Weekly Press Review – 25 April 2014

Boat owners who moor their boats in the Kalk Bay harbour are very unhappy this week as security in the harbour is reportedly at an all-time low.

Newspapers reported how local boat owner, Everett Schubert, lost his boat after children playing on it somehow managed to cause the vessel to sink.  Apparently this is not the first incident of children boarding and playing on boats moored in the harbour.  Local boat owners said that the fisheries department had appointed local company, Cape Town Boating, to control security in the harbour, but the contract had ended in September last year and no other company had been employed to take over the task.

Fisheries spokesman, Lionel Adendorf has been quoted as saying that the department is only responsible for the provision and maintenance of the harbour itself, and not for protecting private fishing vessels within the harbour walls.

Having tried to gain access to the port of Cape Town myself, which is no mean feat, I am amazed that young children have such easy access to vessels in the harbour in Kalk Bay.  Beyond the safety of the vessels moored there, what about the safety of the children playing in the water?  Surely that should also be of concern to all departments involved?

Weekly Press Review – 17 April 2014

An image that would make anyone’s blood run cold, let alone those within the maritime industry, is the sight of the bow of a vessel protruding from the water as it slowly sinks beneath the waves.  That is the image that covered the front page of many newspapers around the world today as a ferry carrying 462 people sank off the coast of South Korea.

At this point there is little detail as to the cause of the accident.  The focus now is on the search and rescue operation to try to determine the fate of the almost 300 people, mostly high school students, that are still missing. There are at least 87 vessels and 18 aircraft involved in the rescue operation and navy divers are now searching for survivors inside the ship’s wreckage.

For the families of those on board there is nothing to do but wait.

In another search operation, the search for the missing Malaysian airliner continues in the Indian Ocean off Australia, and in a strange coincidence, the story of a vessel that went missing in that same ocean area in 1909 has made the news this week.

The story of the SAS Waratah shares quite a few similarities with the missing airliner.  Both went missing in the same body of water, both had a similar number of passengers on board and in both cases a large number of vessels, from various countries and at great expense, worked together to join the search.

The SAS Waratah went missing on July 17, 1909 with 211 people on board.  She was the most modern passenger ship of her time and was even more stringently built than the later Titanic.  She simply vanished and her story made headlines around the world. After 13 months the search for the missing vessel was called off and she was never recovered, neither was any flotsam.

There is a very real chance that, with the help of modern technology, one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries could simultaneously solve one of the greatest maritime mysteries.  Stranger things have happened.

Weekly Press Review – 11 April 2014

The shark culling taking place in Australia has made the news again this week.  A new survey has revealed that despite the relatively high incidents of shark attacks along the Australian coast and the very aggressive culling campaign, Australians, on the whole, are not overly concerned about being attacked.

In a survey of 583 individuals, 87 percent felt that sharks should not be killed due to the possibility of an attack and 69 percent felt that public education would be a far better approach to preventing attacks.

University of Sydney shark expert, Christopher Neff said:  “The assumption is that the public is afraid. That when shark bites happen that they react emotionally and that they are looking for an immediate response.  My data refutes that.”

A total of 45 sharks gave been killed thus far in the largest shark culling drive in the world in Western Australia.  The state government wants to extend the culling for another three years.

Surely if this drive was in response to the terror that Australians felt at visiting their own beaches, then this survey proves that this is not necessary. Australians are not afraid and are intelligent enough to realise the risks involved when interacting with our oceans.

Is this culling drive perhaps aimed at putting the minds of visitors to Australia’s beaches at peace and ensuring the continuation of a lucrative tourism trade?

Weekly Press Review – 4 April 2014

Members of local fishing communities made headlines as they took to the streets in two separate protests this week. The first of these was staged outside the Western Cape High Court in response to allegations that a community from Buffeljachtsbaai is being forcibly removed by the Overstrand Municipality.

The second took place in Hout Bay, where protestors blocked the entrance to the harbour and called for the renewal of their fishing rights, as well as transformation within the fishing industry.

Protest leader, Emmanuel Arendse was quoted as saying, “We are living in poverty.  We want our fishing rights back.  Our people need food on their tables.  We cannot live like this.  Minister (Tina Joemat-Pettersson) must get out of office.”

Are we not all secretly calling for change within the fishing industry?  Perhaps the urgency is just felt that much more keenly by communities who rely on the industry for every meal that is or is not on their table.

Also making news this week was the announcement by Oceana that it would be paying out R289 million to the beneficiaries of its empowerment trust. The company added that the cash payout was only a quarter of the value that the empowerment fund had generated and proved that they were worthy recipients of fishing rights.

Oceana chief executive, Francois Kuttel stated:  “What we have achieved is far more than what we would have been able to achieve if these rights were given to players with less resources and experience.”

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson has previously stated that empowerment and creating value for fishing communities was an important criteria for assessment during fishing rights allocation.

With their fishing rights up for assessment next year and again in 2020, it would seem that Oceana are aiming to tick all the right boxes.