Weekly Press Review – 28 November 2016

 A possible Chinese takeover of the naval dockyard in Simon’s Town has made headlines this week. The navy is facing an internal revolt amid the possibility that China may soon build vessels inside South Africa’s naval headquarters.

An Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between state-owned defense equipment firm Denel and China’s Poly Technologies resulting in a large investment by the Chinese firm in the Simon’s Town facility in return for boatbuilding business.

Poly Technologies is Denel’s bid partner in two navy tenders: Project Biro and Hotel; and there is widespread unhappiness over irregularities relating to these deals, including a long delay in announcing the winning bidders. The question being asked is why Denel is being accommodated when they have absolutely no maritime experience?

Concerns about political interference have surfaced in a memo circulating in the naval community. One of the issues raised states: “Denel’s task is to manage the dockyard and maintain the ships of the fleet, not to build ships without a shipbuilding yard of their own and use a national facility like Simon’s Town naval dockyard instead.”

Poly Technologies have offered no comment and Department of Defense spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said the department was not aware of any concerns.

The Cape Times ran a feature this week entitled: Maritime –SA’s new gold. Amongst the issues addressed were the new business opportunities available in South African aquaculture, how bilateral relations are advancing the Blue Economy and how South Africa is the new gate way to the Antarctic, as the only African country with a scientific base in Antarctica.

Weekly Press Review – 21 November 2016

Making headlines this week was a fire which broke out aboard a passenger cruise vessel on the Hartbeesdam over the weekend resulting in the deaths of four people. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating the incident.

A free app is helping 50 small-scale fishers in the province to monitor their catches. According to the press the smartphone application, called Abalobi, is designed to help small-scale fishers monitor their catch, better manage their business and monitor weather patterns before going to sea.

The application was funded by Vodacom Sustainability and developed at UCT. The application has the potential to benefit thousands of households across the country.

PetroSA has stated that it has managed to narrow its losses from R14.6 billion to R449 million for 2015/16.

According to the press revenue was down 13 percent from the previous R18 billion to R15.7 billion, while available cash balance fell from 4.4 billion to R3.7 billion.

The Cape Times ran a World Fisheries Day feature this week. Issues raised in the feature included a call for collaboration in conserving ocean’s resources in order to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations, as well as the welcoming of the Southern Bluefin Tuna allocation.

The desperate dream of becoming a stowaway by many people who find themselves unemployed in South Africa was featured in the press this week. Immigrants from African countries who do not have the correct documentation required to stay in South Africa see stowing away as their lifeline to leave the shores of South Africa and look for work opportunities wherever their ocean ride takes them.

P&I insurance representative Neil Chetty said that the one motivating factor for all stowaways was always poverty.

“If they had work in their home countries, they would not want to go on this adventure,” says Chetty.

Also making headlines this week was the announcement that JSE-listed African equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) was preparing to list its Premier Food and Fishing division on the JSE main board by the first quarter of next year.

Khalid Abdulla, AEEI chief executive said, “The division has shown consistent organic growth over the past five years, through achieving annual growth of more than 20 percent year on year. The time for acquisitions has come.”

South African tourists have been treated to a rare sight in Cape Town harbour over the past few weeks. According to the press the dwarf sperm whale, one of the world’ s smallest species of whale, has been spotted swimming in Cape Town harbour.

The little whale, smaller that some dolphins, is generally found in the deeper parts of the ocean, but according to Tinus Beukes of the Two Oceans Aquarium the whale entered the harbour on its own and should be able to leave on his own, presuming that it is in good health.

Also making headlines this week is a call by Knysna residents and tourists to help protect seahorses for current and future generations. The initiative forms part of the SA National Parks (SANParks) anti-pollution campaign in Knysna.

SANParks says of the 33 fish species recorded in the Knysna estuary, seven were estuarine dependent species like seahorses. The Knysna Seahorse is protected by law in the Marine Living Resources Act.

Weekly Press Review – 14 September 2016

According to the press Transnet, the state-owned freight and logistics company, has set aside R20 million to spend in mergers and acquisitions both inside and outside of South Africa.

