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 – 20 February 2015

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the decision to once again extend all long-term commercial fishing rights has made headlines this week.  DAFF is apparently in need of more time to sort out the fishing rights allocation process in general and, therefore, existing fishing rights due to expire this year have been extended, in some sectors for up to one year.

The department said that the extensions would allow  for a “well managed and transparent” allocation process.  This news follows in the wake of the disastrous fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) of 2013 over which there was such an outcry that the then Minister of Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, called for a forensic audit.  The ultimate findings of the audit were that the FRAP of 2013 had been legally faulty and that it was simply not possible to correct these faults. You can read more about the extensions and implications in the forthcoming issue of Maritime Review Africa.

The war against perlemoen poaching continues and it was reported in the press this week that another R1 million worth of illegally fished perlemoen was confiscated by police in Somerset West.  A 26 year old man was arrested and taken in for questioning after 1958 perlemoen were found in his possession.  His initial court appearance was set for this week.

The SA Agulhas II has returned from her 14 month mission to Antarctica.  The vessel was photographed by various press agencies as she docked at the V&A Waterfront after fourteen months in Antarctica.  On board was Christiaan Crous, member of the scientific research group Sanae 14 who was quoted as saying that the trip was unbelievable, but just too short.

 

Weekly Press Review – 16 May 2014

It has been a long time coming, but Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has finally stepped up to the plate and decided to scrap the entire fishing rights allocation process of 2013 (FRAP 2013).

This comes after an independent audit found that the Fishing Department’s fishing rights allocation process was fatally flawed and would not stand up to a court challenge.

“To pre-empt further legal challenges, I intend to set aside the entire FRAP 2013 process, including all decisions and outcomes.  I have directed that the requisite legal steps be initiated for this to happen.”

This is the first time in South African history that a fishing rights allocation process has ever been scrapped.

So, it is back to the drawing board for the fisheries department.  Let us hope that a viable solution can be found as soon as possible.

The Minister is also in the news this week as she sets a deadline to receive final reports from both officials and Foodcorp, in connection with R50 million worth of fishing quotas that were allegedly awarded to two companies without due public process. Thereafter the minister will refer the issue to the public protector and the Special Investigating Unit.

Minister Joemat-Pettersson said, “I have proved throughout my term that I’m committed to clean governance and will not tolerate any decisions or transactions which undermine this.”

It will be interesting to see the results of this investigation and at whose feet the responsibility will ultimately fall.

This week the company NTP Logistics asked local authorities for permission to dock its ship, carrying material used to make nuclear fuel, in South African harbours.

The substance in question is known as yellowcake, or uranium oxide and is enriched to make fuel for nuclear power stations.  If the substance is further enriched it can be used to make nuclear weapons.

Anti-nuclear groups have objected in writing to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) in response to advertisements placed in Eastern Cape newspapers by the company announcing the application and calling for objections to its request to dock the ship.

It is not government policy to allow radioactive waste into South Africa.

The press has reported that nets set up at the southern corner of Fish Hoek beach in April last year as a pilot project, may become a permanent feature.

Sarah Waries, project manager of Shark Spotters says that the response from the public has been extremely positive, especially from parents of small children, all saying that they are far more comfortable swimming at the beach with their families with the nets in place.

The city was granted a research permit by DAFF and the Department of Environmental affairs to carry out the trial and it is these departments that will decide whether the nets will become a permanent feature or not.

These nets are different form those used elsewhere in the country which are designed to trap and kill sharks.  These are exclusion nets and are designed to keep sharks out, but not actually trap them

It would be a great coup for environmentalists if the nets became not only a permanent feature along the beaches at Fish Hoek, but were also implemented along the beaches of all of South Africa’s coasts.  And taking it a step further; perhaps even provide an environmentally friendly alternate to shark nets being used worldwide – especially in Australia, where a shark culling programme is being used in an attempt to protect beach goers from possible shark attacks.

Simon’s Town welcomed the SAS Spioenkop home this week amid much fanfare.  The vessel returned after a three-and-a-half month visit to the Mozambique Channel where she took part in Operation Copper – working with the Mozambican fleet against piracy.

Maritime historians from around the world will be delighted with the news of the possible findings of two well-known sunken vessels.  US marine archaeologists have announced that they believe they have discovered the remains of a sunken Civil War-era ship.  The steamship, Planter, was commandeered by a group of African-American slaves in Charleston to sail to freedom nearly 152 years ago, on May 13, 1862. The ship later sank off the South Carolina Coast.

Expeditions to find the ship began in 2010 and despite the find, due to the fact that the vessel is buried, excavation will probably be too expensive and she will remain where she is.

Equally as exciting, a ship wreck discovered off the coast of Haiti may be the remains of the Santa Maria, the flagship of Christopher Columbus from his first voyage to the America’s.

“All geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria,” says Barry Clifford, a archaeological investigator from the US.

Clifford is planning a return trip to Haiti next month to meet with officials and plan the next steps to take.