Weekly Press Review – 30 October 2015

Shipbuilding was in the news this week as Minister Rob Davies took the opportunity to highlight its potential contribution to the economy at the launch of a new vessel built at the Damen Shipyard Cape Town Facilities.

Smit Amandla Marine (SAM) partnered with Damen Shipyards to build two new vessels at a cost of R150 million.

SAM took on the local boat building challenge and made the decision to build the two vessels locally as part of their obligations in the National Industrial Participation Programme.

Rob Davies, Trade and Industry Minister, said, “We’ve identified that we have an opportunity to more or less triple the number of people employed, as well as the contribution to the GDP between now and 2033 from the oceans economy and one of the sub-sections of that is boat and shipbuilding.”

Smit Amandla Marine director Paul Maclons said, “While it is often more cost-effective to build these vessels in the East, it made sense to explore other options and support client and country priorities, with our company investing significantly into the local economy.”

The naming ceremony for one of the vessels took place on Thursday.  The vessel was named the Aukwatowa.

Also making headlines this week was the announcement that South Africa’s state-owned aerospace and defence company, Denel, will be launching its maritime division, with the aim of becoming a strategic partner to the South African Navy.

The launch will take place at the upcoming Maritime Africa Conference and Exhibition taking place at the CTICC in November.

Ismail Dockrat, chief executive of Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime said, “Maritime Africa is a fantastic opportunity for Denel to launch our maritime division in public and articulate our aspirations within the sector.”

Also in the news this week is another abalone arrest which took place in Hermanus.  The a 52-year-old man suspect was arrested and dried abalone with an estimated value of R1.2 million was confiscated.

According to the press the threat to the survival of the African penguin is so great that conservation organisations are planning to take drastic action to try to save this species from possible extinction.

The plan is to set up an artificial penguin colony on the southern Cape coast.  According to Christina Hagen, of Birdlife South Africa, the two sites being considered for the colony are De Hoop Nature Reserve and a stretch of state-owned land at Keurboom near, Plettenberg Bay.

The proposal for the artificial colony will be discussed at the World Seabird Conference in Cape Town next week.

Seabird, Cape Nature, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Sanccob will be part of the discussion to decide on the best location for the artificial colony.

Weekly Press Review – 23 October 2015

While the student protests have dominated the South African newspapers, only one small maritime headline managed to surface.

Last week five suspected perlemoen poachers were trapped within the marine protected area of Bird Island in Port Elizabeth.  Three were arrested, but the other two managed to elude the police.

This week a fourth suspect was arrested and according to Police Captain Johan Rheeder will appear in court shortly facing charges under the Environmental Act, as well as possible charges of malicious damage to property as the suspects doused the park rangers boat with petrol in an attempt to secure their escape.

Weekly Press Review – 16 October 2015

The international FishCRIME symposium has made headlines this week.  The symposium, a joint initiative by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the Norwegian government and two NGOs, Stop Illegal Fishing and PescaDOLUS, took place at the CTICC in Cape Town earlier in the week..

The key note address was delivered by Eve de Coning of Interpol, Oslo.  De Coning said that crimes in the fishing sector had four common denominators:

  • They occurred across international borders
  • There was usually more than one crime involved
  • There was a high degree of secrecy in company and vessel ownership, and
  • Many jurisdictions made prosecution extremely difficult.

Crimes in the fishing sector globally include not only illegal fishing, but also tax and custom evasion, fraud, forged documentation, money laundering, drugs and weapons smuggling and illegal labour practices.

DAFF’s head of fisheries enforcement, Ceba Mtoba, said that fishing crimes were run by global criminal networks and South Africa needed to be part of a global network in order to effectively address the problems.

The pollution of our oceans has also made headlines this week with a visit by members of the round-the-world Race for Water Odyssey to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town.

The odyssey, initiated by the Race for Water Foundation, began in France in March and hopes to make the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the oceans from its trimaran.

Board member, Franklin Servan-Schreiber said, “Fifty percent of oxygen we owe to tiny plankton we don’t even see, but dust plastic is affecting the plankton’s ability to produce oxygen.”

