

His advise: “Do the right thing and apologise to the public and in future mention whether its product comes from freshwater or seawater.”

The electronic shark nets at False Bay have made the headlines again this week; this time with scientist pulling their hair out in frustration at the lack of shark activity in the area. Paul von Blerck, researcher from KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board said, “We’ve spent an arm and a leg on this equipment and not a single white shark to date. No shark means we can’t test the equipment. Even one animal would give us some direction.”

Shark activity in the area over the summer season has decreased from between 50 and 60 sightings in some years to a mere 21 this year. Great for swimmers, not so great for researchers.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | January 30, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 30 January 2015

There were mixed headlines in the news this week relating to the maritime industry.

A warning from Saldanha Bay’s Port Manager, Willem Roux, that if the harbour does not make the most of opportunities available for oil services now, they will lose out to other harbours in the southern hemisphere made headlines.

These comments came on the back of a major new oil service project in Saldanha Bay launched earlier this month by TNPA and the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone.

The stricken cruise liner the Costa Concordia is back in the news this week.

Calls have been made for a strict sentence to be passed down to Francesco Schettino, the captain of the vessel which ran aground in early 2012 causing the deaths of 32 passengers. Italian lawyers for the prosecution have said that if found guilty Schettino should serve a minimum of 26 years for the part that he played in the accident.

The release of 17 young turtles back into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean has also made headlines. They were found washed up on various beaches in the Western Cape over the past 18 months and rescued by concerned members of the public.

The turtles were taken to the Two Oceans Aquarium for the first part of their rehabilitation, after which they were transported to Ushaka Sea World in Durban for further rehabilitation including antibiotics, stabilising their body temperature in warmer waters, wound care and assistance with flotation.

“How wonderful to see them all swimming away again. Some were in a really poor state when they came to us,” said Renee Leeuwner, Two Oceans Aquarium communications manager.

 

Posted by: Natalie Janse | January 16, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 16 January 2015

The release of the International Maritime Bureau’s global report made headlines this week with the revelation that in 2014 Asia accounted for three-quarters of global maritime piracy.  The piracy mostly took the form of tanker hijackings, resulting in a jump of 22 percent in armed robbery and pirate attacks in the region.

Intertanko regional manager Asia said, “There is no hiding the fact the 22 percent increase is significant and worrying.”

In a response to this and the concern for crew safety, ReCAAP has proposed the extension of naval and coastguard patrols in the area.

A fossil discovery in Scotland has made headlines this week. The fossil, a shark-like reptile believed to have lived 170 million years ago, was discovered on the Isle of Sky in 1959, but has only now been identified as a new species of Ichthyosaur – a long extinct marine reptile that dominated the oceans in the Jurassic period.

The discovery has been named Dearcmhara Shawcrossi after the amateur collector who donated the specimen to the Glasgow Hunterian Museum.

Dr Steve Brusatte, University of Edinburgh palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh said, “During the time of the dinosaurs, the waters of Scotland were prowled by big reptiles the size of motor boats.  Their fossils are very rare.”

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