Weekly Press Review – 27 March 2017

PetroSA has made headlines again this week. According to the press the state-owned oil company is set to suffer a projected devaluation of assets of R1.1 billion this financial year, in addition to the R14.5 billion in impairment it suffered in the 2014/15 financial year.

The PetroSA board, however, managed to escape an attempt to have it dissolved. A call was made to Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson to fire the entire board.

Committee member, Motswaledi Matlala said, “On behalf of the committee I request of the minister: let’s fire the board and get new people who are serious about the lives of the people of this county.”

Interim board chairman, Bhekabantu Ngubane responded by saying that it would be sad day if the board were fired.

Adding to the company’s woes it was also reported in the press that an inexplicable decision by executives at the embattled oil company to feed oil into the state-of-the-art gas-to-liquid facility at Mossel Bay has led to a break down of the refinery, resulting in a two week shutdown and a R500 million loss in revenue.

Transnet has made headlines this week with parliament calling for a forensic investigation into Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency’s multi-billion rand locomotive contracts.

A display commemorating the black South African troops who lost their lives aboard the SS Mendi in 1917 is currently open at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town.

According to the press the centre will also be hosting a multi-discipline conference focusing on the role that the soldiers aboard the SS Mendi played in the greater struggle for human rights and human dignity.

The SA Navy will just have to do more with less. That was the message delivered by Vice Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwana, Head of the SA Navy, in Simon’s Town this week.

According to the press the navy is experiencing more challenges, but with far less funding. Vice Admiral Hlongwana also stated that it is important to remember that the navy has 3,000km of coastline to patrol and traditional concepts would have to be challenged in driving the navy into the future.

The annual SA Navy Festival, in conjunction with Armscor, took place at East Dockyard in Simon’s Town last weekend. According to the press the event afforded the public the opportunity to tour naval ships and submarines, as well as view multi-capacity anti-piracy demonstrations.

Weekly Press Review – 13 March 2017

Sea Harvest is set to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) this month, making it the second fishing company to list this year after Premier Food and Fishing (PFF).

According to the press Sea Harvest is a subsidiary of Brimstone Investment and is expected to retain its controlling stake in Sea Harvest after the listing, with an interest of more than 50 percent.

A bidding war is on for the ferry trade from mainland Cape Town to Robben Island.

According to the press, two new ferry tenders are embroiled in a battle over potential financial spoils. The vessel at the centre of the controversy is the Madiba 1, a R60 million, 200-seater ferry.

Butana Komphela, who has shares in the Madiba 1, also chairs a consortium bidding for a back-up ferry contract, currently shared by several companies based at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

A rival bidder claims the MEC’s political connections could help the consortium secure the deal.

A second tender for a new-build ferry is also causing controversy after it was reported in the Sunday Times that the tender had been awarded to Damen Shipyards, even with a bid R20 million higher than rival bids from Veecraft and Nautic Africa.

Damen has not commented.

According to an article in the Cape Times this week ghost ships may be the way forward for the shipping industry. With self-driving motor vehicles set to be a real prospect by 2020, the shipping industry will soon find it necessary to follow the same path.

One of the key manufacturers in the unmanned vessel space, Rolls Royce, expects remote controlled vessels to be in use within the next 10 to 15 years.

Internationally the elimination of human input is regarded as one of the key benefits of automation, but with the scarcity of jobs in the South African market one would have to look closely at the viability of such an option in developing countries.

Weekly Press Review – 6 March 2017

According to the press the residents of the small fishing village of Buffeljags on the Western Cape’s Overberg is being left destitute due to yet another fishing rights dispute.

A flagship seaweed business, Buffeljags Marine, has created more than 30 jobs in the area, but this week the community lost their harvesting rights after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) did not renew its 10-year rights allocation. The rights are now to be transferred into a yet-to-be-established small-scale community fishing sector.

The result is that the employees of Buffeljags Marine will no longer be paid as business has come to a standstill. Adding to their woes, the local crèche, which is funded by the seaweed income, is now also facing closure.

Johnny van der Bergh, director of Buffeljags Marine says, “There is no other income for us here. It’s not like around here one can go and look for a job in construction.”

The standstill also threatens the only other major business in the town, the abalone farms that buy the kelp harvest.

The department’s director of small-scale fishing, Craig Smith, said that Buffeljags Marine had applied for an exemption and that it was currently under consideration.

The police made another big bust last week, arresting four suspected lobster poachers found in possession of lobster and lobster tails.

According to the press, the four men appeared before the Gordon’s Bay Magistrates Court last week on charges relating to the Marine Living Resources Act.

Weekly Press Review – 27 February 2017

The ill-fated SS Mendi has made headlines again this week with a centenary ceremony taking place at the University of Cape Town’s Lower Campus over the weekend.

The ceremony was hosted by the Gunners Association Western Province and was attended by dignitaries from the South African National Defence Force, military veterans and family members of some of those who lost their lives on February 21, 1917.

Victor Nyovane, grandson of Ebenezer Nyovane, who lost his life aboard the SS Mendi said, “Our family has never known the full story of how our grandfather died. As we laid our rocks on the memorial we finally felt at peace.”

