Weekly Press Review – 7 November 2016

An 8,000 ton experimental fishing programme has made headlines this week with the government going to court to defend the programme, which according to scientists could have decimated a valuable fishery.

A bid by several large fishing companies was made to have the experimental horse mackerel permit set aside on the grounds that it was illegal and contravened scientific advice.

Fishing associations say that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is now trying to take credit for a settlement setting aside the granting of the experimental horse mackerel fishing permit to Global Pact after it was revealed that the department had conceded to review its decision to allocate an additional 8,000 tons to Global Pact.

The department has said that The South African Deepsea Trawling Industry (SADSTIA) and Midwater Trawling Associations and others abandoned their interdict application.

SADSTA and Midwater Trawling Associations executive secretary Johann Augustyn responded by saying, “This is an attempt to whitewash the whole thing. We did not abandon the interdict. It was agreed by both parties that the interdict would serve no purpose because it was too close to review. It was too close to review because DAFF weren’t ready to present their papers and asked for a postponement.” Augustyn added that they were convinced that the permit had been issued illegally and this was vindicated.

DAFF Minister Senzeni Zokwana’s spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo responded by saying that the department remained committed to restructuring the horse mackerel industry.

A group of small-scale fishers from Langebaan have made headlines this week as they celebrated a legal victory setting aside a government decision stopping them from fishing for harders in a section of the Langebaan lagoon.

The Western Cape High Court declared the restrictive conditions imposed on traditional fishers by DAFF as arbitrary, irrational and unconstitutional.

Judge Mark Sher, who presided over the matter, has said that it would be inappropriate of him to make an order granting fishers some other right, but urged officials in the departments concerned to please engage with the fishers.

The fishing vessel, the Verano, which caught alight in the Cape Town harbour also caught the press’s attention this week. The vessel has been burning for four days and there are now major concerns regarding oil pollution. On Sunday a special pipe was laid in the water around the vessel in an attempt to stop the oil from moving out of the harbour and into the ocean.

Weekly Press Review – 31 October 2016

 The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has issued a provisional list of 126 fishing communities, but press reports state that small-scale fishers are adamant that they will appeal the list.

DAFF small-scale fishers director, Craig Smith, said that many traditional fishers do not have permit records to substantiate their claims as small-scale fishers, adding that DAFF elected to involve communities in the verification of community fishers as part of the prescribed small-scale fishing regulations.

“The department does not know the community members to decide whether they meet the small-scale fisher criteria or not. Hence DAFF requested community members to elect community panel members to assist DAFF with the verification of fishers,” said Smith adding that in many cases community members were excluded by their own elected panel.

According to Smith the list is likely to increase with the assessment of appeals and after all appeals have been thoroughly assessed, the department will announce a final list of successful small-scale fishers.

A new research trip to Marion Island has made headlines this week. A team of more than 50 scientists from South Africa and abroad will join the Russian research vessel, Akademik Tryoshnikov, for a plankton study on the island later this year.

It is hoped that the study will reveal why there is not more life in the nutrient rich Southern Ocean.

UCT oceanographer Sarah Fawcett said that the ship leaves Cape Town on December 20 and the study will cover everything from biodiversity and whales to bird life, interaction between winds, waves, currents and ice and the problems a caused by plastic pollution.

The City has launched a Shark Spotters app aimed at enhancing beach safety this summer.

According to the press the Shark Spotters app provides water users with current and accurate shark safety information on their smartphones, giving beach-goers the opportunity to make informed decisions on shark risks before arriving at the beach.

“We believe the Shark Spotters app will be an essential beach safety and information tool for all water users in Cape Town during the upcoming beach season. This app will provide keen surfers and swimmers with specific information about their favourite beach spots even before they travel to them,” said Mayco member for energy, environment and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe.

The Antarctica’s Ross Sea has been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). According to the press the announcement, which was made at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, is regarded as a victory and historic moment in the history of conservation.

The move marks the first time that a large-scale MPA has been established on the high seas.

Weekly Press Review – 24 October 2016

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, was quoted in the press this week saying that an increase in the southern bluefin tuna allocation in South Africa is essential for job creation, and will provide permanent employment in the sector.

