Weekly Press Review – 27 November 2017

Deputy Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Bheki Cele was cornered by a group of small-scale fishers at a launch to mark World Fisheries Day in Saldanha Bay this week.

According to the press, representatives from various fishing organisations seized the opportunity to demand answers to their many grievances. Lambert’s Bay fisher, Ferdinand Fransman, speaking on behalf of The Collective said, “We had a meeting with you, the Minister Senzeni Zokwana and the Fisheries deputy director-general, Siphokazi Ndudane, in September.

“You gave us many promises that turned out to be lies. What we want to know today minister, specifically with the West Coast rock lobster, is what happens to our poor people after February?”

The department announced on 10 November that the total allowable catch (TAC) for 2017/18 fishing season for rock lobster would remain 1924.08 tons – the same as the previous season.

Another arrest was made this week after a man from Swellendam was caught in possession of perlemoen with an estimated value of R7.1 million.

According to the press, police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk said that the police and K9 unit were completing a routine patrol when they stopped a truck to search it. In a hidden area within the truck the police found 1,403,2 kg of perlemoen.

Mentioned in the press this week is the announcement by Barloworld that the listed distribution group has given notice of its possible exit from logistics if its business failed to improve its return on invested capital.

TNPA anticipates that more than 20 luxury passenger ships from 17 international shipping lines will visit South African harbours during the cruise season. According to the press, Cape Town and Durban will receive the largest number of passenger ships. Shulami Qalinge, head of TNPA, said that the two harbours are positioned as the country’s major ports for attracting passenger ships.

An investigation into the near sinking of the passenger ferry, Thandi, has cited weather conditions as one of the key contributing factors causing the incident that led to the rescue of 60 tourists en route to Robben Island.

The Robben Island Museum (RIM) says the report, carried out by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), has helped the organisation to evaluate its current safety procedures and to provide an even better and safer experience for all visitors to the island.

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Weekly Press Review – 20 November 2017

The World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) says that West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) stock levels are now at an all-time low and could spell the end of the lone for the fishery.

According to the press this follows the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ (DAFF) decision on the 2017/18 fishing season that the total allowable catch would remain unchanged.

John Duncan, WWF-SA marine programme senior manager, said it was deeply concerning, adding,”This fishery is a critical source of income and livelihood for many small-scale fishing communities in the Western and Northern Cape.  Historically one of South Africa’s most commercially important fisheries, it has declined dramatically over the last 50 years as a result of overfishing to the point where it is now facing the very real threat of commercial extinction within the next five years.”

The share price of South Africa’s largest fishing company, Oceana Group, plunged nearly 14 percent on Friday after it reported that its profits in the year to September had plunged nearly 50 percent.

According to the press the shares on the JSE later in the day recovered to close 6.10 percent down at R80.

 

 

 

Weekly Press Review – 13 November 2017

Yet another perlemoen bust has made headlines this week, this time in the Mfuleni area where 5,553 perlemoen were discovered in 55 bags with an estimated value of R1 million.

In a separate incident a tip-off  led to the arrest of five people found in possession of perlemoen with an estimated value of R3.5 million. This included the equipment used by the suspects in the Mfuleni incident.

A total of 4,645 interested parties and residents from Langebaan in the Western Cape have signed a petition requesting that plans for an aquaculture plant in the Langebaan lagoon be abandoned.

According to the press, the planned aquaculture project, over an estimated 884 hectares in the town’s lagoon, is part of the government’s Operation Phakisa and is driven by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as private investors.

Jennifer Kamerman, spokesperson for Save the Langebaan Lagoon Action Group (SSL), says that the proposed area for the aquaculture development is predominantly used by small-scale fishers. The development will deny this community the right to fish in the lagoon.

“These people earn a living from the fish that they catch here,” says Kamerman.

SSL has said that they are not against aquaculture development in the area, but feel that it should be an inland development, not on the coast, and definitely not in the lagoon.

Weekly Press Review – 6 November 2017

Transnet is distancing itself from the kickbacks scandal currently rocking the state-owned rail and logistics group. According to the press, the scandal includes allegations that some of its suppliers paid third parties millions of rands in order to win tenders.

Chief executive, Siyabonga Gama said, “These allegations are made against Transnet suppliers, where it is alleged that some of them, such as SAP, McKinsey, CSR and Liebherr-Africa, were paying commissions to third parties after securing contracts with Transnet.

“We have requested these companies to indicate to us if any past or current employees of Transnet requested that they pay any kickbacks to them or any third parties.”

The Hawks arrested two people in connection with abalone poaching and seized R5 million worth of abalone in Brackenfell this week.

According to the press, spokesperson Lloyd Ramovha said that police arrested the suspects at a house doubling as an illegal abalone processing facility.

The suspects appeared in the Kuilsriver magistrates court during the week.

