Weekly Press Review – 28 November 2016

 A possible Chinese takeover of the naval dockyard in Simon’s Town has made headlines this week. The navy is facing an internal revolt amid the possibility that China may soon build vessels inside South Africa’s naval headquarters.

An Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between state-owned defense equipment firm Denel and China’s Poly Technologies resulting in a large investment by the Chinese firm in the Simon’s Town facility in return for boatbuilding business.

Poly Technologies is Denel’s bid partner in two navy tenders: Project Biro and Hotel; and there is widespread unhappiness over irregularities relating to these deals, including a long delay in announcing the winning bidders. The question being asked is why Denel is being accommodated when they have absolutely no maritime experience?

Concerns about political interference have surfaced in a memo circulating in the naval community. One of the issues raised states: “Denel’s task is to manage the dockyard and maintain the ships of the fleet, not to build ships without a shipbuilding yard of their own and use a national facility like Simon’s Town naval dockyard instead.”

Poly Technologies have offered no comment and Department of Defense spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said the department was not aware of any concerns.

The Cape Times ran a feature this week entitled: Maritime –SA’s new gold. Amongst the issues addressed were the new business opportunities available in South African aquaculture, how bilateral relations are advancing the Blue Economy and how South Africa is the new gate way to the Antarctic, as the only African country with a scientific base in Antarctica.

Weekly Press Review – 21 November 2016

Making headlines this week was a fire which broke out aboard a passenger cruise vessel on the Hartbeesdam over the weekend resulting in the deaths of four people. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating the incident.

A free app is helping 50 small-scale fishers in the province to monitor their catches. According to the press the smartphone application, called Abalobi, is designed to help small-scale fishers monitor their catch, better manage their business and monitor weather patterns before going to sea.

The application was funded by Vodacom Sustainability and developed at UCT. The application has the potential to benefit thousands of households across the country.

PetroSA has stated that it has managed to narrow its losses from R14.6 billion to R449 million for 2015/16.

According to the press revenue was down 13 percent from the previous R18 billion to R15.7 billion, while available cash balance fell from 4.4 billion to R3.7 billion.

The Cape Times ran a World Fisheries Day feature this week. Issues raised in the feature included a call for collaboration in conserving ocean’s resources in order to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations, as well as the welcoming of the Southern Bluefin Tuna allocation.

The desperate dream of becoming a stowaway by many people who find themselves unemployed in South Africa was featured in the press this week. Immigrants from African countries who do not have the correct documentation required to stay in South Africa see stowing away as their lifeline to leave the shores of South Africa and look for work opportunities wherever their ocean ride takes them.

P&I insurance representative Neil Chetty said that the one motivating factor for all stowaways was always poverty.

“If they had work in their home countries, they would not want to go on this adventure,” says Chetty.

Also making headlines this week was the announcement that JSE-listed African equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) was preparing to list its Premier Food and Fishing division on the JSE main board by the first quarter of next year.

Khalid Abdulla, AEEI chief executive said, “The division has shown consistent organic growth over the past five years, through achieving annual growth of more than 20 percent year on year. The time for acquisitions has come.”

South African tourists have been treated to a rare sight in Cape Town harbour over the past few weeks. According to the press the dwarf sperm whale, one of the world’ s smallest species of whale, has been spotted swimming in Cape Town harbour.

The little whale, smaller that some dolphins, is generally found in the deeper parts of the ocean, but according to Tinus Beukes of the Two Oceans Aquarium the whale entered the harbour on its own and should be able to leave on his own, presuming that it is in good health.

Also making headlines this week is a call by Knysna residents and tourists to help protect seahorses for current and future generations. The initiative forms part of the SA National Parks (SANParks) anti-pollution campaign in Knysna.

SANParks says of the 33 fish species recorded in the Knysna estuary, seven were estuarine dependent species like seahorses. The Knysna Seahorse is protected by law in the Marine Living Resources Act.

Weekly Press Review – 7 November 2016

An 8,000 ton experimental fishing programme has made headlines this week with the government going to court to defend the programme, which according to scientists could have decimated a valuable fishery.

A bid by several large fishing companies was made to have the experimental horse mackerel permit set aside on the grounds that it was illegal and contravened scientific advice.

Fishing associations say that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is now trying to take credit for a settlement setting aside the granting of the experimental horse mackerel fishing permit to Global Pact after it was revealed that the department had conceded to review its decision to allocate an additional 8,000 tons to Global Pact.