The Commission for Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) has decided to increase the country’s allocation from 150 tons to 423 tons. Minister Sokwana has hailed the decision saying that it would inject much needed export revenue for South Africa.

“It is estimated that the 450 ton increase could be worth R270 million. Depending on the foreign exchange rate, it could create about 1,000 jobs for the unemployed,” said Minister Zokwana.

Small-scale fishers should be able to reap the benefit of the new fishing rights to be allocated by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) scheduled for the end of October.

According to the press the fishing industry, which is dominated by the big players, will now also benefit communities living on South Africa’s coastlines.

Minister Zokwana said that the department wanted to bring in more black people living on the coastline by allocating the new fishing rights to them.

According to deputy director-general for Fisheries Siphokazi Ndudane, the department would allocate rights to 10 sectors, which include abalone, lobster, tuna, horse mackerel, hake-in-shore and the Kwazulu-Natal seine fishing.

“It is important because there was a lot of injustice that was done in the past,” said Ndudane.

However, the press has also reported this week that disgruntled small-scale fishers have slated DAFF saying that its verification process is flawed.

According to the Masifundise Development Trust (MDT), most fishers who meet DAFF’s criteria have been excluded from the provisional list.

“The verification process was flawed. DAFF must be sensitive to the plight of small-scale fishers. They did everything required of them, but still they’re excluded. We will definitely appeal,” says MDT director, Naseegh Jaffer.

Weekly Press Review – 14 October 2016

Long-term fishers from the West Coast rock lobster and abalone sectors gave a sigh of relief this week with the news that they have been exempted from applying for commercial rights for the 2016/2017 season.

According to the press the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) made the decision in order to enable it to process a “substantial number” of applications, including new entrants into the sector.

The department’s assessment team along with the delegated authority, require sufficient time to properly assess and evaluate the applications in the two fishing sectors.

Just in time for this year’s holiday season, 10 Cape Town beaches have achieved the highly valued Blue Flag status.

The press has made mention of the 10 beaches who have attained full Blue Flag status for the upcoming 2016/17 summer season. They are:

  • Melkbosstrand
  • Clifton 4th beach
  • Camps Bay
  • Llandudno
  • Fish Hoek
  • Muizenberg
  • Strandfontein
  • Mnandi
  • Bikini Beach
  • Silwerstroomstrand

Mayco member for community services, Anda Ntsodo, said that the City had worked hard to ensure that Cape Town’s beaches were clean, safe and full of fun activities for holidaymakers.

 

 

 

Weekly Press Review – 7 October 2016

The press has reported this week that South Africa will invest up to R50.55 billion at ports in both Richard’s Bay and Coega to build infrastructure for a gas-to-power programme aimed at easing the country’s dependence on coal.

The Department of Energy has said that a plant at Richard’s Bay will generate 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from liquefied natural gas imports and the Coega industrial development zone will generate another 1,000MW.

The government will be seeking bidders to manage the project.

Also making headlines this week is a challenge against the awarding of an R80 million experimental fishing permit to Global Pact Trading in response to several companies crying foul over its lawfulness and alleged bias

The South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry and 21 other companies have taken the minister, deputy director-general and chief director of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), as well as Global Pact Trading to court to have the permit set aside.

It has been reported that advocate Shaheen Moolla, appointed to defend the case, helped the owner of Global Pact Trading to secure the successful bid for the permit. Johann Augustyn, executive secretary of the SA Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association argued that this was a conflict of interest, adding that the permit was awarded to Global Pact Trading for an ulterior purpose or motive and in bad faith.

Moolla responded by saying, “You can’t be conflicted when you did not participate in any of the decisions and when you are advising parties who essentially stand on the same side of the litigation divide.”

There is also further controversy surrounding DAFF’s three-year fishing rights allocation, which was handed out last month.

According to the press small-scale fishers intend to appeal the process, stating that the three-year rights allocations were barely sufficient and demanded that this be extended to lifelong rights as their livelihoods depend on the sea and what the sea supplies them.

DAFF spokesperson, Palesa Mokomele, said that fishers had 30 days to object to the rights allocation.

“Fishers should also provide reasons for why they object to the duration of the right. A fishing rights allocation process would be required in order to allocate new rights,” said Mokomele.

Most of the fishers are located in the Western Cape.

