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.

Weekly Press Review – 16 September 2016

 Residents of the Overberg region are rejoicing this week as the Western Cape parliament is to finally address the issue of perlemoen poaching in the area.

According to the press, Debbie Schaffer, chairman of the committee for economic opportunity, tourism and agriculture in the provincial parliament said that she has invited representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), security institutions and experts from the perlemoen industry to address the committee with regard to the problem of perlemoen poaching as early as next week.

 Twelve fishers were forced to abandon ship when their vessel ran aground in Port St Francis this week.

According to the press the 48-foot Barcelona ran aground after facing strong winds and waves up to four metres. The crew sent out a mayday at approximately 3.44am. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) responded to the incident, along with various vessels in the area. By the time help arrived, the crew had managed to get ashore.

The captain of the Barcelona was treated for shock and hypothermia, but all other crew members were in good health, except for minor cuts and bruises.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating the incident.

According to the press Sasol’s operations remain under pressure this week due to low global oil and commodity prices. The listed energy and chemicals group’s earnings have decreased by 55 percent for the year to 30 June.

In response Sasol has implemented a business performance enhancement programme and oil price response plan. The aim is to achieve costs and achieve cash savings.

Sasol joint chief executive, Bongani Nqwababa said that the company’s cost reduction and cash savings initiatives were exceeding targets, placing the group on a sound footing as it geared up its balance sheet.

Weekly Press Review – 2 September 2016

The issuing of fishing permits by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has once again made headlines this week.

According to the press, local fishing associations have lodged an urgent high court application to interdict and restrain DAFF from issuing further horse mackerel fishery permits to Global Pact.

Both the South African Deepsea Trawling Industry and Midwater Trawling Associations describe the department’s decision to allocate an additional 8,000 tons of experimental quota in the horse mackerel fishery as irrational. They have requested that the court set the decision aside.

The Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA), World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) and BirdLife SA have also expressed concern at the decision and are advising that a “cautionary approach” is required when dealing with the horse mackerel resource.

Johann Augustyn, executive secretary of the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry and Mid-water Trawling Associations said, “The fact that the permit is called a “permit for exploratory fishing” does not change its substance. It allows Global Pact to fish directly for horse mackerel utilising the same type of vessel as other existing rights holders, but without any effort limitation component, and with no spatial restriction.”

He added that he believed the decision to be influenced by an undisclosed ulterior purpose or bias.

In response DAFF spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo said that the proposal by Global Pact was designed to assist the department to better understand the size and extent of the South African horse mackerel stock.

 Shark season is once again upon us and Cape Town’s beach-goers are being warned to be aware of the increased great white shark activity in-shore at our local beaches.

According to the press the City and Shark Spotters are hard at work to ensure the safety of beach-goers over this period.

According to Johan van der Merwe, Mayco member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, “All beach and ocean users are reminded that the presence of great white sharks in in-shore areas increases at this time of year. We are also asking surfers to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise and Macassar Beach as research has shown that the presence of sharks is extremely common at this time of year.”

An extraordinary whale rescue has also made headlines this week. The NSRI and South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were once again called to action to rescue a Humpback whale entangled in rope and a floatation buoy. Once freed the whale did not however simply swim away.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said, “Once all the ropes and the floatation buoy were removed, in a most incredible reaction from the animal, the whale swam right up alongside the sea rescue boat and he gently placed his head on the gunnel of the sea rescue craft.

“The whale remained there for almost 20 minutes seemingly staring at the rescuers. All involved described a surreal and emotional moment shared between the SAWDN volunteer team and this beautiful animal. The whale then swam off.”

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