The department has said that The South African Deepsea Trawling Industry (SADSTIA) and Midwater Trawling Associations and others abandoned their interdict application.

SADSTA and Midwater Trawling Associations executive secretary Johann Augustyn responded by saying, “This is an attempt to whitewash the whole thing. We did not abandon the interdict. It was agreed by both parties that the interdict would serve no purpose because it was too close to review. It was too close to review because DAFF weren’t ready to present their papers and asked for a postponement.” Augustyn added that they were convinced that the permit had been issued illegally and this was vindicated.

DAFF Minister Senzeni Zokwana’s spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo responded by saying that the department remained committed to restructuring the horse mackerel industry.

A group of small-scale fishers from Langebaan have made headlines this week as they celebrated a legal victory setting aside a government decision stopping them from fishing for harders in a section of the Langebaan lagoon.

The Western Cape High Court declared the restrictive conditions imposed on traditional fishers by DAFF as arbitrary, irrational and unconstitutional.

Judge Mark Sher, who presided over the matter, has said that it would be inappropriate of him to make an order granting fishers some other right, but urged officials in the departments concerned to please engage with the fishers.

The fishing vessel, the Verano, which caught alight in the Cape Town harbour also caught the press’s attention this week. The vessel has been burning for four days and there are now major concerns regarding oil pollution. On Sunday a special pipe was laid in the water around the vessel in an attempt to stop the oil from moving out of the harbour and into the ocean.

Weekly Press Review – 31 October 2016

 The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has issued a provisional list of 126 fishing communities, but press reports state that small-scale fishers are adamant that they will appeal the list.

DAFF small-scale fishers director, Craig Smith, said that many traditional fishers do not have permit records to substantiate their claims as small-scale fishers, adding that DAFF elected to involve communities in the verification of community fishers as part of the prescribed small-scale fishing regulations.

“The department does not know the community members to decide whether they meet the small-scale fisher criteria or not. Hence DAFF requested community members to elect community panel members to assist DAFF with the verification of fishers,” said Smith adding that in many cases community members were excluded by their own elected panel.

According to Smith the list is likely to increase with the assessment of appeals and after all appeals have been thoroughly assessed, the department will announce a final list of successful small-scale fishers.

A new research trip to Marion Island has made headlines this week. A team of more than 50 scientists from South Africa and abroad will join the Russian research vessel, Akademik Tryoshnikov, for a plankton study on the island later this year.

It is hoped that the study will reveal why there is not more life in the nutrient rich Southern Ocean.

UCT oceanographer Sarah Fawcett said that the ship leaves Cape Town on December 20 and the study will cover everything from biodiversity and whales to bird life, interaction between winds, waves, currents and ice and the problems a caused by plastic pollution.

The City has launched a Shark Spotters app aimed at enhancing beach safety this summer.

According to the press the Shark Spotters app provides water users with current and accurate shark safety information on their smartphones, giving beach-goers the opportunity to make informed decisions on shark risks before arriving at the beach.

“We believe the Shark Spotters app will be an essential beach safety and information tool for all water users in Cape Town during the upcoming beach season. This app will provide keen surfers and swimmers with specific information about their favourite beach spots even before they travel to them,” said Mayco member for energy, environment and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe.

The Antarctica’s Ross Sea has been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). According to the press the announcement, which was made at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, is regarded as a victory and historic moment in the history of conservation.

The move marks the first time that a large-scale MPA has been established on the high seas.

Weekly Press Review – 24 October 2016

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, was quoted in the press this week saying that an increase in the southern bluefin tuna allocation in South Africa is essential for job creation, and will provide permanent employment in the sector.

The Commission for Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) has decided to increase the country’s allocation from 150 tons to 423 tons. Minister Sokwana has hailed the decision saying that it would inject much needed export revenue for South Africa.

“It is estimated that the 450 ton increase could be worth R270 million. Depending on the foreign exchange rate, it could create about 1,000 jobs for the unemployed,” said Minister Zokwana.

Small-scale fishers should be able to reap the benefit of the new fishing rights to be allocated by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) scheduled for the end of October.

According to the press the fishing industry, which is dominated by the big players, will now also benefit communities living on South Africa’s coastlines.

Minister Zokwana said that the department wanted to bring in more black people living on the coastline by allocating the new fishing rights to them.

