Weekly Press Review – 22 May 2017

The big headline this week is the search and seizure warrant issued by the HAWKS at the offices of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in Cape Town.

In response DAFF suspended a member of its fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) following a complaint that could amount to corruption.

The Hawks confiscated the laptop and cell phone of the unnamed member of FRAP. When asked whether DAFF felt compelled to reveal the identify of the person, Thembalethu Vico, DAFF’s acting chief director for monitoring control and surveillance, said that DAFF would be dealing with the issue internally.

Police have arrested a 42 year-old man in Crawford, Athlone in connection with perlemoen poaching. According to the press perlemoen, with an estimated value of R78 million, was discovered packed into fridges at a mortuary in Philippe East.

The man will appear in the Athlone Magistrates’ court this week.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of one of the worst South African maritime losses ever recorded. According to the press, on November 28, 1942, the Nova Scotia was torpedoed and sank in shark infested waters 48km east of St Lucia in Zululand.

The tragedy resulted in the death of 858 lives, many of them South African soldiers.

Weekly Press Review – 15 May 2017

The Western Cape ANC has called for an immediate suspension of the provisional rights allocation of West Coast rock lobster, calling for an urgent engagement with Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) minister Senzeni Zokwana.

According to the press the party says that they have been flooded with desperate calls from communities along the West Coast, Cape Town, Overberg and the Southern Cape.

ANC provincial executive member Linda Moss says, “The fundamental flaw in this process is that DAFF has not declared what the total allowable catch (TAC) for this sector is …. Normally there is a consultation process regarding the TAC split every year.”

A senior Sasol executive has voiced concern saying that the government should immediately resolve the uncertainty around the introduction of clean fuel specifications in order to ensure the sustainability of an industry that is a significant contributor to job creation and economic growth.

According to the press Sasol executive vice president of energy business, Maurice Radebe says that the industry contributes 8.5 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)

“Let us do our best to protect (the petrol and liquid fuels) industry for the sake of the economy,” says Radebe.

Weekly Press Review – 2 May 2017

Making headlines this week is the allegation that President Zuma allegedly tried to silence a confidant who had information regarding how the president benefited from the arms deal, by asking him not to testify at the Seriti commission.

Pretoria lawyer, Ajay Sooklal, filed an affidavit in support of a high court application by Corruption Watch and the Right2Know campaign, which are challenging the findings of the Seriti commission of inquiry into the arms deal. The commission found no evidence of corruption.

The Kwazulu-Natal education department this week unveiled a ferry that will assist school children to cross the lakes that make up Kosi Bay in order to get to school.

According to the press, members of the island community have been struggling for years to cross the crocodile and hippo invested waters.

The vessel will allow easier access to and from the island and  another seven ferries, at a cost of R500,000 each, have been commissioned by the department.

It seems that positive solutions to the issues facing the fishing industry are just not on the cards and this sentiment seems to be felt by many involved in the industry.

This was the sentiment shared at the recently held Suidoosterfees, which took place in Cape Town last week.

According to the press, a panel discussion was held at the event, the first in the Jakes Gerwel discussion series. RSG presenter, Lynette Francis, led the discussion. The panel consisted of: Chris Nissen, from the Human Rights Commission, Prof. Moenieba Isaacs, University of the Western Cape, Pieter van Dalen, DA spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the Western Cape and Pedro Garcia, chairman of the South African United Fishing Front.

Garcia feels that there are no solutions to the problems faced by the fishing industry.

According to van Dalen, the situation would be greatly helped if large fishing companies were encouraged to start fish farming, as this would help to ease the pressure on natural fish resources.

There is no political will to change things in the South African fishing industry was the general consensus of those involved in this panel discussion.

The discussion was supposed to be broadcast live on RSG, but technical issues prevented this from happening.

The first scientific expedition to investigate underwater mountains and the Walters Bank, south of Madagascar, got underway this week.

According to the press, the French vessel, the Marion Dufresne, departed on a 19 day voyage to investigate the unique life forms found in this area.

This week the Two Oceans Aquarium hosted six of the Miss Earth SA leadership programme semi-finalists as part of its World Penguin Day programme.

According to the press, several events were held across the globe to draw attention to the plight of these endangered animals.

Weekly Press Review – 24 April 2017

Two men were arrested in Gordon’s Bay this week in possession of 3,015 crayfish tails. According to the press, Captain van Wyk, provincial police spokesperson, said that the goal of responsible policing in the area had been achieved after information provided by members of the local community lead to the arrests.

The K9 dog unit was responsible for tracking down the vehicle in question. “In the vehicle they found plastic bags containing 3,015 crayfish tails and 60 whole crayfish,” said van Wyk.

The two suspects, aged 23 and 34, were arrested and will appear in the Strand Magistrates court on charges of the illegal transport of crayfish and other charges involving the Marine Living Resources Act.

In an unusual headline this week two members of the NSRI required rescuing after their boat overturned near Jacobsbaai during a scuba diving session.

According to Craig Lambinon, NSRI spokesman, the NSRI was called to the rescue of two of its staff members, Megan and Matthew Melidonis, who got into trouble when their rubber boat overturned.

No one was injured in the incident.

Weekly Press Review – 18 April 2017

During a joint operation between Greenpeace and Guinean fisheries authorities, two Chinese vessels were each fined 250,000 euros (R3.14 million) after shark fins were discovered on board the vessels.

According to the press, a third Chinese vessel was also fined after it was discovered that it was using illegal nets and fishing for species outside of its license conditions.

Numerous shark carcasses were also found on board the vessels, including hammerhead sharks, which are an endangered species.

Greenpeace Africa oceans campaigner Ahmed Diame said, “ What we’re seeing here is an utter lack of respect of west African fishing laws.”

Also making headlines this week are the three UCT scientists who recently returned from a three-month voyage circumnavigating Antarctica aboard the Russian vessel, the Akademik Teshnikov.

The three scientists, Dr Sarah Fawcett, Heather Forrer and Professor Peter Ryan, jumped at the opportunity to join one of the biggest and most ambitious scientific expeditions in history, the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE).

The aim of the expedition was to see first-hand what impact climate change was having on the Southern Ocean and how this affected humans.

“I think that this is going to lead to a lot of really important constraints on how we understand the role of this region in climate,” said Fawcett.

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.