Weekly Press Review – 25 September 2015

This week’s official closure of the Oceana Group fish factory in Hout Bay caught the attention of local media.  According to the press a handful of people marched through the suburbs in protest of the closure.

Oceana’s move to close the factory comes after years of complaints from some of the residents of Hout Bay over the smell of rotten fish. A petition with over 1,280 local residents was received by representatives of the company.

However, not all members of the community are pleased with the decision.  Hout Bay Civic Association secretary Roscoe Jacobs said, “Many of the people who work at the factory live in Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu, which suffers from unemployment and poverty.  The community of Hangberg is against the closure of any place of employment that will affect workers.”

Yet another coelacanth fossil discovery has made headlines this week.  The exciting discovery was made by Dr Rob Gess near Grahamstown.  The fossil is believed to be 360 million years old! This makes it the oldest coelacanth fossil to be found in Africa, as well as a new species of coelacanth.

This latest discovery was made a mere 100 metres from where the first modern coelacanth was discovered in 1938.  Dr Gess made the discovery while doing research for his doctorate at Wits University.

The HMS Lancaster, accompanied by a 21 gun salute, sailed into Cape Town harbour this week.

According to the press, the vessel, also known as the Queen’s frigate, is one of the jewels of the British Fleet and the public had the opportunity to view the vessel in all her splendour on Thursday.

The vessel which is 130 metres in length will be in Cape Town until Monday.


Weekly Press Review – 18 September 2015

The big news in the press this week is the release of the WWF Living Blue Planet Report which paints a very bleak picture for the future of ocean ecosystems in South Africa and worldwide.

The report is released every two years, providing a picture of the current state of the oceans globally.

According to Marco Lambertini, WWF director-general, the report illustrates how humanity is “collectively mismanaging the ocean to the brink of collapse.”

The two main issues highlighted by the report are the irreversible damage done within a single generation by fishing faster than the fish are able to reproduce and the careless destruction of fish nurseries such as estuaries, seagrass meadows, mangroves and corals.

In the last 40 years, global marine populations have dropped by more than half. Even more shockingly deep-sea fish populations in the North Atlantic have dropped by an unprecedented 72 percent.

Other findings of the report include:

  • More than 5 trillion plastic pieces floating in our oceans
  • Toxic waste from industries continues to enter the marine system
  • A rapid increase in coastal tourism has resulted in marine habitat destruction
  • Cruise ships generate 795,000 litres of sewerage each week which is often illegally dumped
  • Mangroves essential for fish nurseries are being destroyed
  • Fish subsidies worth $14 billion encourage over fishing on a global scale

In response to this, nearly three billion people worldwide rely on fish as a major food source and our oceans generate approximately $2.5 trillion annually in economic benefits.

Only 3.4 percent of the ocean is protected at this point in time.

According to Lambertini the ongoing mismanagement of our oceans in light of these facts is “simply unacceptable.”

Weekly Press Review – 11 September 2015

The SA Navy’s SAS Umhloti has a new commander.  The press has reported that Lieutenant-Commander Zimasa Mabela took command of the mine counter measures vessel in Simon’s Town this week and is the first black African woman to command a navy vessel.

Commander Brian Short, former commander of the vessel handed over command to Mabela in a ceremony also held in Simon’s Town this week.

Mabela was born in the Eastern Cape and joined the navy in 1999.  In 2004 she completed the Military Training for Officers, followed by the Combat Officer qualifying course and she joined the SAS Isandwana in 2005.

“I remember how excited I was when I first got accepted to be part of the navy.  I am proud to be the first black African woman to command a naval vessel.  But more than the title, I want to be an example to my crew. I want to be judged on my ability to command, and not my gender,” said Mabela.

The press has reported on another whale rescue mission which took place off Cape Point this week.

The SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was called to the scene and found that the whale has become entangled in four ropes apparently anchored to traps on the seabed.

After a long struggle the team, along with the assistance of the fishing vessel Puffin which came to assist, the whale was freed.

Mike Meyer, of the Department of Environmental Affairs said, “The whale appeared healthy and swam away strongly and we are confident that this operation has been a huge success.”

This is the third whale to be caught in octopus traps in False Bay.

Nan Rice, head of the Dolphin Action and Protection Group and a founder member of the SAWDN said, “We will have to sit down and talk about this. There are going to be more entanglements because there are more whales around, especially humpbacks, which breed every second year.”

It is estimated that an average of 308,000 whales and dolphins are killed each year when they become entangled in fishing gear or marine waste.