Weekly Press Review – 2 October 2015

The tragedy aboard the MFV Lincoln which ran into trouble near False Bay resulting in the deaths of 11 fishermen received a lot of coverage in the press this week.  The search for the remaining missing crew member continues.

According to survivor Peter Julies, the weather was extremely turbulent and the boat started taking water on the port side.  Soon the boat was leaning completely to the one side.

“I jumped from the starboard side into the freezing water.  Soon I could not feel my legs.  The rain was pelting and the gale-force wind had no mercy.  Fortunately help did not take too long.  But it was too late for some of my friends.”

The Financial Director of Viking Fishing, who own the vessel, said that their first priority was to support the families of those who lost loved ones.

The vessel has been towed to Cape Town harbour and SAMSA is investigating the incident.

History was made this week with the vessel, the Cape Orchid, being the first merchant vessel to register in South Africa since 1985.

Tsietsi Mokhele, SAMSA chief executive said, “About 98 percent of the country’s internationally bound trade is carried by ships and at least R160bn a year is paid for shipping services to foreign owners and operators.”

The Department of Transport said that the Cape Orchid “would be a boost to our maritime economy.”

According to the press many residents from Walker Bay are expressing their concern about mother and baby whales being harassed by over eager onlookers entering the bay during the whale breeding season and disturbing the mammals.

The question has been raised as to why the Department of Environmental Affairs is not monitoring whale-watching tourism boats and other vessels in the bay.  Residents are saying that complaints to government, the local authority and the tourism body are simply receiving no response.

Environmental Affairs Oceans and Coasts spokesperson Zolile Nqayi confirmed that Walker Bay was in fact a sanctuary and that no unauthorised boats were allowed in the bay during whale season.

He appealed to the public to report any incidents of boats getting to close to the whales to the department.

Weekly Press Review – 28 February 2014

Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson finally made the announcement this week that fishermen who lost their traditional linefish rights at the end of 2013 will be allowed to continue fishing until the end of April 2014.

The Minister said,”There do seem to be legitimate concerns either relating to poor administration of the applications or questionable judgements by the delegated officers.  I do want to deal with these questions of propriety before I can consider any appeals that may be lodged.”

I think that most people would agree that firstly, this was a very mild summing up of the problems that have plagued the fishing rights allocation process and also that it seems far too little, too late for those fishermen who are struggling to maintain their livelihoods.

We will see what the minster comes back with after “”dealing with” these questions and whether the process shall then continue as is or, as many are calling for, be completely re-examined.  Perhaps a fresh start is what is called for.   Certainly many lessons can be learnt from the errors of the last 12 months alone.

After listening to a variety of radio reports about a grounded vessel yesterday that all seemed to get the news incorrect; it was reported in the press that a Hout Bay-based crayfish boat ran aground near Betty’s Bay resulting in the death of one man.

Unfortunately the vessel, Connect, ran aground in a Marine Protected Area and the resulting  10,000 litre diesel spill is endangering the nearly 4,000 penguins and other seabirds and animals in the area.

Justin Lawrence, spokesman for Cape Nature said, “What makes the situation dangerous is the fact that the diesel is not visible, therefore, we cannot determine how far it has spread.  We are trying to rescue as many penguins and seabirds as we can.“

The vessel is also believed to be carrying 80 litres of engine oil.