Weekly Press Review – 10 July 2015

It comes as no surprise that there is still much unhappiness around the 2015/16 fishing rights allocation process.  The press has reported this week that both small scale and commercial fishermen have criticised the draft fishing rights allocation as unfair.

This week officials from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) held the second of 31 public consultation meetings.

The current draft policy proposes a 26 percent fee increase for all sectors.  Full time commercial fishermen, Armin Weinar was quoted as saying:  “They say they want to be fair to all applicants.  Then at the same time they want to everybody judged against the same criteria by no longer splitting the applicants up between existing rights holders and new entrants.”

Weinar also added that the industry was close to his heart and that he is saddened to see resources dwindle so dangerously.

The press has also covered the rescue of a hump back whale that became entangled in ropes and bouys off Cape Point earlier this week.  The research vessel the Ellen Khuzwayo was carrying out research in  the area and the whale became in tangled in the ropes and bouys being used for the research.  The South African Whale Disentanglement Network was alerted and after a 40 minute operation the whale was freed and despite some damage to its stock tail seemed to be strong and healthy.

Operation Phakisa has made headlines again this week with a seminar in London attended by Transport Deputy Minister Sindiswe Chikunga to promote investment in South Africa’s oceans economy.

In her address at the conference which took place at South Africa House in London the minister said that the conference displayed the ethos of Operation Phakisa which was to accelerate implementation of government’s strategic development programmes.

Research shows that South Africa’s ocean economy has the potential to contribute R180 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and create about a million jobs.

The purpose of Chikunga’s visit to London has been to share information on the recent developments South Africa has achieved in growing the oceans economy.

“We need potential partners on a win-win basis to support South Africa’s oceans economy strategy. We extend an open invitation to investors to visit South Africa to further explore vast investment opportunities,” the minister said.

Weekly Press Review – 1 August 2014

Perlemoen rights are back in the press this week with Minister Senzeni Zokwana (DAFF) making the announcement that all existing perlemoen rights’ holders have been granted the right to continue fishing for another year.  The existing perlemoen rights expired on Wednesday.

Fisheries management consultant, Shaheen Moolla was quoted as saying that this is the ninth fishing sector to be given exemptions.  “What we are seeing is the farcical collapse of the fishing system to what it was in the 90s.”

In other news, the NSRI was called into action this week after various eyewitnesses reported seeing what looked like paraglider or microlight crashing into the sea near Sunny Cove.

Preparing for the worst, the NSRI launched a rescue vessel and headed to the scene, only to be greeted by 15 “Happy Birthday” balloons tied together and floating in the water about 15 nautical miles offshore.  Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simon’s Town station commander, said, “It is understandable that at the distances involved it looked like a crashing paraglider or microlight aircraft and the good intensions of the eyewitnesses is commended.”

A young subantarctic seal has also made the news this week after appearing in the water off Scarborough, a mere 2000km away from its home on Marion Island.  The seal is a little thin, so the SPCA has stepped in to help fatten her up and fit her with some high tech tracking gear to monitor her progress back to the island once she is released.

Fingers crossed that she makes it home.

Weekly Press Review – 4 April 2014

Members of local fishing communities made headlines as they took to the streets in two separate protests this week. The first of these was staged outside the Western Cape High Court in response to allegations that a community from Buffeljachtsbaai is being forcibly removed by the Overstrand Municipality.

The second took place in Hout Bay, where protestors blocked the entrance to the harbour and called for the renewal of their fishing rights, as well as transformation within the fishing industry.

Protest leader, Emmanuel Arendse was quoted as saying, “We are living in poverty.  We want our fishing rights back.  Our people need food on their tables.  We cannot live like this.  Minister (Tina Joemat-Pettersson) must get out of office.”

Are we not all secretly calling for change within the fishing industry?  Perhaps the urgency is just felt that much more keenly by communities who rely on the industry for every meal that is or is not on their table.

Also making news this week was the announcement by Oceana that it would be paying out R289 million to the beneficiaries of its empowerment trust. The company added that the cash payout was only a quarter of the value that the empowerment fund had generated and proved that they were worthy recipients of fishing rights.

Oceana chief executive, Francois Kuttel stated:  “What we have achieved is far more than what we would have been able to achieve if these rights were given to players with less resources and experience.”

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson has previously stated that empowerment and creating value for fishing communities was an important criteria for assessment during fishing rights allocation.

With their fishing rights up for assessment next year and again in 2020, it would seem that Oceana are aiming to tick all the right boxes.