Weekly Press Review – 26 July 2013

The fishing rights allocation process has made the news again this week. Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson published the 2013 policy for the allocation of fishing rights for eight fisheries, but according to industry consultant, Shaheen Moolla, the policy contravenes the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA).

The latest controversy centres around co-operatives. According to the MLRA, co-operatives are not allowed to hold fishing rights. However, the newly gazetted policy has allowed co-operatives to hold fishing quotas in each sector.

Moolla has stated that no new policy or legislation may contradict an act of Parliament and believes that the policy violates the section of the constitution which states that only cabinet can approve policy.

The process has been dogged by controversy and the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) seems to be setting themselves up for a lengthy period of appeals – as they are laying a solid foundation from which unhappy rights holders can litigate.

Weekly Press Review – 19 July 2013

An interesting application of the Marine Living Resources Act  made the news this week. A Paarl man has been arrested for salting and preserving fish without a permit. According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) all fish-processing establishments as defined in section 18(1) of the act needed permits.

“The Marine Living Resources Act does not prescribe the amount, it only states that the salting of fish is processing and one requires a permit therefore,” said Carol Moses, spokeswoman for the department’s fisheries branch. The concern is obviously that this could put small fish shops and informal sellers out of business.

The department has now begun the task of “systematically addressing outlets.” Surely this will be a time consuming process which can only add to the pressure on an already stretched department.

The disgraced captain of the Costa Concordia also made the news again. Francesco Schettino, is facing the music as he faces charges of abandoning ship and manslaughter after the sinking of the cruise liner in 2012.

He has asked for a plea bargain deal in which he would serve just over three years if he admits responsibility. According to the chief prosecutor, there is “no doubt” of Schettino’s guilt. All that must be decided is “how long a sentence he will get.”

Labelled as “Italy’s most hated man” by the Italian press, it would seem that the court of public opinion is not keen to show any leniency. It will, however, be the responsibility of the court to decide the fate of a man who obviously made a terrible mistake and then chose to put his own safety above the safety of the souls that he was directly responsible for.

Weekly Press Review – 12 July 2013

Mentioned in the press this week was the announcement of INTERPOL’s Project Scale at a symposium held at the University of Cape Town (UCT) earlier in the week.

The announcement was made by Eve de Coning of INTERPOL and the project is designed to respond to the R230bn that is lost to illegal fishing each year and was established as a separate unit to fight fishing crime due to its dramatic impact on marine resources. These crimes are not just a local concern, but have become a transnational organised crime.

“We need to understand it in the context of a much larger chain of events,” de Coning said.

It is good to see some of the legal crime fighting organisations getting behind a problem that is not just South African, but a global phenomenon that needs to be addressed globally.

Will cabinet reshuffle quell maritime momentum?

As we welcome Ms Dipuo Peters as the new Minister of Transport, one has to wonder at the rationale behind President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet restructure that will see the relatively new (and now ex) Minister of Transport, Ben Dikobe Martins, shuffle off towards the Department of Energy.

Having declared 2013 Maritime Year and called for a complete review of current and proposed maritime policy to be on his desk by July this year, Mr Martins has been replaced at what could have become a landmark milestone for the industry had this backlog  been moved forward.

Speaking to the industry in March ahead of the BRICS summit, Mr Martins was persuasive about his desire to see the maritime industry shrug off its “Cinderella status” and seemed to have tasked stakeholders in the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) as well as the Ports’ Regulator to provide a road map (or more aptly a navigational chart) to move the sector forward.

At the same gathering Martins said: “I was not here ten years ago, but it is my responsibility to solve the obstacles and challenges that are there. I am the Minister of Transport; it is my responsibility to address the challenges.”

Well – he is no longer the Minister of Transport and so I guess it is no longer his responsibility to address these challenges. That task now falls to Ms Peters. Let us hope that she reclaims this mandate and moves it forward without loss of momentum.

If not, then I suspect the industry may well be more than a little frustrated at the thought of having to resurrect the maritime sensitisation process with a new minister.

I would be interested to get some feedback from the Presidency at the thought processes behind this latest reshuffle. Why does President Zuma believe that Ms Peters will make a more effective Minister of Transport? Is he disappointed in the progress made by Mr Martins? Will the two ministers sit down and discuss their previous portfolios with each other?

Oh – and one last question. Why are some Ministers left in positions where their effectiveness is continuously questioned – because that seems more than a little fishy to me?

Press Wrap up – 28 June 2013

With a few delays in getting our Weekly Press Review out over the last month, herewith please find a wrap up of the media coverage of the maritime industry during June (since our last post of 7 June 2013). 

During the week ending 14th June,  The African Marine Debris Summit wrapped up in Kirstenbosch, Cape Town and although it did not really feature much in the press, one can’t help but feel that it should have.

In her opening remarks, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi said, “Marine debris is not just an unsightly issue having a negative impact on tourism and human health but it is also responsible for deaths of a myriad of the creatures that inhabit the marine environment.”

Waste finding its way into our oceans is an ever-growing concern. Hopefully summits like these will not only draw attention to the problem, but also provide some possible solutions.

During the following week, the big news making headlines was the final outcome of the case against Hout Bay fishing magnate, Arnold Bengis, his son David and their overseas partner, Jeffrey Noll. The case, which has taken many years to reach this final stage, was brought against the three men for illegally exporting large amounts of west coast rock lobster from South Africa to the United States.

The United States has ordered that they pay an amount of R294 million in restitution to South Africa.

Desmond Stevens, acting head of fisheries for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said, “It is a huge amount of money. South Africa’s biggest restitution in illegal fishing.” He hoped that the money would be put into the Marine Living Resources Fund to assist with the fight against poaching.

You may have seen the article written by Shaheen Moolla in our March/April issue which highlighted where he thought the money should go.

Although a slow process, it is good to see that those who try to steal and cheat and abuse our marine resources do eventually have to pay the price. And what a price.

Now we wait to see where that R294 million goes.

During the last week, the maritime industry celebrated International Day of the Seafarer. 

June 25 marked the International Day of the Seafarer. This year IMO, together with United Nations, celebrated the day with a campaign entitled: Faces of the Sea. The idea behind the campaign was to encourage both individuals and organisations to use social media as a means to highlight various activities at sea, through photographs and messages, and in this way acknowledge seafarers from around the world, celebrating them and thanking them for their efforts at sea.

In this way it was hoped that the sheer diversity and scale of products used in our everyday lives that travel by sea would be highlighted and that the 1.5 million seafarers that make this possible would be recognised for their tremendous efforts.

A clever use of the world of social media to support a group of men and women who often go unrecognised despite their valuable contribution, often made in less than ideal conditions.

Die Burger picked up on the initiative a ran a great story on some of South Africa’s seafarers.