Posted by: Natalie Janse | November 27, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 27 November 2015

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, attended a World Fisheries Day celebration in Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape this week.  According to the press, the minister said that fishing communities needed to be the custodians of the protection of marine resources.

The celebrations served to highlight the importance of maintaining the world’s fisheries, as fish is an important source of food for many worldwide. One in five people depend on fish as their primary food source.

With the holiday season just around the corner, South African harbours are preparing for a busy tourist season. TNPA Chief Executive Richard Vallihu was quoted in the press this week as saying that at least eight pleasure boats and 10 passenger ships are expected to bring tens of thousands of both international and local tourists to South African harbours over the next few months.

Some of the vessels scheduled to visit our shores include:

  • Nautica – Ocean Cruises
  • Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager – Regent seven Seas Cruises
  • MS Astor – Transocean Tours
  • MS Marina and Insignia – Oceania Cruises
  • Silver Cloud – Silversea Cruises, and
  • Europa 2 – Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Also making headlines this week is the arrival of the Meteoro in Table Bay.  The vessel is one of the world’s most advanced offshore patrol vessels and has recently spent four months in the Gulf of Aden fighting piracy off the Somalian coast.

The deployment of the Meteoro forms part of the Spanish government’s commitment to Operation Atlanta, the EU’s counter-piracy mission started in 2008.

The vessel will host several official engagements during her stay in the Cape.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | November 20, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 20 November 2015

I&J has made headlines this week with the launch of two new vessels to be added to their fishing fleet.  The Ferox and the Umlodi will form part of the company’s R500 million investment in the fishing industry. The two new vessels will be replacing older vessels in the fleet and will provide 75 new jobs within the industry.

The rescue of 32 baby penguins from Dyer Island off Gansbaai has been in the news this week.

At this time of year the parents of several young chicks undergo their annual moulting season.  During this phase the birds do not go out to sea.  This means that they are unable to supply their young with food and the baby birds face starvation.

Under usual circumstances nature conservationists would allow nature to take its course, but due to the drastically depleting penguin numbers, intervention is essential.

Cape Nature and the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary have therefore stepped in and removed the 32 young birds from the island.  They have been taken to a rehabilitation centre in Kleinbaai where they will be fed and cared for until they are able to fend for themselves, at which point they will be released.

Cape Natures’s conservation manager, Deon Geldenhuys said, “If it were not for the efforts of the chick bolstering project, these abandoned chicks would starve to death.”

This weekend Capetonians will have the opportunity to board a traditional Hawaiin sail boat which is docked at the V&A waterfront.

According to the press the Hokule has been docked in Cape Town for the past week and this weekend is the final opportunity for interested Capetonians to board the vessel and found out how this historical vessel is piloted using only the ocean currents and the stars.

A Ceremony of Friendship with traditional Hawaiin singing and dancing took place in Cape Town last week.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | November 16, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 13 November 2015

Environmental concerns have featured predominantly in the press this week.

A large glacier in Greenland has become unmoored and has started to crumble into the Atlantic Ocean.  The result could be an increase in water levels of up to 45 cm.

A research team from the University of California have been studying the glacier in question using satellite imagery.  According to research published in Science, the glacier is losing mass at a rate of five billion tons a year.

According to scientists the shape and dynamics of the glacier have changed dramatically over the last few years and it is now breaking up and calving high volumes of icebergs into the ocean, resulting in rising sea levels for years to come.

Senior author, Eric Rignot, said, “The top of the glacier is melting away as a result of decades of steadily increasing air temperatures, while its underside is compromised by currents carrying warmer ocean water.”

Also making headlines is the concern voiced by Italian scientist Sara Andreotti that great white sharks along the South African coast do not have enough genetic diversity to survive a lethal disease or major change in the environment and are therefore at higher risk of extinction.

Andreotti and her team conducted research over a four year period aboard a catamaran focusing on shark hotspots along the South African coast from Port Nolloth to Port Elizabeth.

