Posted by: Natalie Janse | December 6, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 5 December 2014

Recreational deep-sea fishermen celebrated a victory in the press this week with the Pretoria high court advising the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, to reconsider a decision to place a total ban on the catching of red steenbras.

Two years ago red steenbras was placed on the prohibited list, creating a ban on catching.  The Border Deep Sea Angling Association and two other anglers challenged this ban.

The judge ruled in favour of recreational fishermen, saying, “To reach a decision that a total ban is necessary, there must be research indicating that despite the imposed bag limit and closed season, the red steenbras numbers are still declining.  There is simply no such information.”

Concern over rising sea levels has made headlines once again with researchers from the University of California stating that analysis has revealed that the fastest melting part of Antarctica has tripled over the past decade.

Research shows that the melting seems to be speeding up and is irreversible.  The study is the first of its kind, using four measurement techniques to generate and estimate the rate of loss over two decades.

Lead author, Tyler Utterley of UCI said, “Previous studies had suggested this region started to change very dramatically since 1990s.  We wanted to see how different techniques compared.  The remarkable agreement among the techniques gave us confidence we are getting this right.”

The results were released at a global warming conference in Peru.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | November 28, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 28 November 2014

The plight of local fishermen has made headlines again this week with frustrated fishermen from Western Cape coastal towns delivering a memorandum to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) demanding the issuing of immediate interim relief permits.

Coastal Links SA, who represent approximately 4,000 small scale fishermen from various coastal towns, and its secretariat, Masifundise Development Trust released a joint statement, saying, “Deep and enduring problems with the interim relief system are playing havoc with the lives of thousands of people.”

“The late issuing of permits, the inclusion of non-fishermen in beneficiary lists and general mismanagement by the department deprives fishermen of sustainable livelihoods and is causing conflict.”

The addition of military support in the war against perlemoen poaching has also made headlines this week with troops now patrolling poaching hot spots in Buffeljagsbaai and Hawston in the company of fisheries officials.

Chief joint operations officer Lieutenant-General Derrick Mgwebi said, “We have a responsibility to protect the maritime resources of South Africa. We do this in co-operation with the SAPS, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), communities and others involved.”

A self-confessed poacher, not named, said, “People are going hungry because they are too scared to poach while the army is around.”

Japan’s plans to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean have once again made headlines.  Tokyo cancelled its Antarctic hunt earlier this year after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the decades-old hunt should stop.  The decision was based on an attempt to pursue more sustainable whaling.

Japan has long claimed that most whale species are in fact not endangered and that eating whale meat is part of the country’s food culture.

Pollution along the beach at Melkbos is a hot topic in the press this week as rate payers in the area struggle to keep the beach clean.  Public negligence and ignorance seem to be the main contributors to the ongoing problem as beach-goers simply do not discard their waste correctly in the bins provided.  The result is that over a ton of waste is collected from only 12 city beaches each month.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | November 21, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 21 November 2014

The handing down of the first jail sentence under the Marine Living Resources Act has made headlines this week, with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) applauding the outcome.

Huang Zhanyang and Pow Kekun of China pleaded guilty to charges of operating an illegal fish-processing establishment and the illegal possession of abalone.  They were sentenced to three years in jail by the Port Elizabeth Regional Court.

The department was quoted as saying, “This sentence will serve as a major deterrent to anyone who is currently involved in the illegal harvesting, transporting, processing and exporting of our valuable and exploited marine resources, and it gives new impetus to our campaign to protect and grow our marine resources.”

Kreef divers are responding to the new shorter kreef fishing season in the press this week.  Several divers interviewed at Rooiels said that bad weather and murky waters would now no longer have any impact on whether or not to dive.

The season has been shortened from 26 to 21 days and the quota has been dropped from 83 to 69 tons.

Today is World Fisheries Day.  The day is marked around the world by fishing communities through rallies, workshops, public meetings and workshops; all designed to highlight the importance of maintaining the world’s fisheries.  The day also serves as a reminder of the importance of water and the many, many lives that are sustained by our oceans.

 

 

Posted by: Natalie Janse | November 14, 2014

Weekly Press Review – Friday 14 November 2014

Scarring on whales has made headlines this week as it has been found to be of great assistance to scientists in unraveling the mystery of whale migration routes.

Up until now scientist have been aware that humpback whales migrate between their polar feeding grounds and warmer waters for breeding, but the exact routes have been remained a mystery.

