Weekly Press Review – 31 January 2014

Hout Bay harbour was in the headlines this week as angry fishermen blockaded the harbour on Wednesday and Thursday in protest as two local fishermen were feared drowned.

Locals said that informal fishermen were forced to fish at night, which is far more dangerous, as they had no fishing rights.

Anthony Theunissen, a local fisherman, said that people in his community had been fishing for generations and knew no other way of life.  He added that the protest was aimed at closing the harbour’s economic activity.

The fishermen want not only fishing rights, but are calling for transformation within the fishing industry.

Fisheries branch spokesperson, Carol Moses expressed the department’s regret at the loss of life.

Amendments to the Marine Living Resources Act are currently before government.

Surely, there is some positive way forward for these local fishermen who are asking nothing more than the chance to feed their families and make a living?

The SA Agulhas featured briefly in the news as the vessel made a stop alongside the ice of Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic Ocean to deliver equipment required for the island’s new communications station.

Another impressive vessel in the news this week is the Queen Mary 2.  Fans of the world’s largest ocean liner, will have been delighted as the vessel sailed into Table Bay Harbour for a two day visit.

Alan Winde, Western Cape MEC for Tourism, welcomed the vessel saying that cruise ships brought more than 10, 000 visitors to the Western Cape annually generating more than R200 million for the economy.   He also stated that he was looking forward to the development of a dedicated cruise liner terminal.

We shall wait and see.

The controversial Australian shark culling policy has made headlines again this week with the killing of the first shark caught in the bait lines off the Australian coast.  The shark, a 3m female tiger shark was caught in the lines and shot by a contracted fisherman.

Needless to say, and quite rightly so, local environmental activists are outraged by the killing and a large public backlash is expected.  Western Australian State Premier, Colin Barnett, is standing by the decision, saying that the safety of beach goers is the ultimate aim.

The programme is only on trial for a two month period.  Let us hope that someone in charge comes to their senses and looks at a more environmentally friendly option – perhaps something similar to the exclusion nets in use in False Bay??

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Weekly Press Review – 24 January 2014

A case of “modern day slavery” has made the headlines this week when ten foreign vessels were found to be fishing illegally off the coast of South Africa.

The fisheries patrol vessel Victoria Mxenge escorted three of the vessels from offshore Camps Bay to Cape Town harbour and the vessels were seized. The crew onboard, who were mainly Taiwanese and Indonesian, were found to be working in horrific conditions and many had been working for up to five years without pay.

Bernard Ledemann of fisheries’ law enforcement said, “It was basically modern-day slavery. If we had not intervened this treatment would have gone on unnoticed. At least we have got the vessels out of commission.”

According to SAMSA the vessels were not fit to sail. On investigation another seven vessels belonging to the same owner were found docked in Cape Town harbour.

The fisheries department is following up with the owners and the vessels are to be forfeited to the department.

Local fishermen are now turning to the law in an attempt to force the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to review and set aside the linefish rights allocation process.

The SA Commercial Linefish Association has given chairman Wally Croome the mandate to apply to the courts to have the decisions made by DAFF re-examined. Croome says, “The only way forward is to go for a court interdict and challenge this process.”

DAFF maintains that the allocation process has been fair and legal, but still encourages fishermen to submit their appeals.

Many a struggle ahead as the fishing rights allocation process goes on …… and on.

Weekly Press Review – 17 January 2014

Tina Joemat-Pettersson has already made headlines in 2014 with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) stepping up in defense of allegations against the minister.  According to DAFF, the Public Protector’s allegations against Joemat-Pettersson are unsubstantiated and President Zuma has no grounds for disciplinary action against her.

Many would disagree with this, but Department director-general, Edith Vries ‘s response to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the R800 million a year tender irregularly awarded to Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium stated that, although these irregularities are not being disputed, four of the allegations against Joemat-Pettersson have nothing to do with the tender.

DA MP Pieter van Dalen has voiced his disapproval by stating that the department’s reaction was a “last ditch effort to protect the minister from being held accountable.  The pressure is now rightfully mounting for her to be removed from cabinet – once and for all.”

An interesting proposition has been put forward by a local Kalk Bay fisherman to declare old Kalk Bay linefish vessels “moving national monuments” with fishing licences attached as a way of protecting fishermen and their historic way of earning a living.

The proposal has been made by Joao Simoes, a local fisherman, in response to the lack of jobs after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries failed to renew the fishing licences of many skippers.

Certainly food for thought.

As if there was not enough genuine heartbreak and tragedy in the world, a Chinese theme park has added a life-sized replica of the Titanic featuring a shipwreck simulation giving visitors a harrowing sense of the 1912 disaster.

Visitors will be shaken, tumbled and sound and light effects will be used to create the feeling of water coming in.  “They will think they are drowning,” says Su Shaojun chief executive of the company funding the project.

Each to their own.