Andreotti believes that future conservation measures need to take the low gene pool into account.  “A starting point would be to stop killing them legally, to stop the shark nets and baited hooks in Kwa-Zulu Natal that are designed to kill them.  The white shark population … is not as healthy as we thought,” says Andreotti.

Another perlemoen arrest has made headlines this week.  Two men were arrested on a small holding in Gordons Bay in possession of perlemoen with an estimated value of R1.5 million.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) was called in to count the perlemoen.  There were 81 fresh perlemoen and 13 160 dried perlemoen.  the two men will appear in the Strand Magistrates Court on Monday.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | November 9, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 6 November 2015

This week a small slice of maritime history was celebrated as the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) hosted a commemoration entitled:  Remembering the Icons of the Sea.

Members of the media were included in the event which took place aboard the SA Agulhas in the Cape Town docks.  The commemoration was in honour of the approximately 40 brave men exiled from South Africa who attempted to enter the country aboard the Soviet vessel, The Aventura.

The vessel was bound for KwaZulu-Natal, but Operation Aventura was abandoned just outside Somalia and the men then found their way into South Africa via Swaziland and Botswana.

Former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) commander Fanele Mbali and fellow comrades Tlom Cholo and Zola Nqose, who were all part of the Luthuli attachment, attended the event.

“We desperately wanted to get back home to fight the boer, and die in that engagement if we had to,” said Mbali.

SAMSA chief executive Tsietsi Mokhele said, “Our stalwarts played a significant role in maritime heritage.  What the stalwarts made us realise was that the sea offers more than just fish and a good view.  Maritime explorations were critical.”

The Oceana Fishmeal Factory in Hout Bay is back in the headlines this week.

The jobs of 98 of the factory’s employees have been saved thanks to a successful bid by the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (FAWU).

In August Oceana made the announcement that they would not be able to keep the factory working due to continual complaints from some residents in the area about the smell emitted from the factory.

The jobs of the workers have been saved after the signing of an agreement between Fawu and Oceana, extending the operating lease of the factory from one to five years.

Oceana also announced this week that the company would be spending an estimated R11 million to update their chemical scrubbing technology to deal with the odour problem.

Chief executive Francois Kuttel was, however, quick to point out that the this was not going to solve the problem to the satisfaction of all residents of Hout Bay.

“Let me be categorical here, unfortunately, nothing we are going to do will stop the smell.  The technology simply does not exist,” he said.

The name Bengis is also back in the headlines this week with the announcement that David Bengis, son of former Cape Town fishing magnate Arnold Bengis, has agreed to pay $1.5 million to the South African government as restitution for the illegal harvesting of rock lobster in South African waters.

This is part of the $22.5 million that a US court ordered Arnold and David Bengis, along worth their partner Jeffrey Noll, to pay the South African government as restitution for the illegal importation of poached lobster to the US.

The lobster were poached in South Africa between 1987 and 2001.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | October 30, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 30 October 2015

Shipbuilding was in the news this week as Minister Rob Davies took the opportunity to highlight its potential contribution to the economy at the launch of a new vessel built at the Damen Shipyard Cape Town Facilities.

Smit Amandla Marine (SAM) partnered with Damen Shipyards to build two new vessels at a cost of R150 million.

SAM took on the local boat building challenge and made the decision to build the two vessels locally as part of their obligations in the National Industrial Participation Programme.

Rob Davies, Trade and Industry Minister, said, “We’ve identified that we have an opportunity to more or less triple the number of people employed, as well as the contribution to the GDP between now and 2033 from the oceans economy and one of the sub-sections of that is boat and shipbuilding.”

Smit Amandla Marine director Paul Maclons said, “While it is often more cost-effective to build these vessels in the East, it made sense to explore other options and support client and country priorities, with our company investing significantly into the local economy.”

The naming ceremony for one of the vessels took place on Thursday.  The vessel was named the Aukwatowa.

Also making headlines this week was the announcement that South Africa’s state-owned aerospace and defence company, Denel, will be launching its maritime division, with the aim of becoming a strategic partner to the South African Navy.

The launch will take place at the upcoming Maritime Africa Conference and Exhibition taking place at the CTICC in November.

