Weekly Press Review – 27 June 2014

South Africa’s research ships are back in the news this week, well at least one. The Ellen Khuzwayo has returned to operation and has already completed a number of research projects.

Nautic Africa, one of the companies that was awarded the tender to manage and repair the vessel, has stated that there has been “a significant survey gap” during the seven months that the vessel was inactive.  The vessel is equipped with an acoustic laboratory, hydrology wet and dry laboratories, a wet fish room and an operation’s room and has already made several voyages to gather data designed to determine shark longline quotas.

Also in the news this week, Premier Helen Zille has made the announcement that the aquaculture industry on the West Coast is to be expanded, along with abalone and salmon farming, creating as many as 2 600 jobs and increasing abalone production to 1000 tons per year.

A Taiwanese-owned vessel due to be auctioned by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)  made headlines this week.  The vessel, either named the Naham 4 or the Derhorng 596, has been under investigation by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) since early 2013 on suspicion of illegal fishing in South Africa’s exclusive fishing zone.

The vessel was detained in April last year, and following the seizure the owners abandoned the vessel, leaving the vessel’s agent with a debt of over R1 million.

According to Godfrey Needham, the ship’s curator appointed by the NPA, about 10 ships have been detained over the past year, but the actual auctioning of detained ships is not a frequent event.


Weekly Press Review – 1 November 2013

Saldanha Bay made the news this week with officials from the national and provincial governments and local authorities, along with President Zuma descending upon the coastal town for the official designation of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone. (IDZ)

It is estimated that more than 11,000 jobs will be created over the next 25 years and that the IDZ will attract R9.3 billion in foreign investment.

The IDZ business plan shows that Saldanha Bay has the capacity to service up to three oil rigs simultaneously and would have access to at least 84 other rigs currently off the coast of Western Africa.

This project is being lauded as a huge coup for not just the South African economy, but also for the people of Saldanha Bay. Saldanha Black Business Women’s Association chairwoman, Paulina Mali, says: “I believe the IDZ will change our lives and bring jobs for our young people.”

Despite incidents of heckling and a somewhat heated discussion between the President and Premier Helen Zille at the official opening, making more of a news impact than the actual IDZ development one can only hope that the project runs smoothly from now on and delivers what it promises.

Our interaction with some members of the maritime industry sees the development as important, but wonders at the wisdom of creating such massive expectations for the people of Saldanha Bay at this early stage when many issues relating to the use and development of the zone need still to be addressed.

On the environmental front, the story of a young humpback whale who found his way into Table Bay harbour, but could not find his way out made headlines this week.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), police divers and several government departments were involved in the rescue operation to free the whale who was caught between a ship and the Table Bay quay.

Rescuers tried to encourage the trapped animal to move towards the open waters, but it kept moving inward to where a large ship was pressed against the tyres on the quay wall. Eventually Plan B had to be implemented: if the whale would/could not move, then the ship would have to be moved. Two tugs moved the large ship and then a tug was used to gently guide the whale out of the harbour.

A happy story as people come together to help an animal in distress.

Another story making the news this week should appeal to all maritime historians. Five large cannon have been recovered from the ocean floor near Miami belonging to the vessel, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, captained by the legendary pirate Blackbeard.

Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, infamously terrorised Atlantic seafarers around the Caribbean and American colonies. He was ultimately killed by British forces in 1718.