Posted by: Natalie Janse | August 19, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 15 August 2014

The hard work of local police in the fight against abalone poaching has made headlines this week with several abalone seizures being reported in the press.  A 37-year-old man appeared in the Strand Magistrate’s court earlier this week after R780 000 worth of abalone was found in his car.

In the eastern Cape police shut down an illegal abalone-drying facility and seized approximately six tons of gourmet mollusc with an estimated value of R10 million. Three men were arrested.

It would appear that inroads are being made by the police to combat the illegal poaching of abalone, but unfortunately confiscation does not assist in the protection of this now highly endangered species. There needs to be greater emphasis on prevention and that is no easy task.

The Panama Canal has made headlines this week, celebrating its 100th birthday.  The famous canal is widely regarded as one of the greatest engineering wonders of the 20th century, but is now under pressure to update and revamp to keep up with competing 21st century canal projects.

The Panama Canal was officially opened on 15 August 1914 and over 1 million vessels have made use of it over the last 100 years.  There are plans to revamp the now dated canal to cater for larger vessels, but the completion date has been extended until January 2016.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | August 9, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 8 August 2014

It was reported in the press this week that, although trout are as yet not mentioned on the new list of alien invasive species, they are not quite out of the woods yet.  The Department of Environmental Affairs is in discussion with members of the local trout industry to determine the listing status of this alien species.

The Federation of Southern African Flyfishers and Trout in SA has welcomed the decision to postpone the listing of trout regulation, saying that they are “committed to finding a workable and simple set of solutions aimed at achieving self-regulation and audited compliance.”

It is, however, still definitely the department’s intention to add trout to the list of invasive aliens, it just remains to be seen how trout will be listed.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | August 1, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 1 August 2014

Perlemoen rights are back in the press this week with Minister Senzeni Zokwana (DAFF) making the announcement that all existing perlemoen rights’ holders have been granted the right to continue fishing for another year.  The existing perlemoen rights expired on Wednesday.

Fisheries management consultant, Shaheen Moolla was quoted as saying that this is the ninth fishing sector to be given exemptions.  “What we are seeing is the farcical collapse of the fishing system to what it was in the 90s.”

In other news, the NSRI was called into action this week after various eyewitnesses reported seeing what looked like paraglider or microlight crashing into the sea near Sunny Cove.

Preparing for the worst, the NSRI launched a rescue vessel and headed to the scene, only to be greeted by 15 “Happy Birthday” balloons tied together and floating in the water about 15 nautical miles offshore.  Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simon’s Town station commander, said, “It is understandable that at the distances involved it looked like a crashing paraglider or microlight aircraft and the good intensions of the eyewitnesses is commended.”

A young subantarctic seal has also made the news this week after appearing in the water off Scarborough, a mere 2000km away from its home on Marion Island.  The seal is a little thin, so the SPCA has stepped in to help fatten her up and fit her with some high tech tracking gear to monitor her progress back to the island once she is released.

Fingers crossed that she makes it home.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | July 25, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 25 July 2014

The final journey of the ill-fated Costa Concordia has continued to make headlines this week.   In what is being described as the greatest salvage operation in history, the righted and raised vessel has slowly been towed to its final destination, Genoa in Northern Italy.  She will now be scrapped.  A sad end for a once beautiful vessel.

It would seem that shark barriers are big business.  In the press this week is yet another proposal for yet another device designed to keep the sharks along the coast of False Bay at bay.

The Kwazulu-Natal Sharks Board is planning a series of experiments to be conducted along the False Bay coast later in the year and in early 2015.  The tests will use electric cables as a potential alternative to more traditional shark nets. According to Geremy Cliff, head of research at the KZN Sharks Board, funding had been allocated to pursue research into electric shark repellent technologies.

He added that the KZN Sharks Board was committed to trying to find alternative options to protect bathers and at the same time reduce the death rate of large sharks, dolphins, turtles and other marine species.   These technologies were apparently originally looked at in the 1990’s.

Also making the headlines this week is the news that the latest round of oil and gas drilling has begun offshore South Africa.  The companies involved in this particular project are Total and Canadian National Resources.  Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi visited the Eirik Raude at Block 11B/12B in the exploration block Brulpadda 1AX approximately 180 km south of Mossel Bay.  The minster was quoted as saying that he is holding his breath waiting for a call from Total saying that they have found oil.

