Weekly Press Review – 29 August 2014

PetroSA has made the headlines this week with the decision to cancel plans to build a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Mossel Bay.  The decision was based on a feasibility study which revealed several technical complications at the site as well as financial considerations.

The company has said that it is still planning to keep looking for a suitable location along the coast.

A story revealing how fishermen take care of fishermen also made news this week.  Local fishermen came to the aid of two fishermen whose rubber duck capsized off the coast of Lamberts Bay. The fishermen were escorted to the local harbour where the NSRI were on hand.  The two stricken fishermen, aged 55 and 45 were treated for mild hypothermia.

The NSRI thanked the fishing community in the area for their assistance.

In environmental news, it was reported that Japan is planning to propose a 50 percent cut on catches of young tuna.  The decision is aimed at safeguarding the at-risk species.

With the terrible weather slamming the South African coast this week, it is not surprising that rough seas led to a chokka fishing boat running aground off St Francis Bay.  It has been reported that the vessel, the Sikelela, lost power while turning towards the harbour entrance and, due to high swells and strong winds, ran aground on rocks and harbour wall dolosse.

The St Francis Bay NSRI managed to rescue all 13 crew members.

A survey into plastic pollution in our oceans grabbed media attention too.  Author, Charles J Moore, a captain in the US Merchant Fleet and founder of a leading ocean research group has stated that he is “utterly shocked” by the amount of plastic floating in the sea.

The sight causing all the alarm is what is being described as a floating landfill site in the North Pacific Ocean and Moore believes that the ever increasing amount of pollution in our oceans is far deadlier than climate change.

“It’s choking our future in ways that most of us are barely aware of.”

Unfortunately there are no high tech methods to reduce ocean pollution, but plastic pollution seems to be the biggest contributor.  With plastic, there is action that can be taken.  The survey offers some solutions:

  • Plastic bag tax
  • Screens to cover gutters and catchment basins
  • Even more emphasis on recycling
  • Sieve-like skimmers to remove debris from the water.

These all sound like practical solutions, but like most problems affecting our planet, I think the first change needs to take place in the hearts and minds of those living on this planet.  That would be us.  Think, reuse and recycle.

Weekly Press Review – 22 August 2014

It would seem that the police can only do so much in the fight against abalone poaching, matters are now in the hands of the country’s legal system. It was reported in the press this week that the case against 25 members of a major abalone syndicate has been postponed for another two weeks.

Two of the accused, husband and wife Frank and Josephine Barends, have lodged an application for a stay of prosecution.  The two week delay is to allow the couple a chance to make final admissions or enter plea agreements.  The trial has not yet begun.

The Costa Concordia was back in the news this week with South African company Xtreme Projects and Kevin Kelly grabbing the headlines.  There is a huge amount of local pride around the raising of the stricken vessel and the role that South Africans played in the salvage operation.  Kelly and Xtreme Projects were responsible for the large orange booms that surrounded the vessel during the operation.  The booms were designed to prevent any oil or other waste products that may have leaked from the vessel during the salvage operation from reaching the coast or moving out to sea.

Kelly was quoted as saying that he had no idea it would become such a big story.  “I am still a little shocked.”

Adding to the wave of positivity around the salvaging of the Costa Concordia, Nick Sloane, widely regarded as the master mind behind the greatest salvage operation in history, also made headlines this week.

Sloane has been described as a hero and a rock star by the international press and in an interview with a local newspaper he described some of the challenges faced when undertaking the massive salvage operation.  In the end he said that it was the words of Nelson Mandela that inspired him, ”Everything looks impossible, and then you do it!”

Another wandering seal has been sighted at Misty Cliffs beach near Scarborough.  It was reported in the press that, according to Luke Kruyt of TEARS Animal Rescue, the seal seemed to be in good health and would no doubt move on within a few days.  The leopard seal is thousands of kilometres away from its home in Antarctica.

Members of the public have be warned to stay away from the seal if they come across it, as leopard seals can be aggressive.

Weekly Press Review – 15 August 2014

The hard work of local police in the fight against abalone poaching has made headlines this week with several abalone seizures being reported in the press.  A 37-year-old man appeared in the Strand Magistrate’s court earlier this week after R780 000 worth of abalone was found in his car.

In the eastern Cape police shut down an illegal abalone-drying facility and seized approximately six tons of gourmet mollusc with an estimated value of R10 million. Three men were arrested.

It would appear that inroads are being made by the police to combat the illegal poaching of abalone, but unfortunately confiscation does not assist in the protection of this now highly endangered species. There needs to be greater emphasis on prevention and that is no easy task.

The Panama Canal has made headlines this week, celebrating its 100th birthday.  The famous canal is widely regarded as one of the greatest engineering wonders of the 20th century, but is now under pressure to update and revamp to keep up with competing 21st century canal projects.

The Panama Canal was officially opened on 15 August 1914 and over 1 million vessels have made use of it over the last 100 years.  There are plans to revamp the now dated canal to cater for larger vessels, but the completion date has been extended until January 2016.

Weekly Press Review – 8 August 2014

It was reported in the press this week that, although trout are as yet not mentioned on the new list of alien invasive species, they are not quite out of the woods yet.  The Department of Environmental Affairs is in discussion with members of the local trout industry to determine the listing status of this alien species.

The Federation of Southern African Flyfishers and Trout in SA has welcomed the decision to postpone the listing of trout regulation, saying that they are “committed to finding a workable and simple set of solutions aimed at achieving self-regulation and audited compliance.”

It is, however, still definitely the department’s intention to add trout to the list of invasive aliens, it just remains to be seen how trout will be listed.

Weekly Press Review – 1 August 2014

Perlemoen rights are back in the press this week with Minister Senzeni Zokwana (DAFF) making the announcement that all existing perlemoen rights’ holders have been granted the right to continue fishing for another year.  The existing perlemoen rights expired on Wednesday.

Fisheries management consultant, Shaheen Moolla was quoted as saying that this is the ninth fishing sector to be given exemptions.  “What we are seeing is the farcical collapse of the fishing system to what it was in the 90s.”

In other news, the NSRI was called into action this week after various eyewitnesses reported seeing what looked like paraglider or microlight crashing into the sea near Sunny Cove.

Preparing for the worst, the NSRI launched a rescue vessel and headed to the scene, only to be greeted by 15 “Happy Birthday” balloons tied together and floating in the water about 15 nautical miles offshore.  Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simon’s Town station commander, said, “It is understandable that at the distances involved it looked like a crashing paraglider or microlight aircraft and the good intensions of the eyewitnesses is commended.”

A young subantarctic seal has also made the news this week after appearing in the water off Scarborough, a mere 2000km away from its home on Marion Island.  The seal is a little thin, so the SPCA has stepped in to help fatten her up and fit her with some high tech tracking gear to monitor her progress back to the island once she is released.

Fingers crossed that she makes it home.