Weekly Press Review – 25 January 2013

The press was informed of a small omission in a letter to local fishermen that resulted in the Betty’s Bay Marine Reserve being plundered for its lobster stocks. The area was demarcated by government as a protected area to allow depleted fish stock to recover. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) provided local fishermen from Kleinmond, Hermanus and Gansbaai with a letter granting permission to fish their quotas anywhere in a section of the southern Cape coast known as ‘Zone F.’ Unfortunately, the Betty’s Bay Marine Reserve falls within this zone and the letter failed to point out that the reserve is in fact a restricted area.

The department has been informed of the error and a second letter has been sent to local fishermen informing them of the restrictions in this area, but so far the letter has gone unheeded.

Mike Tannet, who runs the local community-based anti-poaching organisation SeaWatch, stated that the same thing happened at the start of 2012.

Fisheries spokesman, Lionel Adendorf, reiterated that the department was aware of the error, a second letter had been sent and local fishermen would be made to comply.

Once again, DAFF: a department in desperate need of some real leadership.

Clarence October, originally from Bonteheuwel in the Cape, has made the news this week as he has been awarded an honorary MBE by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. He received the award in recognition of his services to the people of Tristan da Cunha which is home to some 273 Britons. Interestingly it was Clarence and his crew that won the SAMSA Seafarer of the Year Award in 2011 for these very actions.

As captain of the fishing vessel, MV Edinburgh, October was involved in the rescue of the crew of the cargo carrier Oliva which ran aground at Nightingale in March 2011, as well as coming to the aid of hundreds of oil covered penguins who were taken to Tristan da Cunha for rehabilitation.

October remains modest in the face of the accolade, saying that he and his crew only did what any crew in that situation would have done.

Congratulations to Clarence October, another proud moment for the South African maritime industry.

Weekly Press Review – 18 January 2013

The Green Party of SA is in the news this week with its continued attempts to suspend all commercial fishing of West Coast rock lobster.

Leader, Judith Sole, lodged a court application in the Western Cape High Court this week to suspend all commercial fishing of West Coast rock lobster as, according to Sole, rock lobster is only at 3.1 percent of its stock levels and need to be increased by a minimum of 20 percent to meet international standards of best practise.

At the time of deciding the fishing rights of West Coast rock lobster for 2013, DAFF was made aware of this, but in an unprecedented occurance, decided to ignore the information. Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, along with fisheries deputy director, Greta Apelgren-Narkedien, are the official respondents in the case.

Sole has further requested that strict measures be implemented to protect West Coast rock lobster and that governement supply restitution packages to artisanal fishermen during the suspension period.

Unfortunately, Sole is once again acting without the assistance of legal council and, although her heart seems to be in the right place and her concerns are more than warranted, she will surely require some assistance when taking on the minister and her team.

Commodore Darren White, captain of the SAS Charlotte Maxeke, also made the news this week after a message that he placed in a bottle over two years ago and 1600 nautical miles away found its way back to him on our shores.

The surprising event occured when White, based in Argentina for exercise drills with South American navies, decided to place a photograph of his crew along with a message in a wine bottle and throw it over board to see what would happen.

What happened was that just over two years later it washed up on a Pringle bay beach where Heinz Modricky and his son discovered it; made contact with Commodore White and returned the bottle to him.

An unusual occurance indeed.

Weekly Press Review – 11 January 2013

The big news in the press this week is the latest expedition of the SA Agulhas. The vessel left from Cape Town earlier this week in an attempt to conduct the first ever journey across the icy Antarctic in winter. To add to the prestige of the mission is the fact that world renowned explorer, Randulph Fiennes, is on board the vessel. The objectives are to transport Fiennes and his team to Antarctica, off-load equipment and assist in setting up a base before returning to Cape Town.

Deputy Transport Minister was at the launch and said that “This Coldest Journey is humankind’s first ever attempt in history at crossing the Antarctic in winter.”

“The research conducted on the expedition would benefit the entire world. This is history in the making,” said a very proud Tsietsi Mokhele, chief executive SAMSA.

We will be follwing the vessel’s progress.