The final journey of the ill-fated Costa Concordia has continued to make headlines this week. In what is being described as the greatest salvage operation in history, the righted and raised vessel has slowly been towed to its final destination, Genoa in Northern Italy. She will now be scrapped. A sad end for a once beautiful vessel.
It would seem that shark barriers are big business. In the press this week is yet another proposal for yet another device designed to keep the sharks along the coast of False Bay at bay.
The Kwazulu-Natal Sharks Board is planning a series of experiments to be conducted along the False Bay coast later in the year and in early 2015. The tests will use electric cables as a potential alternative to more traditional shark nets. According to Geremy Cliff, head of research at the KZN Sharks Board, funding had been allocated to pursue research into electric shark repellent technologies.
He added that the KZN Sharks Board was committed to trying to find alternative options to protect bathers and at the same time reduce the death rate of large sharks, dolphins, turtles and other marine species. These technologies were apparently originally looked at in the 1990’s.
Also making the headlines this week is the news that the latest round of oil and gas drilling has begun offshore South Africa. The companies involved in this particular project are Total and Canadian National Resources. Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi visited the Eirik Raude at Block 11B/12B in the exploration block Brulpadda 1AX approximately 180 km south of Mossel Bay. The minster was quoted as saying that he is holding his breath waiting for a call from Total saying that they have found oil.
The wait is now on to see whether this site has anything to offer the South Africa oil and gas industry – which is desperate for a find.
The Costa Concordia and the salvage team responsible for resurrecting the stricken vessel, headed by Capetonian Nick Sloane, have made headlines this week as the luxury vessel was refloated in one of the largest salvage operations in history. The liner capsized two-and-a-half years ago off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people. A year ago it was righted and has been resting on a temporary platform waiting to be refloated.
The vessel will now be raised a further two metres to allow it to be moved to the harbour, after which tugs are on standby to tow it to Genoa in northern Italy where it will be scrapped.
Sloane is not the only South African involved in the salvage operation. Kevin Kelly, managing director of Xtreme Projects has also played a part, supplying the orange containment booms surrounding the vessel.
Another proudly South African operation. Congratulations to the team on a job well done.
In yet another attempt to deter sharks from coming too close to our country’s most popular beaches, a group of developers have come up with a new eco-friendly shark barrier and are hoping to secure funding for the project.
The “Sharksafe” barrier is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional shark nets and is made up of a combination of permanent magnets and artificial “forests” of plastic pipes that look similar to underwater kelp. The goal would be to use this kelp deterrent as an alternative to more traditional and lethal systems used in Kwazulu-Natal and Australia. Traditional nets aim to catch sharks where these “kelp nets” aim to merely deter.
A year long trial of the product, involving more than 60 sharks, showed that no sharks ventured through the “kelp”.
This is certainly something to get excited about, especially with the ongoing shark culling in Australia. It would be fantastic to see our government get behind this project and protect these beautiful creatures, as well as beach goers, but also to set an example to the rest of the world that traditional shark nets are not the only option.
The Global Ocean Commission has made headlines this week with a report stating that our oceans are in decline and that “anarchy rules the waves.”
However, the report is not all doom and gloom. The commission have come up with a rescue package, entitled “Mission Ocean”.
The commission, made up of former heads of state, government officials and business leaders was established in February 2013. It has spent the past year investigating the decline of global oceans and developed an eight point rescue strategy:
- A UN sustainable goal
- Proper high seas governance
- The halting of over fishing
- The elimination of illegal an unregulated fishing
- The adoption of international binding protocols for safety and environmental standards
- The establishment of a global ocean accountability board
- Making the high seas a no-go area for industrial fishing and
- Coordinated action by governments.
The commission has also called on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ask member states to urgently adopt a three-step approach to get rid of fisheries subsidies. These subsidies are one of the main driving forces behind over-fishing and are being linked to the decline and collapse of fish stocks worldwide.
According to former minister Trevor Manuel, one of the three chairman of the commission, the plan will require political will and extremely bold leadership.
The re-allocation of fishing rights for fisheries for next year is back in the news this week. MPs were informed this week that the process, with a combined value of R1.5 million, is way behind schedule.
The portfolio committee has been urged to take an active role in getting the process back on track. Joseph Ginindza, parliamentary researcher, told the committee that he was “trying not to sound alarmist”, but said that there is very little time available for the complex assessment process that needs to take place before any fishing rights can be awarded for next year.
“There are people whose livelihoods depend on rights being allocated in time. If these people can’t fish, there is no income. It is a matter of urgency,” said Ginindza.
A 55-year-old sailor, Anthony Smith, made the news this week after running his yacht aground on Misty Cliffs beach between Kommetjie and Cape Point. The sailor, who was taken to the Kommetjie Sea Rescue Base, was cold, but uninjured. The Kommetjie community rallied around to assist. Smith was offered a shower at the base, his clothes were dried by Kommetjie Laundry and he was brought food by the owners of the Lighthouse Pub and Grill.
It appears that his yacht will be stranded on the beach for a while due to the bad weather conditions in the region, but it will be up to Smith to source a salvage company to help with the removal of the yacht.