Weekly Press Review – 19 August 2016

Saldanha Bay has made headlines this week celebrating the terminal ‘s milestone of a billion tons of exports.

Most of South Africa’s iron ore exports pass through the terminal, which has the capacity to stockpile 4.5 million tons of ore of 13 different grades.  According to Robert van Rooyen, Saldanha Bay terminal manager, the bulk terminal handles approximately 59 million tons annually, compared to smaller multi-purpose terminals which handle about 7 million tons of iron ore.

“We are delighted with the success of the terminal and commitment that has been shown by the staff and management team, which has seen us go from the terminal’s total handling capacity increasing gradually from 18 million tons per annum in 1976 to where we are today at 60 million tons per annum – an increase of 233 percent.”

It has been a busy week for the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN), as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).  The organisation was called once again called to action to rescue a whale entangled in fishing rope and flotation buoys off Glencairn.  According to the press, SAWDN volunteers, along with members of the NSRI, used disentanglement equipment to free the 7.5m juvenile humpback whale.

According to SAWDN head Michael Meyer the whale appeared to be healthy.

“All indications are that the animal has survived and we are satisfied that the operation has been successful,” said Meyer.

In a separate incident, the NSRI and the South African Stranding Network (SASN) were called to rescue a 2.5m dolphin stranded at Jeffey’s Bay. According to the press the dolphin was successfully returned to the ocean.

These two incidents once again remind us that we need to be mindful of the impact that our marine activities have on the wildlife in our oceans.  Fishing ropes and buoys remain a problem, but even the shark nets designed to protect swimmers often result in the deaths of dolphin, turtles and otters that get caught in them.

A balance needs to be found between using our oceans and abusing our oceans.

 

Weekly Press Review – 12 August 2016

The three suspects arrested in connection with the break in and theft of various weapons and hand grenades from the Simon’s Town naval base on 23 June appeared in court this week.

According to the press, although the State has a strong case against the three, the concern remains as to why the weapons were stolen, particularly around election time.

A possibility is that the suspects were intending to sell the weapons.  It is now imperative that it is established to whom and for what purpose they intended to sell the weapons.

Also making headlines this week was the arrest of two men at the Peka Bridge border with Lesotho in possession of abalone and stolen wine.

The arrest was made after officers inspected the suspects car.  “The members found two sealed plastic bags containing dry abalone weighing 1,75kg with a street value of approximately R8650.”

The suspects will appear before the Ficksburg Magistrate’s Court.

Another trapped whale has been freed after becoming entangled in fishing rope and floatation buoys approximately 500  metres off-shore Cape Point.

According to the press, the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) described  the marathon 2-day rescue operation as the most difficult disentanglement operation to date.

“The whale had at least five ropes entangled around the flukes and tail and the rope was twisted and entangled into a bird’s nest,” said Mike Meyer, SAWDN and environmental affairs oceans and coast head.

Eventually the whale was cut free and appeared strong and healthy as it swam off.

 

Weekly Press Review – 29 July 2016

An incident of theft at the SA Navy base has made headlines this week. The break-in took place at the armament depot over the weekend and military equipment was stolen, including several Uzi machine guns, an R1 rifle, ammunition and hand grenades.

Military expert Helmoed Heitman believes the theft was either an inside job or security at the navy base was simply not up to standard.

“Either the security was much weaker than it should have been, or there was involvement by one or more people within the navy. This is serious and demands serious follow-up,” said Heitman.

The Hawks have already arrested two men in connection with the theft who will appear in court on Monday. Some of the weapons have been recovered but according to Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, the investigation will only be successful if all the stolen goods are recovered and all those involved are arrested.

Weekly Press Review – 22 July 2016

The dire situation facing the South African great white shark has made headlines this week. According to researcher Sara Andreotti from the department of botany and zoology at Stellenbosch University, if the government doesn’t soon address import and export regulations, the great white shark is heading for extinction.

According to Andreotti there are only between 353 and 522 great white sharks left in South African waters. The primary cause of the decline? Poaching for shark jaws which can sell for up to $1 million, as well as fins for fin soup, a delicacy in parts of Asia.

“The numbers in South African are extremely low. If the situation stays the same, South Africa’s great white sharks are heading for possible extinction,” says Andreotti, adding that it is illegal to catch great white sharks as they are a protected species.

