Weekly Press Review – 20 November 2017

The World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) says that West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) stock levels are now at an all-time low and could spell the end of the lone for the fishery.

According to the press this follows the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ (DAFF) decision on the 2017/18 fishing season that the total allowable catch would remain unchanged.

John Duncan, WWF-SA marine programme senior manager, said it was deeply concerning, adding,”This fishery is a critical source of income and livelihood for many small-scale fishing communities in the Western and Northern Cape.  Historically one of South Africa’s most commercially important fisheries, it has declined dramatically over the last 50 years as a result of overfishing to the point where it is now facing the very real threat of commercial extinction within the next five years.”

The share price of South Africa’s largest fishing company, Oceana Group, plunged nearly 14 percent on Friday after it reported that its profits in the year to September had plunged nearly 50 percent.

According to the press the shares on the JSE later in the day recovered to close 6.10 percent down at R80.

 

 

 

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Weekly Press Review – 23 October 2017

Small scale and near-shore fishers walked out of a meeting in Cape Town with deputy-director for fisheries, Siphokazi Ndudane, this week, stating that her explanations relating to the suspension of the West Coast rock lobster fishing rights allocation were not sufficient.

According to the press, a range of issues were raised at the meeting. Hout Bay Fishers Community Trust spokesperson said, “We are asking for Ndudane and the minister to postpone the proposed reductions (of fishing allocations) on the rock lobster and stop the offshore allocations of commercial companies.

“The new fishing season starts next month and we have been waiting weeks for them to provide us with answers.”

No agreement was reached between the fishers and the department with Ndudane saying that legislation could only be changed through the courts.

The press has reported this week that listed chemicals and energy group Sasol’s saleable production for the first quarter of the company’s current financial year increased by 22 percent, compared with the same year.

Small-scale fish production projects may be in jeopardy due to a proposed ban on catching indigenous freshwater fish in the Western Cape for everyone except some private landowners.

According to the press, the ban, proposed by CapeNature, is aimed at conserving species that are being wiped out by hungry invasives such as trout and bass.

The Department if Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), says that CapeNature has no right to impose the ban as all policy decisions rest with the national government.

The department is in the process of developing a policy on inland fisheries intended to empower rural communities to participate in equitable, sustainable resource use.

Due to the ongoing water crisis in the Western Cape, for the first time in history, ships calling in Cape Town are no longer allowed to fill up with fresh water.

According to the press, within the last week Transnet has confirmed a ban on the sale and supply of drinkable fresh water to all vessels calling at Cape Town – urging vessels to fill up further along the coast.

Transnet says, “While it is conceded that these measures may have a negative impact on some business components, so dire is the situation in the city that the port is resolute in its decision in the interest of basic survival of all who have to live in the region.”

This weekend the 17th Annual Cape Town International Boat Show took place at the harbour at the V&A Waterfront.

According to the press, hundreds of boating enthusiasts descended on the harbour and had the opportunity to marvel at the workmanship of both local and international manufacturers of yachts, catamarans, speed boats, paddle boats and accessories.

Weekly Press Review

Police are investigating the robbery of a Gansbaai perlemoen packing and export enterprise. It is believed that the robbery was an inside job.

According to the press nine men arrived at the premises just after 11pm on Sunday night, showing a police identity card in order to gain access to the property.  They then loaded a minibus with an unknown quantity of perlemoen and left the premises, taking three security guards with them.  The guards were found unharmed in the Mitchell’s Plain area on Monday.

The company remains closed while the incident is under investigation.

A letter in the Cape Times this week written by Professor Kevern Cochrane, professor of ichthyology and fisheries science at Rhodes University, addressed the recent and ongoing protests by small-scale and nearshore fishers regarding concerns about possible reductions in the allocations of West Coast rock lobster in the 2017/2018 season.

According to Cochrane the protests centre on two main issues:  the total allowable catch of rock lobster for the coming season and how that will be allocated between the small-scale, nearshore, commercial and offshore commercial sub-sectors.

