Weekly Press Review – 27 May 2016

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has made headlines this week with the announcement that Commander Tsietsi Mokhele has resigned as CEO with immediate effect.

The press have reported that no further information has been provided by SAMSA regarding the resignation of Mokhele or his future plans.  Operational head, Sobantu Tilayi will be stepping in as acting CEO.

Also making headlines this week is the news that three more Chinese vessels illegally navigating South African fishing waters have been arrested. The vessels were arrested after a combined operation between SANDF, Department of Fisheries and SAMSA.

The three captured vessels were escorted to the East London harbour by the the navy supply vessel, the SAS Drakensberg and fisheries inspection vessel Sarah Baartman.

The captains of  the three vessels appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday and the case was postponed for further investigation until 16 June.  The crew have to remain in port aboard their vessel until the matter is settled.

The Oceana Group has also made headlines this week with the sale of their Lamberts Bay Foods to JSE-listed Famous Brands. Lamberts Bay Foods was established in 1995 by Oceana as a social responsibility project and has subsequently matured into a viable commercial operation.

Weekly Press Review – 20 May 2016

There seems to be an unhappy buzz in the maritime industry this week regarding the “escape” of eight Chinese fishing trawlers illegally navigating South African fishing waters over the weekend. A ninth vessel was arrested.

According to the press the vessels were first spotted around Durban, Port St Johns and Cape Recife, where they were suspected of fishing illegally. On Thursday the fisheries patrol vessel, the Victoria Mxenga, was sent to search for the vessels.

The vessels were discovered and appeared to co-operate, agreeing to be escorted to the Port of Saldanha for proper inspection. However, enroute the vessels split into two group and raced away at high speed. The Victoria Mxenga managed to capture one of the nine vessels, but the others escaped.

The problem seems to be that only one patrol vessel was sent out to address the problem and to bring the vessels into harbour. This was clearly not enough to deal with nine vessels and Pieter van Dalen of the DA-LP is now criticising DAFF saying that the vessels escaped due to the fact that the South African coastline is simply not sufficiently protected.

Although no fish were found on the captured vessel, the Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186, fishing equipment was found. It was found that the vessel had contravened the Marine Living Resources Act by entering the South African exclusive economic zone without a valid permit and had failed to comply with lawful instructions by a fisheries control officer, among other offences.

Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has instructed the South African Navy to assist with the chase of the remaining eight vessels.

Weekly Press Review – 13 May 2016

The big maritime news this week was the announcement that after several years of being based in Copenhagen, Safmarine will be moving its head-office back to Cape Town.

Safmarine was founded in South Africa in 1946, taken over by Maersk Line in 1999 and in 2012 the head-offices were moved to Copenhagen.

Vincent Clerc of Safmarine was quoted in the press as saying that as Africa is at the core of the Safmarine strategy, it made sense to move the head-office back to Cape Town.

This week the press also made mention of the shockingly high number of perlemoen already lost to poaching since the beginning of the year. Since the start of 2016, and in the Western Cape alone, a total of 465,351 perlemoen have been poached with an estimated value of R166 million.

Measures are in place to try to stop the ongoing surge of perlemeon poaching with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) working with several other players, including the South African police force, as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), but so far the tide of poaching has not been stemmed.

According to DAFF Minister Zenzeni Zokwana, most of the poached perlemoen is exported to eastern countries.

In a bizarre story also making headlines this week, a resident of Glencairn in the Cape has been arrested for having penguin eggs in his possession.

Apparently the suspect stole the eggs from the Boulders colony, which is part of the Table Mountain National Park and falls under SANParks.

Francois Louw, of the South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, said, “The African Penguin is an endangered species. The population in South Africa is 25,000 breeding pairs, which is critical to the survival of the species. We don’t condone actions that jeopardise the survival of eggs or penguins.”

The 30-year old suspect was arrested on Wednesday and has already appeared in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on charges of the illegal possession of penguin eggs.

Weekly Press Review – 1 April 2016

An amendment to the Marine Living Resources Act now allows small-scale fishers to form co-operatives.  According to the press a group of approximately 100 fishers gathered in Langa this week to register a co-operative.

The hope is that this system will allow fishing communities to benefit with the formation of co-operatives.

However, the general feeling amongst local fishers is that there is little hope of this new system actually working. “You cannot grant a permit to someone who lives in Johannesburg because he is a commercial fisher instead of a traditional fisher like me.  You are inviting poaching.

“How do I live without fishing as it is the only trade I have known my whole life.  I will go to the sea at night and steal,” said 67-year old traditional fisher Bhekumzi Mhlongo.

According to Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) small-scale fisheries management director, Craig Smith, Langa was the first of 280 communities in the country to register for co-operatives.

After registration it will be determined how many of these fishers meet the selection criteria.  They will then be assisted by DAFF to apply for small-scale fishing rights in November.

“We want one small-scale fishing co-operative per community,” said Smith adding that DAFF hoped to create a fundamental shift in its approach to the small-scale fishing sector.

The Two Oceans Aquarium has asked people to be on the look out for baby loggerhead turtles washing up on local beaches.  According to the press between April and June each year juvenile loggerhead turtles wash up along the Western Cape coast, particularly at Struisbaai and Yzerfontein.

Last year the aquarium rescued and rehabilitated a record 200 turtles and they are hoping to achieve the same success rate this year.  They have asked beachgoers to please not return the young turtles to the water, but rather to pick them up and deliver them to the Two Ocean Aquarium or any other local animal rehabilitation centre.

