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.”

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.

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 224 other followers