Weekly Press Review – 18 March 2016

Indonesian authorities have made headlines this week with the bombing of a Nigerian-flagged vessel wanted internationally after years of illegal toothfish poaching.

According to the press the vessel was seized by the Indonesian Navy in late February. Yesterday the vessel was bombed in an attempt to send a strong message to would-be poachers entering Indonesian waters.

The Viking was one of six vessels, named the Bandit 6, known to be illegally catching toothfish in the Southern Ocean. The vessel, along with five others, was closely followed by NGO the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society who alerted authorities when the Viking entered Indonesian waters.

Fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti said, “This is to serve as a deterrent to others. You may go freely in the rest of the world, but once entering Indonesian waters this is the consequence.”

The Two Oceans Aquarium and the seals of Cape Town have a new hero. According to the press, Two Oceans Aquarium specialist technician, Vince Calder, takes to the waters of the Cape Town harbour at 7am each morning to check on the safety of seals in the harbour area. His check includes making sure that none of the seals have been caught in fishing lines or plastic bags.

Over a two-year period, Calder has come to the aid of over 20 seals. “Each day that I don’t discover a seal in distress due to fishing line or plastic is a good day,” says Calvin.

Calvin says that we can all make a difference by starting with one small act in our homes. Before you throw away any plastic bags, simply cut the handles of the plastic bag to make sure that it does not get caught around the head of an unsuspecting seal. “Cut a loop, save a life” is the aquariums motto and one we can all easily adopt as our own.

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Weekly Press Review – 11 March 2016

According to the press, ship repair facilities have been earmarked as important areas for growth within the Operation Phakisa framework.

According to Sipho Nzuza, TNPA harbour manager Cape Town, Cape Town harbour is regarded as an important area for the application of Operation Phakisa initiatives. This includes ship repair work, shipbuilding and oil and gas services. Areas receiving immediate focus are the Syncrolift at the V&A Waterfront and both the Sturrock and Robinson Drydocks.

At the recently held African Ports Evolution conference in Durban, TNPA announced that R2 billion would be allocated towards improvements in ship repair facilities over the next five year period and an estimated R13 -15 billion towards new repair facilities at harbours across the country.

Weekly Press Review – 4 March 2016

The big maritime news this week is the announcement of plans to create a new 70,000km2 network of marine protected areas.

According to the press the plans include:

  • expansion of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park’s sea boundaries in Kwazulu-Natal,
  • a new protected area off the Thukela River,
  • a new shark and fish sanctuary off the Protea Banks on the south coast and
  • expansion of the Aliwal Shoal protected area.

Details of the new marine protected areas (MPAs) have been published in a 336-page notice in the government gazette by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.

Although the declaration of these new expanded MPAs should be celebrated, it is important to note that they are in response to the present situation of collapsed sea fish stocks and increasing exploitation of oceans worldwide.

Conservation group WWF’s response to the announcement has been positive, but they have cautioned that it is essential to ensure that there is adequate budget, staff and enforcement capacity to ensure the proper running of these protected areas.

Zolile Nqayi, Environment Affairs spokesman, said that the new proposed MPAs had been identified through the presidential project Operation Phakisa.

Conference Call

The fact that “some 90 per cent of trade is carried by sea” is the most over-used statistic at maritime conferences. If you are that way inclined, you may be tempted to create a drinking game out of how many times this is presented during any given conference programme. Maritime professionals just love this fact – we highlight it every chance we get. Enough already!

Use this pearl of wisdom in non-maritime related forums or at dinner parties with your accountant friends where such information is still likely to astound your audience, but for heaven’s sake – those of us working in the industry know this already  – and would counter this as an exact statistic anyway.

Unfortunately this highlights another issue relating to conferences, workshops, exhibitions, summits and expos. There are just so many of them and a great deal of them are pulling the same speakers and addressing the same topics. The question has to be: how do members of the industry choose which event to support and attend without resorting to FOMO* as a decision making tool?

With all due respect to industry-related magazines – we offer little assistance to industry in this regard. Most conferences approach us to be “event partners” to gain some free advertising and promotion before and after the event. In exchange we are offered the opportunity to dish out our magazines; a delegate pass and our logo on their promotional material as a media partner.

Conferences are seldom selective in choosing their media partners and publications usually accept every partnership they are offered – oftentimes with no intention of attending, but with every intention of getting rid of back issues that we are too emotionally attached to to send for recycling.

Make no mistake – there are still some very good conferences on the calendar and not everyone attends these events to absorb presentation after presentation. Often the real value lies in the networking opportunities and the card exchanges. It’s in the opportunity to sit next to someone you have never met before and develop a new connection.

It is, of course, an added bonus if the material presented blows you away. Sadly not much is done by conference organisers to really mould and shape their programmes. I realise it’s probably difficult when they only receive the content of Power Point Presentations at the last minute (and sometimes even as the speaker walks into the conference venue).

But I do feel that the organiser has the responsibility to their delegates (who are often paying a good few thousand to attend) to play a stronger role in content delivery. Not everyone has the ability to develop and present a paper – and the vetting process should go beyond a person’s job title at a specific company or entity.

By way of comparison – it would be like an editor of a magazine accepting article contributions without reading them and simply sending the magazine off to the printer without verifying that content is not repeated; is relevant and of a decent quality.

So my goal for the year is to engage with event organisers and delve a little deeper into what the calendar holds in the hope of providing some definitive feedback to the industry at the end of the year.

*FOMO: Fear OF Missing Out – accepted abbreviation amongst social media platform users.