Two more suspects from Caledon were also arrested this week in possession of abalone with a street value of R5 million.

Also making headlines this week was the announcement by seafood group Sea Harvest that the company’s Australian subsidiary, Mareterram, had acquired two mackerel licence packages comprising of an established fishing fleet and support vessels for A$9 million (R53 million).

Weekly Press Review – 31 October 2017

 Transnet has instituted a group-wide investigation into its contracts and suppliers amid the rampant allegations of rent seeking and kickbacks at state-owned companies.

 According to the press, chief executive Siyabonga Gama said that the company was dealing with allegations of wrong-doing in its contracts, insisting that the problem was not about Transnet governance processes or integrity, but about suppliers.

According to the press this week, there is a growing optimism about the potential of Africa’s oil and gas development, given the sustained increase in crude oil prices.

Speaking at the open session of the 24th Africa Oil Week conference, held in Cape Town last week, Energy Minister David Mahlobo said, “This bodes well for many of the continent’s economies that had suffered when there was a downturn in commodity prices.”

Also making headlines this week is a statement from Premier Fishing and Brands saying that it would continue to grow its business both organically and through acquisitions in the future as it sought to diversify its portfolio.

“We will continue to grow our business organically and by acquisition, as well as focus on the expansion of our product basket to meet our customer’s demands,” said chief executive Samir Saban.

According to the press, despite the fishing season officially beginning on October 1, the delegated authority, Siphokazi Ndundane, has yet to determine the global rock lobster total allowable catch (TAC) for the commercial offshore and near-shore, small scale and recreational sub-sectors.

The Collective representing thousands of small-scale fishers from coastal near-shore fishing sectors says that the system used to allocate West Coast rock lobster fishing rights remains skewed and does not benefit small-scale and near-shore fishers.

Spokesperson for the fishers, Pedro Garcia, says, “When they eventually finalise the allocation for the TAC for the rock lobster, it will be percentages and not kilos. This will not address the imbalances in a system that still only caters for the commercial companies and keeps the indigenous and traditional fishers marginalised.”

Garcia added that the collective still felt that the best solution at this point would be to suspend the current allocations and implement interim relief for a period of three years.

Crowdfunding as a tool for the boat building sector

One of the most common moans made by delegates at many of the maritime conferences is the lack of access to capital for start-up projects in the maritime sectors. By its nature, the maritime sector is a capital intensive space to play in and many entrepreneurs’ dreams are dashed sitting in a chair at their bank.

Crowdfunding has emerged internationally as a potential source to deliver funds to enthusiastic entrepreneurs who have a good idea to sell. Can this form of finance be harnessed for the likes of the small boat builder keen to bring a unique platform to the market?

Cape Town-based entrepreneur, Jako Laubscher is testing the waters with his River Lounge concept on the Indiegogo platform which claims to have raised over $1 billion in crowdfunding for projects around the world. The platform has successfully hosted a number of other boat-related projects including the HYPAR smart boat, and the Keelcrab Sailone.

The River Lounge concept is seeking crowdfunding to take it to the next phase of development.

There are, however, a number of projects that do not seem to have gained traction yet including Laubscher’s River Lounge. Although currently in its concept stage, the River Lounge idea is an interesting one that could potentially attract interest from local and international investors.

The River Lounge is a fully automated hydraulically platform with hidden units that open and close with your remote control. It is a fully roadworthy product that can open on its own trailer for a 42m2 two bedroom apartment with amenities, air con, braai area, fridge, freezer (under deck), kitchenette AND/OR launch onto the water for a day out on the dam/river.

For international shipping it fits into a 40ft container or your garage. Weighing less than 2,5t your average truck or sizable car can tow the River Lounge to various destinations.

In contrast to the slick presentation and detailed drawings associated with the River Lounge on the Indiegogo platform is the rather crude conceptualisation of a kit to change a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) into a motor boat. Unsurprisingly the idea – which seems to consist of literally tying a chair and small outboard onto a SUP – has not garnered much attention.

Monty Furmie is another South African with maritime funding aspirations on Indiegogo. This Cape Town-based software developer is hoping to get crowdfunding to launch a sport fishing boat and charter business to be known as Kraken Oceanic. Capital raised via the platform will be used to train currently unemployed people in the skills associated with the building of the required vessel for the business.

In addition, Furmie states as one of the goals, the ambition to create open source software and systems for all communications, energy, GPS and Sonar/Radar requirements. “This software will be released as open source software and made available from our website as well as a publicly accessible GitHub repository,” he writes in his overview of the project on the platform.

Choosing a platform

Indiegogo is one of many international platforms that host start-up projects as well as fundraising opportunities for charities, but local South African versions are also available. The choice of platforms is one of the first steps towards running a successful crowdfunding campaign as one needs to consider their audience reach as well as their business model.

