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.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | May 1, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 1 May 2015

The plight of the crew aboard the arrested vessel, the Agatis, has made headlines this week.

The vessel was arrested on March 17, en route from Mianmar to the Ivory Coast, and has been stranded at Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town ever since.  Conditions have deteriorated quickly for the 21 crew members aboard.  According to one crew member, Otto Lasrado, there is no clean drinking water left; no water to wash clothes or flush toilets; two months worth of waste is piling up and there is very little food left.

According to the crew’s lawyer, Alan Goldberg, conditions aboard are not good and the only chance the crew have of getting home to India is to pay for a ship to remove them from the Agatis and arrange for their own fare back to India.  As they have received no pay for several months, this is simply out of the question.

The owner of the vessel, Meranti Bahari PT, is in the midst of a severe financial crisis and the ships agent, Aquarius Maritime PTE Limited, from Singapore, and a supplier from United Arab Emirates arranged for the arrest in South African waters in an attempt to recoup their money. To make matters worse the ship is not allowed to enter Cape Town harbour as there is no security that the relevant fees will be paid.

The predicament of this crew also impacts on their families back home who rely on their income.  “We chose this line of work so that we could take care of our families and of our children.  Who is going to look after them now?” said Lasrado.

Within the maritime industry there is a continual attempt to throw the spotlight on our seafarers, their contribution to our economy and how hard they work in often less than ideal conditions.  Here is a group of men who have been let down by the very company that they work for and are now stranded far from home, friends and family, with no pay and no way of getting back home.  Where does the responsibility lie to help this crew and others in similar situations worldwide?

Posted by: Natalie Janse | April 24, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 24 April 2015

The press covered a story this week involving the rescue of an entangled whale near Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape.  The NSRI at St Francis Bay, along with trained volunteers from the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN), responded to a distress call and discovered two humpback whales, possibly mother and child, swimming together.  The smaller of the two had become tangled in a rope and three flotation bouys.

Craig Lambinon, spokesman for SAWDN said, “In an operation lasting just under 30 minutes all rope and flotation bouys were successfully removed from the whale and recovered.

“The whale appeared not to be injured from the ordeal and appeared to be swimming confidently following the disentanglement, and SAWDN is confident that the operation has been successful.”

The penguins at Boulders beach have also made headlines this week.  The area is obviously a major tourist attraction, but due to the ignorance of many visitors, the penguins are not 100 percent safe even in this protected area.

It has been reported that many over enthusiastic tourists get too close to the penguins and even pick them up.  This is obviously not ideal as the penguins are frightened and often bite resulting in them being thrown to the ground and hurt.

Tourists are also oblivious to their surroundings, and whilst trying to snap the perfect selfie, walk all over the penguin nests in the area.  These birds are on the endangered list and it is a privilege to be able to view them in their natural habitat, but a privilege that one should be mindful of and not abuse.

Francois Louw of SANCCOB says that more signage has been put up to request that the birds are viewed from a safe distance and to be aware of nesting areas on the ground.  Four penguin monitors have also been employed to keep an eye on the area and to step in in cases where the birds are in danger.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | April 17, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 17 April 2015

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has made headlines this week with the announcement that they will be embarking on a nationwide project to start a drowning register.  Although this may sound like a rather grim undertaking, over 2,000 people drown in South Africa each year and it is believed that this project will provide an up-to-date and real reflection of the problem.

NSRI Chief Executive Cleeve Robertson said, “We don’t have accurate current data, but we estimate that more than 2,000 adults and children die in water every year in South Africa.”

Meriel Bartlett, an NSRI executive director added, “If we can understand the worst areas for drownings, we can better understand how to address the problem.”

A high number of drownings occur in the 9 – 14 year age group and the NSRI currently runs a training programme, the Water-Wise Academy, targeting water safety issues in classrooms across the country.  The programme was started in 2006 and has reached over 700,000 children thus far, primarily in under privileged areas.

Bartlett believes that the programme should be a permanent part of the school curriculum.

The beloved navy dog Just Nuisance is soon to be honoured in both a new book and a full length feature film.  According to the press, a film about the legendary British Royal Navy dog will soon begin shooting in South Africa. All proceeds from the film will go to local charities and youth groups.

The launch of the book, Able Seaman Just Nuisance, will take place at the Simon’s Town Museum this weekend. According to Sherri Rowe of Dumb Dog Productions, “Our relationship with the Simon’s Town Museum and their staff adds an authentic dimension to the film.  The museum has on exhibit his original collar, enlistment papers and much more.  We are tremendously excited to bring this project to fruition.”

