The Seli 1 is back in the news this week. The SA Navy resumed the blasting of the vessel earlier in the week and a fuel tank was damaged resulting in a spill of light bunker fuel. As a result, the city restricted public access to the sea in the Blouberg area and the press started to nose around.
City disaster risk management spokesman, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said that a helicopter crew had been dispatched to monitor the spill but, at present, there was no danger to the coastline or marine wildlife.
One must ask why there were no protective measures in place during the blasting? This is, after all, a public beach with a large marine wildlife presence. One also has to presume that, had a commercial entity been contracted to undertake the wreck removal, very stringent measures would have had to have been in place before any form of blasting was permitted.
West coast rock lobster is also back in the news this week, but this time not linked to the rights allocation process. Sadly, our very South African kreef has been downgraded from “green” status to “orange” status on the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (Sassi) list. This means that when you now order rock lobster in a restaurant, from an environmental perspective it has gone from “best choice” to “think twice”.
The Spanish Navy vessel Rago is visiting our shores this week. The combat frigate is part of the EU naval force’s anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa and earlier this month was involved in the capture of several suspected pirates. The 10-day visit is designed to provide the crew with a short rest period and also to strengthen ties with the SA Navy.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the country’s marine patrol vessels are back in the press this week as the government toys with idea of taking responsibility for the vessels away from DAFF completely and handing it to the Department of Transport’s SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
According to a senior shipping source, the idea behind the move would be to place the patrol ships under a department with marine safety responsibilities and disaster management expertise. The question is whether a body tasked with implementing safety standards on vessels should necessarily be owning vessels themselves.
Although this makes sense from a safety perspective, where does the responsibility for research then lie?
According to another article in the press, more and more novices are being drawn into the world of perlemoen poaching. Recently police have made a number of arrests in areas such as Khayelitsha and Nyanga, areas not traditionally associated with perlemoen poaching. According to Shaheen Moolla, chief executive of the marine research company Feike, “The reality is that poaching in these areas has been on the increase for some time.”
Carol Moses of DAFF added that, “Poaching is not an isolated criminal activity and poachers often work in association with illegal drug dealers and other organised crime elements.”
The result is that the poaching of our country’s perlemoen now needs to be addressed from many different angles and a unified, co-operative front will need to be established if there is any hope of seeing our perlemoen 30 years from now.
Also making news this week was the open letter to Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. A group of academics from UCT, the University of the Western Cape, the Oceanographic Institute and Rhodes University, as well as the World Wild Life Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Masifundise Development Trust have written a letter to the Minister calling for an extension to the time given for public feedback on important upcoming legislation. The public was initially given six weeks to comment on the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill, but this was subsequently cut to three weeks.
We wait to hear her response – if there is one.
Although I am almost 100 percent sure that all of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ problems have not been solved this week and the fishing rights allocation process has not reached a permanent and satisfying solution for all those involved, none of these topics made the press this week, making it a rather quiet week for the maritime industry.
What did make the news this week, however, was the rather spectacular sight of the Europa, the world’s largest traditional sailing ship, with four masts and over 4,000m2 of sail, leaving Table Bay harbour. The vessel sailed out of the harbour along with the slightly smaller vessels, Tecla and Oosterschelde. The three ships have been based at the V&A Waterfront for the past three weeks.
I like lists. And I especially like lists that are quick and easy to accomplish. So here are five things that you, as a maritime professional, can quickly and easily do to promote awareness of our industry amongst the general population.
- Post a maritime-related photo or status update on your Facebook wall that would be of interest to your friends and that paints the industry in a positive light.
- Invite your friends or family ship-spotting. In most port towns there is generally a vantage point that also makes a good picnic spot from where you can see ships. (Take a pair of binoculars to make it more exciting.)
- Speak to the career counselor at your nearest High School about the opportunities in the maritime sector for their learners. (I believe the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is producing a book on maritime careers – so perhaps this will be available for distribution soon.)
- Get involved in the International Day of the Seafarer campaign run annually by the International Maritime Organisation on 25th June 2013. (Click here for more information)
- Encourage your business to share their good news with the media.
BUT WAIT – HERE’S A BONUS POINT:
6. Share this post with other members of the maritime industry and let’s get the message out there!
The big news of the week this week is the announcement by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) that Desmond Stevens will take over as acting head of the fisheries department after Greta Apelgren-Narkedien stepped down last month. The department is now in the process of appointing a permanent head of fisheries.
We wait with bated breath.
The Paternoster fishing community has made the news this week with a plea to the government to increase their crayfish quotas and ease regulations. During a meeting held in Paternoster with DA parliamentarian Pieter van Dalen, fishermen stated that their concerns had largely been ignored over the past seven years.
Peter Coraizen, representing small-scale fishermen on the local council, said that fishermen generally earn less than R500 per week, resulting in their children leaving their studies to join their parents in an attempt to increase family revenue.
The quota system offers no easy solutions and it is almost impossible to please all the parties involved, but it would be nice to see the small-scale fishing community taken care of more appropriately.
In a follow up to last week’s story regarding the arrested vessel, the E Whale, and the crew stranded aboard. The Taiwanese bank that owns the vessel has agreed to take responsibility for the wages of the crew until such date as the vessel is sold.
Good news for the crew and nice to see a financial institution stepping up and doing the right thing.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has made the headlines again this week regarding the country’s patrol and research vessels. Cape Town based company Nautic South Africa has won a six month contract with DAFF to run the fleet – a service that has seen its fair share of controversy over the last 18 months.
The announcement was made by Nautic and not the department.
James Fisher, chief executive of Nautic, said that the company was aware that they would be holding a bit of a ‘hot potato’ given the controversy around the vessels, but believed that what was needed was “a practical and pragmatic approach to get the vessels working and out to sea. Our approach is to solve the problems as soon as possible.”
Let us hope that these words can be put into action.
On the subject of DAFF, Greta Apelgren-Narkadien is no longer with the fisheries branch. After just five months in the position, Apelgren-Narkadien has left the post to take up the position of head of human settlements in Kwazulu-Natal.
The vessel the E Whale also made the headlines this week. More than a year after being arrested, due to financial issues surrounding her sister ship, A Whale, the vessel sits about 3km from shore with crew members trapped aboard for up to four months at a time.
Needless to say there are wage disputes and the only way for funds to be recouped would be to sell the vessel, which is in itself not a quick process. Until that happens, the crew have no choice but to remain aboard.
What a terrible situation for the crew who obviously have nothing to do with the financial woes of the owners, Today Makes Tomorrow International, and want nothing more than to be paid for a job that they have already done and get home to their families. Let’s hope that this situation can be solved as quickly as possible.