Weekly Press Review – 22 September 2016

According to the press this week, residents of the Overberg region had the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the ongoing perlemoen poaching and the effects that it seems to be having on increased gang violence, drug abuse and prostitution in the area at a committee meeting of the provincial committee of economic opportunity.

Anne Lubbe, head of human resources at Abagold, one of South Africa’s main perlemoen providers said, “Perlemoen is now about many more issues. It is an exit and income for many, but for others the consequences are worse than ever.

Everyone is jumping in the ocean for perlemoen. There is no control over perlemoen poaching. The poachers get the perlemoen, they receive no cash, they get drugs. These drugs have to be sold to make money. School children are used to sell the drugs.”

In response, Col. Jacques Visser of the Hawks in the Western Cape said, “We have successfully pursued 145 cases and arrested more than 400 people. These cases are now in the courts.”

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, DAFF, was not represented at the committee meeting.

In response to low freight and oil prices, Denmark’s Moller- Maersk will spilt itself and focus on transport and logistics, while simultaneously continuing to seek a way out of energy in a much anticipated revamp aimed at reviving its fortunes.

According to the press the conglomerate will focus on its core businesses: Maersk Line, APM Terminals, Damco, Svitzer and Maersk Container Industry, while also looking for solutions for its smaller energy operations.

The news was received cautiously by investors. “It might be one of the most pain-free solutions relative to other scenarios, but they could have gone even further,” said Nykredit analyst Ricky Rasmussen.

Work on the R1.3 billion mixed use development at the gateway to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town has made headlines this week.

“The Yacht Club” is being developed by the Amdec Group and will comprise a hotel as well as  modern urban apartment living in two towers on a podium of premium grade office space.

Nicholas Stopforth, managing director of Amdec, said, “The hotel will have a contemporary four-star grading.” He added that the apartments had proven particularly popular with investors, who had enthusiastically welcomed the massive potential they represented for long-term leases, and owner occupiers. About 20 percent of these buyers are based in Gauteng.

Weekly Press Review – 16 September 2016

 Residents of the Overberg region are rejoicing this week as the Western Cape parliament is to finally address the issue of perlemoen poaching in the area.

According to the press, Debbie Schaffer, chairman of the committee for economic opportunity, tourism and agriculture in the provincial parliament said that she has invited representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), security institutions and experts from the perlemoen industry to address the committee with regard to the problem of perlemoen poaching as early as next week.

 Twelve fishers were forced to abandon ship when their vessel ran aground in Port St Francis this week.

According to the press the 48-foot Barcelona ran aground after facing strong winds and waves up to four metres. The crew sent out a mayday at approximately 3.44am. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) responded to the incident, along with various vessels in the area. By the time help arrived, the crew had managed to get ashore.

The captain of the Barcelona was treated for shock and hypothermia, but all other crew members were in good health, except for minor cuts and bruises.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating the incident.

According to the press Sasol’s operations remain under pressure this week due to low global oil and commodity prices. The listed energy and chemicals group’s earnings have decreased by 55 percent for the year to 30 June.

In response Sasol has implemented a business performance enhancement programme and oil price response plan. The aim is to achieve costs and achieve cash savings.

Sasol joint chief executive, Bongani Nqwababa said that the company’s cost reduction and cash savings initiatives were exceeding targets, placing the group on a sound footing as it geared up its balance sheet.

Weekly Press Review – 9 September 2016

The declining numbers of the African penguin have once again made headlines. According to the press, the hardest hit seem to be the young penguins on the west coast where declining fish stocks have resulted in severe food shortages for the penguins in the area.

Since 2004 penguin numbers in the area have declined by a staggering 90 percent says Dr Richard Sherley of the University of Exeter.   Over the last three years Sherley and a group of researchers have been working on a research project focusing on the eating patterns of the African penguin.

Most penguins used the west and south coasts as their main feeding ground, but there is simply no longer food available for these young birds along that particular stretch of coastline.

“Historically this area was full of fish, so one can understand why they moved to this region, but they have been unable to adapt to the changes,” said Sherley.

Unless drastic changes are made to fishing methods in the area, and all along the South African coast, the African penguin population is simply not sustainable.

