Weekly Press Review – 22 November 2013

The Coldest Journey team is back in the press this week. A disappointed team returned from their failed mission to cross the Antarctic, team leader Hugh Bowring was quick to point out that, “Although we have failed in our objective to cross Antarctic, it will have escaped nobody’s notice that our other; more important objective was to draw attention to the work of Seeing is Believing.”

The expedition, initially led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, known as the world’s greatest explorer, managed to raise $2 million, despite an initial target of $10 million. The team returns to Cape Town today.

Also mentioned in the press this week was the start of the MSC cruise season. The MSC Opera and MSC Sinfonia promise a host of entertainment delights on board to tempt holiday makers into the world of sea cruises.

These vessels are like small floating cities and offer guests every possible type of entertainment from shows to restaurants, bars casinos, golf simulators, discos – you name it.

It would seem that the holiday cruise is growing in popularity as prices become more competitive, children’s safety and entertainment is considered and there is more and more bang for the buck.


Weekly Press Review – 15 November 2013

The big maritime headline of the week was the adoption of the Marine Living Resources Amendments Bill by the National Assembly. The bill was welcomed as a way of transforming the inequalities of the past.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson said that the legislation would realise her department’s goal of empowering small-scale fishermen and women and the communities that they come from.

Let us hope that that is in fact the case.

The slave ship, the Meermin was back in the news this week as a renewed interest in the vessel and its story have generated a greater public interest in the recovery of the wreck.

Jaco Boshoff, marine archaeologist at Iziko Museums said that there had been many extensive searches for the wreck over the years, but thus far, nothing had been recovered. He added, “At the moment, funding is what is preventing us from completing the search. It is, in a sense, like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Boshoff also admitted that sadly there is a chance that “as the historians state, the wreck does not exist anymore.”

Hopefully that is not the case as it would mean a huge waste of time, effort and money.

Weekly Press Review – 8 November 2013

Rock lobster quotas were back in the press last week. In an attempt to aid the recovery of the drastically depleted stocks, the fisheries department has reduced this season’s quota for West Coast rock lobster.

According to DAFF, the stocks are so depleted that they are at only three percent of what they were 100 years ago. In response to this drastic scenario the TAC has been reduced from 2,426 tons to 2,167 tons.

According to acting deputy director-general of fisheries management at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Desmond Stevens, the move was to ensure that the lobster population was managed “in an ecologically sound manner based on proven scientific principles.”

This is quite an interesting comment as the fisheries department has been known to completely ignore “proven scientific principles”in the past and over ride advised quotas.

Let us hope that this does not become a case of far too little, far too late.

History buffs will be interested in the case of the slave ship the Meermin which is back in the news this week thanks the VOC Foundation who have created a replica of the famous ship to be displayed in the Iziko Museum.

In 1766, as the ship sailed between Madagascar and the Cape Colony, the 140 slaves on board mutinied and gained control of the vessel. It was agreed that the slaves would be returned to Madagascar as free men, but the crew of the Meermin did not honour the agreement and tricked the slaves into heading towards land that was not, in fact Madagascar, where the Dutch were waiting to capture them.

It is believed that the Meermin was wrecked near Struisbaai, but the wreck has never been found.

Weekly Press Review – 1 November 2013

Saldanha Bay made the news this week with officials from the national and provincial governments and local authorities, along with President Zuma descending upon the coastal town for the official designation of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone. (IDZ)

It is estimated that more than 11,000 jobs will be created over the next 25 years and that the IDZ will attract R9.3 billion in foreign investment.

The IDZ business plan shows that Saldanha Bay has the capacity to service up to three oil rigs simultaneously and would have access to at least 84 other rigs currently off the coast of Western Africa.

This project is being lauded as a huge coup for not just the South African economy, but also for the people of Saldanha Bay. Saldanha Black Business Women’s Association chairwoman, Paulina Mali, says: “I believe the IDZ will change our lives and bring jobs for our young people.”

Despite incidents of heckling and a somewhat heated discussion between the President and Premier Helen Zille at the official opening, making more of a news impact than the actual IDZ development one can only hope that the project runs smoothly from now on and delivers what it promises.

Our interaction with some members of the maritime industry sees the development as important, but wonders at the wisdom of creating such massive expectations for the people of Saldanha Bay at this early stage when many issues relating to the use and development of the zone need still to be addressed.

On the environmental front, the story of a young humpback whale who found his way into Table Bay harbour, but could not find his way out made headlines this week.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), police divers and several government departments were involved in the rescue operation to free the whale who was caught between a ship and the Table Bay quay.

Rescuers tried to encourage the trapped animal to move towards the open waters, but it kept moving inward to where a large ship was pressed against the tyres on the quay wall. Eventually Plan B had to be implemented: if the whale would/could not move, then the ship would have to be moved. Two tugs moved the large ship and then a tug was used to gently guide the whale out of the harbour.

A happy story as people come together to help an animal in distress.

Another story making the news this week should appeal to all maritime historians. Five large cannon have been recovered from the ocean floor near Miami belonging to the vessel, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, captained by the legendary pirate Blackbeard.

Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, infamously terrorised Atlantic seafarers around the Caribbean and American colonies. He was ultimately killed by British forces in 1718.