The big news this week is the agreement signed between PetroSA and Russian company, Rosgeo, to develop oil and gas blocks in South Africa.
According to the press, the deal, worth $400 million (R5.17 billion), was signed on the sidelines of the ninth Annual Brics Summit in China and offers the embattled national oil company the opportunity to position itself towards future growth.
European media reports indicate that the deal is lopsided to the benefit of Rosgeo. According to Rosgeo ‘s chief executive, Roman Panov, the firm would own 70 percent of the project with PetroSA taking up the remaining 30 percent.
PetroSA would not confirm or deny this.
An internationally operated abalone syndicate, known as “The Enterprise” faced the music in the Western Cape High Court this week on 116 charges collectively.
According to the press, the state presented papers saying The Enterprise employed people to collect, clean, dry, freeze and store abalone, which was then packaged for export to Hong Kong using two front companies and using fraudulent documentation stating that containers were carrying pilchards.
They had been in operation for two years.
Members of the The Enterprise were found guilty of various charges, including contravening the Marine Living Resources Act.
The men are currently out on bail and will remain so until sentencing.
According to the press the residents of the small fishing village of Buffeljags on the Western Cape’s Overberg is being left destitute due to yet another fishing rights dispute.
A flagship seaweed business, Buffeljags Marine, has created more than 30 jobs in the area, but this week the community lost their harvesting rights after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) did not renew its 10-year rights allocation. The rights are now to be transferred into a yet-to-be-established small-scale community fishing sector.
The result is that the employees of Buffeljags Marine will no longer be paid as business has come to a standstill. Adding to their woes, the local crèche, which is funded by the seaweed income, is now also facing closure.
Johnny van der Bergh, director of Buffeljags Marine says, “There is no other income for us here. It’s not like around here one can go and look for a job in construction.”
The standstill also threatens the only other major business in the town, the abalone farms that buy the kelp harvest.
The department’s director of small-scale fishing, Craig Smith, said that Buffeljags Marine had applied for an exemption and that it was currently under consideration.
The police made another big bust last week, arresting four suspected lobster poachers found in possession of lobster and lobster tails.
According to the press, the four men appeared before the Gordon’s Bay Magistrates Court last week on charges relating to the Marine Living Resources Act.
The handing down of the first jail sentence under the Marine Living Resources Act has made headlines this week, with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) applauding the outcome.
Huang Zhanyang and Pow Kekun of China pleaded guilty to charges of operating an illegal fish-processing establishment and the illegal possession of abalone. They were sentenced to three years in jail by the Port Elizabeth Regional Court.
The department was quoted as saying, “This sentence will serve as a major deterrent to anyone who is currently involved in the illegal harvesting, transporting, processing and exporting of our valuable and exploited marine resources, and it gives new impetus to our campaign to protect and grow our marine resources.”
Kreef divers are responding to the new shorter kreef fishing season in the press this week. Several divers interviewed at Rooiels said that bad weather and murky waters would now no longer have any impact on whether or not to dive.
The season has been shortened from 26 to 21 days and the quota has been dropped from 83 to 69 tons.
Today is World Fisheries Day. The day is marked around the world by fishing communities through rallies, workshops, public meetings and workshops; all designed to highlight the importance of maintaining the world’s fisheries. The day also serves as a reminder of the importance of water and the many, many lives that are sustained by our oceans.
The fishing rights allocation process has made the news again this week. Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson published the 2013 policy for the allocation of fishing rights for eight fisheries, but according to industry consultant, Shaheen Moolla, the policy contravenes the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA).
The latest controversy centres around co-operatives. According to the MLRA, co-operatives are not allowed to hold fishing rights. However, the newly gazetted policy has allowed co-operatives to hold fishing quotas in each sector.
Moolla has stated that no new policy or legislation may contradict an act of Parliament and believes that the policy violates the section of the constitution which states that only cabinet can approve policy.
The process has been dogged by controversy and the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) seems to be setting themselves up for a lengthy period of appeals – as they are laying a solid foundation from which unhappy rights holders can litigate.
An interesting application of the Marine Living Resources Act made the news this week. A Paarl man has been arrested for salting and preserving fish without a permit. According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) all fish-processing establishments as defined in section 18(1) of the act needed permits.
“The Marine Living Resources Act does not prescribe the amount, it only states that the salting of fish is processing and one requires a permit therefore,” said Carol Moses, spokeswoman for the department’s fisheries branch. The concern is obviously that this could put small fish shops and informal sellers out of business.
The department has now begun the task of “systematically addressing outlets.” Surely this will be a time consuming process which can only add to the pressure on an already stretched department.
The disgraced captain of the Costa Concordia also made the news again. Francesco Schettino, is facing the music as he faces charges of abandoning ship and manslaughter after the sinking of the cruise liner in 2012.
He has asked for a plea bargain deal in which he would serve just over three years if he admits responsibility. According to the chief prosecutor, there is “no doubt” of Schettino’s guilt. All that must be decided is “how long a sentence he will get.”
Labelled as “Italy’s most hated man” by the Italian press, it would seem that the court of public opinion is not keen to show any leniency. It will, however, be the responsibility of the court to decide the fate of a man who obviously made a terrible mistake and then chose to put his own safety above the safety of the souls that he was directly responsible for.