Transnet’s chief executive, Siyabonga Gama, was quoted as saying that the company would pursue growth opportunities abroad in the face of limited organic growth prospects in South Africa because of low economic growth.

The fishing rights allocation has made headlines once again this week with the ANC coming under fire from its West Coast region, which has threatened action over the allocation process. The region has stated that the current process benefited white companies to the detriment of small-scale fishers.

ANC acting provincial chairperson Khaya Magaxa said, “We appreciate the fact that the ANC at a national level is trying by all means to make some strategic intervention in terms of the allocation of fishing rights, to the benefit of the poor – acknowledging that in the past there’s been a consistent bias towards the rich, well-established companies.

“If there’s no change, we as the ANC are prepared to take this matter to the streets.”

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) spokesperson, Palesa Mokomele, said that the department would only make rights allocations to small-scale fishers in 2017.

Another perlemoen bust was reported on in the press this week. This time police confiscated approximately R1 million worth of perlemoen in Edgemead in Cape Town.

The bust resulted in the confiscation of both dried and frozen perlemoen, as well as an unreported quantity of shark fins.

The Sunday Times this week published a story about how the tide of fortune has finally turned in the favour of Martin Blake and a small group of fishermen in Langebaan who are fighting for the right to return to their fishing grounds in the Langebaan lagoon.

DAFF has been ordered by the court to set aside permit restrictions that exclude part of the lagoon. Judge Julian Sher concurred with the fishermen that they had been unfairly discriminated against and ordered the fishing department to come to some kind of compromise.

DAFF spokesperson, Palesa Mokomele said, “We are studying the judgment and its effect and we will engage other departments to determine the way forward. We will thereafter meet the community members.”

Weekly Press Review – 7 November 2016

An 8,000 ton experimental fishing programme has made headlines this week with the government going to court to defend the programme, which according to scientists could have decimated a valuable fishery.

A bid by several large fishing companies was made to have the experimental horse mackerel permit set aside on the grounds that it was illegal and contravened scientific advice.

Fishing associations say that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is now trying to take credit for a settlement setting aside the granting of the experimental horse mackerel fishing permit to Global Pact after it was revealed that the department had conceded to review its decision to allocate an additional 8,000 tons to Global Pact.

The department has said that The South African Deepsea Trawling Industry (SADSTIA) and Midwater Trawling Associations and others abandoned their interdict application.

SADSTA and Midwater Trawling Associations executive secretary Johann Augustyn responded by saying, “This is an attempt to whitewash the whole thing. We did not abandon the interdict. It was agreed by both parties that the interdict would serve no purpose because it was too close to review. It was too close to review because DAFF weren’t ready to present their papers and asked for a postponement.” Augustyn added that they were convinced that the permit had been issued illegally and this was vindicated.

DAFF Minister Senzeni Zokwana’s spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo responded by saying that the department remained committed to restructuring the horse mackerel industry.

A group of small-scale fishers from Langebaan have made headlines this week as they celebrated a legal victory setting aside a government decision stopping them from fishing for harders in a section of the Langebaan lagoon.

The Western Cape High Court declared the restrictive conditions imposed on traditional fishers by DAFF as arbitrary, irrational and unconstitutional.

Judge Mark Sher, who presided over the matter, has said that it would be inappropriate of him to make an order granting fishers some other right, but urged officials in the departments concerned to please engage with the fishers.

The fishing vessel, the Verano, which caught alight in the Cape Town harbour also caught the press’s attention this week. The vessel has been burning for four days and there are now major concerns regarding oil pollution. On Sunday a special pipe was laid in the water around the vessel in an attempt to stop the oil from moving out of the harbour and into the ocean.

Weekly Press Review – 31 October 2016

 The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has issued a provisional list of 126 fishing communities, but press reports state that small-scale fishers are adamant that they will appeal the list.

DAFF small-scale fishers director, Craig Smith, said that many traditional fishers do not have permit records to substantiate their claims as small-scale fishers, adding that DAFF elected to involve communities in the verification of community fishers as part of the prescribed small-scale fishing regulations.

“The department does not know the community members to decide whether they meet the small-scale fisher criteria or not. Hence DAFF requested community members to elect community panel members to assist DAFF with the verification of fishers,” said Smith adding that in many cases community members were excluded by their own elected panel.