Cochrane expressed his concern regarding the response to these issues by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

“Rock lobster is a vital resource for thousands of fishers on the West Coast and it would be a disaster for them, as well as for the ecosystem, if the department allowed this already threatened species to decline further.

“History will judge whether the department was able to provide the leadership and guidance to reverse the current decline,” says Cochrane, offering four key steps that he feels the department should take in order to fulfil its social, economic and ecological mandate for  this species and the dependent fisheries.

These are:

  • Senior management must respect and adhere to the scientific advice on the TACs,
  • vague promises that controls will be increased in the future are insufficient,
  • the department should urgently convene a working group, and
  • options consistent with the goals of South Africa’s fisheries policy ned to be identifies, while minimising harm to those who bear the brunt of the necessary reductions in some quotas.

Weekly Press Review – 26 September 2017

Making headlines this week is the news that prominent local business woman, Chichi Maponya, has been accused of hijacking a ship-refuelling deal that was meant to benefit students and poor fishing communities.

It has been confirmed that Maponya, along with her co-directors at Plan BEE Fuel Distributors, are the South African partners in a joint venture with bunkering company, Aegean, to refuel ships off Port Elizabeth.

The deal replaces the Coega Development Corporation as the planned South African partner, who had planned to include several community beneficiaries in the deal – a deal that was authorised by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). Concerns have now been raised that former SAMSA CEO, Tsietsi Mokhele helped pave the way for Maponya and her Plan BEE partners to clinch the deal.

Mokhele, who resigned from SAMSA, is currently a director of Plan BEE.

Coega communications chief, Ayanda Vilakazi said, “We are advised that it was a classic case of opportunistic hijacking of a much-fought-for business opportunity for the Eastern Cape by Gauteng-based black business.

“They were favoured with inside information to usurp the transaction ….having successfully hollowed out the developmental and social impact intent.

“The partnership would have been ground-breaking in its own right and a paradigm shift in terms of the involvement of the South African government and the people of the Eastern Cape in the maritime industry.”

Maponya has denied any wrongdoing and has described the deal as a massive opportunity for the economy.

Also making headlines this week is the announcement that Moller-Maersk has agreed to sell its tanker unit. Maersk tankers will be sold for $1.17 billion (R15.57 billion) to APMH Invest, a holding company of AP Moller Holdings, a controlling shareholder of Maersk.

Following a group of ten fishing organisations marching to the offices of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) last week, a leading fisheries activist has said that DAFF deputy director-general, Siphkazi Ndudane, wasted an opportunity to provide relief to small scale and near shore fishers.

According to the press the group demanded the immediate suspension of the West Coast Rock lobster fishing rights allocation process. According to SA United Fishing Front chairperson, Pedro Garcia, “We felt that the deputy director had ducked and dived on some issues, but more importantly had an opportunity to make a decision on the West Coast rock lobster.

“If there are to be cuts in the allocations of rights, those should come form the larger commercial fishing companies.”

In response Ndudane said that the department is aware that many fishing communities struggle with policies that have been set in place, but the department is committed to serving the 300 fishing communities on the country’s coastline.

The share price of petrochemicals company, Sasol, tanked 7.32 percent this week. According to the press this is due to the announcement by the company that it will be replacing the debt-ridden black empowerment scheme Inzalo with its empowerment structure Khanyisa in a deal valued at R21 billion.

Weekly Press Review – 18 September 2017

The partial sinking of the chartered Robben Island ferry, Thandi, on Friday afternoon has made headlines this week.  According to the press, the vessel began taking on water while returning from the island and the 68 passengers and crew on board had to be rescued.

Senior manager of ferry operations at the Robben Island Museum (RIM), Sandresan Thandroyan, said, “Robben Island Museum is conducting its own internal investigation. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will also be conducting an investigation. RIM will support them throughout the process.”

The vessel has since been towed to Murrays Bay Harbour and stabilised.

