Weekly Press Review – 25 May 2012

In January, due to safety concerns, Home Affairs banned cruise liners from docking at Jetty Two of the V&A Waterfront.

Making headlines this week was news of plans to develop a proper cruise terminal. Now, after two years of lobbying, plans are finally underway for a cruise liner terminal at Table Bay Harbour.  Transnet has called for submissions of interest in the funding, construction and operation of such a terminal.

According to Guy Lundy, head of the business think tank Accelerate Cape Town, at present Cape Town does not even feature on the plans of international cruise liners, but the building of such a facility would go a long way to attracting operators to the shores of South Africa and particularly Cape Town.

Obviously, this is only the first step in a very long process, but if it comes to fruition it will open the doors of a large tourism trade which can only benefit the maritime industry, as well as Cape Town as a whole.

Also mentioned in the news this week was the arrival of the French helicopter carrier, Dixmude and the frigate Georges Leygues. The ships took part in exercises with the South African Navy and were a very impressive sight both arriving and leaving Cape Town harbour.

It is nice to see Cape Town harbour so busy.  A new terminal would certainly not go amiss, so let us hope that the process runs more smoothly than some of the other “opportunities” provided by Transnet in the past.


Weekly Press Review – 18 May 2012

Media attention this week turned to Clifton where the 50m, Eihatse Maru ran aground with 40 tons of frozen tuna and between 90 and 110 tons of fuel onboard.

By this morning, due to various difficulties, from the inability to attach properly to tow ropes breaking (twice) to no swell, the vessel was still firmly nestled at First beach.  Fifty tons of fuel has been removed from the vessel as a precaution and Dave Colly of SAMSA  says that ‘they are restructuring the back to make it strong enough to pull’ and some rough weather is heading our way which will help to lift the vessel.  Atlatech and Smit Amandla are assisting.

The vessel ran aground in darkness and thick fog early on Saturday morning.  Media reports relate how a witness tried to raise the alarm by contacting the port authority, but was instructed to contact the police. Perhaps better staff training at the port authority could have prevented this maritime mishap or at least allowed the salvage operation to get underway quickly and efficiently? Food for thought.

At this point the stern of the vessel has been strengthened and the plan is to tow her out to sea today.  Let us hope that the third time is the charm. (The vessel was removed successfully late Friday afternoon)

PS.  The captain’s dog Alley/Ali is still onboard and doing well.

Thankfully the press also picked up on some good news from the maritime industry and devoted a few inches of space to the commendable achievements of Lawhill Maritime Centre. A big CONGRATULATIONS goes out to the Lawhill Maritime Studies programme in Simon’s Town, headed by Brian Ingpen.  The programme has been awarded the international Seatrade Investment in People award.

Brian, who has long been a shining light in maritime education, accepted the award in London on Monday.  It was awarded in recognition of the programme which helps provide young people with maritime-related skills while they are still at school.

Congratulations Brian and Lawhill!  Lovely to see all your hard work recognised and rewarded.

Recognising a different type of Maritime Master

In what can only be described as “long overdue” one of our own maritime champions was recognised for his contribution to maritime education at the Seatrade Awards dinner in London last night. While technically it was the Lawhill Maritime Centre that received the Investment in People award – Brian Ingpen is synonymous with the success of the centre and has instilled a passion for the maritime industry, respect, discipline and a set of uncompromising values in South African youth over the many years that Simons Town High School has offered Maritime Studies as a Matric subject.

My involvement with the industry goes back almost two decades and in that time Brian Ingpen has always been a prominent supporter of all maritime matters. His quiet, dignified persona is as much a part of our maritime legacy as the many legends that helped shape the South African maritime landscape. His uncompromising ability to see to the reality of all things maritime makes him an ideal commentator, educator and friend of the industry.

But it is the work that he does in Simonstown at the High School and within the Lawhill Maritime Centre that is truly remarkable. His learners (past and present) are noticeable and notable in the industry; and every year when I leave his annual Awards evening I am moved by the respect they have for him as well as the industry that they are hoping to enter.

Honestly there are few in the maritime as well as the education sector that can say they are leading our youth and championing our future maritime leaders to the same degree as Mr Brian Ingpen.

Congratulations Brian; it is an honour to have you on our editorial team and to witness what you are doing at the Lawhill Maritime Centre.


Weekly Press Review – 11 May 2012

The media scrutiny associated with patrol and research vessels continues and this week the SA Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association is in trouble with Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson (who isn’t), who has accused the association of ‘fronting’ for Smit Amandla Marine by allowing the company to carry out research on the SAS Africana last month.  Secretary of the association, Roy Bross responded by saying that Smit had been asked to provide staff purely to ensure that the research could take place on time.  ‘We only wanted to help.’

The minister was back in the news later in the week with a little drama at the Cape Town Press Club.  Over the years, many politicians have addressed the Cape Town Press Club, including Jacob Zuma, Helen Zille, Tokyo Sexwale and many others.  In that time no politician has ever taken issue with the club’s membership – until now.  Minister Joemat-Pettersson protested speaking at a press club breakfast because of the presence of DA MP Pieter van Dalen, saying that if one political party was represented then others should be too. (Was that really the reason for her objection?)

Her sentiments were backed by ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, who said that the ANC was disturbed by the fact that a public representative of a political party was a member of the club.

The club responded by saying that it was the oldest and most active press club in South Africa and was committed to a democratic South Africa where ‘equality and free speech is respected, protected and defended.’

