Weekly Press Review – 13 February 2015

Officials in Elands Bay have been battling a severe case of red tide in the area this week.  There have been several headlines throughout the week describing how authorities are wading through hundreds of tons of West Coast Rock Lobster which washed up on the beaches in the area.  Live specimens were removed, placed in tanks and later relocated to safer waters and the remaining dead animals were taken to local dumps for fear of them being washing back into the ocean.

Red tide is caused by phytoplankton in the water which drastically lowers oxygen levels causing the death of many sea creatures, including West Coast Rock Lobster.

Lionel Adendorf, Director of Communications Services for DAFF was part of the clean-up operation, but also took the opportunity to warn the public that should anyone be found with any of the rock lobster in their possession they would be fined or arrested unless they had the appropriate permit allowing them to fish for West Coast Rock Lobster.

The Costa Concordia also made headlines this week as the captain of the stricken vessel heard his fate in an Italian court room.  Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the 2012 shipwreck which led to the deaths of 32 people.  He was found guilty of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.

Schettino has admitted some responsibility, but denied any blame for the deaths that occurred during the evacuation.

Costa Cruises, the owners of the ocean liner,  was also held liable for the accident and was ordered to pay a 1 million Euro fine, as well as 30 000 Euros compensation to each passenger on board and millions of Euros in compensation to the Italian government, the region of Tuscany and the island of Giglio for environmental damage.

The Greenpeace sailing boat, Rainbow Warrior is in the news this week as she docked in Cape Town en route to Port Elizabeth and Durban.  The public is invited on board the vessel free of charge this weekend to learn about the activities of the Greenpeace group.

Weekly Press Review – 22 August 2014

It would seem that the police can only do so much in the fight against abalone poaching, matters are now in the hands of the country’s legal system. It was reported in the press this week that the case against 25 members of a major abalone syndicate has been postponed for another two weeks.

Two of the accused, husband and wife Frank and Josephine Barends, have lodged an application for a stay of prosecution.  The two week delay is to allow the couple a chance to make final admissions or enter plea agreements.  The trial has not yet begun.

The Costa Concordia was back in the news this week with South African company Xtreme Projects and Kevin Kelly grabbing the headlines.  There is a huge amount of local pride around the raising of the stricken vessel and the role that South Africans played in the salvage operation.  Kelly and Xtreme Projects were responsible for the large orange booms that surrounded the vessel during the operation.  The booms were designed to prevent any oil or other waste products that may have leaked from the vessel during the salvage operation from reaching the coast or moving out to sea.

Kelly was quoted as saying that he had no idea it would become such a big story.  “I am still a little shocked.”

Adding to the wave of positivity around the salvaging of the Costa Concordia, Nick Sloane, widely regarded as the master mind behind the greatest salvage operation in history, also made headlines this week.

Sloane has been described as a hero and a rock star by the international press and in an interview with a local newspaper he described some of the challenges faced when undertaking the massive salvage operation.  In the end he said that it was the words of Nelson Mandela that inspired him, ”Everything looks impossible, and then you do it!”

Another wandering seal has been sighted at Misty Cliffs beach near Scarborough.  It was reported in the press that, according to Luke Kruyt of TEARS Animal Rescue, the seal seemed to be in good health and would no doubt move on within a few days.  The leopard seal is thousands of kilometres away from its home in Antarctica.

Members of the public have be warned to stay away from the seal if they come across it, as leopard seals can be aggressive.

Weekly Press Review – 25 July 2014

The final journey of the ill-fated Costa Concordia has continued to make headlines this week.   In what is being described as the greatest salvage operation in history, the righted and raised vessel has slowly been towed to its final destination, Genoa in Northern Italy.  She will now be scrapped.  A sad end for a once beautiful vessel.

It would seem that shark barriers are big business.  In the press this week is yet another proposal for yet another device designed to keep the sharks along the coast of False Bay at bay.

The Kwazulu-Natal Sharks Board is planning a series of experiments to be conducted along the False Bay coast later in the year and in early 2015.  The tests will use electric cables as a potential alternative to more traditional shark nets. According to Geremy Cliff, head of research at the KZN Sharks Board, funding had been allocated to pursue research into electric shark repellent technologies.

He added that the KZN Sharks Board was committed to trying to find alternative options to protect bathers and at the same time reduce the death rate of large sharks, dolphins, turtles and other marine species.   These technologies were apparently originally looked at in the 1990’s.

Also making the headlines this week is the news that the latest round of oil and gas drilling has begun offshore South Africa.  The companies involved in this particular project are Total and Canadian National Resources.  Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi visited the Eirik Raude at Block 11B/12B in the exploration block Brulpadda 1AX approximately 180 km south of Mossel Bay.  The minster was quoted as saying that he is holding his breath waiting for a call from Total saying that they have found oil.