Approximately 80 percent of the rubbish in the ocean is plastic.  According to Marco Simeoni, president of the Race for Water Foundation, despite the massive scale of plastic waste in the ocean, not much is known about it.

The team hopes to assess plastic pollution on remote islands in the oceans five main rubbish hotspots with the aim of determining the type of plastic, as well as its toxicity to marine life.

Perlemoen with an estimated value of R17 million was confiscated on the Cape Flats this week.  According to the press the police worked through the night counting the illegally poached perlemoen – the biggest haul of the year thus far.

No suspects have as yet been arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

Weekly Press Review – 9 October 2015

There is exciting news in the scientific world as scientists discover a host of totally new marine species.

According to the press scientists have made the discovery in the “twilight zone” around the Hawaiian islands.

The discoveries were made during a 28-day trip aboard a research ship from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and includes a new species of start fish, sea horses, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, algae and fish.

Advanced diving technologies were used to reach the extraordinary depths required (60m – 90m) for this research.  The scientists discovered many creatures that they could not identify and that are believed to be completely new to science.

The specimens will be sent to a number of museums from around the world in an attempt to identify them.

Also in the news this week was the awarding of Blue Flag status to seven of Cape Town’s most popular beaches.

The beaches were awarded the Blue Flag status at an event hosted by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom by the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa.  The event took place in Hermanus.

Our Blue Flag status beaches are:  Bikini Beach, Mnandi Beach, Strandfontein Beach, Llandudno Beach, Camps Bay Beach, Clifton 4th Beach and Silwerstroom Beach.

News of a cargo ship El Faro that sank in a hurricane off the Bahamas made the pages of local newspapers yesterday as safety officials began an investigation into why the vessel decided to chart such a risky course. Investigators hope to retrieve the vessel’s black box.

According to other reports, Nigeria’s offshore contracts with international oil companies are being reviewed. Analysts predict the move will bring uncertainty to an industry that already lacks regulatory clarity. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has production sharing contracts with Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Total and Eni.

Transnet, who’s infrastructure expansion plans have received significant press coverage over the last few years, attracted some more coverage this week as Reuters quoted company sources that claimed that consideration was being given to cutting expansion plans.

Weekly Press Review – 2 October 2015

The tragedy aboard the MFV Lincoln which ran into trouble near False Bay resulting in the deaths of 11 fishermen received a lot of coverage in the press this week.  The search for the remaining missing crew member continues.

According to survivor Peter Julies, the weather was extremely turbulent and the boat started taking water on the port side.  Soon the boat was leaning completely to the one side.

“I jumped from the starboard side into the freezing water.  Soon I could not feel my legs.  The rain was pelting and the gale-force wind had no mercy.  Fortunately help did not take too long.  But it was too late for some of my friends.”

The Financial Director of Viking Fishing, who own the vessel, said that their first priority was to support the families of those who lost loved ones.

The vessel has been towed to Cape Town harbour and SAMSA is investigating the incident.

History was made this week with the vessel, the Cape Orchid, being the first merchant vessel to register in South Africa since 1985.

Tsietsi Mokhele, SAMSA chief executive said, “About 98 percent of the country’s internationally bound trade is carried by ships and at least R160bn a year is paid for shipping services to foreign owners and operators.”

The Department of Transport said that the Cape Orchid “would be a boost to our maritime economy.”

According to the press many residents from Walker Bay are expressing their concern about mother and baby whales being harassed by over eager onlookers entering the bay during the whale breeding season and disturbing the mammals.

The question has been raised as to why the Department of Environmental Affairs is not monitoring whale-watching tourism boats and other vessels in the bay.  Residents are saying that complaints to government, the local authority and the tourism body are simply receiving no response.

Environmental Affairs Oceans and Coasts spokesperson Zolile Nqayi confirmed that Walker Bay was in fact a sanctuary and that no unauthorised boats were allowed in the bay during whale season.

He appealed to the public to report any incidents of boats getting to close to the whales to the department.