According to deputy director-general for Fisheries Siphokazi Ndudane, the department would allocate rights to 10 sectors, which include abalone, lobster, tuna, horse mackerel, hake-in-shore and the Kwazulu-Natal seine fishing.

“It is important because there was a lot of injustice that was done in the past,” said Ndudane.

However, the press has also reported this week that disgruntled small-scale fishers have slated DAFF saying that its verification process is flawed.

According to the Masifundise Development Trust (MDT), most fishers who meet DAFF’s criteria have been excluded from the provisional list.

“The verification process was flawed. DAFF must be sensitive to the plight of small-scale fishers. They did everything required of them, but still they’re excluded. We will definitely appeal,” says MDT director, Naseegh Jaffer.

Weekly Press Review – 14 October 2016

Long-term fishers from the West Coast rock lobster and abalone sectors gave a sigh of relief this week with the news that they have been exempted from applying for commercial rights for the 2016/2017 season.

According to the press the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) made the decision in order to enable it to process a “substantial number” of applications, including new entrants into the sector.

The department’s assessment team along with the delegated authority, require sufficient time to properly assess and evaluate the applications in the two fishing sectors.

Just in time for this year’s holiday season, 10 Cape Town beaches have achieved the highly valued Blue Flag status.

The press has made mention of the 10 beaches who have attained full Blue Flag status for the upcoming 2016/17 summer season. They are:

  • Melkbosstrand
  • Clifton 4th beach
  • Camps Bay
  • Llandudno
  • Fish Hoek
  • Muizenberg
  • Strandfontein
  • Mnandi
  • Bikini Beach
  • Silwerstroomstrand

Mayco member for community services, Anda Ntsodo, said that the City had worked hard to ensure that Cape Town’s beaches were clean, safe and full of fun activities for holidaymakers.

 

 

 

Weekly Press Review – 7 October 2016

The press has reported this week that South Africa will invest up to R50.55 billion at ports in both Richard’s Bay and Coega to build infrastructure for a gas-to-power programme aimed at easing the country’s dependence on coal.

The Department of Energy has said that a plant at Richard’s Bay will generate 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from liquefied natural gas imports and the Coega industrial development zone will generate another 1,000MW.

The government will be seeking bidders to manage the project.

Also making headlines this week is a challenge against the awarding of an R80 million experimental fishing permit to Global Pact Trading in response to several companies crying foul over its lawfulness and alleged bias

The South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry and 21 other companies have taken the minister, deputy director-general and chief director of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), as well as Global Pact Trading to court to have the permit set aside.

It has been reported that advocate Shaheen Moolla, appointed to defend the case, helped the owner of Global Pact Trading to secure the successful bid for the permit. Johann Augustyn, executive secretary of the SA Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association argued that this was a conflict of interest, adding that the permit was awarded to Global Pact Trading for an ulterior purpose or motive and in bad faith.

Moolla responded by saying, “You can’t be conflicted when you did not participate in any of the decisions and when you are advising parties who essentially stand on the same side of the litigation divide.”

There is also further controversy surrounding DAFF’s three-year fishing rights allocation, which was handed out last month.

According to the press small-scale fishers intend to appeal the process, stating that the three-year rights allocations were barely sufficient and demanded that this be extended to lifelong rights as their livelihoods depend on the sea and what the sea supplies them.

DAFF spokesperson, Palesa Mokomele, said that fishers had 30 days to object to the rights allocation.

“Fishers should also provide reasons for why they object to the duration of the right. A fishing rights allocation process would be required in order to allocate new rights,” said Mokomele.

Most of the fishers are located in the Western Cape.

The SA Agulhas II has made headlines again this week with her return to Cape Town harbour following another 13-month visit to Gough Island.

The vessel’s latest expedition has once again been regarded as a success. Dr Greg Hofmeyr, head of scientific research on Gough Island said, “We are very satisfied with the results of the research done.”

The research has provided new information regarding the weather, sea birds, seals and, as well as the mouse plague on the island.

Another vessel making headlines this week is the Nujoma, a brand new diamond-exploration vessel which docked in Cape Town harbour this week.

The vessel, which was built in Norway, is receiving some finishing touches while in Cape Town before heading on to the Namibian coast to begin service.

The vessel is part of a joint project between Debmarine Namibia, the Namibian government and De Beers and was built for diamond exploration in deep water. According to the De Beers website the vessel cost R1.9 million to build.