Researchers from the University of Pretoria’s Mammal Research Institute have revealed that the scarring on humpback whales, along with how recently they have occurred,  goes a long way to indicating which routes the whales are using to reach their breeding grounds off the west coast of South Africa, Namibia and Gabon.

Researcher, Tess Gridley says that by looking at the patterns of scars caused by cookiecutter sharks and killer whales and comparing these with the distribution of these predators, some light has been shed on the waters that the whales travel through en route to our coast.

“We are reasonable confident that cookiecutter sharks prefer living in warmer waters and avoid the shallower, colder waters of the Benguela ecosystem on the western coast of South Africa and Namibia.  So if whales have lots of cookiecutter shark bites, there’s a good chance they have recently passed through warm water in offshore areas, and only recently reached the coast,” says Gridley.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | November 8, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 7 November 2014

The Volvo Ocean Race has made headlines this week as it arrives in Cape Town.  The race is a great opportunity for the local economy, generating thousands of job opportunities and generating a tidy cash injection.

Garreth Bloor, Mayco member for tourism, events and marketing, says, “These large events that attract well-heeled participants together with association services, contribute significantly to our economic growth.”

Also making headlines this week is a new method of monitoring penguins currently being tested in France.  An international team has been involved in the testing of a robotic penguin chick, cleverly disguised as a real chick, complete with down covering, fins and a sharp beak.

The rover was designed to assist with the reading of signals from electronic ID tags fitted to some of the penguins for research purposes.  These tags cannot be read beyond a distance of 60 metres.  The rover is able to get extremely close to both adult and baby penguins whilst causing very little stress to the birds.

The tests are taking place on king penguins on Possession Island in the Indian Ocean, as well as on Emperor penguins in Antarctica.  Co-author of the study, Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg in France said that the project may lead to “more ethical research that also avoids the scientific bias caused by disturbing the animals in their natural habitat.”

A group of 14 young turtles have also made headlines this week as they make their journey from the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town to UShaka Marine World in Durban.

Every year between April and May, due to the strong currents, turtles wash up on the beach between Noordhoek and Camps Bay.  People who spot them bring them into the Two Oceans Aquarium for rehabilitation.

Aquarium Communications manager Renee Leeuwner says, “They come to us dehydrated, suffering from hypothermia and we get them back on track. Each turtle gets individual attention; once they are ready we take them to uShaka to be released.”

Posted by: Natalie Janse | October 31, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 31 October 2014

Sekunjalo Holdings is back in the press this week with the announcement that the company will be making a R200 million investment in expanding the portfolio of its fishing and aquaculture subsidiary, Premier Fishing.

Premier Fishing has long term fishing rights in South and West Coast lobster, pelagic and squid and is also the owner of Marine Growers in the Western Cape.

The investment will be done through Sekunjalo Investments.

Also making headlines this week was the announcement by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) that as of 15 November the amount of kreef that recreational fishermen may catch will be drastically reduced, along with the time period in which they have to do it.

The announcement was made by Lionel Adendorf, of the Department of Fisheries, stating that the quota for recreational fishermen for the 2014 – 2015 season would be reduced from 83 to 69 tons and the period for fishing would be reduced from 26 to 21 days.

The news has not been well received by recreational fishers or local community fishermen.

In a case of making the best of a bad situation, it has been reported that lifesaver Achmat Hassiem, who was attacked by a great white shark and lost a leg, some eight years ago has joined the fight to protect these beautiful sea creatures.

Hassiem was attacked while swimming with his brother and although he nearly lost his life, the end result was that he lost his leg.  Since then Hassiem has not only gone on to become and extremely successful Paralympic swimmer, but has also become a passionate advocate for the protection of this now endangered species.

He will be speaking at the upcoming UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals in Ecuador.

“It’s my duty to tell people what I’ve gone through.  I believe you can change the world, one person at a time.”

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Colleen Jacka | October 29, 2014

Have you read the Minister’s speech?

Have you read the Minister’s speech? That’s the question being most asked this month at maritime functions and it refers to Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters’ discourse at the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) AGM at the end of September where she called for “immediate action from the (SAMSA) Board in order to resolve the appalling state of affairs at SAMSA”.

What usually follows the opening question in these chats amongst maritime colleagues are the knowing nods and ensuing discussion on the schism that we all believe to exist between the Department of Transport and its subsidiary body – as if this could be the explanation as to why the minister was so severe in her deliberations.

