Weekly Press Review – 17 July 2015

Shark researchers in the US on a quest for more humane solutions to protect ocean users from sharks have made a real breakthrough according to the press this week:  education and a bit of common sense.

The research done by researchers at Stanford University has found that the solution does not need to be as extreme as culling sharks.  Simply providing better information to bathers about the risk of shark attacks should be enough.

Shark researcher, Francesco Ferretti, said, “Just like we check the weather before going boating, or the surf forecast before going surfing, getting information about the risk of encountering large predators can become a normal precaution we take before going into the ocean.”

Information for bathers to consider would be the season, the time of day and the types of activities taking place in the water.  For example, spear fishing is an activity with added risk.

The KZN Sharks Board has responded by saying that in South African waters the problem lies in the fact that the great white shark is not the only problem species in the area. The behaviour and habits of Zambezi and tiger sharks also need to be considered.

For now our shark nets remain in place, but surely there is a lot to be said for just using your common sense when interacting with the ocean environment, or any other environment for that matter..

Also covered in the press this week is the signing of an agreement by ambassadors from the US, Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark and other Arctic nations barring their fishing fleets from fast-thawing sea areas around the North Pole.

The agreement was reached in response to the ever increasing threat of global warming which is resulting in the melting of sea ice in the central Arctic Ocean and impacting on marine life in the immediate area and beyond.

Very little is known about this area, but the agreement is seen as a pre-emptive strike.  The deal  “will prevent a problem from arising ahead of time,” said David Balton, US deputy assistant secretary of state for oceans and fisheries.

Scott Highleyman, director of international Arctic  affairs at the Pew Charitable Trusts environmental group said, “It’s hugely encouraging.  It’s hard to get governments’ attention for problems that haven’t occurred yet.”

The agreement also called for more research into Arctic marine resources.


Weekly Press Review – 25 July 2014

The final journey of the ill-fated Costa Concordia has continued to make headlines this week.   In what is being described as the greatest salvage operation in history, the righted and raised vessel has slowly been towed to its final destination, Genoa in Northern Italy.  She will now be scrapped.  A sad end for a once beautiful vessel.

It would seem that shark barriers are big business.  In the press this week is yet another proposal for yet another device designed to keep the sharks along the coast of False Bay at bay.

The Kwazulu-Natal Sharks Board is planning a series of experiments to be conducted along the False Bay coast later in the year and in early 2015.  The tests will use electric cables as a potential alternative to more traditional shark nets. According to Geremy Cliff, head of research at the KZN Sharks Board, funding had been allocated to pursue research into electric shark repellent technologies.

He added that the KZN Sharks Board was committed to trying to find alternative options to protect bathers and at the same time reduce the death rate of large sharks, dolphins, turtles and other marine species.   These technologies were apparently originally looked at in the 1990’s.

Also making the headlines this week is the news that the latest round of oil and gas drilling has begun offshore South Africa.  The companies involved in this particular project are Total and Canadian National Resources.  Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi visited the Eirik Raude at Block 11B/12B in the exploration block Brulpadda 1AX approximately 180 km south of Mossel Bay.  The minster was quoted as saying that he is holding his breath waiting for a call from Total saying that they have found oil.

The wait is now on to see whether this site has anything to offer the South Africa oil and gas industry – which is desperate for a find.