The SA Agulhas II has made headlines again this week with her return to Cape Town harbour following another 13-month visit to Gough Island.

The vessel’s latest expedition has once again been regarded as a success. Dr Greg Hofmeyr, head of scientific research on Gough Island said, “We are very satisfied with the results of the research done.”

The research has provided new information regarding the weather, sea birds, seals and, as well as the mouse plague on the island.

Another vessel making headlines this week is the Nujoma, a brand new diamond-exploration vessel which docked in Cape Town harbour this week.

The vessel, which was built in Norway, is receiving some finishing touches while in Cape Town before heading on to the Namibian coast to begin service.

The vessel is part of a joint project between Debmarine Namibia, the Namibian government and De Beers and was built for diamond exploration in deep water. According to the De Beers website the vessel cost R1.9 million to build.

Weekly Press Review – 30 September 2016

Small-scale fishers have voiced their displeasure at the 2015 regulation forcing them to form one co-operative per community.

According to the press this week the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is insisting that each community be allowed to form only one co-operative.

Speaking at a national workshop organised by the Masifundise Development Trust, Oliver Schutz said, “This regulation is forcing people to have one co-operative. We do not know how much is going to be in the basket. This will further reduce their fishing rights.”

DAFF small-scale fisheries director, Craig Smith says that marine resources are limited and therefore cannot support the proliferation of co-operatives, that was why only one co-operative per community could be allowed under the new regulation.

Trust spokesperson Nosipho Singiswa said that fishers are still waiting for DAFF to complete the identification, verification and registration process and then decide on appealing the regulation and fishing rights.

This week saw the HMS Portland sail into Durban harbour. The Type 23 frigate, part of the British Royal Navy, made headlines as the eighth ship to bear the name and the 15th and penultimate ship of the “Duke” class of frigates.

Also making headlines this week was the 17th Conference of Parties (CoP17), which took place in Sandton, Johannesburg.

For the first time the European Union (EU) is participating as a full member of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), seeking stricter international measures against wildlife trafficking in line with the EU action plan on wildlife trafficking.

The conference is aimed at providing a forum for parties to review the implementation of the Cites convention, which covers more than 35,000 plants and animals, ensuring that trade remains legal, traceable, and sustainable.

Weekly Press Review – 22 September 2016

According to the press this week, residents of the Overberg region had the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the ongoing perlemoen poaching and the effects that it seems to be having on increased gang violence, drug abuse and prostitution in the area at a committee meeting of the provincial committee of economic opportunity.

Anne Lubbe, head of human resources at Abagold, one of South Africa’s main perlemoen providers said, “Perlemoen is now about many more issues. It is an exit and income for many, but for others the consequences are worse than ever.

Everyone is jumping in the ocean for perlemoen. There is no control over perlemoen poaching. The poachers get the perlemoen, they receive no cash, they get drugs. These drugs have to be sold to make money. School children are used to sell the drugs.”

In response, Col. Jacques Visser of the Hawks in the Western Cape said, “We have successfully pursued 145 cases and arrested more than 400 people. These cases are now in the courts.”

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, DAFF, was not represented at the committee meeting.

In response to low freight and oil prices, Denmark’s Moller- Maersk will spilt itself and focus on transport and logistics, while simultaneously continuing to seek a way out of energy in a much anticipated revamp aimed at reviving its fortunes.

According to the press the conglomerate will focus on its core businesses: Maersk Line, APM Terminals, Damco, Svitzer and Maersk Container Industry, while also looking for solutions for its smaller energy operations.

The news was received cautiously by investors. “It might be one of the most pain-free solutions relative to other scenarios, but they could have gone even further,” said Nykredit analyst Ricky Rasmussen.

Work on the R1.3 billion mixed use development at the gateway to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town has made headlines this week.

“The Yacht Club” is being developed by the Amdec Group and will comprise a hotel as well as  modern urban apartment living in two towers on a podium of premium grade office space.

Nicholas Stopforth, managing director of Amdec, said, “The hotel will have a contemporary four-star grading.” He added that the apartments had proven particularly popular with investors, who had enthusiastically welcomed the massive potential they represented for long-term leases, and owner occupiers. About 20 percent of these buyers are based in Gauteng.