Weekly Press Review – 6 June 2014

The Sharks International Conference made it into the newspapers this week as it saw the launch of a global strategy to protect the endangered sawfish.  The sawfish faces a greater risk of extinction than any other marine fish at present primarily due to fishing, but also due to trawling where bycatch becomes an issue.  The fish’s long toothed snout easily gets caught in all kinds of fishing nets.  They are fished for their meat and their rostra (snouts) which are sold as curios.

At present there is a CITES ban on international commercial trade in sawfish and the strategy hopes to work in conjunction with this ban, calling for the national and regional outlawing of the intentional killing of sawfish.

Also making headlines was the seizure of pangolin scales. Amid concerns over ever increasing levels of illegal trade in various threatened wildlife, this week Hong Kong customs made the largest seizure of endangered African pangolin, discovering over 1000kg of pangolin scales in a shipping container originating in South Africa.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), international trade in pangolin is banned.  However due to huge demands for pangolin flesh and scales from China, along with the willingness to pay exceptionally high prices, wildlife-trafficking remains a sad reality.

Some news of investment in the fishing industry rounded off the headlines this week. It was announced this week that I&J has made a R500 million investment in three new fishing vessels and well as the upgrading of a fish factory in Woodstock.  The investment will create up to 75 new jobs.

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Weekly Press Review – 15 March 2013

Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is back in the news this week. This time the minister is being sued by Sue Middleton, chief director of fisheries operations, for defamation of character after she allegedly made statements to the press saying that Middleton had been found guilty of financial mismanagement. Middleton is suing for R1 million.

The minister claims that the statements she made were ‘substantially true’ and were published in the public interest.

‘Substantially true’ sounds a little suspect already. It will be interesting to see how this case unfolds in the media.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has this week made large inroads to slow the illegal trade in shark fins. The illegal trade of sharks is driven primarily by the huge demand for fin soup in Asia. Passing with a two thirds majority CITES has ensured that fins may be bought and sold only if the trade is certified sustainable.

At last, some action to protect our sea life. Perhaps South Africa’s abalone will make the cut next time.

A simulated maritime disaster also made the papers as ‘Operation Beachy’, took place in Table Bay this week. Authorities simulated an emergency evacuation of a passenger liner which had run aground.

For the purposes of the exercise, 23 organisations were called to action as the SA Navy frigate, the SAS Spioenkop, played the role of the stricken vessel. And what a stricken vessel: the simulation involved the vessel floundering with no engine power due to an explosion in the engine room; the captain incapacitated due to a heart attack and several passengers burned and injured.

Let us hope that the appropriate people received the appropriate training and gained the required skills needed to handle this kind of emergency, otherwise the renaming of the SAS Spioenkop during exercise as the ‘Costa Lot’ would certainly best describe the exercise.

Hopefully making its last appearance in the press this week is the Seli 1. After four years, the SA Navy, financed by the Department of Transport to the tune of R20 million, will complete the last of the explosions this week designed to finally collapse the vessel, allowing what remains to sink to the seabed and be dispersed by the winter ocean currents.