Disgruntled fishers stormed the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) offices on the foreshore this week demanding the immediate suspension of the West Coast Rock Lobster fishing rights allocation process.

According to the press, local fishers want the West Coast Rock Lobster offshore allocations shifted from big companies to near shore and small-scale fishers.

The group, representing 10 fishing organisations, including the Hout Bay Fishers Community Trust, Kleinmond Integrated Fishing Forum and Mitchells Plain Fishing Forum, also demanded an immediate meeting with Minister Senzeni Zokwana and other senior officials to address the challenges faced by fishing communities in the area.

Premier Food and Fishing has changed its name to Premier Fishing and Brands Limited.

Chief executive Samir Saban said, “The name change ushers in a new and exciting era for the company following its successful listing earlier this year.”

As part of the International Coastal Clean-up Day started in 1986, the Two Oceans Aquarium invited Capetonians to be part of the 12 million volunteers worldwide and spend two hours picking up litter on Milnerton beach this Saturday.

According to the press, the event included a puppet show for children after the clean-up and volunteers were asked to download the Clean Swell app allowing them to become citizen scientists by tracking their clean-up achievements and at the same time provide valuable data to the Ocean Conservancy’s research data.

Weekly Press Review – 28 August 2017

The sale of Maersk oil and gas assets to Total made headlines this week. Total agreed to buy the oil and gas unit AP Moller-Maersk, paying Maersk with $4.95 billion (R65.03 billion) of its own shares and assuming $2.5bn of the company’s debt.

The board at Grindrod is investigating the possibility of a separate offshore listing process.

According to the press, Mike Hankinson, executive chairman of Grindrod said, “The Grindrod board has for many years reiterated the intention to separate the shipping business from the balance of the group, as it does not believe that the value of the shipping business is fairly reflected in the Grindrod share price.”

The company has said that it has appointed South African and foreign advisers to assist and it is expected that the listing process will be concluded within the first half of next year.

Despite Sasol announcing a 15 percent fall in headline earnings, Sasol shares traded in positive territory this week.

According the press, the stock moved 1.58 percent up in early trade with the shares settling 0,57 percent up at R392.80 at the close of the JSE on Friday.

Sea Harvest, the fishing division of Brimstone, is working towards the purchasing of a freezer ship valued at $15.5 million.

According to the press, Felix Ratheb, executive head of Sea Harvest, says the vessel is a necessity to ensure optimal use of the fleet.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) says that it is making progress in the fight against abalone poaching after two separate arrests last week and the confiscation of abalone worth approximately R13 million.

According to the press, the department says, “The protection of Marine Living Resources, including abalone, is one of the priorities of the department.”

Weekly Press Review – 21 August 2017

South Africa’s weak economy is impacting those renting Transnet sites in the country’s eight commercial harbours.

According to the press tenants of Transnet sites have stated that if the economy continues on its current path they will have no choice but to renegotiate their contracts or simply return their sites to Transnet.

At present TNPA have 750 tenants and 90 cargo operators renting within the major harbours.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has sent out a plea to ask concerns citizens who cut floating buoys from fishing gear, with the intention of removing the gear in which whales and other marine mammals may become entangled, to please be aware that they may be doing more harm than good.

The department explains, “The buoys are markers which mark the ends of lines of fishing gear lying along the sea floor. Removing the floating buoys may result in slower times to find and retrieve the fishing gear by fishers, thus increasing the opportunity for entanglement of whales and other marine mammals.”

Even more dangerous is that once the buoys are removed, fishers are no longer able to find and retrieve the lines of fishing gear. These lines then continue to engage in “ghost fishing” – meaning that they continue to entrap marine creatures over time.

The NSRI was called into action this weekend as it rescued a whale entangled off the coast of Kleinmond.

According to the press, Dawie Malan and his wife reported the incident and the 12m whale was discover approximately 50m offshore entangled in rope and with a buoy attached to its tail. The whale was freed and swam away unharmed.