South African Paralympic swimmer Achmat Hassiem has made headlines this week saying that he is so grateful to the great white shark that bit off half his right leg, adding that he is prepared to devote the rest of his life to protecting these endangered animals.

“I was recently made a global marine guardian by the UN. My forte is sharks – who better to protect them than me? The shark has given me so many opportunities, opportunities to represent my country, to change the world.

“I have become a shark advocate because it is my way of thanking her for giving me everything I have achieved today and it is my way of thinking I am a hero of the world, hence the nickname, Shark Boy,” said Hassiem.

Weekly Press Review – 2 September 2016

The issuing of fishing permits by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has once again made headlines this week.

According to the press, local fishing associations have lodged an urgent high court application to interdict and restrain DAFF from issuing further horse mackerel fishery permits to Global Pact.

Both the South African Deepsea Trawling Industry and Midwater Trawling Associations describe the department’s decision to allocate an additional 8,000 tons of experimental quota in the horse mackerel fishery as irrational. They have requested that the court set the decision aside.

The Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA), World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) and BirdLife SA have also expressed concern at the decision and are advising that a “cautionary approach” is required when dealing with the horse mackerel resource.

Johann Augustyn, executive secretary of the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry and Mid-water Trawling Associations said, “The fact that the permit is called a “permit for exploratory fishing” does not change its substance. It allows Global Pact to fish directly for horse mackerel utilising the same type of vessel as other existing rights holders, but without any effort limitation component, and with no spatial restriction.”

He added that he believed the decision to be influenced by an undisclosed ulterior purpose or bias.

In response DAFF spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo said that the proposal by Global Pact was designed to assist the department to better understand the size and extent of the South African horse mackerel stock.

 Shark season is once again upon us and Cape Town’s beach-goers are being warned to be aware of the increased great white shark activity in-shore at our local beaches.

According to the press the City and Shark Spotters are hard at work to ensure the safety of beach-goers over this period.

According to Johan van der Merwe, Mayco member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, “All beach and ocean users are reminded that the presence of great white sharks in in-shore areas increases at this time of year. We are also asking surfers to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise and Macassar Beach as research has shown that the presence of sharks is extremely common at this time of year.”

An extraordinary whale rescue has also made headlines this week. The NSRI and South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were once again called to action to rescue a Humpback whale entangled in rope and a floatation buoy. Once freed the whale did not however simply swim away.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said, “Once all the ropes and the floatation buoy were removed, in a most incredible reaction from the animal, the whale swam right up alongside the sea rescue boat and he gently placed his head on the gunnel of the sea rescue craft.

“The whale remained there for almost 20 minutes seemingly staring at the rescuers. All involved described a surreal and emotional moment shared between the SAWDN volunteer team and this beautiful animal. The whale then swam off.”

Weekly Press Review – 26 August 2016

The battle against the poaching of South Africa’s perlemoen has been emphasised in the press again this week with the police making two more arrests and confiscating perlemoen with an estimated value of R3.5 million.

According to Pieter van Dalen DA-LP, poachers seem to be using our ocean as their own personal ATM machine. If they are in need of money, they simply make a perlemoen withdrawal.

“Perlemoen poaching is supposed to be a category-A offence all along the coast, but there is no political will to implement this. It is now being done so openly that poachers seem to regard it as their right,” says van Dalen.

Development plans for Saldanha Bay are back in the headlines this week. Transnet and the provincial government say expansion plans for Saldanha Bay’s harbour are going ahead despite the diminished demand for iron and depressed oil prices.

According to Alan Winde, Economic Opportunities MEC, the iron ore prices will have minimal impact for Saldaha Bay. “If demand drops it will affect jobs. But the IDZ is focused around servicing the oil and gas industry. We’ve already had 31 companies sign memorandums of understanding with the IDZ. Not one of them has pulled back,” says Winde.

Also making headlines this week is a statement by world-renowned fisheries expert, Ray Hilborn, challenging South Africa’s marine protected area (MPA) strategy, saying that closing off areas of the ocean is not the solution to overfishing.

