South Africa’s Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) is once again in the news this week. According to the press the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has appointed a new, three-member advisory panel to assist Minister Senzeni Zokwana with the 2015/16 FRAP, which has caused much anger and frustration amongst local fishing communities.
Advocate Patric Mzolisi Mtshaulana, Dr George Mukundi Wachira and Thulani Joseph Sithole have been appointed to an advisory panel by the Minister to assist with the evaluation of appeals lodged against the decisions taken during FRAP 2015/16.
DAFF spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo, says that Minister Zokwana intends to announce his decisions systematically and on a sector-by-sector basis over the coming weeks. He will be starting with appeals lodged in the Hake Inshore Trawl Fishery followed by appeals lodged in the Patagonian Toothfish Fishery.
DAFF has also made headlines this week after pouring cold water on plans by the City to take control of some local harbours, citing the argument that council’s proposed by-law for fishing harbours cannot supersede the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA).
The City has responded by saying that it has no choice but to forge ahead with its plans, saying that it has the power to manage harbours in its jurisdiction, as the constitution gives municipalities the exclusive competence to administer the functional areas listed in Schedule 5, Part B.
According to Deputy Mayor, Ian Neilson, the move by the City came about after engagements with the Department of Public Works for the proper administration of harbours within the City’s jurisdiction proved futile.
The Department of Public Works has offered no response.
The state of our oceans has once again made headlines with the worldwide celebration of World Oceans Day this week, forming part of National Environment month.
This year’s theme was Our Oceans, Our Future and Stellenbosch Department of Botany and Zoology associate professor Sophie von der Heyden believes that we can all play our part in attempting to mitigate the effects of pollution.
According to von der Heyden, “ Plastic pollution plays a huge role. By just making small behavioural changes, we can do so much.”
Our ocean water is currently polluted by over 51 trillion pieces of plastic.
“People who live inland seem to have forgotten their link with the ocean, and we need to highlight and educate people in this regard. The ocean is very important to us, especially for maintaining a stable climate,” says von der Heyden.
Acidification, due to climate change, is also a major challenge facing our oceans. The resulting increased carbon dioxide levels in the water have an extremely negative impact on marine life, particularly on marine animals with shells, as shell growth is often inhibited.
Professor von der Heyden also sites overfishing as another area of concern with regard to the health of our oceans. She urges people to make sustainable seafood choices and make themselves aware of sustainable seafood options.
Making headlines this week is the record sentence handed down to four men found guilty of running an abalone syndicate.
According to the press, the four men involved were sentenced to a combined 127 years in prison by the Khayelitsha Regional Court on charges of exporting of abalone, processing of abalone, possession of abalone, as well as fraud and money laundering.
Spokesperson Lloyd Ramovha said, “It is believed to be a record sentence as far as abalone is concerned.”
Also making headlines this week is new, state-of-the-art software that enables researchers to distinguish dolphin calls so clearly that they can be identified based solely on their whistles.
The technology, passive acoustic monitoring (PAM), is frequently used across the globe, but until recently has not been used to monitor dolphins in southern African waters.
Dr Simon Elwin, of the University of Pretoria, was one of the researchers involved in the project to employ the software to identify three different dolphin species found along the southern African coast, with excellent results.
The software, known as PAMGuard, achieved an 87.3 percent success rate in identifying the three specified dolphin species. The information gathered will be used to boost archives with basic data on call repertoire and vocal characteristics of local dolphins.