Posted by: Colleen Jacka | August 4, 2015

What is a Maritime Maestro?

Maritime Maestros have salt in their veins. They are committed to the industry in a way that goes beyond the scope of a 9 to 5 job description. They give passionately and devote their energies to develop the future of the industry as a whole. They lead the industry and often pioneer new paths – they are Maritime Maestros.

Two years ago we recognised Okke Grapow as a Maritime Maestro at the 2012/13 SAMSA Maritime Industry Awards. He was living out his maritime family heritage that had been passed down to him from his father and subsequently onto his own children. His dedication to offer himself beyond the confines of a 9 to 5 servant to the industry certainly benefitted the development of the South African maritime industry – and today he continues to inspire others.

This year we are once again appealing to the industry to get out of their comfort zones and to start to recognise the impact that their peers, colleagues and even competitors are making in the industry. Nominations are open for the 2014/15 SAMSA Maritime Industry Awards. Read more about the various categories and start nominating today!


Posted by: Natalie Janse | August 3, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 31 July 2015

Rescuers have freed another trapped whale according to the press this week.  The incident occurred about 100 metres offshore of Sunny Cove in Fish Hoek.  The 8 metre long humpback whale was freed after it became anchored to the sea bed by Whelk trap lines.

The whale was spotted by a local resident whilst he was out jogging.  The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was called to the scene and the rescue operation carried on late into the night.  Due to the severity and desperation of the operation, the SA Navy were also on standby to assist.

Due to the way the whale was trapped only its’ head was able to reach the surface for air.  Network spokesman Craig Lambinon said, “The line was anchored to the sea bed between the Whelk traps and had snarled around the tail, effectively meaning that the whale’s tail was trapped underwater.”

With the whale rapidly tiring it was a race against time, but the whale was eventually freed.

A thirteen year old girl has made the headlines this week by running her own aquaculture and aquaponics business in Johannesburg.  Rikalize Reinecke says it all started when she watched the movie “Dolphin Tale”.  She says it inspired her to want to be a marine biologist.

“I started doing research and this one page just popped up of an aquaculture farm in America,” she says.

After nagging her father for weeks and weeks he eventually agreed to assist her, but only if she managed to get a qualification.  He believed this would be enough of a deterrent.

His determined young daughter did not give up and completed a week long course at Aquaculture Innovations in Grahamstown and the rest, as they say, is history.

Reinecke’s aquaculture farm is expanding.  She want s to invest in steam boilers and solar power to allow her project to go completely off the grid.  Demand for her products is so great that she will soon be erecting 10 new dams that have already been donated to her project, and she has not given up on her dream of becoming a marine biologist one day…

Posted by: Colleen Jacka | July 24, 2015

Missing out on a celebration

Not much hype seems to have been generated around the official start of the African Maritime Decade which is due to kick off tomorrow. The only nod in this direction seems to be happening at the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa where a “two-day” meeting got underway today.

Today’s schedule in Ethiopia was to include a meeting of the AU Strategic Task Force on the 2050 AIM-Strategy. What should have been an ideal platform to review and debate the strategy, however, was cancelled at the beginning of July.

The schedule for the day therefore now only starts at 5pm and includes a panel discussion followed by an official dinner at 7:30pm.

Tomorrow will see the official launch of the Decade of Africa Seas and Oceans and the Celebration of the African Day of Seas and Oceans – essentially wrapping up an event that has sought to bring together a wide variety of stakeholders from across the continent by 1:30 pm tomorrow.

On a country-by-country basis nothing seems to be planned.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | July 24, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 24 July 2015

The sardines are back! The good news for fishermen was covered in the press this week as large catches of sardines along Durban’s beach front caused much excitement.

For more than five years sardine catches have been unsuccessful in the region, but this week large numbers of sardines were spotted along the South Coast, as fishermen scoured the waters between Blue Lagoon and uShaka Beach.

Seasoned fisherman, Tony Outar Moon, said, “The sardines were in deeper waters in the past few years.  It is hard to predict where they will show up next.”

The SA Agulhas II has embarked on its latest research expedition.  According to the press this week the vessel left Cape Town harbour on Tuesday to carry out a 25-day research expedition in the Southern Ocean.  The research will be taking place in three main research areas:  the third Southern Ocean Seasonal Cycle Experiment, South Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation South Africa and the Southern Ocean Trace Metal and Bio Geochemistry.

There has been a focus in the press this week on the uncertain future of the South African penguin.  Although there has been some stabilisation in bird numbers, this is no reason to allow for complacency.