Hilborn, professor of aquatic and fishery science at the University of Washington, is due to present a seminar at UCT this week entitled “Fisheries Myths”.  According to Hilborn myths have generated a belief that fisheries management needs to be more conservative and more of the ocean needs to be closed to fishing.

“In the desire to create an oceanic paradise, advocates of MPAs must consider that it is the world’s poorest people who rely on marine fisheries for nutrition and income,” says Hilborn.

Deputy director-general of Environmental Affairs, Monde Mayekiso, said that the department would engage with Hilborn at the debate.

“We have used MPAs in South Africa for a long time and we are aware that MPAs are not the end-all solution. It is just one tool in the management of our resources,” said Mayekiso.

An appeal by Sanccob for donations to help in the rehabilitation of 50 badly oiled penguins has also made headlines this week.

The birds were rescued at the St Croix Island group off Algoa Bay in a joint initiative involving the NSRI, SANParks and Sanccob. It is believed that the birds were oiled due to oil spilled during a ship-to-ship oil transfer. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating.

In the meantime Sanccob has appealed to members of the public to please donate towels and newspapers to aid in the cleaning of the oiled birds. All donations are to be delivered to the Sanccob offices in Jeffeys Bay.

Weekly Press Review – 19 August 2016

Saldanha Bay has made headlines this week celebrating the terminal ‘s milestone of a billion tons of exports.

Most of South Africa’s iron ore exports pass through the terminal, which has the capacity to stockpile 4.5 million tons of ore of 13 different grades.  According to Robert van Rooyen, Saldanha Bay terminal manager, the bulk terminal handles approximately 59 million tons annually, compared to smaller multi-purpose terminals which handle about 7 million tons of iron ore.

“We are delighted with the success of the terminal and commitment that has been shown by the staff and management team, which has seen us go from the terminal’s total handling capacity increasing gradually from 18 million tons per annum in 1976 to where we are today at 60 million tons per annum – an increase of 233 percent.”

It has been a busy week for the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN), as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).  The organisation was called once again called to action to rescue a whale entangled in fishing rope and flotation buoys off Glencairn.  According to the press, SAWDN volunteers, along with members of the NSRI, used disentanglement equipment to free the 7.5m juvenile humpback whale.

According to SAWDN head Michael Meyer the whale appeared to be healthy.

“All indications are that the animal has survived and we are satisfied that the operation has been successful,” said Meyer.

In a separate incident, the NSRI and the South African Stranding Network (SASN) were called to rescue a 2.5m dolphin stranded at Jeffey’s Bay. According to the press the dolphin was successfully returned to the ocean.

These two incidents once again remind us that we need to be mindful of the impact that our marine activities have on the wildlife in our oceans.  Fishing ropes and buoys remain a problem, but even the shark nets designed to protect swimmers often result in the deaths of dolphin, turtles and otters that get caught in them.

A balance needs to be found between using our oceans and abusing our oceans.

 

Weekly Press Review – 12 August 2016

The three suspects arrested in connection with the break in and theft of various weapons and hand grenades from the Simon’s Town naval base on 23 June appeared in court this week.

According to the press, although the State has a strong case against the three, the concern remains as to why the weapons were stolen, particularly around election time.

A possibility is that the suspects were intending to sell the weapons.  It is now imperative that it is established to whom and for what purpose they intended to sell the weapons.

Also making headlines this week was the arrest of two men at the Peka Bridge border with Lesotho in possession of abalone and stolen wine.

The arrest was made after officers inspected the suspects car.  “The members found two sealed plastic bags containing dry abalone weighing 1,75kg with a street value of approximately R8650.”

The suspects will appear before the Ficksburg Magistrate’s Court.

Another trapped whale has been freed after becoming entangled in fishing rope and floatation buoys approximately 500  metres off-shore Cape Point.

According to the press, the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) described  the marathon 2-day rescue operation as the most difficult disentanglement operation to date.

“The whale had at least five ropes entangled around the flukes and tail and the rope was twisted and entangled into a bird’s nest,” said Mike Meyer, SAWDN and environmental affairs oceans and coast head.

Eventually the whale was cut free and appeared strong and healthy as it swam off.