Weekly Press Review – 18 October 2013

The SA United Fishing Front has made the news this with their objection to the proposed reintroduction of fishing co-operatives into legislation. The Act seeks to allow subsistence and small-scale fishermen and women formal recognition in the legislation.

Pedro Garcia, chairman of the NGO which represents southern Cape and West Coast fishermen and women, said that this was a “burning issue”, adding that people must be given the choice of whether or not to join a co-operative, rather than having it thrust upon them as the only way to ensure a quota.

“To this very day we are dealing with the fallout” of failed co-operatives of the past, said Garcia.

This is a process that seems to go on and on with no clear solution in sight. It would seem that it is always going to be 100 percent impossible to please all of the people all of the time and perhaps it is time to start thinking out of the box for alternate solutions to the problem. The Fisheries Department certainly faces a long road ahead.

On the environmental front, also making the news this week was an article voicing concern about a planned seismic survey by a French oils and gas company off the coast of Kwazulu-Natal.

The company plans to blast sound waves into the sea 24 hours a day for a period of approximately four months over an area of 80,000 km2 between Port Shepstone and Mozambique.

Despite an environmental management plan rating potential impacts as “very low”, marine scientists do not agree and are extremely concerned about the impact on the marine life in the area.

Several concerns have been voiced, but the primary concern seems to be that the seismic airguns could prevent sea animals from getting to their feeding grounds. This in turn would caused increased stress levels, disrupt migration and breeding and ultimately impact on reproduction.

Consultants CCA Environmental have made several recommendations in order to monitor the impact that this survey will have on the local marine life.

It is good to see that there is a genuine concern for the marine life in the area, that the impact of such a survey is being considered and that those involved are looking for workable solutions.

An unusual story covered in the press this week is the case of the 6m oar fish carcass that washed up on the beach in southern California. There have been very few sightings of these very impressive creatures as they dwell well below the 900m mark. Interestingly, Jasmine Santana, who discovered the carcass and engaged 15 beach-goers to assist her in dragging the carcass from the water, is a marine science instructor from the Catalina Island Marine Institute and was absolutely thrilled by her discovery.

The carcass will be buried in the sand to allow for natural decomposition and the skeleton will then be prepared for display at the institute.

It would seem that our oceans are still full of hidden surprises.

Finally, in a follow up to the events surrounding the capsizing of the Miroshga, which lead to the deaths of two people – the skipper and owners of the vessel have been charged with two counts of culpable homicide.

We wait to see the outcome of the court proceedings.

Weekly Press Review – 22 February 2013

The Fisheries Department has made the headlines several times this week; finally admitting to Parliament that the navy has been unable to run its research and patrol vessels and that, at present, all eight are docked at the navy yard.

Greta Apelgren-Narkedien, Deputy Director-General said that “the navy does not have the capacity to meet ….. requirements in terms of crew and technical expertise” and that the department was issuing two tenders, one for the management of research vessels and the other one for the management of the fisheries patrol vessels, within about four months.

Better late than never, but clearly swift action is now required to get the patrol and research machine back up and running as soon as possible. We wait to see who is up to the task.

The results of the investigation into the capsizing of the Miroshga in Hout Bay last year have been covered in the press this week. According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), who conducted the investigation, the accident could have been avoided had the owners taken responsibility for righting some of the obvious wrongs on board the vessel and, more importantly, had the crew been properly trained in emergency procedures.

The report of the investigation has been handed to both the police and prosecuting authorities who will decide if any one person will be prosecuted or not.

In other news, the 60 metre R10 million fishing boat, the Marauder, got stuck on sand and then drifted out to sea in strong swells and winds off Struisbaai beach on Saturday. The vessel and her crew had just placed in the top four at this year’s Two Ocean Marlin Competition. Owner, Danie Halgryn, said that they were en route to the harbour when the boat’s anchor chain snapped.

Despite removing most of the expensive fishing equipment and electronics aboard, Halgryn is not sure whether the vessel can be saved as the engine is filled with water.