Weekly Press Review – 22 May 2017

The big headline this week is the search and seizure warrant issued by the HAWKS at the offices of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in Cape Town.

In response DAFF suspended a member of its fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) following a complaint that could amount to corruption.

The Hawks confiscated the laptop and cell phone of the unnamed member of FRAP. When asked whether DAFF felt compelled to reveal the identify of the person, Thembalethu Vico, DAFF’s acting chief director for monitoring control and surveillance, said that DAFF would be dealing with the issue internally.

Police have arrested a 42 year-old man in Crawford, Athlone in connection with perlemoen poaching. According to the press perlemoen, with an estimated value of R78 million, was discovered packed into fridges at a mortuary in Philippe East.

The man will appear in the Athlone Magistrates’ court this week.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of one of the worst South African maritime losses ever recorded. According to the press, on November 28, 1942, the Nova Scotia was torpedoed and sank in shark infested waters 48km east of St Lucia in Zululand.

The tragedy resulted in the death of 858 lives, many of them South African soldiers.

Weekly Press Review – 15 May 2017

The Western Cape ANC has called for an immediate suspension of the provisional rights allocation of West Coast rock lobster, calling for an urgent engagement with Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) minister Senzeni Zokwana.

According to the press the party says that they have been flooded with desperate calls from communities along the West Coast, Cape Town, Overberg and the Southern Cape.

ANC provincial executive member Linda Moss says, “The fundamental flaw in this process is that DAFF has not declared what the total allowable catch (TAC) for this sector is …. Normally there is a consultation process regarding the TAC split every year.”

A senior Sasol executive has voiced concern saying that the government should immediately resolve the uncertainty around the introduction of clean fuel specifications in order to ensure the sustainability of an industry that is a significant contributor to job creation and economic growth.

According to the press Sasol executive vice president of energy business, Maurice Radebe says that the industry contributes 8.5 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)

“Let us do our best to protect (the petrol and liquid fuels) industry for the sake of the economy,” says Radebe.

Weekly Press Review – 6 March 2017

According to the press the residents of the small fishing village of Buffeljags on the Western Cape’s Overberg is being left destitute due to yet another fishing rights dispute.

A flagship seaweed business, Buffeljags Marine, has created more than 30 jobs in the area, but this week the community lost their harvesting rights after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) did not renew its 10-year rights allocation. The rights are now to be transferred into a yet-to-be-established small-scale community fishing sector.

The result is that the employees of Buffeljags Marine will no longer be paid as business has come to a standstill. Adding to their woes, the local crèche, which is funded by the seaweed income, is now also facing closure.

Johnny van der Bergh, director of Buffeljags Marine says, “There is no other income for us here. It’s not like around here one can go and look for a job in construction.”

The standstill also threatens the only other major business in the town, the abalone farms that buy the kelp harvest.

The department’s director of small-scale fishing, Craig Smith, said that Buffeljags Marine had applied for an exemption and that it was currently under consideration.

The police made another big bust last week, arresting four suspected lobster poachers found in possession of lobster and lobster tails.

According to the press, the four men appeared before the Gordon’s Bay Magistrates Court last week on charges relating to the Marine Living Resources Act.

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.