The wait is now on to see whether this site has anything to offer the South Africa oil and gas industry – which is desperate for a find.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | July 19, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 18 July 2014

The Costa Concordia and the salvage team responsible for resurrecting the stricken vessel, headed by Capetonian Nick Sloane,  have made headlines this week as the luxury vessel was refloated in one of the largest salvage operations in history.  The liner capsized two-and-a-half years ago off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people.  A year ago it was righted and has been resting on a temporary platform waiting to be refloated.

The vessel will now be raised a further two metres to allow it to be moved to the harbour, after which tugs are on standby to tow it to Genoa in northern Italy where it will be scrapped.

Sloane is not the only South African involved in the salvage operation.  Kevin Kelly, managing director of Xtreme Projects has also played a part, supplying the orange containment booms surrounding the vessel.

Another proudly South African operation.  Congratulations to the team on a job well done.

In yet another attempt to deter sharks from coming too close to our country’s most popular beaches, a group of developers have come up with a new eco-friendly shark barrier and are hoping to secure funding for the project.

The “Sharksafe” barrier is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional shark nets and is made up of a combination of permanent magnets and artificial “forests” of plastic pipes that look similar to underwater kelp.  The goal would be to use this kelp deterrent as an alternative to more traditional and lethal systems used in Kwazulu-Natal and Australia.  Traditional nets aim to catch sharks where these “kelp nets” aim to merely deter.

A year long trial of the product, involving more than 60 sharks, showed that no sharks ventured through the “kelp”.

This is certainly something to get excited about, especially with the ongoing shark culling in Australia.  It would be fantastic to see our government get behind this project and protect these beautiful creatures, as well as beach goers, but also to set an example to the rest of the world that traditional shark nets are not the only option.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | July 11, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 11 July 2014

The Global Ocean Commission has made headlines this week with a report stating that our oceans are in decline and that “anarchy rules the waves.”

However, the report is not all doom and gloom.  The commission have come up with a rescue package, entitled “Mission Ocean”.

The commission, made up of former heads of state, government officials and business leaders was established in February 2013.  It has spent the past year investigating the decline of global oceans and developed an eight point rescue strategy:

  • A UN sustainable goal
  • Proper high seas governance
  • The halting of over fishing
  • The elimination of illegal an unregulated fishing
  • The adoption of international binding protocols for safety and environmental standards
  • The establishment of a global ocean accountability board
  • Making the high seas a no-go area for industrial fishing and
  • Coordinated action by governments.

The commission has also called on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ask  member states to urgently adopt a three-step approach to get rid of  fisheries subsidies.  These subsidies are one of the main driving forces behind over-fishing and are being linked to the decline and collapse of fish stocks worldwide.

According to former minister Trevor Manuel, one of the three chairman of the commission, the plan will require political will and extremely bold leadership.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | July 4, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 4 July 2014

The re-allocation of fishing rights for fisheries for next year is back in the news this week.  MPs were informed this week that the process, with a combined value of R1.5 million, is way behind schedule.

The portfolio committee has been urged to take an active role in getting the process back on track.  Joseph Ginindza, parliamentary researcher, told the committee that he was “trying not to sound alarmist”, but said that there is very little time available for the complex assessment process that needs to take place  before any fishing rights can be awarded for next year.

“There are people whose livelihoods depend on rights being allocated in time.  If these people can’t fish, there is no income.  It is a matter of urgency,” said Ginindza.

A 55-year-old sailor, Anthony Smith, made the news this week after running his yacht aground on Misty Cliffs beach between Kommetjie and Cape Point.  The sailor, who was taken to the Kommetjie Sea Rescue Base, was cold, but uninjured.  The Kommetjie community rallied around to assist.  Smith was offered a shower at the base, his clothes were dried by Kommetjie Laundry and he was brought food by the owners of the Lighthouse Pub and Grill.

It appears that his yacht will be stranded on the beach for a while due to the bad weather conditions in the region, but it will be up to Smith to source a salvage company to help with the removal of the yacht.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | June 27, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 27 June 2014

South Africa’s research ships are back in the news this week, well at least one. The Ellen Khuzwayo has returned to operation and has already completed a number of research projects.

Nautic Africa, one of the companies that was awarded the tender to manage and repair the vessel, has stated that there has been “a significant survey gap” during the seven months that the vessel was inactive.  The vessel is equipped with an acoustic laboratory, hydrology wet and dry laboratories, a wet fish room and an operation’s room and has already made several voyages to gather data designed to determine shark longline quotas.

