Weekly Press Review – 29 May 2015

In sad news the press has reported that the search for the two fishermen who went missing after their boat capsized over the weekend has still produced no conclusive results.

The fishermen were reported as missing after their boat capsized in dense fog off Lamberts Bay.  The boat had a crew of four on board.  After the boat capsized all four clung to the boat and must have fallen asleep.  On arrival, members of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) were informed that two of the crew were missing.

NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon reported that none of the crew had life jackets and there was no emergency equipment on board the boat.

The two surviving fishermen were treated for hypothermia at a nearby hospital and their condition is described as serious, but stable.

The search for the two missing fishermen continues.

A reminder of the daily danger that fishermen subject themselves to in order to put food on the table.

Also in the press this week is the news that state oil company, PetroSA has asked three of its top executives to take special leave pending an investigation into their performance.

The news comes on the back of the company’s declining revenues, particularly a failed bid to enter the fuel retail market and a loss of R1.2 billion for the financial year 2013/2014.

PetroSA spokeswomen said that they were in discussion with the three executives and an interim management team might be appointed.

PetroSA is following in the footsteps of Eskom who also suspended its chief executive and three other executives to allow for an inquiry into the utility’s performance.


Weekly Press Review – 22 May 2015

Oceana Group has made headlines this week with the news of the company’s purchase of US-based Daybrook Fisheries for an estimated R4.58 billion.  The purchase is in line with the company’s diversification strategy.

Daybrook reported R1.3bn in revenue last year with the sale of 76,862 tons of fishmeal and fish oil.

Keith McLachlan of Alpha Wealth said, “Oceana’s made a bold move into the American fishing industry ….. interesting asset, though still just a commodity.”

Also making headlines this week was the sad news of the passing of Murray Grindrod senior.  Grindrod was the grandson of Grindrod Group founder John Edward Grindrod.

He joined Grindrod Gersigny in 1957 and stayed with the company for a total of 50 years, serving as chairman for 21 of those years.  It is with a heavy heart that the maritime community says goodbye to one of its greats.  Grindrod was 79 years of age.

Brian Ingpen wrote in in his column this week,” With that vast experience, his amazing achievements and his own inherent wisdom, his was a highly respected voice that gave valued counsel on a range of maritime issues.  His dignity and personal integrity will remain the company’s cornerstones.  In Dockland, a giant cedar has fallen.”

Weekly Press Review – 15 May 2015

Eskom power outages are affecting a fish processing facility in Philippi the press reports this week.  Viking Fishing is one of nine Philippi industries who were without power for several days after Eskom’s repair teams were chased away by people apparently trying to protect their illegal electricity connections in the Marikana informal settlement nearby.

Tim Reddell of Viking Fishing said that his company had been forced to truck fish into the city in an attempt to keep it frozen.  The problem seems to be that thieves took advantage of load shedding on Saturday and stole the main supply cable.

“I don’t think people realise how bad this whole power thing is.  We can manage the two-hour load shedding, but not 48 hours.

“So what must I do?  I have 256 people employed here, must I send them all home?  We put the factory here so that we could be close to where the staff live, but now I am starting to question that idea,” said Reddell.

Xolani Joja, Marikana community leader, said that he had recently been out of the province and was, therefore, not aware of the matter.

According to the press, a group of Orcas in False Bay are being mobbed by over-enthusiastic sightseers, causing unnecessary stress to the animals.

People are using groups of powers boats and jetskis in an attempt to get as close as possible to these beautiful creatures.

Word travels fast via social media when the Orcas are in the area and loads of people enter the water, boxing in the animals and placing them, as well as the dolphins in the area, in an unnecessarily stressful situation.

The law states that boats may not get within 300 metres of any whale, however, there is a loophole in this case as Orcas are categorised as dolphins and not whales and the law, therefore, technically, does not apply.

Environmental Affairs Department spokesman, Zolile Nqayi said that the department was looking at ways to address these compliance issues and that this would most likely have to take the form of amendments to the existing legislation.

Weekly Press Review – 8 May 2015

A new survey mentioned in the press this week points to the long term effects of oil spills on unborn fish.  Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have discovered that the crude oil in water damages the hearts of unborn fish.

Fish exposed to oil in the water have an abnormal heartbeat, altered circulation and structural defects in the heart and other organs.

They also discovered that fish embryos exposed to crude oil developed curved spines and small jaws and eyes.

“Fish are most vulnerable to crude oil during their earliest life stages, when they are tiny, translucent eggs and larvae floating in the water during the first few days of life.

“At that stage they can’t metabolise toxic compounds or swim away from oil effectively,” say researchers.

These findings will allow scientists to identify new biomarkers for cardiac-related injury in fish exposed to oil spills.

Weekly Press Review – 1 May 2015

The plight of the crew aboard the arrested vessel, the Agatis, has made headlines this week.

The vessel was arrested on March 17, en route from Mianmar to the Ivory Coast, and has been stranded at Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town ever since.  Conditions have deteriorated quickly for the 21 crew members aboard.  According to one crew member, Otto Lasrado, there is no clean drinking water left; no water to wash clothes or flush toilets; two months worth of waste is piling up and there is very little food left.

According to the crew’s lawyer, Alan Goldberg, conditions aboard are not good and the only chance the crew have of getting home to India is to pay for a ship to remove them from the Agatis and arrange for their own fare back to India.  As they have received no pay for several months, this is simply out of the question.

The owner of the vessel, Meranti Bahari PT, is in the midst of a severe financial crisis and the ships agent, Aquarius Maritime PTE Limited, from Singapore, and a supplier from United Arab Emirates arranged for the arrest in South African waters in an attempt to recoup their money. To make matters worse the ship is not allowed to enter Cape Town harbour as there is no security that the relevant fees will be paid.

The predicament of this crew also impacts on their families back home who rely on their income.  “We chose this line of work so that we could take care of our families and of our children.  Who is going to look after them now?” said Lasrado.

Within the maritime industry there is a continual attempt to throw the spotlight on our seafarers, their contribution to our economy and how hard they work in often less than ideal conditions.  Here is a group of men who have been let down by the very company that they work for and are now stranded far from home, friends and family, with no pay and no way of getting back home.  Where does the responsibility lie to help this crew and others in similar situations worldwide?