Weekly Press Review – 14 August 2017

JSE-listed Sea Harvest has acquired a new freezer trawler from listed Icelandic fishing company, HB Grandi. According to the press, the vessel, the MV Therney, was built in Sterkoder yard in Norway.

The group said that there are currently three Sterkoder class vessels in South Africa, two owned by Irvin & Johnson, and one acquired by Sea Harvest in 2014.

Sea Harvest has invested more that R300 million over the past three years in vessel acquisition and factory upgrades to create a world-class asset base.  After listing, the company said that it wanted to pursue growth organically and through acquisitions, in an effort to position itself as a global seafood producer.

In an interview with the Sunday Times this week, Cape Town mayor, Patricia De Lille said that in attempt to deal with the water crisis currently facing the Western Cape, some 250 million litres will come from desalination projects. As this infrastructure is not yet in place, a desalination boat, to be parked at sea, is an option on the table in the interim.

Importers, exporters and shipping lines may be faced with an 8 or 9 percent fee increase to use South African harbours.

According to the press, Transnet is holding public hearings in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban to discuss the National Port Authority’s tariff application for 2018/19.

Increasing the availability of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to South Africa, Sunrise Energy officially launched the R1,2 billion LPG plant near Saldanha Bay this week.

According to the press, the first cargo of LPG was received in May from a LPG vessel and William Bopape, plant manager, said that the import point has been extremely busy ever since.

Sailing clubs claim that they are being muscled off government owned land.

According to the press, South African Sailing says that clubs in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay and East London are in the midst of legal action over new lease agreements or are facing eviction or stringent new terms.

The organisation claims that steep rental increases and diminished access to water are threatening development programmes that produce top black sailors.

Transnet National Ports Authority has denied targeting sports clubs, but declined to comment on sub judice matters.

Marine scientists and conservationists have warned that the annual sardine run in Kwazulu Natal could be under threat from both climate change and the impact of fishing.

According to the press, the sardine run generates an estimated R500 million in tourism for the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast and is being impacted by increased ocean temperatures.

Marine conservationist, Lesley Rochat says, “What we do know for certain … is that the world’s oceans are undergoing rapid and regionally specific warming as a result of climate change.”

“Climate change must be addressed in order to preserve marine life, including the sardines,” says Rochat.

Weekly Press Review – 7 August 2017

The Portfolio Committee on Public Works has once again expressed concern about the state of small harbours in the Western Cape.

Following recent site visits to seven local harbours, committee acting chairperson, Freddie Adams, identified the lack of security, insufficient office space and inadequate workforces as areas of concern.

“We have discovered that the harbours we visited (Stillbaai, Arniston, Struisbaai, Gansbaai, Hermanus, Gordon’s Bay and Kalk Bay) have common challenges of decaying infrastructure, lease disparities, low job creation and inability to develop the economy of local communities,” said Adams.

The committee has stated that it believes the reason behind these challenges is the lack of communication between the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the Department of Public Works and local communities.

A hurt Filipino sailor has been rescued off Richard’s Bay. According to the press the seaman was evacuated from a ship off-shore of Richard’s Bay on Sunday by the NSRI and admitted to hospital.

The Namibian government has made a decision to increase the price of sport and recreational permits.

According to the press, the permit price has been increased to R50 per day with a limit of 10 fish per permit.

The money will be allocated towards sustaining the country’s marine resources.

Weekly Press Review – 31 July 2017

This week Parliament’s portfolio committee on public works will conduct oversight visits to six harbours in the Western Cape, hoping to gain insight into the management of small harbours by the Department of Public Works.

According to the press, the harbours that will be visited are: Struisbaai, Arniston, Gansbaai, Gordon’s Bay and Kalk Bay.

In June the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) slowed the City’s plan to take control of some local harbours, citing the council’s proposed by-law for fishing harbours could not supersede the Marine Living Resources Act.

The City has responded by saying that it has no choice, but to forge ahead with its plans, and that it has the power to manage harbours in its jurisdiction.