This leads into a conversation on the three pillars of SAMSA’s mandate and how many seem to believe that it is clear that the Authority has taken to heart the third point: to promote South Africa’s maritime interests as its over-arching purpose – perhaps to the detriment of the first two tenets of its existence which relate to the preservation of life, environment and property at sea.

It is an interesting dilemma for the industry. We’ve lauded the Authority, and particularly its CEO Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, for his foresight and passion to champion the maritime cause. We’ve watched him weave the maritime thread into the government conversation. And, as we begin to see a level of recognition across a number of government departments, we are told take stock of an entity that requires some oversight.

One cannot fain surprise that expenditure on conferences and advertisements ballooned from R12m in 2012 to R54 million in 2013. Most conference organisers and many publications have viewed the Authority as an unofficial Lotto pay-out as they cashed in their rate cards and sponsorship tiers. SAMSA has been visual at most events on the calendar including one hosted by us – the Maritime Industry Awards.

Was this a waste of resources? I dare to say that a little discernment could have been applied, but that some of the television slots highlighting the cadets on the SA Agulhas were well timed and could have contributed to a broader maritime awareness amongst our youth. So too do career and job summits, but a rubber stamp of approval associated with the sponsorship and exhibition stands of just about every maritime exhibition and conference could have been undertaken with some introspection.

What the industry has been waiting for is a follow-up to the successful and refreshingly different South African Maritime Industry Conference (SAMIC). Organised by the Authority, the conference has the ability to knock many conferences off the calendar by providing one unified thought tank for the industry.

Envisioned to fill a gap left by the demise of the National Maritime Conference of the 1990’s organised by industry for industry – SAMIC was well positioned to meet the needs of an industry ready and willing to move forward. It seems a pity, however, that this conference, anticipated to take place before the end of 2014, may now never take its rightful place on the calendar.

But this is not the only reason the minister pegs the Authority to be “in serious trouble”. Citing plummeting cash flows (a 350 percent decline), irregular expenditure (R28.8 million), fruitless and wasteful expenditure (R1.1 million), a total asset decline of 96 percent and the cost escalation associated to the SA Agulhas of 31 percent – Peters did not mince her words when she asked that “immediate actions be taken” to make the entity viable and able to deliver on its legislative mandate.

The SA Agulhas may lie at the heart of many of SAMSA’s reported woes, but most in the industry will agree that the Authority’s sheer determination to create a dedicated training vessel for their cadetship programme should not go unapplauded. It was never going to be an easy or cheap endeavour – something that is clearly realised by the Authority. Their Annual Report highlights the need for projects such as the cadetship programme and the SA Agulhas to be funded externally.

“Projects will therefore be funded only to the extent to which project funding is available and the organisation’s core revenue will not be used. The SA Agulhas and the cadetship projects, which contributed significantly to the deficits will soon no longer be funded by SAMSA,” it states in the report.

But perhaps what is most alarming and does not come across clearly in the visually alluring Annual Report is the “lack of reliability of reported information”. The Annual Report provides performance targets that are generally reported as being met or at least mostly met, but the Auditor General raises concerns that these targets are “not specific, measurable or time bound”.

In addition, what is not evident in the Annual Report, but is highlighted in the Minister’s speech is anomalies of data – or data spike for the fourth quarter of the reported year. For instance the tally of inspections of both local and foreign going vessels catapults rather unrealistically in the fourth quarter – calling into question the validity of what is presented.

Similarly, although a 100 percent target of audited training institutions is reported at year-end, according to the speech, data allegedly reveals that no audits were carried out within the first three quarters of the year.

“The fact that the auditors could not validate the performance results and that the third quarter results of some KPI’s seem to be far apart from the fourth quarter results, call for an objective independent performance audit of the 2013/2014 performance information,” she says.

With much more fodder to chew on in both the Annual Report as well as Minister Peters’ speech, it would be unfair to try and unpack the issues here. And as transport month draws to a close and we mull the pronouncements of Operation Phakisa, perhaps our closing issue of Maritime Review Africa for the year will delve a little deeper into the state of South Africa as a maritime nation on the continent.

If you have anything to say on this topic, we welcome your input both on and off the record.