Ismail Dockrat, chief executive of Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime said, “Maritime Africa is a fantastic opportunity for Denel to launch our maritime division in public and articulate our aspirations within the sector.”

Also in the news this week is another abalone arrest which took place in Hermanus.  The a 52-year-old man suspect was arrested and dried abalone with an estimated value of R1.2 million was confiscated.

According to the press the threat to the survival of the African penguin is so great that conservation organisations are planning to take drastic action to try to save this species from possible extinction.

The plan is to set up an artificial penguin colony on the southern Cape coast.  According to Christina Hagen, of Birdlife South Africa, the two sites being considered for the colony are De Hoop Nature Reserve and a stretch of state-owned land at Keurboom near, Plettenberg Bay.

The proposal for the artificial colony will be discussed at the World Seabird Conference in Cape Town next week.

Seabird, Cape Nature, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Sanccob will be part of the discussion to decide on the best location for the artificial colony.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | October 27, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 23 October 2015

While the student protests have dominated the South African newspapers, only one small maritime headline managed to surface.

Last week five suspected perlemoen poachers were trapped within the marine protected area of Bird Island in Port Elizabeth.  Three were arrested, but the other two managed to elude the police.

This week a fourth suspect was arrested and according to Police Captain Johan Rheeder will appear in court shortly facing charges under the Environmental Act, as well as possible charges of malicious damage to property as the suspects doused the park rangers boat with petrol in an attempt to secure their escape.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | October 16, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 16 October 2015

The international FishCRIME symposium has made headlines this week.  The symposium, a joint initiative by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the Norwegian government and two NGOs, Stop Illegal Fishing and PescaDOLUS, took place at the CTICC in Cape Town earlier in the week..

The key note address was delivered by Eve de Coning of Interpol, Oslo.  De Coning said that crimes in the fishing sector had four common denominators:

  • They occurred across international borders
  • There was usually more than one crime involved
  • There was a high degree of secrecy in company and vessel ownership, and
  • Many jurisdictions made prosecution extremely difficult.

Crimes in the fishing sector globally include not only illegal fishing, but also tax and custom evasion, fraud, forged documentation, money laundering, drugs and weapons smuggling and illegal labour practices.

DAFF’s head of fisheries enforcement, Ceba Mtoba, said that fishing crimes were run by global criminal networks and South Africa needed to be part of a global network in order to effectively address the problems.

The pollution of our oceans has also made headlines this week with a visit by members of the round-the-world Race for Water Odyssey to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town.

The odyssey, initiated by the Race for Water Foundation, began in France in March and hopes to make the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the oceans from its trimaran.

Board member, Franklin Servan-Schreiber said, “Fifty percent of oxygen we owe to tiny plankton we don’t even see, but dust plastic is affecting the plankton’s ability to produce oxygen.”

Approximately 80 percent of the rubbish in the ocean is plastic.  According to Marco Simeoni, president of the Race for Water Foundation, despite the massive scale of plastic waste in the ocean, not much is known about it.

The team hopes to assess plastic pollution on remote islands in the oceans five main rubbish hotspots with the aim of determining the type of plastic, as well as its toxicity to marine life.

Perlemoen with an estimated value of R17 million was confiscated on the Cape Flats this week.  According to the press the police worked through the night counting the illegally poached perlemoen – the biggest haul of the year thus far.

No suspects have as yet been arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | October 9, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 9 October 2015

There is exciting news in the scientific world as scientists discover a host of totally new marine species.

According to the press scientists have made the discovery in the “twilight zone” around the Hawaiian islands.

The discoveries were made during a 28-day trip aboard a research ship from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and includes a new species of start fish, sea horses, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, algae and fish.

Advanced diving technologies were used to reach the extraordinary depths required (60m – 90m) for this research.  The scientists discovered many creatures that they could not identify and that are believed to be completely new to science.

The specimens will be sent to a number of museums from around the world in an attempt to identify them.

Also in the news this week was the awarding of Blue Flag status to seven of Cape Town’s most popular beaches.