A fisherman died after suffering a seizure on board a chokka fishing boat off the Eastern Cape coast over the weekend.

According to the press the NSRI responded to the incident.

“On arrival NSRI medics were put aboard the vessel and confirmed that the fisherman was deceased,” said NSRI Francis Bay station commander Sarah Smith.

Friday saw the return of millions of sardines from the Indian Ocean – an event which has not been seen for almost five years.

According to the press, each year during the southern hemisphere winter months throngs of fish lovers gather at the Kwazulu-Natal coastline in anticipation of the “Sardine Run.” In recent years the volume of fish has slowed quite dramatically, but early signs are that the great Sardine Run has returned.

Last week the maritime industry lost the highly respected old salt Captain Bill Damerell. Cape Times contributor, Brian Ingpen, said, “A giant cedar in the shipping industry has fallen.”

Our thoughts are with Captain Damerell’s family and friends.

Weekly Press Review – 24 July 2017

The Bengis name has made local headlines again this week with the news that 81 year-old Arnold Bengis, will face another 57 months in an American Federal prison.

According to the press, Bengis senior was sentenced in the Court for the Southern District of New York for charges related to the case stemming from his company’s poaching of marine life, specifically West Coast rock lobster.

Along with the prison sentence, Bengis will have to pay $37.3 million (R485m) in restitution after failing to pay an original 2004 restitution order.

Now residing in Tel Aviv, Bengis faces extradition.

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries acting chief director for monitoring control and surveillance, Thembalethu Vico, says, “ DAFF will stop at nothing to ensure that the full might of the law is applied against anyone who is found to be robbing the South African communities by stealing their invaluable fisheries resources.”

Also making headlines this week are allegations of corruption and bribery within South Africa’s multi-billion rand fisheries industry.

According to the press, industry sources have revealed that the suspension of the director-general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mike Mlengana,  last week could open a Pandora’s box in an economic sector already riddled with controversy.

Sources have also revealed that the department has recently awarded a number of tenders under questionable circumstances, including one valued at R150 million which was awarded to a preferred company with a 19 year-old, with 25 years experience in the fishing industry, on the company’s board of directors.

In May this year, the Hawks visited the department’s offices and confiscated a laptop and cellphone belonging to an official.

The department has stated that it is co-operating with the Hawks’ investigation.

The search continues for the four fishermen still missing after their vessel, the Maledon, capsized off St Francis Bay last week.

According to the press, eight of the 16 crew members survived the incident, four lost their lives and four remain missing.

The families of these missing men now face a new shock in that without the bodies of their loved ones, they have a battle to get any insurance payouts. In order to access the benefits of an existing provident fund, they need to produce a death certificate and without a body, this is simply not possible.

General manager of Balobi Fishing Enterprises said, “Where there is no body, we will assist by means of our attorney to work through the legal process to get the presumption-of-death certificates, but it is a lengthy process.”

The search for the missing fishermen continues.

Weekly Press Review – 17 July 2017

Progress has been made in the fight against abalone poaching with the police confiscating illegally poached abalone in two different Western Cape locations this week.

According to the press, police arrested two suspects in connection with the operating of an illegal abalone processing facility on a farm in Brackenfell.  In a separate incident, 213 bags of frozen abalone, weighing approximately five tons, were found in a cold storage truck in Montegu Gardens on the same day.

Police spokesperson, Andre Traut, said, “The exact value of the abalone confiscated during the two operations is yet to be determined. However, it is estimated to be several million rand.”

The Two Ocean Aquarium in Cape Town is once again putting its weight behind the banning of the single-use plastic bag. According to the press, the Aquarium is supporting the EcoBricks awareness campaign, created in an attempt to offer an alternate solution to the use of plastic bags, which so often contribute to the multitude of plastic polluting our oceans.

The EcoBrick is a “brick” made from plastic two litre bottles. The idea is to encourage the public to form the habit of stuffing paper and plastic (particularly single-use plastic bags) into the bottles. When the bottle is full it can be dropped off at various pick up points around the city.  The bottles are then used as building materials to create sustainable homes, schools and furniture.