The South African based Jumpstarter platform has an “all-or-nothing” protocol built into their business model. As a registered Non-Profit Organisation (NPO), Jumpstarter states that all projects must be 100 percent funded before its time expires to be able to claim the funds. Funds relating to projects that do not meet this requirement become usable for other live Jumpstarter Projects as credits or pledges.

They maintain that this reduces the risk for all involved as it does not compel the project originator to follow through on a concept without the full financial support required.

By contrast the Indiegogo site offers two funding models and allows campaigners to access funds even if their full project goal is not met if they choose the flexible funding model. Choosing the fixed funding model, however, sees contributions returned if campaigners do not meet their goal. The choice depends on whether the project could go ahead without the funding goal being reached or not.

Obviously a commission fee is structured into the pricing and the platforms stipulate the percentage of funds raised that they claim. This can vary across the different platforms and can additionally include commissions and charges on funds that are transferred via a credit card.

Luring funders

Whatever the platform, however, the project really needs to catch the attention and emotions of potential funders who are generally everyday internet browsers that need to be persuaded to be parted from their cash.

This necessarily begs the question of trust. Will South African, and indeed African campaigners, be deemed to be trustworthy on international funding platforms where perceptions of a corrupt continent may thwart calls for investment?

Most platforms make it fairly easy to create a funding project or campaign – but on the surface it does not seem that even the most reputable sites are immune to hosting scams. Indiegogo, for example, recently hosted a scam that netted a campaigner $850,000 in a couple of days for a innovative artificial gill that “lets you breathe underwater”.

A company called Triton seems to have capitalized on the lack of knowledge surrounding marine ecosystems by claiming to have invented a device that was able to filter the oxygen out of seawater and allow scuba divers 45 minutes of shallow shipwreck exploration.

Bearing in mind that this is not an isolated scam, investors need to understand that they could be operating in a potentially grey area while those seeking funding need to realise that they need to overcome any skepticism that may exist by being transparent as well as open to questions.

One can be sure that these online platforms that act as facilitators for this funding have built-in terms and conditions that protect them when the fish does not hit the net so to speak.

It is interesting to note that, given the huge potential for crowdfunding to promote entrepreneurship and financing on the African continent, the establishment of the African Crowdfunding Association (ACfA) was established to promote effective self-regulation as well as “build trust and transparency between all actors in the African crowdfunding ecosystem”.

The take-home has to be, however, that both campaign developers as well as investors need to be circumspect about their expectations when using crowdfunding platforms. That said, it could be an interesting space for some maritime sectors to seek finance. Quite honestly, though, it is the platforms that are actually raking in the funds for the role in facilitating the deal – and it is therefore not surprising that a massive plethora of available crowdfunding sites exist.

Perhaps I will start one aimed directly at the maritime industry – anyone keen to fund this for me?

 

Weekly Press Review – 23 October 2017

Small scale and near-shore fishers walked out of a meeting in Cape Town with deputy-director for fisheries, Siphokazi Ndudane, this week, stating that her explanations relating to the suspension of the West Coast rock lobster fishing rights allocation were not sufficient.

According to the press, a range of issues were raised at the meeting. Hout Bay Fishers Community Trust spokesperson said, “We are asking for Ndudane and the minister to postpone the proposed reductions (of fishing allocations) on the rock lobster and stop the offshore allocations of commercial companies.

“The new fishing season starts next month and we have been waiting weeks for them to provide us with answers.”

No agreement was reached between the fishers and the department with Ndudane saying that legislation could only be changed through the courts.

The press has reported this week that listed chemicals and energy group Sasol’s saleable production for the first quarter of the company’s current financial year increased by 22 percent, compared with the same year.

Small-scale fish production projects may be in jeopardy due to a proposed ban on catching indigenous freshwater fish in the Western Cape for everyone except some private landowners.

According to the press, the ban, proposed by CapeNature, is aimed at conserving species that are being wiped out by hungry invasives such as trout and bass.

The Department if Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), says that CapeNature has no right to impose the ban as all policy decisions rest with the national government.

The department is in the process of developing a policy on inland fisheries intended to empower rural communities to participate in equitable, sustainable resource use.

Due to the ongoing water crisis in the Western Cape, for the first time in history, ships calling in Cape Town are no longer allowed to fill up with fresh water.

According to the press, within the last week Transnet has confirmed a ban on the sale and supply of drinkable fresh water to all vessels calling at Cape Town – urging vessels to fill up further along the coast.

Transnet says, “While it is conceded that these measures may have a negative impact on some business components, so dire is the situation in the city that the port is resolute in its decision in the interest of basic survival of all who have to live in the region.”

This weekend the 17th Annual Cape Town International Boat Show took place at the harbour at the V&A Waterfront.

According to the press, hundreds of boating enthusiasts descended on the harbour and had the opportunity to marvel at the workmanship of both local and international manufacturers of yachts, catamarans, speed boats, paddle boats and accessories.