Weekly Press Review – 19 June 2017

South Africa’s Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) is once again in the news this week. According to the press the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has appointed a new, three-member advisory panel to assist Minister Senzeni Zokwana with the 2015/16 FRAP, which has caused much anger and frustration amongst local fishing communities.

Advocate Patric Mzolisi Mtshaulana, Dr George Mukundi Wachira and Thulani Joseph Sithole have been appointed to an advisory panel by the Minister to assist with the evaluation of appeals lodged against the decisions taken during FRAP 2015/16.

DAFF spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo, says that Minister Zokwana intends to announce his decisions systematically and on a sector-by-sector basis over the coming weeks.  He will be starting with appeals lodged in the Hake Inshore Trawl Fishery followed by appeals lodged in the Patagonian Toothfish Fishery.

DAFF has also made headlines this week after pouring cold water on plans by the City to take control of some local harbours, citing the argument that council’s proposed by-law for fishing harbours cannot supersede the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA).

The City has responded by saying that it has no choice but to forge ahead with its plans, saying that it has the power to manage harbours in its jurisdiction, as the constitution gives municipalities the exclusive competence to administer the functional areas listed in Schedule 5, Part B.

According to Deputy Mayor, Ian Neilson, the move by the City came about after engagements with the Department of Public Works for the proper administration of harbours within the City’s jurisdiction proved futile.

The Department of Public Works has offered no response.

 

 

Weekly Press Review – 12 June 2017

The state of our oceans has once again made headlines with the worldwide celebration of World Oceans Day this week, forming part of National Environment month.

This year’s theme was Our Oceans, Our Future and Stellenbosch Department of Botany and Zoology associate professor Sophie von der Heyden believes that we can all play our part in attempting to mitigate the effects of pollution.

According to von der Heyden, “ Plastic pollution plays a huge role. By just making small behavioural changes, we can do so much.”

Our ocean water is currently polluted by over 51 trillion pieces of plastic.

“People who live inland seem to have forgotten their link with the ocean, and we need to highlight and educate people in this regard. The ocean is very important to us, especially for maintaining a stable climate,” says von der Heyden.

Acidification, due to climate change, is also a major challenge facing our oceans. The resulting increased carbon dioxide levels in the water have an extremely negative impact on marine life, particularly on marine animals with shells, as shell growth is often inhibited.

Professor von der Heyden also sites overfishing as another area of concern with regard to the health of our oceans.  She urges people to make sustainable seafood choices and make themselves aware of sustainable seafood options.

Weekly Press Review – 5 June 2017

Making headlines this week is the record sentence handed down to four men found guilty of running an abalone syndicate.

According to the press, the four men involved were sentenced to a combined 127 years in prison by the Khayelitsha Regional Court on charges of exporting of abalone, processing of abalone, possession of abalone, as well as fraud and money laundering.

Spokesperson Lloyd Ramovha said, “It is believed to be a record sentence as far as abalone is concerned.”

Also making headlines this week is new, state-of-the-art software that enables researchers to distinguish dolphin calls so clearly that they can be identified based solely on their whistles.

The technology, passive acoustic monitoring (PAM), is frequently used across the globe, but until recently has not been used to monitor dolphins in southern African waters.

Dr Simon Elwin, of the University of Pretoria, was one of the researchers involved in the project to employ the software to identify three different dolphin species found along the southern African coast, with excellent results.

The software, known as PAMGuard, achieved an 87.3 percent success rate in identifying the three specified dolphin species. The information gathered will be used to boost archives with basic data on call repertoire and vocal characteristics of local dolphins.

Weekly Press Review – 29 May 2017

A gas explosion led police to a house in Mowbray this week resulting in the seizure of R2.8 million worth of illegal abalone.

According to the press, police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said that the seizure in Montclaire Road in Mowbray had dealt a blow to illegal trade in marine resources.

Neighbours alerted the police to the explosion.

“Police conducted an investigation on the scene and found plastic containers and buckets containing abalone. Protecting our marine resources remains the core of the mandate of the SAPS,” said Rwexana.

The three men arrested at the scene will appear in the Magistrate’s court once they are officially charged.

The blue economy has made headlines once again this week. According to Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, head of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), South Africa’s blue (ocean) economy is an area of focus for economic growth and development.

Bohler-Muller, who recently attended the 3rd workshop of the Blue Economy Core Group in Mauritius, said that people were starting to talk about the blue economy and that the government was developing a strategy around it, stemming from Operation Phakisa.

Under Operation Phakisa, Oceans Economy, the government aims to grow the ocean economy’s contribution to South Africa’s gross domestic profit to between R129 billion and R177 billion by 2033.

Container shipping company, Maersk, says that the container sector is seeing an uptick in intra-Africa trade due to the fall of most long-standing internal trade barriers.

According to the press, David Williams, chief executive of Maersk Line Africa, said that the most recent progression in this regard was the increasing implementation of the one stop border post concept across the continent.

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.