Weekly Press Review – 24 August 2012

The hate-hate relationship between Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and DA fisheries spokesman Pieter van Dalen has once again be covered in the press this week; with the names of Duncan Hindle, the Minister’s special adviser and Shaheen Moolla of Feike also being thrown into the mix.

All the name calling and petty arguing has somewhat detracted from the fact that the long awaited public protector’s report on the marine patrol tender has been delayed. This is apparently due to the fact that the inquiry has been extended.

Although the delay is disappointing, as it is important to get answers and some kind of closure to the issues, it is also well worth waiting for the results of the enquiry so that all discussion and debate can at least be FACT BASED and not just finger pointing and name calling like badly behaved childern on a playground.

After a long and extremely respectable silence, Smit Amandla Marine has chosen this week to speak. In a statement Smit, widely regarded as the ‘whistle-blower’, has been subjected to months of ‘slanderous unsubstantiated claims about our integrity and business practices.’

Smit has now gone on record stating that they are not a fishing company and nor are they being investigated by the Hawks or any other state authority regarding their management of the Fisheries Department’s research and patrol vessels.

They have gone even further by offering their full co-operation and assistance with any investigation into their business operations – past or present.

This magazine is in the process of organising an actual face-to-face debate between Minister Tina Joemat Pettersson and Pieter van Dalen which will allow the two the opportunity to answer the really important questions in a controlled environment and hopefully get some real answers.

After many years of legal wrangling, the name Arnold Bengis is back in the news this week. After being accused of poaching large quantities of SA rock lobster and Patagonia toothfish, importing them illegally into the US and then selling them at a huge profit, a US judge has ordered Bengis and his son, who was also involved, to pay a record $54.9 million (R450m) in restitution to South Africa.

Marius Diemont, legal representative for SA, said this is ‘ a significant precedent that shows that authorities will go to great lengths to bring people who deal in illegal fish to justice.’

The case against Hout Bay Fishing, headed by Bengis, which started in 2001, is still to be finalised.

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