Weekly Press Review – 16 October 2017

This week Armscor confirmed plans to buy a new torpedo system for its Heroine-class submarines to replace the existing ageing stockpile.

According to the press, it is unclear how many new-generation torpedoes will be purchased (at an estimated cost of R60 million each), but news of the acquisition coincides with a military budget crisis, with the navy unable to afford vital offshore patrol vessels. The government has also delayed a massive shipbuilding programme, Projects Hotel and Biro, which would create thousands of jobs.

“The value to the country of a torpedo weapons system is minuscule compared with building a ship,” said one arms industry insider.

Earlier this year naval chiefs confirmed severe operational challenges stemming from a R5 billion cut in military spending across the army, air force and navy.

Despite the fact that two major perlemoen poaching syndicates have recently appeared in local magistrate courts, the business of perlemoen poaching remains rife in the Western Cape.

According to the press the police arrested three individuals in possession with approximately R30,000 of perlemoen this week.  The men will appear in court shortly.

South Africa and Mozambique are developing more gas pipelines in order to meet the increasing demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in both countries.

According to the press, Mozambique’s Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Augusto de Sousa Fernando told delegates at the International Gas Co-operation Summit in Durban that demand had increased over the last 13 years. He added that South Africa had an opportunity to benefit from the development of LNG in the future by joining other countries in the region.

As part of National Marine Week WWF-Sassi has reiterated its message that whether we will be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of a meal of fish and chips in the future depends largely on the choices that we, as consumers, make today.

Sassi has compiled a list of the status of various fish. Each year this list is reviewed and species are added, removed or have their status changed, according to various species assessments.

Two Ocean Aquarium communications and sustainability manager, Helen Lockhart said, “Teaming up with SASSI this Marine Month provides a great opportunity to take the sustainable seafood message beyond the Aquarium and to focus on informing and empowering consumers during this month.”

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Weekly Press Review – 9 October 2017

The Robben Island Museum (RIM) has made headlines again this week rejecting reports that its ferry service is operationally inadequate saying “it is business as usual”.

RIM briefed the provincial standing committee on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture regarding the incident relating to the tourist ferry, Thandi, which capsized last month.

Committee chairperson Beverley Schafer said the ferry service was “operationally inadequate” to transport passengers.

RIM chief executive Mava Dada said, “We are supporting the SA Maritime Authority with their investigation. Our own internal investigation is also underway to identify any possible blind spots.

“Tourists and guests to RIM are assured that it is business as usual.”

This weekend saw the 29th annual Blessing of the Fishing Fleet festival at the V&A Waterfront.

According to the press the festival is a cultural appreciation and fundraising event packed with all thing Portuguese.

Event co-ordinator, Alberto Goncalves, said, “The event is held to bless the boats and fishermen who go out to sea each year and has become somewhat of a social event. It is also held as a fundraising event for Portuguese welfare.”

The SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) successfully completed their farthest disentanglement operation this weekend.

According to the press SAWDN managed to free a 14 metre humpback whale entangled in rope over 40 nautical miles offshore of the Southern Cape coast.

Along with the National Sea Rescue Institute Plettenberg Bay (NSRI), the SAWDN arrived at the scene and found a juvenile whale anchored to the seabed with fishing rope around its tail.   The animal was freed and all lines were recovered.

SAWDN spokesperson Craid Lambinon said, “The cutting operation took 20 minutes. We are confident that the operation has been successful and the whale appears to be healthy.

“This is the farthest out to sea that a SAWDN operation has been conducted.”

Weekly Press Review

Police are investigating the robbery of a Gansbaai perlemoen packing and export enterprise. It is believed that the robbery was an inside job.

According to the press nine men arrived at the premises just after 11pm on Sunday night, showing a police identity card in order to gain access to the property.  They then loaded a minibus with an unknown quantity of perlemoen and left the premises, taking three security guards with them.  The guards were found unharmed in the Mitchell’s Plain area on Monday.

The company remains closed while the incident is under investigation.

A letter in the Cape Times this week written by Professor Kevern Cochrane, professor of ichthyology and fisheries science at Rhodes University, addressed the recent and ongoing protests by small-scale and nearshore fishers regarding concerns about possible reductions in the allocations of West Coast rock lobster in the 2017/2018 season.

According to Cochrane the protests centre on two main issues:  the total allowable catch of rock lobster for the coming season and how that will be allocated between the small-scale, nearshore, commercial and offshore commercial sub-sectors.

Cochrane expressed his concern regarding the response to these issues by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

“Rock lobster is a vital resource for thousands of fishers on the West Coast and it would be a disaster for them, as well as for the ecosystem, if the department allowed this already threatened species to decline further.

“History will judge whether the department was able to provide the leadership and guidance to reverse the current decline,” says Cochrane, offering four key steps that he feels the department should take in order to fulfil its social, economic and ecological mandate for  this species and the dependent fisheries.

These are:

  • Senior management must respect and adhere to the scientific advice on the TACs,
  • vague promises that controls will be increased in the future are insufficient,
  • the department should urgently convene a working group, and
  • options consistent with the goals of South Africa’s fisheries policy ned to be identifies, while minimising harm to those who bear the brunt of the necessary reductions in some quotas.