Weekly Press Review – 19 June 2017

South Africa’s Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) is once again in the news this week. According to the press the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has appointed a new, three-member advisory panel to assist Minister Senzeni Zokwana with the 2015/16 FRAP, which has caused much anger and frustration amongst local fishing communities.

Advocate Patric Mzolisi Mtshaulana, Dr George Mukundi Wachira and Thulani Joseph Sithole have been appointed to an advisory panel by the Minister to assist with the evaluation of appeals lodged against the decisions taken during FRAP 2015/16.

DAFF spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo, says that Minister Zokwana intends to announce his decisions systematically and on a sector-by-sector basis over the coming weeks.  He will be starting with appeals lodged in the Hake Inshore Trawl Fishery followed by appeals lodged in the Patagonian Toothfish Fishery.

DAFF has also made headlines this week after pouring cold water on plans by the City to take control of some local harbours, citing the argument that council’s proposed by-law for fishing harbours cannot supersede the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA).

The City has responded by saying that it has no choice but to forge ahead with its plans, saying that it has the power to manage harbours in its jurisdiction, as the constitution gives municipalities the exclusive competence to administer the functional areas listed in Schedule 5, Part B.

According to Deputy Mayor, Ian Neilson, the move by the City came about after engagements with the Department of Public Works for the proper administration of harbours within the City’s jurisdiction proved futile.

The Department of Public Works has offered no response.




Weekly Press Review – 5 February 2016

Two separate yachting tragedies have seen the safety of working sailors and tourists alike being called into question this week.  The disappearance of three sailors who went missing during a routine delivery of a luxury yacht (a year ago), as well as the death of two Irish tourists whose yacht ran aground near Melkbos have both made headlines this week.

Families of the missing sailors have called for an inquest after an upturned catamaran was sighted, but attempts to tow it into harbour failed and the hull was eventually lost at sea near Port Elizabeth.  The families want to establish fairer practices and enforced compliance with the legislation with the aim of ensuring increased safety for sailors.

In the grounding incident the death of two Irish tourists has led to an investigation into how this yacht ran aground and whether it had already capsized by the time it ran aground.

SAMSA has had surveyors on the scene and the cause of the accident is under investigation.

The continued decimation of South Africa’s abalone has also made headlines this week.  According to the press we are losing the war on abalone poaching.  It is estimated that in 2014 a massive 7 million were poached at a cost of R1 billion.

These figures were presented at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Abalone Indaba held in Cape Town this week.

DAFF chief director Ceba Mtoba said, “It is time to shift gears.  Poaching has become the norm.”

Fisheries Management deputy director-general Siphokazi Ndudane said that the Marine Living Resources Act would be reviewed.

“The act is old.  It has no mention of poaching. Poaching has been overlapping under our watch over the years because of its ineffectiveness.  The act is no longer applicable.

“This indaba will form part of our paperwork to be presented to the president when amending the act,” said Ndudane.

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.