Also in the news this week, Premier Helen Zille has made the announcement that the aquaculture industry on the West Coast is to be expanded, along with abalone and salmon farming, creating as many as 2 600 jobs and increasing abalone production to 1000 tons per year.

A Taiwanese-owned vessel due to be auctioned by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)  made headlines this week.  The vessel, either named the Naham 4 or the Derhorng 596, has been under investigation by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) since early 2013 on suspicion of illegal fishing in South Africa’s exclusive fishing zone.

The vessel was detained in April last year, and following the seizure the owners abandoned the vessel, leaving the vessel’s agent with a debt of over R1 million.

According to Godfrey Needham, the ship’s curator appointed by the NPA, about 10 ships have been detained over the past year, but the actual auctioning of detained ships is not a frequent event.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | June 20, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 20 June 2014

In very sad news this week, Maritime Review Africa has learnt of the death of deep-water diver Peter Timm, who the magazine recently interviewed as one of our Green Warriors.  Timm was an experienced diver with a great passion for his work, the environment and life itself.

Although the actual details of his death are not known at this time, according to newspaper reports, he was diving with regular diving partner,  Adele Stegen, near Aliwal Shoal in an attempt to recover a piece of equipment that had fallen off a research vessel.  Both he and Stegen died at the scene. Our thoughts are with their families and friends at this sad time.

After a long delay, one of the Western Cape’s biggest alleged perlemoen poaching syndicates is expected to go to trial in mid-August according to the press this week.

The trial has been delayed until now as neither of the two defendants had legal representation.  The two facing charges are among a group of 25 people accused by the State of playing a role in a syndicate that has been operational since 1998.  It is believed that the operation involved R2.07 million worth of perlemoen.

Also in the press this week is the initiative being launched by Breadline Africa in which refurbished shipping containers will be used to set up a pop-up crèche at the V&A Waterfront over the next few weeks.  Tim Smith, director of Breadline Africa wants to use the initiative to create awareness around the effective use of containers in poorer communities, stating that many children in South Africa are unable to access centres that meet even the most basic requirements.

The organisation takes disused shipping containers and recycles them to be used for community purposes.  At present there are approximately 200 across the country.

The V&A project is being run in collaboration with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and the crèche will eventually be donated to a crèche in Khayelitsha.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | June 13, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 13 June 2014

Despite The SA Commercial Line-fish Association (Sacla) opposing the intervention of small scale fishing communities in a main court application for fishing rights allocations, the Western Cape high court this week  granted permission for the Masifundise Development Trust to be included in the application process.

According to local newspapers, the Masifundise Development Trust is representing small scale fishing communities and is determined to have their say and be part of the application brought against former fisheries minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and her former acting deputy director-general Desmond Stevens.

Last month the Western Cape High Court extended a two-month exemption previously granted to commercial line fishermen until a legal review into last year’s fishing rights allocation process had been completed.

It was at this point that Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced that the allocation process would be set aside following the results of an independent audit.

Despite the minster moving on to a new portfolio, it would seems that she cannot escape the fall out of the fishing rights allocation debacle of 2013.  We wait to see what the outcome of this court battle will be.

It was reported in the press this week that the large container vessel the E-Whale has finally left Cape Town harbour. The vessel was arrested two years ago with various debt issues and was recently bought by Pacific Orca Holdings for R646.3 million.  The vessel left the harbour on Saturday on its way to Port Elizabeth and has been renamed Abby.

In environmental news it was reported in several local newspapers this week that a sea turtle with a cracked shell was rescued from the rocks at Rooipan se Klippe near Yzerfontein.  “Assisted by members of the public, our sea rescue crew carried the sea turtle to our rescue vehicle and the Department of Oceans and Coasts was alerted,” said Rudi Rodgers, NSRI Yzerfontein station commander.

The turtle will be treated at the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Also in the news this week was the announcement that Singapore has joined China in banning shark fin soup from its exhibition and convention centre menus.  The news was welcomed by wildlife and environmental activists.

World Oceans day was celebrated this week under the theme, “Together, we have the power to protect the oceans.”  To commemorate the day, the United Nations called on the international community to continually work at keeping our oceans healthy and productive and also to try to use the resource with mindfulness, equity and sustainability for the benefit of both current and future generations.

In his message marking the day Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “We have to ensure that oceans continue to meet our needs without compromising those of future generations.  Their depths hold current and future solutions to humanity’s energy needs.”

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