Weekly Press Review – 27 June 2014

South Africa’s research ships are back in the news this week, well at least one. The Ellen Khuzwayo has returned to operation and has already completed a number of research projects.

Nautic Africa, one of the companies that was awarded the tender to manage and repair the vessel, has stated that there has been “a significant survey gap” during the seven months that the vessel was inactive.  The vessel is equipped with an acoustic laboratory, hydrology wet and dry laboratories, a wet fish room and an operation’s room and has already made several voyages to gather data designed to determine shark longline quotas.

Also in the news this week, Premier Helen Zille has made the announcement that the aquaculture industry on the West Coast is to be expanded, along with abalone and salmon farming, creating as many as 2 600 jobs and increasing abalone production to 1000 tons per year.

A Taiwanese-owned vessel due to be auctioned by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)  made headlines this week.  The vessel, either named the Naham 4 or the Derhorng 596, has been under investigation by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) since early 2013 on suspicion of illegal fishing in South Africa’s exclusive fishing zone.

The vessel was detained in April last year, and following the seizure the owners abandoned the vessel, leaving the vessel’s agent with a debt of over R1 million.

According to Godfrey Needham, the ship’s curator appointed by the NPA, about 10 ships have been detained over the past year, but the actual auctioning of detained ships is not a frequent event.

Weekly Press Review – 20 June 2014

In very sad news this week, Maritime Review Africa has learnt of the death of deep-water diver Peter Timm, who the magazine recently interviewed as one of our Green Warriors.  Timm was an experienced diver with a great passion for his work, the environment and life itself.

Although the actual details of his death are not known at this time, according to newspaper reports, he was diving with regular diving partner,  Adele Stegen, near Aliwal Shoal in an attempt to recover a piece of equipment that had fallen off a research vessel.  Both he and Stegen died at the scene. Our thoughts are with their families and friends at this sad time.

After a long delay, one of the Western Cape’s biggest alleged perlemoen poaching syndicates is expected to go to trial in mid-August according to the press this week.

The trial has been delayed until now as neither of the two defendants had legal representation.  The two facing charges are among a group of 25 people accused by the State of playing a role in a syndicate that has been operational since 1998.  It is believed that the operation involved R2.07 million worth of perlemoen.

Also in the press this week is the initiative being launched by Breadline Africa in which refurbished shipping containers will be used to set up a pop-up crèche at the V&A Waterfront over the next few weeks.  Tim Smith, director of Breadline Africa wants to use the initiative to create awareness around the effective use of containers in poorer communities, stating that many children in South Africa are unable to access centres that meet even the most basic requirements.

The organisation takes disused shipping containers and recycles them to be used for community purposes.  At present there are approximately 200 across the country.

The V&A project is being run in collaboration with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and the crèche will eventually be donated to a crèche in Khayelitsha.

Weekly Press Review – 13 June 2014

Despite The SA Commercial Line-fish Association (Sacla) opposing the intervention of small scale fishing communities in a main court application for fishing rights allocations, the Western Cape high court this week  granted permission for the Masifundise Development Trust to be included in the application process.

According to local newspapers, the Masifundise Development Trust is representing small scale fishing communities and is determined to have their say and be part of the application brought against former fisheries minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and her former acting deputy director-general Desmond Stevens.

Last month the Western Cape High Court extended a two-month exemption previously granted to commercial line fishermen until a legal review into last year’s fishing rights allocation process had been completed.

It was at this point that Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced that the allocation process would be set aside following the results of an independent audit.

Despite the minster moving on to a new portfolio, it would seems that she cannot escape the fall out of the fishing rights allocation debacle of 2013.  We wait to see what the outcome of this court battle will be.

It was reported in the press this week that the large container vessel the E-Whale has finally left Cape Town harbour. The vessel was arrested two years ago with various debt issues and was recently bought by Pacific Orca Holdings for R646.3 million.  The vessel left the harbour on Saturday on its way to Port Elizabeth and has been renamed Abby.

In environmental news it was reported in several local newspapers this week that a sea turtle with a cracked shell was rescued from the rocks at Rooipan se Klippe near Yzerfontein.  “Assisted by members of the public, our sea rescue crew carried the sea turtle to our rescue vehicle and the Department of Oceans and Coasts was alerted,” said Rudi Rodgers, NSRI Yzerfontein station commander.

The turtle will be treated at the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Also in the news this week was the announcement that Singapore has joined China in banning shark fin soup from its exhibition and convention centre menus.  The news was welcomed by wildlife and environmental activists.

World Oceans day was celebrated this week under the theme, “Together, we have the power to protect the oceans.”  To commemorate the day, the United Nations called on the international community to continually work at keeping our oceans healthy and productive and also to try to use the resource with mindfulness, equity and sustainability for the benefit of both current and future generations.

In his message marking the day Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “We have to ensure that oceans continue to meet our needs without compromising those of future generations.  Their depths hold current and future solutions to humanity’s energy needs.”

Weekly Press Review – 6 June 2014

The Sharks International Conference made it into the newspapers this week as it saw the launch of a global strategy to protect the endangered sawfish.  The sawfish faces a greater risk of extinction than any other marine fish at present primarily due to fishing, but also due to trawling where bycatch becomes an issue.  The fish’s long toothed snout easily gets caught in all kinds of fishing nets.  They are fished for their meat and their rostra (snouts) which are sold as curios.

At present there is a CITES ban on international commercial trade in sawfish and the strategy hopes to work in conjunction with this ban, calling for the national and regional outlawing of the intentional killing of sawfish.

Also making headlines was the seizure of pangolin scales. Amid concerns over ever increasing levels of illegal trade in various threatened wildlife, this week Hong Kong customs made the largest seizure of endangered African pangolin, discovering over 1000kg of pangolin scales in a shipping container originating in South Africa.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), international trade in pangolin is banned.  However due to huge demands for pangolin flesh and scales from China, along with the willingness to pay exceptionally high prices, wildlife-trafficking remains a sad reality.

Some news of investment in the fishing industry rounded off the headlines this week. It was announced this week that I&J has made a R500 million investment in three new fishing vessels and well as the upgrading of a fish factory in Woodstock.  The investment will create up to 75 new jobs.