Me thinks she does protest too much …… again.

And now, False Bay, we have a problem.  A Chilean-owned cargo ship which experienced engine failure off our coast and was too big to berth in Cape Town harbour was given permission by SAMSA to anchor in False Bay while she was repaired. She’s now making newspaper headlines as journalists pick up on the plight of the crew.

One of SAMSA’s conditions was that a tug be on permanent standby as a precaution while the vessel was in the environmentally sensitive bay as the owners believe there is a ‘real chance of environmental damage.’  Unfortunately, the tug is there at a cost of about R235 800 per day; the bills are mounting and the creditors are lining up.  The insurers, Swedish Club have said that they will pull their cover for wreck removal and oil pollution by month end, and the owners have no money.  So who is now responsible?

It looks as if we are heading the way of the Seli 1 incident, where everyone just walked away and South Africans were left to foot the bill for the ships removal.  Also let us not forget the poor crew stranded on the ‘dead vessel’:  little food, little water and I’m sure very little morale.

Finally, the results are in:  The Oliver Empowerment Awards winners have been announced, recognising 16 local companies and individuals for their efforts towards Black Economic Empowerment and tranformation.

Congraulations to SAMSA and Dormac for their accomplishments.  You make the industry proud.

A pressing comment

Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Pieter van Dalen, has stepped up to the pulpit largely created by the likes of fisheries commentator, Shaheen Moolla over recent months. On Friday he was once again catapulted into the media spotlight when he was asked to leave the Press Club meeting due to be addressed by none other than DAFF Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

The debate that has ensued has been interesting as have the comments made by the Minister during the briefing.

While I support the quest that Van Dalen has  undertaken to make the minister accountable to her constituency as defined by the Department’s title, and I support his right to be at the meeting as a member of the Press Club – I do wonder at the legitimacy of a Press Club’s constitution that opens its membership to unrelated sectors.

As a member of the media I do not (and cannot) belong to professional industry clubs for accountants, doctors or the like; and I wonder if politicians take an equal interest in joining such professional clubs.

And so my take on the whole affair:

Minister Joemat-Pettersson should probably have anticipated the (political and media) uproar that was going to follow her demands to have Pieter van Dalen removed and would have come out smelling sweeter than the perlemoen she keeps accumulating for the Department had she just got on with it. Let’s face it – any question that Van Dalen was likely to ask, the press had already got waiting for her anyway.

Pieter van Dalen as a member of the Press Club had every right to be there. Whether the Press Club should open their doors to politicians is an entirely different debate and one which should probably be addressed. His decision to leave can be considered political gesturing for the sake of the media, but at the end of the day it  was really probably  the only logical decision he could make.

The Press Club should reconsider their constitution in terms of membership criteria. Ironically – although currently not a member of the Cape Town Press Club – this incident has made me reconsider this decision.

The comments made by the minister are not the topic of this blog, but certainly worth following up on by both journalists and politicians, irrespective of their membership to any professional clubs! We should all be pressing on to ensure that the current questions surrounding the minister’s leadership of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are fully answered.

Weekly Press Review – 4 May 2012

The local media has been swept up in a wave of maritime fervour as more than one journalist seems to have expressed a deeply personal appreciation of the new SA Agulhas 2. A proud moment for all South Africans as the SA Agulhas arrived at the Table Bay harbour from the shipyards of Finland yesterday amid much fanfare.  But no traditional ceremony for this beautiful ship dedicated to the late Miriam Makeba; instead a truly African ‘christening’.  Minister of Environmental Affiairs, Edna Molewa ran the length of the ship with a small grass ‘broom’ sprinkling the ship with ubulawu or ‘dream foam’ as a sangoma shouted and sang nearby.  Not a sight you see everyday, but this is no everyday ship.

The Smit Amandla captain, Freddie Ligthelm, described the ship as a beefed-up version of the old Agulhas:  bigger, wider and stronger.  May she travel safe and make us proud.

On the perlemoen front, Doug Butterworth, the UCT mathematician responsible for the calculations of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, has been quoted in the media pointing out that  within 10 years there will be so few perlemoen left that poachers will basically be out of business.

At present, the total allowable catch is 150 tons and poachers are removing an estimated 1500 tons.  One does not have to be a mathematician to see that this equation is disastrous.

Earlier this week the city council announced that it would be moving into marine law enforcement in an attempt to combat the rapidly increasing perlemoen poaching around the peninsula.  A unit is to be established, tentatively named the Coastal and Marine Law Enforcement Unit which will work the length of the city’s 300km coastline.

Staff training is already underway and the city has put out a (dare I say the word) tender for an inshore patrol boat.  Let us hope we can all work together to try to put a stop to the poaching problem and protect our marine resources for future generations.

Despite the doom and gloom, some good news as the seven individuals who pleaded guilty to their roles in a perlemoen ring last week have been put behind bars.  The accused were sentenced to between four and 10 years.  Now that is a start.

Finally, there was much excitement at the naval dockyard in Simon’s Town last week as 33 year-old Handsome Thamsanqua Matsane became one of the youngest submariner commanders, officially taking charge of the SAS Queen Modjadji and saying that he had always wanted to work at sea.

Navy spokesman, Prince Tshabalala said that Matsane ‘is an inspiration to other young South Africans who want to join the navy.’  Congratulatiuons to Mr Matsane, let us hope that there will actually be something for him to do.