Weekly Press Review – 7 March 2014

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is back in the news this week with staff of the fisheries branch handing a document to members of parliament complaining of: wasteful expenditure, fraud, nepotism and the scrapping of critical posts.

Urgent intervention has been called for.

To add to the Department’s woes a large group of people from local coastal towns descended on the city this week to hand over an official memorandum addressed to DAFF Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson and director-general Edith Vries, calling for the reinstatement of ousted fisheries chief Desmond Stevens.

Stevens was removed from his position after he was vocal about feeling slighted by the Minister’s comments that there seemed to be “legitimate concerns, either relating to poor administration of the fishing rights allocation process or questionable judgments by the elected officials.” She has called for an audit to investigate the matter.

Those calling for Stevens’ reinstatement described him as accessible and approachable with a “passion about transforming the fishing sector.”

We all know that it is impossible to please all of the people, all of the time, but it would seem that DAFF is unable to please any of the people, any of the time.

On a more somber note, the body Department of Environmental Affairs technician, Johannes Hoffman, who died on Gough Island last week, has been returned to Cape Town. Our condolences to his family and colleagues.

The penguins of the Stony Point Penguin Colony near Betty’s Bay are still being closely monitored this week, after 10 000 litres of diesel was spilled when a fishing trawler ran aground in the area.

About 4,000 penguins and 400 nests of various seabirds were exposed to the spilled diesel and the area was temporarily closed as authorities examined the birds for diesel contamination.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) principal said that fortunately the spilled diesel would eventually evaporate and would not remain an environmental threat forever. That is good news, but does not help those birds already contaminated.

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