Weekly Press Review – 1 June 2012

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries just cannot make any good news headlines. News that DAFF has yet to sign or renew a contract for onboard observers for the hake trawling industry means that the sector is at risk of loosing its Marine Stewardship Council certification.

The press picked up on the fact that the contract expired at the end of 2011 and that no new contract has been awarded.

The absence of these observers could result in the loss of Marine Stewardship Council certification, which in turn could result in the loss of up to 5000 jobs in the hake fishing industry, as well as lucrative international markets – about R5 billion in economic value, generated through exports.

And, to make matters worse, the anchovy fisheries also appear to be in trouble.  Their scientific survey, due to have taken place in May, has not happened.  This survey is essential.  If the quotas are not set correctly, they will be set at very conservative levels.  Experts fear that this could cost the anchovy industry up to R200 million.

What is happening here?  Where is our minister?  Is there no one willing to step up and accept responsibility for this impending economic disaster and come up with a solution, albeit a temporary one?

Anyone remember the Panos Earth?  It would seem that the ‘marooned’ ship Panos Earth, now under arrest by the sheriff of Simon’s Town court, was mostly forgotten by the press last week, but the ship’s plight was very much on the minds of the crew members still stuck onboard.

Eleven of the remaining crew left the ship on Saturday and flew home to South America on Sunday.  As they were ferried from the ship to the Simon’s Town harbour, they held a makeshift sign saying “Thank you South Africa and Smit Company.’  For some it was the first time that they had set foot on dry land in over four months.

Five crew members as well as a Smit Amandla Marine crew remain onboard.
According to reports, the ship has broken generators caused by taking on dirty fuel.  The repair costs are estimated at R4.2 million.  There is no money.  Smit spokeswoman, Clare Gomes has been quoted in the media saying that they are hoping for a judicial sale within the next few weeks.

Perhaps it was the Panos Earth that prompted the media to take a look at the wreck still sitting in Table Bay and report on the fact that she is likely to see another winter through in her current position.

It’s a position that South Africa needs to address as we head once again towards salvage season and a seemingly increasing number of vessels sail without sufficient insurance to meet salvage costs should the situation arise.

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