Weekly Press Review – 15 December 2015

According to the press, Plettenberg Bay attorney Perino Pama has described the decision to allow anglers to fish in the Tsitsikamma National Marine Protected Area as procedurally unfair and in contravention of the right to just administrative action.

Pama is representing Ocean Research Conservation Africa, a local conservation group, in response to the decision by SANParks and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa to allow local residents to fish in the marine park.

“There is no reason why the public participation process should be pre-empted, and effectively nullified, by starting a ‘pilot project’ before the public participation process has been completed,” said Pama.

Pama added that it was clear the draft regulations were to allow for recreational fishing, not subsistence fishing, as anglers had to be in possession of a valid recreational angling permit.

In response, Environmental Affairs spokesman Zolile Nqayi has agreed that there would be an impact on fish stocks in the marine park if fishing were allowed and catch-rates would decrease, but measures had been put in place to reduce these impacts.

Plans are underway to establish a phosphate mining operation in Namibia.  The press this week made mention of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by speciality chemicals maker Israel Chemicals (ICL) and holding company Leviev Group, who hold permits and exploration rights to mine phosphate deposits estimated at 1 billion tons.

A feasibility study will now need to be put forward in order to secure the required funding for the project.

With Japan’s research whaling season now in full swing, the New Zealand government is leading a joint diplomatic protest.

According to the press the protest, led by New Zealand’s ambassador to Japan, was designed to urge Japan, as a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to respect the commission’s procedures and the advice of its scientific bodies.

New Zealand Prime Minister and Acting Foreign Minister, John Key, said, “We consider that there is no scientific basis for the slaughter of whales and strongly urge the government of Japan not to allow it to go ahead.  We will continue to work to see this outdated practice brought to an end.”

A total of 33 countries have expressed concern about Japan’s continued whaling practice, including:  the USA. Australia, Mexico, the EU member countries and South Africa.

Weekly Press Review – 4 December 2015

Yet another arrest has been made in connection with abalone poaching.  According to the press a 27-year-old man was found in possession of approximately R2 million worth of abalone after he was pulled over by the K9 Unit who were conducting patrols in the Gordon’s Bay area.

Officials from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) were on the scene and counted 11,857 units of shucked abalone.

Amid much outcry Japan has resumed its research whaling season.  According to the press Japan aims to catch more than 300 whales as part of a scientific research programme before the end of the hunt next year.

Japan seems to have found a loophole in the whaling moratorium which prohibits the hunting of whales, by labelling the hunts as scientific.  The move has been condemned by both the USA and Australia, as well as various environmental groups worldwide.

According to the press the government has announced that they will allow fishing in parts of the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area.  The aim behind the programme is to help rejuvenate heavily exploited fish stocks along the South African coast.

The response to the news has been dramatically polarised.  Local fishermen are delighted.  They claim that they were never consulted when the area was proclaimed a marine protected area and have a historical right to fish there.

Henrico Bruiners, chairman of the Tsitsikamma Angling Forum welcomed the decision saying that it is done from a humanitarian point of view, otherwise people have to travel up to 60km in order to fish.

Marine scientists, however, feel that the decision by the Department of Environmental Affairs is a recipe for disaster and will “open up the heart of a protected area to exploitation.”

UCT marine scientist Colin Attwood said that this kind of proposal completely negated the point of having a marine protected area.

SANParks spokesperson, Nandi Mgwadlamba has invited public comment, but in the meantime fishing will commence in the area on December, 15 as a pilot project.