Weekly Press Review – 27 May 2016

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has made headlines this week with the announcement that Commander Tsietsi Mokhele has resigned as CEO with immediate effect.

The press have reported that no further information has been provided by SAMSA regarding the resignation of Mokhele or his future plans.  Operational head, Sobantu Tilayi will be stepping in as acting CEO.

Also making headlines this week is the news that three more Chinese vessels illegally navigating South African fishing waters have been arrested. The vessels were arrested after a combined operation between SANDF, Department of Fisheries and SAMSA.

The three captured vessels were escorted to the East London harbour by the the navy supply vessel, the SAS Drakensberg and fisheries inspection vessel Sarah Baartman.

The captains of  the three vessels appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday and the case was postponed for further investigation until 16 June.  The crew have to remain in port aboard their vessel until the matter is settled.

The Oceana Group has also made headlines this week with the sale of their Lamberts Bay Foods to JSE-listed Famous Brands. Lamberts Bay Foods was established in 1995 by Oceana as a social responsibility project and has subsequently matured into a viable commercial operation.

Weekly Press Review – 20 May 2016

There seems to be an unhappy buzz in the maritime industry this week regarding the “escape” of eight Chinese fishing trawlers illegally navigating South African fishing waters over the weekend. A ninth vessel was arrested.

According to the press the vessels were first spotted around Durban, Port St Johns and Cape Recife, where they were suspected of fishing illegally. On Thursday the fisheries patrol vessel, the Victoria Mxenga, was sent to search for the vessels.

The vessels were discovered and appeared to co-operate, agreeing to be escorted to the Port of Saldanha for proper inspection. However, enroute the vessels split into two group and raced away at high speed. The Victoria Mxenga managed to capture one of the nine vessels, but the others escaped.

The problem seems to be that only one patrol vessel was sent out to address the problem and to bring the vessels into harbour. This was clearly not enough to deal with nine vessels and Pieter van Dalen of the DA-LP is now criticising DAFF saying that the vessels escaped due to the fact that the South African coastline is simply not sufficiently protected.

Although no fish were found on the captured vessel, the Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186, fishing equipment was found. It was found that the vessel had contravened the Marine Living Resources Act by entering the South African exclusive economic zone without a valid permit and had failed to comply with lawful instructions by a fisheries control officer, among other offences.

Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has instructed the South African Navy to assist with the chase of the remaining eight vessels.

An African passport by 2018?

One of the many challenges that the highly mobile people of the maritime industry face is that of accessibility to jurisdictions within Africa. This is particularly frustrating for Africans aiming to work on the African continent and may even hamper emergency response to potential maritime incidents.

Discussions at the recent World Economic Forum meetings in Kigali, Rwanda refocused attention on the idea of introducing an African passport by 2018 – a move that will surely be welcomed by proponents of the maritime industry who face delays when responding to clients’ emergency requirements in other African countries.

Leading a session, South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and Chairperson of the National Planning Commission, Jeff Radebe, implored delegates to reflect on the continued need for visas in Africa and to meet the 2018 deadline of creating an African passport.

In February this year the African Development Bank released the Africa Visa Openness Report 2016, which highlights the fact that the continent remains largely closed off to African travellers. According to the report:

“On average Africans need visas to travel to 55 percent of other African countries, can get visas on arrival in only 25 percent of other countries and don’t need a visa to travel to just 20 percent of other countries on the continent.”

 

The clock is ticking on the African Union’s (AU) goal and vision for Africa as set out in Agenda 2063 which envisions the establishment of an African passport and an end to visa requirements for all Africa citizens in Africa by 2018. There are no clear indications from the AU as to the progress that has been made in this regard, but it is clear that it falls within the Union’s Flagship Projects in the First Ten Year Plan.

However, three years into the First Ten Year Plan, many of the goals remain largely aspirational and it is not clear where or what the stumbling blocks would be to the realisation of an African Passport. Common sense, however, suggests that without the reality of a peaceful and secure Africa as envisioned by Agenda 2063 – the likelihood of an agreement on free movement on the continent is more than 18 months away.