According to Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) spokesman, Zolile Nqayi, the department has set several goals to ensure the future of the African penguin.  These include ensuring that the birds continue to be regarded as a protected species and the department is looking into the possibility of establishing new bird colonies in areas where there is more protection and more food readily available.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | July 17, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 17 July 2015

Shark researchers in the US on a quest for more humane solutions to protect ocean users from sharks have made a real breakthrough according to the press this week:  education and a bit of common sense.

The research done by researchers at Stanford University has found that the solution does not need to be as extreme as culling sharks.  Simply providing better information to bathers about the risk of shark attacks should be enough.

Shark researcher, Francesco Ferretti, said, “Just like we check the weather before going boating, or the surf forecast before going surfing, getting information about the risk of encountering large predators can become a normal precaution we take before going into the ocean.”

Information for bathers to consider would be the season, the time of day and the types of activities taking place in the water.  For example, spear fishing is an activity with added risk.

The KZN Sharks Board has responded by saying that in South African waters the problem lies in the fact that the great white shark is not the only problem species in the area. The behaviour and habits of Zambezi and tiger sharks also need to be considered.

For now our shark nets remain in place, but surely there is a lot to be said for just using your common sense when interacting with the ocean environment, or any other environment for that matter..

Also covered in the press this week is the signing of an agreement by ambassadors from the US, Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark and other Arctic nations barring their fishing fleets from fast-thawing sea areas around the North Pole.

The agreement was reached in response to the ever increasing threat of global warming which is resulting in the melting of sea ice in the central Arctic Ocean and impacting on marine life in the immediate area and beyond.

Very little is known about this area, but the agreement is seen as a pre-emptive strike.  The deal  “will prevent a problem from arising ahead of time,” said David Balton, US deputy assistant secretary of state for oceans and fisheries.

Scott Highleyman, director of international Arctic  affairs at the Pew Charitable Trusts environmental group said, “It’s hugely encouraging.  It’s hard to get governments’ attention for problems that haven’t occurred yet.”

The agreement also called for more research into Arctic marine resources.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | July 10, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 10 July 2015

It comes as no surprise that there is still much unhappiness around the 2015/16 fishing rights allocation process.  The press has reported this week that both small scale and commercial fishermen have criticised the draft fishing rights allocation as unfair.

This week officials from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) held the second of 31 public consultation meetings.

The current draft policy proposes a 26 percent fee increase for all sectors.  Full time commercial fishermen, Armin Weinar was quoted as saying:  “They say they want to be fair to all applicants.  Then at the same time they want to everybody judged against the same criteria by no longer splitting the applicants up between existing rights holders and new entrants.”

Weinar also added that the industry was close to his heart and that he is saddened to see resources dwindle so dangerously.

The press has also covered the rescue of a hump back whale that became entangled in ropes and bouys off Cape Point earlier this week.  The research vessel the Ellen Khuzwayo was carrying out research in  the area and the whale became in tangled in the ropes and bouys being used for the research.  The South African Whale Disentanglement Network was alerted and after a 40 minute operation the whale was freed and despite some damage to its stock tail seemed to be strong and healthy.

Operation Phakisa has made headlines again this week with a seminar in London attended by Transport Deputy Minister Sindiswe Chikunga to promote investment in South Africa’s oceans economy.

In her address at the conference which took place at South Africa House in London the minister said that the conference displayed the ethos of Operation Phakisa which was to accelerate implementation of government’s strategic development programmes.

Research shows that South Africa’s ocean economy has the potential to contribute R180 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and create about a million jobs.

The purpose of Chikunga’s visit to London has been to share information on the recent developments South Africa has achieved in growing the oceans economy.

“We need potential partners on a win-win basis to support South Africa’s oceans economy strategy. We extend an open invitation to investors to visit South Africa to further explore vast investment opportunities,” the minister said.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | July 3, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 3 July 2015

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has made headlines again this week with commercial abalone quota holders hitting out at the department’s new draft policies for long-term quota allocations.

Abalone SA described the new draft policy as “a superficial copy and paste job”, leaving quota holders with no choice, but to “reject the entire process”.

More criticism was launched regarding the public meetings held around the coast to discuss key concerns.  Each meeting was scheduled to be only two hours in length, with all 11 sectors represented at each meeting, making it impossible for concerned quota holders to have their say.  Most meetings were scheduled after the deadline for public comment anyway, making them effectively null and void.

As of yet, department spokesperson Carol Moses has offered no comment.

There has been surprising reactions in the press to complaints by members of Fresh Air for Hout Bay and other Hout Bay residents regarding the smell of fish emanating from the Oceana fish factory in the area.

