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.

 

Posted by: Natalie Janse | October 10, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 10 October 2014

The ongoing perlemoen crisis has made headlines again this week with a study pointing to the fact that ever-depleting perlemoen stocks are primarily due to increased levels of organised crime, drug dependency and poverty in smaller South Africa communities.

The study was conducted by TRAFFIC and 25 years of lawful and unlawful trade in perlemoen formed the basis for the research. The study found that extreme poverty and drug dependence have led to people in small fishing villages turning to perlemoen poaching as a means to gain income.

Most of the perlemoen eventually finds its way to markets in Hong Kong.

Also reported in the press this week is the annual right southern whale survey that is taking place along the coast between Muizenberg and Nature’s Valley at present.

The survey is conducted annually by the University of Pretoria’s Mammal Research Institute.  Researchers Ken Findlay and Meredith Thornton are about half way through this year’s survey.  Each whale that they spot is recorded, all cow and calf pairs are recorded and photographed and whales with distinctive brindle markings are also photographed.

The data that is collected is analysed to provide information regarding population abundance, growth rates, survival, calving intervals and age.

The “green seafood” movement has made headlines again with a report published by WWF-SA’s Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative revealing that the 10 retailers signed up to their programme has shown on average a 30 percent improvement in selling and sourcing sustainably harvested seafood.

The report stated that, “shifts in consumer patterns had triggered a reaction from retailers who began to look for more sustainable suppliers to meet the changing consumer demand.”

Iziko Museums were also in the news  with their focus on marine heritage.  Marine heritage will be celebrated with a week-long programme entitled:  Discovering the Deep:  past, present and future.

National Marine Week is celebrated annually and its aim is to bring awareness to the marine and coastal environment, as well as to promote the sustainable use and conservation of all marine resources.

Posted by: Colleen Jacka | October 7, 2014

Shark boy inspires DEA Minister

Sharing the platform at yesterday’s launch of National Marine Week, Achmat Hassiem – aka shark boy – stole much of the limelight as he motivated learners to pursue their dreams. But he also managed to capture the attention of the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, who attempted to persuade him to share his motivation with public servants and inspire them in their work.

Achmat survived a harrowing shark attack in 2006. The incident resulted in the loss of one of his lower legs, but failed to see him lose his spirit to pursue his dream of representing South Africa on the international sporting stage. He went on to compete in the Para Olympics and in 2012 won a bronze medal in the pool. He currently holds a number of world records in swimming – and champions the conservation of sharks when he speaks to audiences around the world.

The learners at the function clung to every word of his story as he described, in detail, the terrifying experience of coming face to face with a 4.7 m shark. Tall, muscular, fit and clearly ambitious and driven to succeed, Achmat was also clear in his message that life is to be lived and enjoyed.

Before delivering her keynote address, Minister Molewa spent a number of minutes addressing the shark-boy as he became known in swimming circles. She asked him to leave the international audiences and concentrate on delivering his message to the public servants of South Africa.

It’s clear that she feels our administrators could benefit from his message – and who would not agree that public servants get a little shot of enthusiasm to help them cope with the rigours of their daily work. Achmat certainly helped me aim to peal away a layer of complacency!

 

Posted by: Colleen Jacka | October 6, 2014

Three new vessels to be launched in National Marine Week

National Marine Week kicked off in Cape Town this morning when the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Minister Edna Molewa, addressed a small audience of learners, invited guests and media. It was the first in a number of maritime-related functions in our calendar this week that includes the launch of three new vessels in Durban and Cape Town.

  • On Wednesday Sea Harvest will name their newly acquired R130 million vessel, the Atlantic Peace where Chairman Fred Roberston and CEO Felix Ratheb will officiate the proceedings.
  • Nautic Africa launches their 35 m Sentinal on Thursday in the Cape  Town harbour and invited guests will be treated to a little spin in the multi-role crew and patrol vessels.
  • Smit Amandla Marine will launch the latest addition to their fleet in Durban on Thursday.  The Sibanye linerunner has been in production at the SA Shipyards facility and will receive a formal welcome.

That’s a lot of nautical flavour for a week that is aptly named and perhaps speaks to the pronouncements that the government is making around the blue economy. Minister Molewa touched on the importance of Operation Phakisa this morning too – and affirmed that the results of the Ocean Lab deliberations held in Durban recently will be announced shortly.

She added that the Department of Environmental Affairs has been tasked to lead the blue economy initiative and that the focus will be on sustainable economic and social development.

We are still collecting feedback from the industry on Operation Phakisa. <CLICK HERE> To complete our quick survey on the initiative.

 

Posted by: Natalie Janse | October 3, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 3 October 2014

The vessel the Africa Mercy has made headlines this week as she docked at the V&A Waterfront for a two week visit.  The vessel is the world’s largest civilian hospital ship and will host three open days during her stay in Cape Town before departing for Madagascar.

The vessel, which is equipped with state-of-the-art operating rooms, is staffed by volunteers and provides free medical care to patients across Africa.

The Africa Mercy and her sister vessels have visited more than 70 countries and provided more than R11 billion worth of medical services.  More than 2.5 million patients have been treated.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | September 26, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 26 September 2014

Hout Bay beach has made headlines this week.  The beach has been closed since late last week after standard water tests revealed high levels of E.coli.

According to Benedicta van Minnen of the mayor’s office, the cause of the high E.coli levels may not necessarily be only due to human waste in the Disa River which flows through Hout Bay.  She stated that, after the heavy rains at the end of the rainy season, the storm water flowing into the sea can also raise the E.coli levels.

The NSRI was in the news again this week after rescuing a sailor who fractured his hand and arm whilst on board his vessel.

The Anna M was sailing from Cameroon to Singapore when a 41-year old Turkish sailor fell 5 metres on board his vessel and required medical assistance.  The vessel headed for Cape Town to arrange for the evacuation of the sailor.

Pat van Eyssen NSROI Table Bay station commander said, “Our NSRI Table Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft accompanied by two Western Cape Government Health EMS rescue paramedics and responded.”

The sailor is being treated at Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital.

Results of studies done by Nasa regarding the thinning of the ice in the Arctic sea grabbed also attracted some media attention.  Ice readings are at their sixth lowest since recording began in 1978.

Nasa tracks sea ice from space, as well as performing airborne field research.  Operation IceBridge operates flights over the Arctic and has been measuring sea ice and ice sheets for several years.

According to Walter Meier, researcher at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, “It is so much thinner than it used to be, it is more susceptible to melting.”

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