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.




Weekly Press Review – 24 June 2016

Another perlemoen bust has made headlines this week.  Two men and a women were arrested for being in possession of perlemoen valued at several million rand.  According to Constable Noloyiso Rwenxana, a provincial police spokesperson, the K9-unit received information regarding illegal perlemeon activity in a house in Grassy Park.  The property was raided and thousands of dried perlemoen was discovered.

The three suspects will appear in the Milnerton Magistrate’s court on Monday morning.

Maritime historians are all abuzz with the news that a search is underway for the legendary ship the Nieuwe Harlem which was stranded near Table Bay on 25 March 1647.  It was the stranding of this vessel that led to the establishment of a refreshment station in the Cape and ultimately Jan van Riebeeck choosing the Cape as a settlement post on a later voyage.

According to maritime archeologist and Executive head of the African Institute for Marine and Underwater Research, Exploration and Education, Dr Bruno Werz, the project is already well into its first phase.  They have a good idea of where the wreck is , near Milnerton and it is believed the salvage operation will not require much diving as the wreck is under the sand under the high water mark.

If the wreck and corresponding camp area are found, the project will cost approximately R3 million.

Weekly Press Review – 17 June 2016

According to the press last week, existing boat-based whale watching (BBWW) and white shark cage diving (WSCD) operating permits allocated in 2011 will be renewed for a further 12-month period.  The Department of Environmental Affairs has stated that this is due to the fact that the allocation process for the permits has been postponed.

A spokesperson for the department  said, “The department will, towards the end of the year, commence with the allocation process by inviting applications for BBWW and WSCD operating permits.”

The department added that, as part of Operation Phakisa – Oceans Economy, activities involving non-consumptive use of marine resources are being considered to grow the ocean economy.  Boat-based whale watching and white shark cage diving provide South Africa with the opportunity to boost this contribution considerably, leveraging its rich marine resources in a sustainable manner to boost both economic and social development.

The Two Oceans Aquarium was also in the news this week with the introduction of the first fish into its new exhibit at the V&A Waterfront.  Commenting on the new I&J exhibit, Two Oceans Aquarium chief executive Michael Farquhar said, ” The opening of this exhibit to the public brings to an end two-and-a-half years of construction and anticipation.  As South Africans we are fortunate to live in a country with incredible cultural and biological diversity and our oceans are no exception.”

Weekly Press Review – 10 June 2016

World Oceans Day was celebrated around the world this week. According to the press, a group of scientists and surfers united for the Silence of the Sharks and Paddle Out for Sharks initiative as part of the celebrations.

Events took place at the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast and Seaforth Beach in Simon’s Town. According to Amanda Barratt, Paddle Out for Sharks founder and marine conservationist, supporters paddled 30 metres out to sea and threw flowers into the ocean to show their support for the plight of sharks around the world.

“Up to a million sharks are killed across the planet every year. They sit at the top of the predatory hierarchy and without them the ocean’s system will be out of control,” said Barratt.

Referring to the recent arrest of three Chinese fishing vessels, Barratt added, “In South Africa, our ocean resources are being plundered by foreign fishing fleets. Monitoring, overfishing and the plundering of our oceans is a big problem. Globally by 2050, all edible fish in the ocean will be extinct.”

Also making headlines this week was the sad news that the maritime community had said a sad farewell to Captain Dai Davies last weekend. Captain Davies’ career in South Africa began as a mooring master at the Durban oil buoy for Land & Marine Salvage, which he later headed.

Many members of the maritime community shared their thoughts on Davies’ passing and recalled memories of the kind of man he was.

“He was a true gentlemen – salvor, mentor and friend,” said Captain Nick Sloane. “He never doubted his team’s abilities. His belief in them developed them individually way beyond normal expectations, and his impact on my life and on my development in the marine industry has made me who I am today.”

Weekly Press Review – 3 June 2016

A whale stranding training session presented in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the City of Cape Town has made headlines this week.

On Saturday 28 May, 90 members of the South African Stranding Network (SASN) attended a three-hour training session at the NSRI Strandfontein beach rescue centre. The session allowed for the practicing of rescue procedures for stranded cetaceans, adopted under a National Response Plan developed by the SASN and co-ordinated by the DEA, using two life-like model whales.

It is intended that these training sessions will become an annual event to ensure that the appropriate infrastructure, manpower and expertise are available to respond to any stranding situation at short notice.

The Two Oceans Aquarium was also in the news this week with the announcement that it will be releasing the last two of its ragged-tooth sharks near East London this week.

The sharks formed part of the I&J Predator Exhibition which will be closing for repairs in mid-June, with plans to replace it with a newer and larger one.  The sharks will be removed from the aquarium with the use of a PVC cone and then moved into a 6,000 litre holding tank on the back of a truck for the journey to East London.

Sharks have been released from the aquarium since 2004. According to operations manager, Tinus Beukes, all released sharks are fitted with transmitters allowing the aquarium to receive data from these released sharks for a period of up to 10 years.

Weekly Press Review – 27 May 2016

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has made headlines this week with the announcement that Commander Tsietsi Mokhele has resigned as CEO with immediate effect.

The press have reported that no further information has been provided by SAMSA regarding the resignation of Mokhele or his future plans.  Operational head, Sobantu Tilayi will be stepping in as acting CEO.

Also making headlines this week is the news that three more Chinese vessels illegally navigating South African fishing waters have been arrested. The vessels were arrested after a combined operation between SANDF, Department of Fisheries and SAMSA.

The three captured vessels were escorted to the East London harbour by the the navy supply vessel, the SAS Drakensberg and fisheries inspection vessel Sarah Baartman.

The captains of  the three vessels appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday and the case was postponed for further investigation until 16 June.  The crew have to remain in port aboard their vessel until the matter is settled.

The Oceana Group has also made headlines this week with the sale of their Lamberts Bay Foods to JSE-listed Famous Brands. Lamberts Bay Foods was established in 1995 by Oceana as a social responsibility project and has subsequently matured into a viable commercial operation.

Weekly Press Review – 20 May 2016

There seems to be an unhappy buzz in the maritime industry this week regarding the “escape” of eight Chinese fishing trawlers illegally navigating South African fishing waters over the weekend. A ninth vessel was arrested.

According to the press the vessels were first spotted around Durban, Port St Johns and Cape Recife, where they were suspected of fishing illegally. On Thursday the fisheries patrol vessel, the Victoria Mxenga, was sent to search for the vessels.

The vessels were discovered and appeared to co-operate, agreeing to be escorted to the Port of Saldanha for proper inspection. However, enroute the vessels split into two group and raced away at high speed. The Victoria Mxenga managed to capture one of the nine vessels, but the others escaped.

The problem seems to be that only one patrol vessel was sent out to address the problem and to bring the vessels into harbour. This was clearly not enough to deal with nine vessels and Pieter van Dalen of the DA-LP is now criticising DAFF saying that the vessels escaped due to the fact that the South African coastline is simply not sufficiently protected.

Although no fish were found on the captured vessel, the Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186, fishing equipment was found. It was found that the vessel had contravened the Marine Living Resources Act by entering the South African exclusive economic zone without a valid permit and had failed to comply with lawful instructions by a fisheries control officer, among other offences.

Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has instructed the South African Navy to assist with the chase of the remaining eight vessels.