Weekly Press Review – 5 September 2014

Two South African animal rights activists made headlines this week when they were arrested in the Faroe Islands after attempting to stop islanders from killing pilot whales during a traditional hunt.

The hunt is an annual event on the Faroe Islands, an autonomous state. Islanders defend the killing as a cultural right, but animal rights campaigners condemn it as a “brutal slaughter.”

The South African activists, part of the group the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, were arrested by the Danish navy, who provide assistance to the Faroe Islands to secure their fishing rights.  They have both been released, but are apparently severely traumatised by witnessing the slaughter of these sea creatures.

Cape Town has played host to a fishing conference this week. It was reported in the press that more than 100 delegates from approximately 30 countries attended the World Forum of Fisher Peoples, where the interests of small fishers was the main topic of discussion.

Speaking at the conference was Seth Macinko, an academic from the University of Rhode Island in the US.  He warns that there is a global push to privatise the oceans’ stocks.  In theory, this would mean that investors would have exclusive property rights over these public resources which would be used like any other commodity to be traded.

Macinko said, there is “A heavy emphasis on the idea of privatising fishing rights to make it an investment option, a commodity to attract Wall Street-style investors.”

This idea would obviously create a huge problem for small scale fishers who would no doubt be completely cut out of the loop.

Whether a proposal like this would ever find its feet in South African waters is doubtful.  Fishing rights allocation is an extremely troubled process at present and the outcry over small scale fishermen being cut out would surely be to huge a hurdle to overcome.

The SA Agulhas II has once again set sail for Gough Island on her annual visit.  It was mentioned in the press this week that the research team on board the vessel will spend 14 months on the island and will be joined by members from the Department of Public Works, Starlite Aviation and officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs.

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