Roscoe Jacobs, also a resident of Hout Bay, and a member of the Hout Bay Civic Association, has been quoted in the press as saying that the “unbearable smell” from the factory, also represents the smell of money.  The factory employs 226 workers, most of whom come from the Hout Bay area.   Without the factory, those individuals would not be able to make a living and put food on the table for their families.  He feels that those doing the complaining were well aware of the factory when they moved into the area.

It would seem that there are always two sides to every story and that the inconvenience of a bad smell surely does not compare to losing the chance to earn a living and provide for your family.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | June 26, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 26 June 2015

The Lucky Star fishmeal factory in Hout Bay is causing a stink this week.  The press reported that a meeting scheduled to discuss the smell of rotting fish emanating from the factory was cancelled at the last moment.

Lucky Star is a subsidiary of the Oceana group and the meeting between the company and the City’s mayoral committee was set to discuss mitigation measures by the factory to reduce air pollution.

Bulelwa Nombutuma, spokesperson for Oceana, said that the meeting did not take place as one of their council members was not available.

Kiara Worth, chairperson for the air pollution portfolio for the Hout Bay Residents Ratepayers Association said that the smell had been affecting schools, churches and homes as well as the well-being of residents in the area for over 20 years.

No indication has been given as to when, or if, the meeting will be re-scheduled.

From air pollution to water pollution.  It was reported in the press this week that a group of 160 civic organisations have urged the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to refuse the City of Cape Town’s application to continue pumping raw sewerage into the Atlantic, unless the City is able to come up with a plan to phase out sewerage-to-sea outfalls.

Unlike other areas in the city where sewerage is treated before it is pumped into the ocean, at the three areas in question, Hout Bay, Camps Bay and Green Point, the sewerage being pumped into the ocean has not been treated.

The City has responded by saying that it is simply too expensive to first pump the sewerage to the treatment plant at Athlone, and that at present there is no other viable alternative.

The Greater Cape Town Alliance has responded by saying that the time has come for new, innovative and environmentally friendly solutions for sewage disposal.

With the renewed focus on the blue economy and the investment in our oceans as the providers of food and the very air that we breathe, surely step one would be to start to address this kind  of problem and call on our young scientists to come up with financially viable solutions that could be implemented sooner rather than later.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | June 19, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 19 June 2015

Sea Harvest has made headlines this week with the launch of their new share scheme which will see the company issuing more than 4 million shares to its employees.

The company, which is owned by Brimstone Investment Corporation and Kagiso Tiso Holdings, regards the 4.3 million shares as an extension of it empowerment and shareholding for employees.

Sea Harvest executive chairman Fred Robertson said, “In celebrating 20 years of existence, Brimstone has endeavoured to assist in the growth and development of all subsidiaries and this share scheme does exactly that.

“We are very proud of our employees and it is imperative that the company’s success positively impacts them, their families and the surrounding community.”

Another fishing company making a difference in the community this week is the Oceana Group. It was reported in the press that the company has taken on the rehousing of nine Hout Bay families who lost their homes over two months ago in a fire.

After an appeal by the Hout Bay Civic Association, Oceana stepped in to assist with the building of several new fire-resistant houses.  The families affected by the fire will be moving in this weekend.

Avril Raatz who lost all her possessions in the fire said, “I am so excited.  I would like to thank Oceana and the Hout Bay Civic Association for making this happen.”

Posted by: Natalie Janse | June 14, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 12 June 2015

After extremely slim pickings over the last two years the Kwazulu-Natal Sharks Board is hopeful that there will be a marked improvement in sardine catches along the Durban coast, the press reports this week.

Good catches have been reported near Umgababa which will increase the likelihood of more shoals off Durban soon.

An aerial monitoring flight by the Sharks Board showed many small pockets of sardines and  the board also reported that five nets of about 80 crates of sardines had been successfully caught by the seine netters.

“After two years of no sardine runs, it looks very promising that we will have a better run this year.”

Members of the Hout Bay Residents Association remain, understandably,  up in arms at the City’s application to discharge effluent into the Atlantic Ocean.

Since 2009 it has been mandatory for coastal municipalities to apply for a Coastal Waters Discharge Permit.  The City is in the process of finalising its application for sea outfalls at Hout Bay, Camps Bay and Green Point.

In a letter to the City, Len Swimmer, Chairman of the Hout Bay  Residents Association said that the association takes the situation in Hout Bay very seriously.

“What we need is a proper sewage treatment plant with digesters that are capable of biodegrading the sewage.”

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