According to Smith the list is likely to increase with the assessment of appeals and after all appeals have been thoroughly assessed, the department will announce a final list of successful small-scale fishers.

A new research trip to Marion Island has made headlines this week. A team of more than 50 scientists from South Africa and abroad will join the Russian research vessel, Akademik Tryoshnikov, for a plankton study on the island later this year.

It is hoped that the study will reveal why there is not more life in the nutrient rich Southern Ocean.

UCT oceanographer Sarah Fawcett said that the ship leaves Cape Town on December 20 and the study will cover everything from biodiversity and whales to bird life, interaction between winds, waves, currents and ice and the problems a caused by plastic pollution.

The City has launched a Shark Spotters app aimed at enhancing beach safety this summer.

According to the press the Shark Spotters app provides water users with current and accurate shark safety information on their smartphones, giving beach-goers the opportunity to make informed decisions on shark risks before arriving at the beach.

“We believe the Shark Spotters app will be an essential beach safety and information tool for all water users in Cape Town during the upcoming beach season. This app will provide keen surfers and swimmers with specific information about their favourite beach spots even before they travel to them,” said Mayco member for energy, environment and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe.

The Antarctica’s Ross Sea has been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). According to the press the announcement, which was made at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, is regarded as a victory and historic moment in the history of conservation.

The move marks the first time that a large-scale MPA has been established on the high seas.

Weekly Press Review – 24 October 2016

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, was quoted in the press this week saying that an increase in the southern bluefin tuna allocation in South Africa is essential for job creation, and will provide permanent employment in the sector.

The Commission for Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) has decided to increase the country’s allocation from 150 tons to 423 tons. Minister Sokwana has hailed the decision saying that it would inject much needed export revenue for South Africa.

“It is estimated that the 450 ton increase could be worth R270 million. Depending on the foreign exchange rate, it could create about 1,000 jobs for the unemployed,” said Minister Zokwana.

Small-scale fishers should be able to reap the benefit of the new fishing rights to be allocated by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) scheduled for the end of October.

According to the press the fishing industry, which is dominated by the big players, will now also benefit communities living on South Africa’s coastlines.

Minister Zokwana said that the department wanted to bring in more black people living on the coastline by allocating the new fishing rights to them.

According to deputy director-general for Fisheries Siphokazi Ndudane, the department would allocate rights to 10 sectors, which include abalone, lobster, tuna, horse mackerel, hake-in-shore and the Kwazulu-Natal seine fishing.

“It is important because there was a lot of injustice that was done in the past,” said Ndudane.

However, the press has also reported this week that disgruntled small-scale fishers have slated DAFF saying that its verification process is flawed.

According to the Masifundise Development Trust (MDT), most fishers who meet DAFF’s criteria have been excluded from the provisional list.

“The verification process was flawed. DAFF must be sensitive to the plight of small-scale fishers. They did everything required of them, but still they’re excluded. We will definitely appeal,” says MDT director, Naseegh Jaffer.

Weekly Press Review – 14 October 2016

Long-term fishers from the West Coast rock lobster and abalone sectors gave a sigh of relief this week with the news that they have been exempted from applying for commercial rights for the 2016/2017 season.

According to the press the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) made the decision in order to enable it to process a “substantial number” of applications, including new entrants into the sector.

The department’s assessment team along with the delegated authority, require sufficient time to properly assess and evaluate the applications in the two fishing sectors.

Just in time for this year’s holiday season, 10 Cape Town beaches have achieved the highly valued Blue Flag status.

The press has made mention of the 10 beaches who have attained full Blue Flag status for the upcoming 2016/17 summer season. They are:

  • Melkbosstrand
  • Clifton 4th beach
  • Camps Bay
  • Llandudno
  • Fish Hoek
  • Muizenberg
  • Strandfontein
  • Mnandi
  • Bikini Beach
  • Silwerstroomstrand

Mayco member for community services, Anda Ntsodo, said that the City had worked hard to ensure that Cape Town’s beaches were clean, safe and full of fun activities for holidaymakers.