July has been proclaimed Plastic Free July and the Aquarium has called for a complete ban on single-use plastic shopping bags in South Africa through its Rethink the Bag campaign.

Eight fishermen remain missing after their vessel capsized at Cape St Francis over the weekend.

According to the press one fisherman died in the accident, five wee rescued and eight remain missing after an extensive air, sea and shoreline search by the NSRI.

Weekly Press Review – 11 July 2017

Viking Fishing’s court battle against the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) regarding fishing rights in the Western Cape has been dealt a blow.

According to the press, the Western Cape High Court has decided that the company’s interdict against the department should not be made final. This after the fishing group won the first round of a battle after the court ruled in favour of its interdict against new fishing rights in January; calling a halt to the department’s latest allocation of fishing rights.

Viking has not given up, stating that the court’s ruling was not unanimous and that one in three presiding judges had handed down a dissenting judgment.

Ghana has made headlines this week with the country sending its first satellite into orbit.

According to the press the satellite, launched from the International Space Station, was developed by students at the All Nations University in Koforidau and will be used to monitor Ghana’s coastline for mapping purposes.

Taking place at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown at present is Sabamnye Nomendi, a creative interdisciplinary and multimedia interpretation of the sinking of the SS Mendi.

The troop ship sank 100 years ago off the Isle of Wight, resulting in the deaths of more than 600 black South African soldiers.

According to the press, Sabamnye Nomendi, conceptualised and curated by Mandla Mbothwe, goes beyond the theatre walls and through song, dance, pictures, film and multimedia takes the audience through this very sad story.

Sabamnye Nomendi is based on a poem by SEK Mqhayi about the sinking of the vessel.

Weekly Press Review – 3 July 2017

The big news for maritime historians this week is the discovery of the ship’s bell belonging to the ill-fated SS Mendi, which sank 100 years ago resulting in the deaths of more than 600 sailors.

According to the press, the ship’s bell was left to Steve Humphey, a well-known local television personality with a special interest in the SS Mendi, in the English coastal town of Swanage.

An anonymous tip led Humphrey and a television crew to the Swanage Pier in the early hours of June,15. According to Humphrey, the bell was wrapped in plastic inside a tarpaulin sack and was tied with string and duct tape. There was an envelope attached to the bell with the journalist’s name of it.

The note read: “Knew of the Mendi’s historical importance to South African heritage, but was concerned that it might not go to the right place. This needs to be sorted out before I pass away as it could get lost.”

The bell has since been transported to a museum in the area where it will be authenticated.

This week marks the graduation of more than 100 SA Navy members after six months of military training at the SAS Saldanha.

According to the press, the navy believes that the aim of the training was not only to provide the youth military skills, but also to teach them the basic life skills required in the work environment, the military environment as well as a  good work ethic.

Skills provided included: seamanship, environmental awareness, musketry, computer skills, basic financial management and discipline.

The SAS Saldanha has recently undergone an extensive upgrade, receiving modern accommodation, mess and classroom facilities.

The impact of the recent international cyber attack has been felt on South African shores. According to the press, the offices of Maersk Line in South Africa were affected by the cyber attack and all computers and landlines were offline.

Matthew Conroy, commercial manager for Maersk Line Southern Africa, said that he did not know when things would return to normal and that the cyber attack was still being investigated.

The Two Oceans Aquarium has declared this month Plastic Free July. According to the press the aquarium has thrown its weight behind the ban on single-use plastic shopping bags through its campaign Rethink the Bag.

The campaign was launched by Hayley McLellan, the aquarium’s environmental campaigner, who has worked since 2010 to promote the campaign, by educating the public and retailers and establishing partnerships.

“All role-players, especially consumers, remain responsible for the approximately 8 billion plastic shopping bags we use every year in South Africa. Remember that demand drives supply, so let’s simply stop demanding and using them,” says McLellan.

Plastic Free July is a worldwide campaign.