They do not need to be kept wet as they are often suffering from hypothermia.  Aquarium spokesperson, Renee Leeuwner, asks that people keep the young turtles warm and dry and deliver them in a container with ample air holes.  It is also important to note where exactly the turtle was found.

These young turtles can take over a year to rehabilitate

 

 

 

Weekly Press Review – 13 November 2015

Environmental concerns have featured predominantly in the press this week.

A large glacier in Greenland has become unmoored and has started to crumble into the Atlantic Ocean.  The result could be an increase in water levels of up to 45 cm.

A research team from the University of California have been studying the glacier in question using satellite imagery.  According to research published in Science, the glacier is losing mass at a rate of five billion tons a year.

According to scientists the shape and dynamics of the glacier have changed dramatically over the last few years and it is now breaking up and calving high volumes of icebergs into the ocean, resulting in rising sea levels for years to come.

Senior author, Eric Rignot, said, “The top of the glacier is melting away as a result of decades of steadily increasing air temperatures, while its underside is compromised by currents carrying warmer ocean water.”

Also making headlines is the concern voiced by Italian scientist Sara Andreotti that great white sharks along the South African coast do not have enough genetic diversity to survive a lethal disease or major change in the environment and are therefore at higher risk of extinction.

Andreotti and her team conducted research over a four year period aboard a catamaran focusing on shark hotspots along the South African coast from Port Nolloth to Port Elizabeth.

Andreotti believes that future conservation measures need to take the low gene pool into account.  “A starting point would be to stop killing them legally, to stop the shark nets and baited hooks in Kwa-Zulu Natal that are designed to kill them.  The white shark population … is not as healthy as we thought,” says Andreotti.

Another perlemoen arrest has made headlines this week.  Two men were arrested on a small holding in Gordons Bay in possession of perlemoen with an estimated value of R1.5 million.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) was called in to count the perlemoen.  There were 81 fresh perlemoen and 13 160 dried perlemoen.  the two men will appear in the Strand Magistrates Court on Monday.

Weekly Press Review – 16 October 2015

The international FishCRIME symposium has made headlines this week.  The symposium, a joint initiative by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the Norwegian government and two NGOs, Stop Illegal Fishing and PescaDOLUS, took place at the CTICC in Cape Town earlier in the week..

The key note address was delivered by Eve de Coning of Interpol, Oslo.  De Coning said that crimes in the fishing sector had four common denominators:

  • They occurred across international borders
  • There was usually more than one crime involved
  • There was a high degree of secrecy in company and vessel ownership, and
  • Many jurisdictions made prosecution extremely difficult.

Crimes in the fishing sector globally include not only illegal fishing, but also tax and custom evasion, fraud, forged documentation, money laundering, drugs and weapons smuggling and illegal labour practices.

DAFF’s head of fisheries enforcement, Ceba Mtoba, said that fishing crimes were run by global criminal networks and South Africa needed to be part of a global network in order to effectively address the problems.

The pollution of our oceans has also made headlines this week with a visit by members of the round-the-world Race for Water Odyssey to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town.

The odyssey, initiated by the Race for Water Foundation, began in France in March and hopes to make the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the oceans from its trimaran.

Board member, Franklin Servan-Schreiber said, “Fifty percent of oxygen we owe to tiny plankton we don’t even see, but dust plastic is affecting the plankton’s ability to produce oxygen.”

Approximately 80 percent of the rubbish in the ocean is plastic.  According to Marco Simeoni, president of the Race for Water Foundation, despite the massive scale of plastic waste in the ocean, not much is known about it.

The team hopes to assess plastic pollution on remote islands in the oceans five main rubbish hotspots with the aim of determining the type of plastic, as well as its toxicity to marine life.

Perlemoen with an estimated value of R17 million was confiscated on the Cape Flats this week.  According to the press the police worked through the night counting the illegally poached perlemoen – the biggest haul of the year thus far.

No suspects have as yet been arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

Weekly Press Review – 21 August 2015

This week’s marine-related press reports focused on the make-up of the Fisheries Minster’s advisory panel which consists of Julian Smith, Mamakhe Mdhluli and Shaheen Moolla.

 

Lya Louw, founder of the Meermin Visserye CC in Lamberts Bay has voiced her concern about Moolla, of Feike Natural Resource Management Advisers, being on the Ministerial Appeals Advisory Panel which deals with appeals arising out of the 2013 Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP).

She feels that Moolla will not be able to remain unbiased as his family has interests in the fishing industry.  In 2012 Moolla was associated with the fishing company Meermin who approached him for assistance in the management of a 15-year fishing quota.  Moolla was Meermin’s legal representative for the sale agreement and Louw feels that the fact that Moolla’s wife was one of the respondents represents a clear conflict of interest.

Moolla has responded by saying that in the Meermin transaction, he merely served as a legal adviser and prepared the agreements and related documents.

“There is nothing that prevents my family from investing in the fishing industry as it is a sector we understand and know,” said Moolla.

Steve Galane, spokesman for Minister Senzeni Zokwana, said that Moolla had been appointed because of his knowledge  and experience in the fishing sector.

Galane added, “The Minister is happy with the work of the Appeals Advisory Team that has started working on the appeals.  Minister Zokwana would like to see this process coming to finalisation.”