Weekly Press Review – 7 October 2016

The press has reported this week that South Africa will invest up to R50.55 billion at ports in both Richard’s Bay and Coega to build infrastructure for a gas-to-power programme aimed at easing the country’s dependence on coal.

The Department of Energy has said that a plant at Richard’s Bay will generate 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from liquefied natural gas imports and the Coega industrial development zone will generate another 1,000MW.

The government will be seeking bidders to manage the project.

Also making headlines this week is a challenge against the awarding of an R80 million experimental fishing permit to Global Pact Trading in response to several companies crying foul over its lawfulness and alleged bias

The South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry and 21 other companies have taken the minister, deputy director-general and chief director of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), as well as Global Pact Trading to court to have the permit set aside.

It has been reported that advocate Shaheen Moolla, appointed to defend the case, helped the owner of Global Pact Trading to secure the successful bid for the permit. Johann Augustyn, executive secretary of the SA Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association argued that this was a conflict of interest, adding that the permit was awarded to Global Pact Trading for an ulterior purpose or motive and in bad faith.

Moolla responded by saying, “You can’t be conflicted when you did not participate in any of the decisions and when you are advising parties who essentially stand on the same side of the litigation divide.”

There is also further controversy surrounding DAFF’s three-year fishing rights allocation, which was handed out last month.

According to the press small-scale fishers intend to appeal the process, stating that the three-year rights allocations were barely sufficient and demanded that this be extended to lifelong rights as their livelihoods depend on the sea and what the sea supplies them.

DAFF spokesperson, Palesa Mokomele, said that fishers had 30 days to object to the rights allocation.

“Fishers should also provide reasons for why they object to the duration of the right. A fishing rights allocation process would be required in order to allocate new rights,” said Mokomele.

Most of the fishers are located in the Western Cape.

The SA Agulhas II has made headlines again this week with her return to Cape Town harbour following another 13-month visit to Gough Island.

The vessel’s latest expedition has once again been regarded as a success. Dr Greg Hofmeyr, head of scientific research on Gough Island said, “We are very satisfied with the results of the research done.”

The research has provided new information regarding the weather, sea birds, seals and, as well as the mouse plague on the island.

Another vessel making headlines this week is the Nujoma, a brand new diamond-exploration vessel which docked in Cape Town harbour this week.

The vessel, which was built in Norway, is receiving some finishing touches while in Cape Town before heading on to the Namibian coast to begin service.

The vessel is part of a joint project between Debmarine Namibia, the Namibian government and De Beers and was built for diamond exploration in deep water. According to the De Beers website the vessel cost R1.9 million to build.


Weekly Press Review – 14 February 2014

The fishing rights allocation process made headlines again this week as a discussion of a report by the fisheries department, explaining the controversial allocation process, was not discussed by the portfolio committee as scheduled.

The reason:  the appeals process is still not 100 percent complete and the report is, therefore, still  regarded as “a work in  progress.”

Needless to say there were angry responses from both DA MPs Pieter van Dalen and Annette Steyn.  They both described the urgency with which the allocation process needed to be discussed, saying there was a “crisis out there” as many fishers lost their livelihoods at the end of last year.

It is shocking that a situation which obviously requires immediate attention is not met with the urgency that is necessary to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.

In some sad news this week, a Department of Environmental Affairs technician, involved in an expedition on Gough Island has died.  Johannes Hoffman, aged 36, apparently choked on his own vomit and doctors on site were unable to save him.

Colleagues who worked with Hoffman are obviously in shock and are receiving counseling from a psychologist who is also charged with bringing Hoffman’s body back to Cape Town.

Of course, today’s media attention will focus on the president’s State of the Nation Address last night – which did at least nod in the direction of the maritime industry by mentioning the importance of the fishing industry; progress relating to port development as well as the imminent importance of the offshore oil and gas industries to Saldanha Bay and Cape Town.


Weekly Press Review – 11 October 2013

The big news in the press this week is the return of the SA Agulhas II from its research mission to Gough Island.

The vessel returned to Cape Town with its team of 13 on board who had spent  13 months on the island.

After the vessels return and addressing the research team, Dr Monde Mayekiso, Deputy Director General: Oceans & Coasts Department of Environmental Affairs, said: “To the scientific community at large, your contribution to this meaningful cause in research arena has not gone unnoticed.”

It is a proud moment for the South African maritime industry to see the success of this wonderful vessel. May it be the first of many successful missions.

The Sapina Rainbow Project which is endorsed by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund also made the news this week with the return of Nomcebo Siyaya from her 5,000 mile first leg of a round-the-world yacht race.

Nineteen year old Siyaya, who until recently had not even seen a boat, completed her leg of the race and is extremely proud to have gained her sea legs. She is one of eight South Africans chosen to take part in the project.

Siyaya’s leg took more than three weeks to complete. She says: “I learnt a lot from my journey, although it wasn’t easy. I have found the trip challenging, particularly the weather.”

It is exciting to see the youth of our country embracing opportunities which allow them access to some kind of maritime experience. This can only promote the industry and generate an interest in its future members – and it is widely acknowledged that sailing provides one of the best bases for competent seafarers.