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.”

Posted by: Natalie Janse | June 6, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 6 June 2014

The Sharks International Conference made it into the newspapers this week as it saw the launch of a global strategy to protect the endangered sawfish.  The sawfish faces a greater risk of extinction than any other marine fish at present primarily due to fishing, but also due to trawling where bycatch becomes an issue.  The fish’s long toothed snout easily gets caught in all kinds of fishing nets.  They are fished for their meat and their rostra (snouts) which are sold as curios.

At present there is a CITES ban on international commercial trade in sawfish and the strategy hopes to work in conjunction with this ban, calling for the national and regional outlawing of the intentional killing of sawfish.

Also making headlines was the seizure of pangolin scales. Amid concerns over ever increasing levels of illegal trade in various threatened wildlife, this week Hong Kong customs made the largest seizure of endangered African pangolin, discovering over 1000kg of pangolin scales in a shipping container originating in South Africa.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), international trade in pangolin is banned.  However due to huge demands for pangolin flesh and scales from China, along with the willingness to pay exceptionally high prices, wildlife-trafficking remains a sad reality.

Some news of investment in the fishing industry rounded off the headlines this week. It was announced this week that I&J has made a R500 million investment in three new fishing vessels and well as the upgrading of a fish factory in Woodstock.  The investment will create up to 75 new jobs.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | May 30, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 30 May 2014

After the dramatic governmental cabinet shuffle announced this week, there are many in the industry who breathed a sigh of relief at the news that Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson will no longer be at the helm of the fisheries department and that that position is now in the hands of Minister Senzeni Zokwana.

Having said that, many civil society groups are dismayed at the news that Minister Joemat-Pettersson will now head up the Department of Energy.  Some feel that she should have been removed from office altogether, rather being handed control of a department that is crucial for the development of the country.

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa was quoted as saying that the ANC did not determine an individual’s capabilities on the basis of past experience.

A new study has revealed that bottom trawling is causing “deep-sea biological desertification.”  This type of fishing, where a net is dragged along the ocean floor, has been controversial for many years.  It is recognised as the most destructive form of fishing, primarily due to the large numbers of marine species that are caught and killed in the nets as bycatch, but also due to the damage caused to coral reefs.

The new study goes even further to say that the microscopic sea creatures living in the marine sediment are killed during trawling.

The study was conducted by Antonio Pusceddu of the Polytechnic University of Italy.

In South Africa bottom trawling is used to catch hake, sole and prawns.  The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) confirms that there are very high numbers of bycatch, including seals, seabirds, turtles, prawns and sharks.

With the ever-growing concern for our planet,  it is believed that a less destructive method of fishing needs to be given some consideration.

Two anglers, Gareth Collingwood and Gary Clouws, learnt the hard way that our marine life is full of surprises.  A day of sporting fun off the coast of Durban turned into a nightmare when a blue marlin, weighing an estimated 100kg, leapt out of the sea and skewered both men to the back section of their boat.

The incident happened at about 11am and resulted in massive damage to the boat as well as the two anglers being aided by the NSRI and taken to the local hospital.  A month later their wounds are still dressed and they are still going for regular hospital check-ups.

As for the marlin …. it got away.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | May 23, 2014

Weekly Press Review – 23 May 2014

The failed 2013 fishing rights allocation process (FRAP2013) has continued to make headlines this week.  While the audit into FRAP 2013 by Harris Nupen and Molebatsi found no evidence of corruption, the audit did reveal that the process was rushed, flawed, contained “critical lapses” and was driven by the desire for “an appropriate outcome” rather than to meet the needs of the fishery.

The disaster of the 2013 fishing rights allocation process has caused much anger and frustration and has cost the country’s tax payers millions of rands, but where to now?   Let us hope that the mistakes of the last year can be put aside and the new fishing rights allocation process will be well planned, well co-ordinated, well implemented and well received.  One tall order.

Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson herself has been quite outspoken in the press this week.  In an interview with a Cape Town newspaper she stated that, when starting with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), she had taken over a department “filled with corruption” and that she was shocked by the number of officials living well above their means, adding that she had  chosen to work for the poor.  One can only assume that after making comments along these lines it would be hard to return to work on Monday ….

She also stated that commercial perlemoen quotas needed to be looked at urgently and that changes could be expected as soon as the end of July this year.

It would seem that changes are definitely afoot at DAFF and everyone is awaiting the announcement of ministerial positions.

In other news, after two years in Table Bay harbour, the vessel, the E-Whale, has been sold to a foreign company for $61 million (R637m).  The vessel was arrested in April 2012 after various creditors alerted local authorities of large outstanding debts on the vessel.

A deposit has been made by the company purchasing the vessel and they now have five days in which to settle the outstanding balance before taking ownership.

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