The tender war seems to have taken on a whole new dimension according to the latest newspaper reports. As if life on a marine research ship is not exciting enough, now that the navy has taken over the running of the fisheries vessels belonging to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the fisheries scientists will go to sea on a warship. They will be setting off on Monday. Department spokesperson, Selby Bokaba said that the ship would be staffed by ‘the crew, navy as well as research personnel.’
At this point the department’s research ships are still registered as merchant vessels and, according to international law, are not allowed to be run by the military until they have been removed from the merchant vessel register. As of Wednesday afternoon none of the six department vessels had been removed.
Dave Colly of SAMSA said that he had written to the department two weeks ago regarding the matter, but had still received no response. What can be taking so long?
In other reports, it would seem that maritime protected areas (MPA’s) are the new playground of the abalone poacher. A Llandudno resident reported a poaching incident in a local marine sanctuary last week and a study carried out by Gregg Brill of Stellenbosch University revealed how a group of poachers have been stealing approximately 27 tons of abalone a year from the marine section of Table Mountain National Park.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. His study also revealed that the number of abalone actually confiscated represented as little as 10 percent of all abalone poached. It would appear that abalone poachers are getting away with murder and why are these ‘protected areas’ not being protected – oh wait perhaps it’s because our vessel assets are currently just decorating the Simons Town harbour!
By all means save our rhino, but let’s try to save our abalone too.