Posted by: Natalie Janse | April 10, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 10 April 2015

The big headline this week was the news that Kumi Naidoo will be returning to South Africa.  The South African born environmentalist has stepped down as Executive Director for Greenpeace, a position he held for over five years and now wishes to turn his attention to environmental issues here in South Africa.  Naidoo stated that after living abroad for more that 17 years, he now feels that his homeland needs him.

What a coup for South Africa and the South African environment!

It appears that Robben Island may finally be getting a new ferry service up and running. According to the local press, a new ferry is set to be delivered by the end of the year and its use will be primarily to transport tourists to and from Robben Island. The announcement was made by Sibongiseni Mkhize, executive at the Robben Island museum.

Although the previous ferry, the Sikhululekile was to be sold, plans are now in place to once again repair the vessel and have her ready as back up for the new ferry.

To celebrate its  200th birthday the island of Tristan da Cunha has decided to open up a worldwide competition searching for ideas to assist with development of infrastructure on the island, as well as moving it into the future with a general make over and plans for self sufficiency.

According to the press the competition is open to any design team from around the world as long as they are lead by a registered and practising architect.  Entries for phase one must be in by 2 June 2015 and the judges will choose five entries from these to move on to phase two of the development.

Talk about thinking outside the box.  Hats off to Tristan da Cunha, let’s hope that the gamble pays off.


Posted by: Natalie Janse | April 2, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 2 April 2015

This week the press is covering the investigation by the SA Navy into why a warship fired a heavy-calibre weapon at a fishing vessel during a naval exercise.

The exercise took place offshore Agulhas in the early hours of Wednesday morning last week during a joint naval exercise between the South African and German navies.

Anthony Day and nine other fishermen were involved in the incident and are so badly shaken that they have spoken to a trauma counsellor.

SA spokesman for the SA Navy has confirmed that the incident did in fact take place, but that navigation warnings about naval exercises are sent out via radio to all fishing clubs and harbours before these types of exercises take place.  Day says that he received no such warning.

“My radio was on from 2am and there was no warning,” said Day.

The German Navy has not responded to the incident, other than to say that they will be making a joint statement with the SA Navy.  At this point no such statement has been released.

Also mentioned in the press this week is the art exhibition entitled:  Gateway to Antarctic, currently taking place at the Iziko Maritime Centre at the Union Castle building in the V&A Waterfront.  Art works of Antarctic vessels by Elf van Bilas are being displayed by the South African Shipping Society in collaboration with the University of Stellenbosch’s Antarctic Heritage Project and the Iziko museum. The idea behind the exhibition is to generate awareness around South Africa’s involvement with Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Posted by: Natalie Janse | March 27, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 27 March 2015

A group of local fishermen were lucky to escape with their lives this week after being accidentally fired upon by a warship involved in military exercises offshore of Cape Agulhas.  According to the press, the incident took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning during a joint naval exercise between the SA Navy and the German Navy.  It is believed that the fishing vessel was mistaken for one of the small radio-controlled vessels being used as a targets during the exercise.

Luckily no one was injured and both the SA and the German Navy have stated that they are aware of the incident and will be releasing a joint statement once the incident had been thoroughly investigated.

Also covered in the press this week was the visit by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies to to the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone.  The minister was informed that workers would require a dramatic skills upgrade if they hoped to benefit from employment opportunities on the oil rigs at Saldanha Bay.

Peter Jordaan, Saldanha Bay councillor said, “There is a misalignment of the skills required and supply of skills.  Besides the normal qualification for welding, people working on oil rigs also need the American Bureau of Standards qualification and, because of this, many local guys would not qualify to work on an oil rig.”

The department is in the process of establishing a plan to assist with the required skills training.


Posted by: Natalie Janse | March 20, 2015

Weekly Press Review – 20 March 2015

Forensic report findings reported in the press this week have described the policy regarding small scale fisheries as ambiguous and contradicting the National Development Plan.

These findings were revealed by a forensic report carried out by Emang Basadi Legal and Forensic Services and commissioned by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to review the work of the fisheries branch.

The report stated:  “Allegations of departmental interference are common and in some cases likely to be true.  Currently it is perceived that only some individuals are benefitting.”

More damning evidence against a process that has been fraught with problems from day one.

Meanwhile, also featured in the press this week are the discussions taking place between the ministers of fisheries, environment and transport to establish a single and co-ordinated structure to manage the fisheries research and patrol vessels.

DAFF minister, Senzeni Zokwana said, “In some instances we have been found wanting in the processes.  We will look at a possible well co-ordinated process by which all three departments can have one structure that manages them.”

The press has also assisted in promoting the South African Navy Festival taking place in Simon’s Town this weekend.  With 12 national and international navy vessels to be seen, as well as dog shows and live music, there is guarantee to be something for everyone.

“The reason we hold this festival is to present our work and ships to the public,” said Lieutenant Leverne Benjamin.

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