The wait is now on to see whether this site has anything to offer the South Africa oil and gas industry – which is desperate for a find.

Weekly Press Review – 18 July 2014

The Costa Concordia and the salvage team responsible for resurrecting the stricken vessel, headed by Capetonian Nick Sloane,  have made headlines this week as the luxury vessel was refloated in one of the largest salvage operations in history.  The liner capsized two-and-a-half years ago off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people.  A year ago it was righted and has been resting on a temporary platform waiting to be refloated.

The vessel will now be raised a further two metres to allow it to be moved to the harbour, after which tugs are on standby to tow it to Genoa in northern Italy where it will be scrapped.

Sloane is not the only South African involved in the salvage operation.  Kevin Kelly, managing director of Xtreme Projects has also played a part, supplying the orange containment booms surrounding the vessel.

Another proudly South African operation.  Congratulations to the team on a job well done.

In yet another attempt to deter sharks from coming too close to our country’s most popular beaches, a group of developers have come up with a new eco-friendly shark barrier and are hoping to secure funding for the project.

The “Sharksafe” barrier is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional shark nets and is made up of a combination of permanent magnets and artificial “forests” of plastic pipes that look similar to underwater kelp.  The goal would be to use this kelp deterrent as an alternative to more traditional and lethal systems used in Kwazulu-Natal and Australia.  Traditional nets aim to catch sharks where these “kelp nets” aim to merely deter.

A year long trial of the product, involving more than 60 sharks, showed that no sharks ventured through the “kelp”.

This is certainly something to get excited about, especially with the ongoing shark culling in Australia.  It would be fantastic to see our government get behind this project and protect these beautiful creatures, as well as beach goers, but also to set an example to the rest of the world that traditional shark nets are not the only option.

Weekly Press Review – 20 September 2013

South African maritime salvors have made the headlines this week with the righting of the Costa Concordia cruise ship from the Italian reef where it has been stuck for well over a year. It’s a pleasure to see the local as well as international media focus this operation has generated.

Never before has such a large vessel been righted. The salvage team was headed by Capetonian, Nick Sloane. Sloane previously worked for Smit Amandla Marine and was salvage master on many wrecks along our shores, but the Costa Concordia represents his first battle against a passenger ship, and particularly one of this size. Those in the know credit him as being the man to get the job done. Dave Murray of Smit Amandla Marine was quoted saying, “A job like this, most people would run a mile, but for Nick it’s a challenge, and he thrives on challenge.”

After a 19-hour operation, and many months of preparation, the vessel was righted. “I am relieved. It was a bit of a roller-coaster. The scale of it is something we’ve never seen before,” said Sloane.

This serves as another example of individuals from South Africa’s maritime industry making waves in other countries and leading the way forward. And the full operation included the input from many more South African individuals as well as companies.

Another Capetonian in the news this week is innovator Alan Fleming, who has created a fish farm in a shipping container. We have seen these large containers being recycled for many interesting purposes before, but never as a fish farm and this innovation has made it to the final round of a global competition.

The farm produces four tons of fish per year and has been selected as a finalist in the Siemens Stiftung’s Empowering People Award. The winner is to be announced next month.

Fleming said that he is overjoyed. “It is a prestigious award recognised globally.”

Weekly Press Review – 19 July 2013

An interesting application of the Marine Living Resources Act  made the news this week. A Paarl man has been arrested for salting and preserving fish without a permit. According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) all fish-processing establishments as defined in section 18(1) of the act needed permits.

“The Marine Living Resources Act does not prescribe the amount, it only states that the salting of fish is processing and one requires a permit therefore,” said Carol Moses, spokeswoman for the department’s fisheries branch. The concern is obviously that this could put small fish shops and informal sellers out of business.

The department has now begun the task of “systematically addressing outlets.” Surely this will be a time consuming process which can only add to the pressure on an already stretched department.

The disgraced captain of the Costa Concordia also made the news again. Francesco Schettino, is facing the music as he faces charges of abandoning ship and manslaughter after the sinking of the cruise liner in 2012.

He has asked for a plea bargain deal in which he would serve just over three years if he admits responsibility. According to the chief prosecutor, there is “no doubt” of Schettino’s guilt. All that must be decided is “how long a sentence he will get.”

Labelled as “Italy’s most hated man” by the Italian press, it would seem that the court of public opinion is not keen to show any leniency. It will, however, be the responsibility of the court to decide the fate of a man who obviously made a terrible mistake and then chose to put his own safety above the safety of the souls that he was directly responsible for.