The big news this week is the agreement signed between PetroSA and Russian company, Rosgeo, to develop oil and gas blocks in South Africa.
According to the press, the deal, worth $400 million (R5.17 billion), was signed on the sidelines of the ninth Annual Brics Summit in China and offers the embattled national oil company the opportunity to position itself towards future growth.
European media reports indicate that the deal is lopsided to the benefit of Rosgeo. According to Rosgeo ‘s chief executive, Roman Panov, the firm would own 70 percent of the project with PetroSA taking up the remaining 30 percent.
PetroSA would not confirm or deny this.
An internationally operated abalone syndicate, known as “The Enterprise” faced the music in the Western Cape High Court this week on 116 charges collectively.
According to the press, the state presented papers saying The Enterprise employed people to collect, clean, dry, freeze and store abalone, which was then packaged for export to Hong Kong using two front companies and using fraudulent documentation stating that containers were carrying pilchards.
They had been in operation for two years.
Members of the The Enterprise were found guilty of various charges, including contravening the Marine Living Resources Act.
The men are currently out on bail and will remain so until sentencing.
Progress has been made in the fight against abalone poaching with the police confiscating illegally poached abalone in two different Western Cape locations this week.
According to the press, police arrested two suspects in connection with the operating of an illegal abalone processing facility on a farm in Brackenfell. In a separate incident, 213 bags of frozen abalone, weighing approximately five tons, were found in a cold storage truck in Montegu Gardens on the same day.
Police spokesperson, Andre Traut, said, “The exact value of the abalone confiscated during the two operations is yet to be determined. However, it is estimated to be several million rand.”
The Two Ocean Aquarium in Cape Town is once again putting its weight behind the banning of the single-use plastic bag. According to the press, the Aquarium is supporting the EcoBricks awareness campaign, created in an attempt to offer an alternate solution to the use of plastic bags, which so often contribute to the multitude of plastic polluting our oceans.
The EcoBrick is a “brick” made from plastic two litre bottles. The idea is to encourage the public to form the habit of stuffing paper and plastic (particularly single-use plastic bags) into the bottles. When the bottle is full it can be dropped off at various pick up points around the city. The bottles are then used as building materials to create sustainable homes, schools and furniture.
July has been proclaimed Plastic Free July and the Aquarium has called for a complete ban on single-use plastic shopping bags in South Africa through its Rethink the Bag campaign.
Eight fishermen remain missing after their vessel capsized at Cape St Francis over the weekend.
According to the press one fisherman died in the accident, five wee rescued and eight remain missing after an extensive air, sea and shoreline search by the NSRI.
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.
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.
According to the press, chemicals and energy group Sasol’s share price fell 3.02 percent to R409.26 on the JSE this week. This after the company announced an expected 44 percent drop in its headline earnings.
The company has attributed the fall to currency losses and a strike at its Secunda mining operations.
The NSRI were in action this weekend. According to the press three crew-members were rescued and treated for shock after their ski-boat, the Mi Lady, capsized off Strand Beach.
The three Strand residents were in the water for more than an hour before they were rescued.
In a separate incident two men, aged 44 and 53, were rescued from a sinking yacht that they were transporting from Durban to Mossel Bay. The NSRI were once again called to action. The rescue involved the use of an NSRI rescue vessel, as well as an NSRI rescue helicopter.
Also making headlines this week was a shooting incident between to suspected perlemoen smuggling gangs, which took place near Gansbaai, resulting in the death of one of the gang members.
It is suspected that the violence between the gangs broke out due to inflated pricing of poached perlemeon by one of the gangs.
Cape Town maritime enthusiasts were treated to a splendid sight this week, as the Queen Mary 2 visited Table Bay Harbour for a brief two-day visit.
According to the press the 14 year-old vessel is the world’s only operational ocean liner (not cruise liner) and was originally built in 2002 to replace the ageing Queen Elizabeth 2.
South Africa’s research ships are back in the news this week, well at least one. The Ellen Khuzwayo has returned to operation and has already completed a number of research projects.
Nautic Africa, one of the companies that was awarded the tender to manage and repair the vessel, has stated that there has been “a significant survey gap” during the seven months that the vessel was inactive. The vessel is equipped with an acoustic laboratory, hydrology wet and dry laboratories, a wet fish room and an operation’s room and has already made several voyages to gather data designed to determine shark longline quotas.
Also in the news this week, Premier Helen Zille has made the announcement that the aquaculture industry on the West Coast is to be expanded, along with abalone and salmon farming, creating as many as 2 600 jobs and increasing abalone production to 1000 tons per year.
A Taiwanese-owned vessel due to be auctioned by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) made headlines this week. The vessel, either named the Naham 4 or the Derhorng 596, has been under investigation by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) since early 2013 on suspicion of illegal fishing in South Africa’s exclusive fishing zone.
The vessel was detained in April last year, and following the seizure the owners abandoned the vessel, leaving the vessel’s agent with a debt of over R1 million.
According to Godfrey Needham, the ship’s curator appointed by the NPA, about 10 ships have been detained over the past year, but the actual auctioning of detained ships is not a frequent event.