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.”

Posted by: Natalie Janse | June 5, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 5 June 2015

It is good news for South Africa’s hake trawl industry this week as the press reports that the industry has been given the stamp of approval by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

This is the third five-year period that the local hake industry has been certified and will ensure that thousands of industry jobs will be secure and the lucrative EU export markets will not be lost.

Also reported in the press this week was the rescue of 30 oiled-soaked penguins who were airlifted to Sanccob after being discovered covered in oil on two islands in the marine section of the Addo Park.

The birds were found by rangers on St Croix Island and Bird Island.  According to Louanne Mostert, marketing and development co-ordinator at Sanccob, “They’ve all been washed and are doing fantastically.  They need to get their natural waterproofing back and then we will release them into the wild.”

Sanccob pointed out the significant overlap between busy shipping lanes around the South African coast and areas with high concentrations of seabirds and report that hundreds of thousands of seabirds are affected by oil pollution around the world.

The bad weather in Kwazulu-Natal has lead to the closing of most beaches this week as shark nets are removed due to the large swells, the press reported this week.

“These large swells have the potential to cause severe damage to and dislodge shark safety gear,” said KZN Sharks Board spokesman Mike Anderson.

Visitors to the beach have been advised to speak to life guards on duty to determine the status of bathing areas.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | May 30, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 29 May 2015

In sad news the press has reported that the search for the two fishermen who went missing after their boat capsized over the weekend has still produced no conclusive results.

The fishermen were reported as missing after their boat capsized in dense fog off Lamberts Bay.  The boat had a crew of four on board.  After the boat capsized all four clung to the boat and must have fallen asleep.  On arrival, members of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) were informed that two of the crew were missing.

NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon reported that none of the crew had life jackets and there was no emergency equipment on board the boat.

The two surviving fishermen were treated for hypothermia at a nearby hospital and their condition is described as serious, but stable.

The search for the two missing fishermen continues.

A reminder of the daily danger that fishermen subject themselves to in order to put food on the table.

Also in the press this week is the news that state oil company, PetroSA has asked three of its top executives to take special leave pending an investigation into their performance.

The news comes on the back of the company’s declining revenues, particularly a failed bid to enter the fuel retail market and a loss of R1.2 billion for the financial year 2013/2014.

PetroSA spokeswomen said that they were in discussion with the three executives and an interim management team might be appointed.

PetroSA is following in the footsteps of Eskom who also suspended its chief executive and three other executives to allow for an inquiry into the utility’s performance.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | May 22, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 22 May 2015

Oceana Group has made headlines this week with the news of the company’s purchase of US-based Daybrook Fisheries for an estimated R4.58 billion.  The purchase is in line with the company’s diversification strategy.

Daybrook reported R1.3bn in revenue last year with the sale of 76,862 tons of fishmeal and fish oil.

Keith McLachlan of Alpha Wealth said, “Oceana’s made a bold move into the American fishing industry ….. interesting asset, though still just a commodity.”

Also making headlines this week was the sad news of the passing of Murray Grindrod senior.  Grindrod was the grandson of Grindrod Group founder John Edward Grindrod.

He joined Grindrod Gersigny in 1957 and stayed with the company for a total of 50 years, serving as chairman for 21 of those years.  It is with a heavy heart that the maritime community says goodbye to one of its greats.  Grindrod was 79 years of age.

Brian Ingpen wrote in in his column this week,” With that vast experience, his amazing achievements and his own inherent wisdom, his was a highly respected voice that gave valued counsel on a range of maritime issues.  His dignity and personal integrity will remain the company’s cornerstones.  In Dockland, a giant cedar has fallen.”

Posted by: Natalie Janse | May 15, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 15 May 2015

Eskom power outages are affecting a fish processing facility in Philippi the press reports this week.  Viking Fishing is one of nine Philippi industries who were without power for several days after Eskom’s repair teams were chased away by people apparently trying to protect their illegal electricity connections in the Marikana informal settlement nearby.

Tim Reddell of Viking Fishing said that his company had been forced to truck fish into the city in an attempt to keep it frozen.  The problem seems to be that thieves took advantage of load shedding on Saturday and stole the main supply cable.

“I don’t think people realise how bad this whole power thing is.  We can manage the two-hour load shedding, but not 48 hours.

“So what must I do?  I have 256 people employed here, must I send them all home?  We put the factory here so that we could be close to where the staff live, but now I am starting to question that idea,” said Reddell.

Xolani Joja, Marikana community leader, said that he had recently been out of the province and was, therefore, not aware of the matter.

According to the press, a group of Orcas in False Bay are being mobbed by over-enthusiastic sightseers, causing unnecessary stress to the animals.

People are using groups of powers boats and jetskis in an attempt to get as close as possible to these beautiful creatures.

Word travels fast via social media when the Orcas are in the area and loads of people enter the water, boxing in the animals and placing them, as well as the dolphins in the area, in an unnecessarily stressful situation.

The law states that boats may not get within 300 metres of any whale, however, there is a loophole in this case as Orcas are categorised as dolphins and not whales and the law, therefore, technically, does not apply.

Environmental Affairs Department spokesman, Zolile Nqayi said that the department was looking at ways to address these compliance issues and that this would most likely have to take the form of amendments to the existing legislation.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | May 8, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 8 May 2015

A new survey mentioned in the press this week points to the long term effects of oil spills on unborn fish.  Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have discovered that the crude oil in water damages the hearts of unborn fish.

Fish exposed to oil in the water have an abnormal heartbeat, altered circulation and structural defects in the heart and other organs.

They also discovered that fish embryos exposed to crude oil developed curved spines and small jaws and eyes.

“Fish are most vulnerable to crude oil during their earliest life stages, when they are tiny, translucent eggs and larvae floating in the water during the first few days of life.

“At that stage they can’t metabolise toxic compounds or swim away from oil effectively,” say researchers.

These findings will allow scientists to identify new biomarkers for cardiac-related injury in fish exposed to oil spills.

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