The beaches were awarded the Blue Flag status at an event hosted by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom by the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa.  The event took place in Hermanus.

Our Blue Flag status beaches are:  Bikini Beach, Mnandi Beach, Strandfontein Beach, Llandudno Beach, Camps Bay Beach, Clifton 4th Beach and Silwerstroom Beach.

News of a cargo ship El Faro that sank in a hurricane off the Bahamas made the pages of local newspapers yesterday as safety officials began an investigation into why the vessel decided to chart such a risky course. Investigators hope to retrieve the vessel’s black box.

According to other reports, Nigeria’s offshore contracts with international oil companies are being reviewed. Analysts predict the move will bring uncertainty to an industry that already lacks regulatory clarity. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has production sharing contracts with Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Total and Eni.

Transnet, who’s infrastructure expansion plans have received significant press coverage over the last few years, attracted some more coverage this week as Reuters quoted company sources that claimed that consideration was being given to cutting expansion plans.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | October 2, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 2 October 2015

The tragedy aboard the MFV Lincoln which ran into trouble near False Bay resulting in the deaths of 11 fishermen received a lot of coverage in the press this week.  The search for the remaining missing crew member continues.

According to survivor Peter Julies, the weather was extremely turbulent and the boat started taking water on the port side.  Soon the boat was leaning completely to the one side.

“I jumped from the starboard side into the freezing water.  Soon I could not feel my legs.  The rain was pelting and the gale-force wind had no mercy.  Fortunately help did not take too long.  But it was too late for some of my friends.”

The Financial Director of Viking Fishing, who own the vessel, said that their first priority was to support the families of those who lost loved ones.

The vessel has been towed to Cape Town harbour and SAMSA is investigating the incident.

History was made this week with the vessel, the Cape Orchid, being the first merchant vessel to register in South Africa since 1985.

Tsietsi Mokhele, SAMSA chief executive said, “About 98 percent of the country’s internationally bound trade is carried by ships and at least R160bn a year is paid for shipping services to foreign owners and operators.”

The Department of Transport said that the Cape Orchid “would be a boost to our maritime economy.”

According to the press many residents from Walker Bay are expressing their concern about mother and baby whales being harassed by over eager onlookers entering the bay during the whale breeding season and disturbing the mammals.

The question has been raised as to why the Department of Environmental Affairs is not monitoring whale-watching tourism boats and other vessels in the bay.  Residents are saying that complaints to government, the local authority and the tourism body are simply receiving no response.

Environmental Affairs Oceans and Coasts spokesperson Zolile Nqayi confirmed that Walker Bay was in fact a sanctuary and that no unauthorised boats were allowed in the bay during whale season.

He appealed to the public to report any incidents of boats getting to close to the whales to the department.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | September 25, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 25 September 2015

This week’s official closure of the Oceana Group fish factory in Hout Bay caught the attention of local media.  According to the press a handful of people marched through the suburbs in protest of the closure.

Oceana’s move to close the factory comes after years of complaints from some of the residents of Hout Bay over the smell of rotten fish. A petition with over 1,280 local residents was received by representatives of the company.

However, not all members of the community are pleased with the decision.  Hout Bay Civic Association secretary Roscoe Jacobs said, “Many of the people who work at the factory live in Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu, which suffers from unemployment and poverty.  The community of Hangberg is against the closure of any place of employment that will affect workers.”

Yet another coelacanth fossil discovery has made headlines this week.  The exciting discovery was made by Dr Rob Gess near Grahamstown.  The fossil is believed to be 360 million years old! This makes it the oldest coelacanth fossil to be found in Africa, as well as a new species of coelacanth.

This latest discovery was made a mere 100 metres from where the first modern coelacanth was discovered in 1938.  Dr Gess made the discovery while doing research for his doctorate at Wits University.

The HMS Lancaster, accompanied by a 21 gun salute, sailed into Cape Town harbour this week.

According to the press, the vessel, also known as the Queen’s frigate, is one of the jewels of the British Fleet and the public had the opportunity to view the vessel in all her splendour on Thursday.

The vessel which is 130 metres in length will be in Cape Town until Monday.

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