A warrant of arrest has been issued for one of four men accused of racketeering, money laundering, fraud and contraventions of the Marine Living Resources Act in relation to illegal abalone activities.

According to the press, the court was ready to start with sentencing procedures and waited for over an hour for accused, Sean Kruger, who failed to appear at the Khayelitsha Regional Court.

Kruger and his co-accused, all on bail, were all convicted of all 23 counts.

It has been requested that Kruger now be kept in custody pending the finalisation of the matter.

Also making headlines this week was the sighting of the vessel, the Seven Arctic, in Cape Town harbour.

Owned by Subsea 7, the Seven Arctic is designed for subsea construction in ultra-deep water and hostile environments and was built in South Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Weekly Press Review – 20 February 2017

A fire, which broke out aboard a fishing vessel in Cape Town harbour, has been brought under control.

According to the press, the South Korean vessel, the Geumjeong, caught fire over the weekend. The tilting of the vessel during the fire made it difficult for fire crews to board the vessel, but according to Transnet spokesperson, Coen Birkenstock, the fire is now under control and no other vessels were damaged during the blaze.

Another ten arrests in connection with abalone poaching have made headlines this week. Members of the Hawks arrested 10 individuals, between the ages of 25 ad 56, in raids conducted in Durbanville, Plattekloof, West Beach, Tableview and Parklands.

According to Hawks spokesperson, Captain Lloyd Ramovha, the properties of those accused had been closely monitored over several weeks under of suspicion of illegal activity.

The ten will appear in the magistrate’s court in Bellville on Monday morning.

The SS Mendi is still in the news this week with last week marking the centenary of the tragic sinking of the vessel on February 21, 1917.

The sinking of the SS Mendi seemed to have been forgotten for a while, but the centenary has once again reminded people of the terrible loss of life – which saw the deaths of 646 souls – and the bravery of those aboard the stricken vessel.

Weekly Press Review – 13 February 2017

The fishing rights allocation process has once again made an appearance in the press this week with the news that proceedings in the Western Cape Court, focusing on a review into the allocation of rights to the inshore trawl fishery for hake and sole, have been postponed.

The postponement is due to Viking Inshore Fishing challenging DAFF Minister Senzeni Zokwana’s new criteria that reduced Viking’s fishing rights by 70 percent.

Another company facing challenges due to the fishing rights allocation process is BMC Fishing who claims it is being held to ransom by Minister Senzeni Zokwana over matters of fishing transformation that are at present before the court.

According to BMC director Lionel Brown, “The minister is the only person who can give the existing rights holders an exemption to catch fish. We are at the mercy of the minister who needs to make a decision.”

Zokwana’s spokeswoman, Bomikazi Molapo responded to this by saying that the minister was unable to issue fishing exemptions because the matter was still before the courts.

The immediate result of this is that the once bustling harbour of Mossel Bay is at a stand still and it would seem that the small quota rights holders are the ones paying the price.

This week it was announced that seafood giant Sea Harvest plans to list on the JSE by March this year.   According to the press the company says that it will raise R1.5 billion in capital through private placement with the proposed listing. This money will then be used to repay all debt and support the company’s organic growth and any future acquisitions.

Also make headlines this week is the announcement that the Two Ocean’s Aquarium in Cape Town has developed a marine sciences matric curriculum. The move is designed to attract young people to careers in the marine sciences field and also to protect invaluable ocean resources and coastline.

It is hoped that the new school subject would be piloted at Lawhill Maritime Centre in Simon’s Town next year.

Curriculum developer and Two Ocean senior teacher, Xavier Zylstra, said, “The ocean is an unexplored realm. If we get researchers in there, they will help to ensure the sustainability of its resources.”

Weekly Press Review – 6 February 2017

The dangers of working in the maritime sector, seems to be the theme of this week’s press review. According to the press there were two separate incidents over the weekend where fishermen lives were endangered and rescue efforts were required.

A fishing boat capsized off Macassar on Sunday. The captain braved shark-infested waters to swim ashore and raise the alarm. The Skymed rescue helicopter located the upturned boat with four men clinging to the side. The NSRI performed the rescue and all crewmembers were later declared fit. They had been in the water for almost four hours.

In a separate incident, one man died after a service boat capsized over the weekend. The fishing vessel, the Jin Syi Shiang, was first on the scene and its crew managed to rescue two of the men from the over-turned vessel. The captain of the stricken vessel, however, remained missing. His body was later discovered aboard the sunken vessel.

The cause of the deaths of two PetroSA workers at the Mossel Bay Gas Liquids Refinery has still not been confirmed. According to the press the two workers received medical attention at the scene, but could not be resuscitated. The families have been notified and an investigation into the incident is taking place.

Also making headlines this week is the announcement that soon-to-be listed Premier Fishing South Africa has installed the first solar energy initiative in the abalone aquaculture space in the country and looks to expand its plant in the Western Cape.

The company stated that it completed the solar energy investment on its Atlantic Abalone farm in Gansbaai with the aim of doubling abalone imports to overseas markets and creating more job opportunities.

Premier Fishing chief executive, Samir Saban, said, “The abalone operation currently employs more than 100 people and with the further expansion of our existing operation we expect to employ more than 300 people once the expansion is completed.”