Weekly Press Review – 27 February 2015

Making headlines this week is the confiscation of R2 million worth of crayfish tails by police near Lwandle in Cape Town.  The three individuals involved will appear in court today.  Andre Traut, police spokesman said, “The three suspects are due to appear … on charges of illegal possession and transportation of an excessive amount of crayfish tails.  The legal limit for an individual to possess crayfish is four per permit.”

Plastic pollution is back in the headlines this week with a new study revealing that certain corals actually eat  plastic particles as if they were food.The study, conducted by researchers from James Cook University in Australia, found that corals ate plastic particles at a rate only slightly lower than their normal rate of feeding on marine plankton.  The result of this is that the coral may then not be able to digest their normal food which would obviously impact on the safety of the species in the future.

This points back to the ever growing concern surrounding plastic pollution in our oceans and the impact this ultimately has on fisheries, tourism and the marine environment.

Also making headlines this week is the official opening of the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary in Gansbaai. The rehabilitation centre is a project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and consists of eight new buildings and two new swimming pools especially designed for the rehabilitation of the African penguin and other seabirds.

The centre is able to accommodate up to 300 penguins at one time and in a crisis, such as an oil spill, up to 1,000 penguins.

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Weekly Press Review – 20 February 2015

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the decision to once again extend all long-term commercial fishing rights has made headlines this week.  DAFF is apparently in need of more time to sort out the fishing rights allocation process in general and, therefore, existing fishing rights due to expire this year have been extended, in some sectors for up to one year.

The department said that the extensions would allow  for a “well managed and transparent” allocation process.  This news follows in the wake of the disastrous fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) of 2013 over which there was such an outcry that the then Minister of Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, called for a forensic audit.  The ultimate findings of the audit were that the FRAP of 2013 had been legally faulty and that it was simply not possible to correct these faults. You can read more about the extensions and implications in the forthcoming issue of Maritime Review Africa.

The war against perlemoen poaching continues and it was reported in the press this week that another R1 million worth of illegally fished perlemoen was confiscated by police in Somerset West.  A 26 year old man was arrested and taken in for questioning after 1958 perlemoen were found in his possession.  His initial court appearance was set for this week.

The SA Agulhas II has returned from her 14 month mission to Antarctica.  The vessel was photographed by various press agencies as she docked at the V&A Waterfront after fourteen months in Antarctica.  On board was Christiaan Crous, member of the scientific research group Sanae 14 who was quoted as saying that the trip was unbelievable, but just too short.

 

Weekly Press Review – 13 February 2015

Officials in Elands Bay have been battling a severe case of red tide in the area this week.  There have been several headlines throughout the week describing how authorities are wading through hundreds of tons of West Coast Rock Lobster which washed up on the beaches in the area.  Live specimens were removed, placed in tanks and later relocated to safer waters and the remaining dead animals were taken to local dumps for fear of them being washing back into the ocean.

Red tide is caused by phytoplankton in the water which drastically lowers oxygen levels causing the death of many sea creatures, including West Coast Rock Lobster.

Lionel Adendorf, Director of Communications Services for DAFF was part of the clean-up operation, but also took the opportunity to warn the public that should anyone be found with any of the rock lobster in their possession they would be fined or arrested unless they had the appropriate permit allowing them to fish for West Coast Rock Lobster.

The Costa Concordia also made headlines this week as the captain of the stricken vessel heard his fate in an Italian court room.  Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the 2012 shipwreck which led to the deaths of 32 people.  He was found guilty of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.

Schettino has admitted some responsibility, but denied any blame for the deaths that occurred during the evacuation.

Costa Cruises, the owners of the ocean liner,  was also held liable for the accident and was ordered to pay a 1 million Euro fine, as well as 30 000 Euros compensation to each passenger on board and millions of Euros in compensation to the Italian government, the region of Tuscany and the island of Giglio for environmental damage.

The Greenpeace sailing boat, Rainbow Warrior is in the news this week as she docked in Cape Town en route to Port Elizabeth and Durban.  The public is invited on board the vessel free of charge this weekend to learn about the activities of the Greenpeace group.

Weekly Press Review – 6 February 2015

The abalone poaching crisis has again received some coverage in the press this week. Large areas of Hout Bay beaches reveal sad abalone graveyards as abalone shells lie knee deep in some places, pointing to the fact that abalone poaching is still rampant in this part of the world.

Markus Burgener of the wildlife trade monitoring network, Traffic, said, ”It’s a huge problem because it is such a well established business now, well run and obviously worth a lot of money.”

“It’s really a difficult thing to turn around now. You need a much bigger budget and different enforcement tactics to keep abalone in the water.

Interestingly Burgener also pointed out that poaching is not just a random crime, but is often in response to the extreme poverty experienced in various coastal towns. He, therefore, added that one would need to look at, at minimum, a five year strategy to find alternate employment opportunities to poaching.

The  Ocean Basket restaurant chain made headlines this week having to explain to both customers and the Advertising Standards Authoruty of SA (ASA), as to why it served a Pangasius fish which is harvested from fresh water and not sea water, as is expected from the restaurant.

Marketing analyst, Chris Moerdyk, seems to think that the chain need not be too concerned about its brand image after the incident. “It takes quite a lot to damage a brand and I do not think this will do it.”

His advise: “Do the right thing and apologise to the public and in future mention whether its product comes from freshwater or seawater.”

The electronic shark nets at False Bay have made the headlines again this week; this time with scientist pulling their hair out in frustration at the lack of shark activity in the area. Paul von Blerck, researcher from KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board said, “We’ve spent an arm and a leg on this equipment and not a single white shark to date. No shark means we can’t test the equipment. Even one animal would give us some direction.”

Shark activity in the area over the summer season has decreased from between 50 and 60 sightings in some years to a mere 21 this year. Great for swimmers, not so great for researchers.