Chairperson of the AU, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma writes in her foreword to the report, however: “We believe that the free movement of people is possible, which is why Agenda 2063 calls for the abolition of all visa requirements within the period of the Ten Year Implementation Plan and the creation of an African passport.”

Perhaps regional visas are more realistic in the short term, but  any move to finalise agreements in this regard will certainly be welcomed by the African maritime community.

 

Weekly Press Review – 13 May 2016

The big maritime news this week was the announcement that after several years of being based in Copenhagen, Safmarine will be moving its head-office back to Cape Town.

Safmarine was founded in South Africa in 1946, taken over by Maersk Line in 1999 and in 2012 the head-offices were moved to Copenhagen.

Vincent Clerc of Safmarine was quoted in the press as saying that as Africa is at the core of the Safmarine strategy, it made sense to move the head-office back to Cape Town.

This week the press also made mention of the shockingly high number of perlemoen already lost to poaching since the beginning of the year. Since the start of 2016, and in the Western Cape alone, a total of 465,351 perlemoen have been poached with an estimated value of R166 million.

Measures are in place to try to stop the ongoing surge of perlemeon poaching with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) working with several other players, including the South African police force, as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), but so far the tide of poaching has not been stemmed.

According to DAFF Minister Zenzeni Zokwana, most of the poached perlemoen is exported to eastern countries.

In a bizarre story also making headlines this week, a resident of Glencairn in the Cape has been arrested for having penguin eggs in his possession.

Apparently the suspect stole the eggs from the Boulders colony, which is part of the Table Mountain National Park and falls under SANParks.

Francois Louw, of the South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, said, “The African Penguin is an endangered species. The population in South Africa is 25,000 breeding pairs, which is critical to the survival of the species. We don’t condone actions that jeopardise the survival of eggs or penguins.”

The 30-year old suspect was arrested on Wednesday and has already appeared in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on charges of the illegal possession of penguin eggs.

Weekly Press Review – 6 May 2016

The Cape Town Port Festival took place at the Cape Town harbour last weekend, hosted by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

According to the press hundreds of locals flocked to the free event, which boasted craft stands, food stalls and performances by top DJs as well as South African favourites Freshly Ground.

The festival aimed to popularise and reintegrate South African ports with their surrounding communities.

TNPA Chief Executive Richard Vallihu said, “These port festivities offer a platform and a workable solution to make our ports community-friendly and to expose the public to the opportunities available in this sector, but in a fun and innovative way.”

“We want the communities around our ports to feel a sense of belonging and ownership. To us, progressive and sustainable ports are those that co-exist and evolve with communities where the commercial ports are,” said TNPA Cape Town port manager, Sipho Nzuza.

Weekly Press Review – 29 April 2016

As we face the reality of ever declining numbers within the African penguin population, this week South Africa joined the world in celebrating World Penguin Day.

According to the press the number of African penguins has dropped from over 1 million pairs in the 1920s to a current population of just under 20,000 breeding pairs.

There are still many obstacles to the growth of African penguin populations. These include: pollution, habitat degradation, food shortages, climate change, human disturbance and predators. The African penguin is listed as ENDANGERED.

In response to the endangered status in 2013 the Department of Environmental Affairs and a group of experts from various organisations formed the first national Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for the African penguin.  Actions within this plan are carried out by two different working groups:  the Population Reinforcement working group and the Habitat working group and the groups are made up of representatives from various organisations, including:  Cape Nature, BirdLife SA, and SAN parks, to name a few.

 

Weekly press review – 15 April 2016

The local Shark Spotter project has made headlines this week by winning the Gold Innovation Award in the Best Beach Tourism category at the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2016.

The judges stated that Shark Spotters won as it combined enhancing safety and education on beaches.

Project manager, Sarah Waries, said, “Working together with the City, we have created a holistic, socially and environmentally responsible initiative that protects beach tourism, the local economy and the environment from the negative repercussions of shark bite incidents.”

“We are very pleased that they (Shark Spotters) have been acknowledged for their valuable and innovative efforts in responsible beach tourism, including the implementation of the shark exclusion net, which benefits our beachgoers,” said Mayco member for energy, environment and spatial planning Johan van der Merwe.