Weekly Press Review – 29 July 2016

An incident of theft at the SA Navy base has made headlines this week. The break-in took place at the armament depot over the weekend and military equipment was stolen, including several Uzi machine guns, an R1 rifle, ammunition and hand grenades.

Military expert Helmoed Heitman believes the theft was either an inside job or security at the navy base was simply not up to standard.

“Either the security was much weaker than it should have been, or there was involvement by one or more people within the navy. This is serious and demands serious follow-up,” said Heitman.

The Hawks have already arrested two men in connection with the theft who will appear in court on Monday. Some of the weapons have been recovered but according to Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, the investigation will only be successful if all the stolen goods are recovered and all those involved are arrested.

Weekly Press Review – 22 July 2016

The dire situation facing the South African great white shark has made headlines this week. According to researcher Sara Andreotti from the department of botany and zoology at Stellenbosch University, if the government doesn’t soon address import and export regulations, the great white shark is heading for extinction.

According to Andreotti there are only between 353 and 522 great white sharks left in South African waters. The primary cause of the decline? Poaching for shark jaws which can sell for up to $1 million, as well as fins for fin soup, a delicacy in parts of Asia.

“The numbers in South African are extremely low. If the situation stays the same, South Africa’s great white sharks are heading for possible extinction,” says Andreotti, adding that it is illegal to catch great white sharks as they are a protected species.

Andreotti said that the Environmental Affairs Ministry must improve the regulations protecting and managing fish species.

“The survival of South Africa’s white shark population and the ecological interactions of the coastline will be seriously compromised if urgent management measures to prevent the decline are not put in place,” says Andreotti

Weekly Press Review – 15 July 2016

The attacks on South Africa’s endangered African penguin by a leopard in the Betty’s Bay area have made headlines over the last few weeks.

These attacks are obviously not good news for conservationists who are working hard in an attempt to protect African penguins in the area as numbers continue to dwindle.  Stoney Point in Betty’s Bay is one of the largest breeding colonies in the Western Cape and also one of the most successful, which makes these attacks even more of a setback.

Despite this according to the press this week SANCCOB have been brought in to assist with rescuing some of the injured birds and eggs that have been left exposed after adult birds were killed.  Five eggs were brought to SANCCOB and two have now hatched successfully.  On another happy note one small penguin chick also survived the attack and is being cared for by SANCCOB staff.  He is getting stronger by the day.

Weekly Press Review – 8 July 2016

The SA Agulhas II is back in the headlines this week with a group of post-graduate students from 15 universities across South Africa joining the crew of the research vessel.

The 41 students will be studying aboard the vessel until 15 July.  Their areas of focus will include:  dynamics of the ocean, marine instrumentation, life in the sea and data analysis, all with a specific focus on the Agulhas Current.

“SEA-mester” is South Africa’s first dedicated class afloat and aims to introduce marine sciences as an applied and cross-disciplinary field to students who have shown an interest in these fields.

On board, the students will be able to combine theoretical classroom learning and the application of this knowledge through ship-based, hands-on research, while working alongside specialist scientists in internationally relevant research activities.

The SEA-mester cruise will provide valuable ocean data to better understand the role of the Agulhas Current in a global ocean and provide scientific background for SEA-mester to engage with.

Professor Isabelle Ansorge of the University of Cape Town (UCT) is directing the programme with the assistance of Tahlia Henry, a former Cape Peninsula University of Technology student who is the SEA-mester coordinator.

The voyage is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology.

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.”