Andreotti said that the Environmental Affairs Ministry must improve the regulations protecting and managing fish species.

“The survival of South Africa’s white shark population and the ecological interactions of the coastline will be seriously compromised if urgent management measures to prevent the decline are not put in place,” says Andreotti

Weekly Press Review – 15 July 2016

The attacks on South Africa’s endangered African penguin by a leopard in the Betty’s Bay area have made headlines over the last few weeks.

These attacks are obviously not good news for conservationists who are working hard in an attempt to protect African penguins in the area as numbers continue to dwindle.  Stoney Point in Betty’s Bay is one of the largest breeding colonies in the Western Cape and also one of the most successful, which makes these attacks even more of a setback.

Despite this according to the press this week SANCCOB have been brought in to assist with rescuing some of the injured birds and eggs that have been left exposed after adult birds were killed.  Five eggs were brought to SANCCOB and two have now hatched successfully.  On another happy note one small penguin chick also survived the attack and is being cared for by SANCCOB staff.  He is getting stronger by the day.

Weekly Press Review – 8 July 2016

The SA Agulhas II is back in the headlines this week with a group of post-graduate students from 15 universities across South Africa joining the crew of the research vessel.

The 41 students will be studying aboard the vessel until 15 July.  Their areas of focus will include:  dynamics of the ocean, marine instrumentation, life in the sea and data analysis, all with a specific focus on the Agulhas Current.

“SEA-mester” is South Africa’s first dedicated class afloat and aims to introduce marine sciences as an applied and cross-disciplinary field to students who have shown an interest in these fields.

On board, the students will be able to combine theoretical classroom learning and the application of this knowledge through ship-based, hands-on research, while working alongside specialist scientists in internationally relevant research activities.

The SEA-mester cruise will provide valuable ocean data to better understand the role of the Agulhas Current in a global ocean and provide scientific background for SEA-mester to engage with.

Professor Isabelle Ansorge of the University of Cape Town (UCT) is directing the programme with the assistance of Tahlia Henry, a former Cape Peninsula University of Technology student who is the SEA-mester coordinator.

The voyage is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology.

Weekly Press Review – 1 July 2016

The deadline for the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) amendments to the Safety of Lives at Sea Agreement (SOLAS) is today.  According to the press there is some concern as to whether several countries. including South Africa, are ready.

The amendments are to address the issue of container weight mis-declaration.  The amendment requires that the verification of container weights be determined by the shipper and communicated to the master and port terminal before export containers are loaded on board a vessel, effectively making container weight verification a condition for vessel loading.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has been  designated as the body to enforce the SOLAS amendments in South Africa and problems are foreseen with regard to the ability of regulators in the container logistics chain to implement, monitor and enforce these amendments timeously.

The three Chinese vessels suspected of operating illegally in South African waters have once again made headlines this week with the announcement that they have been cleared of all poaching charges and released, but will have to pay fines of over R2 million for other offences.

The Dutch East India (DEIC) company vessel the Nieuwe Harlem which ran aground near Table bay on 25 March 1647 is back in the news this week.

This, however, is not just the story of a Dutch vessel running aground on the Cape coast.  It is believed by many to have had a major impact on relationships between communities in southern Africa for the next 300 years.

After running aground 58 of the crew were rescued by other ships in the Nieuwe Harlem fleet, while 62 remained under the command of a junior merchant, Leendert Janszen.  They were instructed to salvage as much from the vessel as possible and otherwise to live off the land until rescue.

On his return to Holland, approximately a year later, Janszen was required to write a report for the DEIC on the feasibility of setting up a halfway house in the Cape.  It was ultimately this report which led to the decision by the Dutch to set up a refreshment station at the tip of Africa.

The ship that started it all, however, the Nieuwe Harlem, simply disappeared.  It has now been announced that the African Institute for Marine and Underwater Research, Exploration and Education (AIMURE) is set to tackle the task of locating the missing vessel.

The Logos Hope, the vessel hosting the largest floating book shop in the world, also made headlines this week as she docked in Cape Town harbour for a 10 day visit.

Ivy Chiu, spokesperson for the Logos Hope, said that more than 8,000 people have already visited the vessel.  Visitors will have the chance to purchase books, as well as experience a tour of the vessel.  Books are priced from R30 to R300 with a choice of over 5,000 titles to choose from.