THE ABOVE ARTICLE APPEARS AS THE EDITOR’S COLUMN IN THE SEPT/OCTOBER ISSUE OF MARITIME REVIEW
You can read the full magazine HERE
Posted by: Natalie Janse | October 24, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 24 October 2014

The Robben Island ferry, Sikhulukile is back in the press this week with the news that Robben Island may be forced to sell its R26 million flagship which has been out of service since December 2013.

The Robben Island Museum has spent more than R5 million on repairs since December 2011 and almost R2.6 million on hire costs for substitute boats.

Quinton Mtyala says, “The Robben Island Museum has mandated the museum management to explore the possibility of disposing of Sikhulukile.”

The fisheries department and rock lobster quotas have once again made headlines this week with the news that the department have drastically reduced this season’s rock lobster catch limit by just under 17 percent.  The reduction is aimed at assisting the recovery of the drastically overfished stocks.

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), spokesperson Lionel Adendorf said that all stakeholders had been consulted and had accepted the reductions.  However, the recreational rock lobster sector are not as happy with the decision, saying that the 17 percent cut is over and above an already drastically reduced limit.  In addition they have only been given 21 days in which to catch their kreef.

Also covered in the press this week was the start of the fourth naval exercise between South Africa, Brazil and India that took place in Simon’s Town.  The operation forms part of a 2003 agreement between the navies of these three countries designed to promote “South-South dialogue”.  Defence co-operation has been identified as an area of “constructive engagement.”

Rear Admiral Thamsanqua said, “The aim of the exercise is to provide collective training for Brazilian, Indian and South African navies, building mutual understanding between the navies.”

A University of British Columbia study featured in the press this week states that ongoing industrial fishing practices are causing a revolution in the world’s oceans.  Mankind’s ever growing appetite for large fish, such as tuna and shark, has allowed smaller fish, such as anchovy and sardine to flourish.

The decline in predators has allowed the smaller fish to reproduce and increase stocks for generations to come. However, the news is not all good according to lead author of the research paper, Professor Villy Christensen.  Changes in the ocean’s population are upsetting the balance of nature.  The decline in large fish species means a decline in predators which results in an unnatural increase of other populations.

A little slice of history has also made headlines this week, with the discovery of a graphic notebook from the ill-fated Antarctic expedition of Robert Scott.

The notebook was discovered trapped in the ice outside Scott’s 1911 Terra Nova base and belonged to scientist George Murray Levick.

The notebook is now in the care of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust and each page is being individually preserved.  The trust is working on the preservation of five exploration sites used by Ernest Shackleton, Edmund Hilary and Robert Scott and the notebook will be added to the collection.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | October 17, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 17 October 2014

The 12 penguins released by SANCCOB at Simon’s Town beach over the weekend made headlines this week.  The birds have been in SANCCOB’s care for the last six to eight weeks for rehabilitation, most suffering from shark or seal bites or general malnutrition.

Only two percent of these penguins still live in the wild.

Over 500 people streamed down to the beach to witness the penguins’ release.

Abalone rights holders made headlines this week amid an outcry over a proposal by the department of fisheries to implement a new catch limit.  The department would like to see the limit altered from the 96 tons of last year to just 43 tons.

Industry representative for the Cape Town area, Andre Cimma, described the proposal as diabolical.  “This is clearly a joke, 43 tons is not commercially sustainable.”

The feeling among industry representatives is that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is punishing the legal industry for their own inability to control the ever increasing levels of abalone poaching, which has obviously had a serious impact on abalone stocks.

Posted by: Colleen Jacka | October 13, 2014

New entrants should be accommodated in blue economy

Respondents to our Operation Phakisa survey were unanimous in their view that the maritime industry has the capacity to cater for new entrants with 71 percent deeming it “realistic” and a further 29 percent seeing it as “very realistic”.  Just under 30 percent, however, believe that it is unrealistic to expect the maritime industry to create one million jobs and for the blue economy to reach R1.7 billion by 2033.

The South African presidency is due to announce the outcome of deliberations held under the auspices of the Ocean Labs in Durban this week at an open day. Targets and activities committed to by stakeholders will be made public and it will be interesting to see if expectations can be met.

Most of our survey respondents, who mostly represent industry stalwarts of ten or more years, agree that involvement from government is “very important” (71 percent), but view government catalysts during their tenure to be “unsatisfactory” (71 percent).

We are still accepting responses to the survey <CLICK HERE TO PARTICIPATE> and will bring you news from Durban and the Phakisa Open Day in the next issue of Maritime Review Africa.

 

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