Weekly Press Review – 9 October 2017

The Robben Island Museum (RIM) has made headlines again this week rejecting reports that its ferry service is operationally inadequate saying “it is business as usual”.

RIM briefed the provincial standing committee on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture regarding the incident relating to the tourist ferry, Thandi, which capsized last month.

Committee chairperson Beverley Schafer said the ferry service was “operationally inadequate” to transport passengers.

RIM chief executive Mava Dada said, “We are supporting the SA Maritime Authority with their investigation. Our own internal investigation is also underway to identify any possible blind spots.

“Tourists and guests to RIM are assured that it is business as usual.”

This weekend saw the 29th annual Blessing of the Fishing Fleet festival at the V&A Waterfront.

According to the press the festival is a cultural appreciation and fundraising event packed with all thing Portuguese.

Event co-ordinator, Alberto Goncalves, said, “The event is held to bless the boats and fishermen who go out to sea each year and has become somewhat of a social event. It is also held as a fundraising event for Portuguese welfare.”

The SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) successfully completed their farthest disentanglement operation this weekend.

According to the press SAWDN managed to free a 14 metre humpback whale entangled in rope over 40 nautical miles offshore of the Southern Cape coast.

Along with the National Sea Rescue Institute Plettenberg Bay (NSRI), the SAWDN arrived at the scene and found a juvenile whale anchored to the seabed with fishing rope around its tail.   The animal was freed and all lines were recovered.

SAWDN spokesperson Craid Lambinon said, “The cutting operation took 20 minutes. We are confident that the operation has been successful and the whale appears to be healthy.

“This is the farthest out to sea that a SAWDN operation has been conducted.”

Weekly Press Review – 21 August 2017

South Africa’s weak economy is impacting those renting Transnet sites in the country’s eight commercial harbours.

According to the press tenants of Transnet sites have stated that if the economy continues on its current path they will have no choice but to renegotiate their contracts or simply return their sites to Transnet.

At present TNPA have 750 tenants and 90 cargo operators renting within the major harbours.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has sent out a plea to ask concerns citizens who cut floating buoys from fishing gear, with the intention of removing the gear in which whales and other marine mammals may become entangled, to please be aware that they may be doing more harm than good.

The department explains, “The buoys are markers which mark the ends of lines of fishing gear lying along the sea floor. Removing the floating buoys may result in slower times to find and retrieve the fishing gear by fishers, thus increasing the opportunity for entanglement of whales and other marine mammals.”

Even more dangerous is that once the buoys are removed, fishers are no longer able to find and retrieve the lines of fishing gear. These lines then continue to engage in “ghost fishing” – meaning that they continue to entrap marine creatures over time.

The NSRI was called into action this weekend as it rescued a whale entangled off the coast of Kleinmond.

According to the press, Dawie Malan and his wife reported the incident and the 12m whale was discover approximately 50m offshore entangled in rope and with a buoy attached to its tail. The whale was freed and swam away unharmed.

Weekly Press Review – 7 August 2017

The Portfolio Committee on Public Works has once again expressed concern about the state of small harbours in the Western Cape.

Following recent site visits to seven local harbours, committee acting chairperson, Freddie Adams, identified the lack of security, insufficient office space and inadequate workforces as areas of concern.

“We have discovered that the harbours we visited (Stillbaai, Arniston, Struisbaai, Gansbaai, Hermanus, Gordon’s Bay and Kalk Bay) have common challenges of decaying infrastructure, lease disparities, low job creation and inability to develop the economy of local communities,” said Adams.

The committee has stated that it believes the reason behind these challenges is the lack of communication between the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the Department of Public Works and local communities.

A hurt Filipino sailor has been rescued off Richard’s Bay. According to the press the seaman was evacuated from a ship off-shore of Richard’s Bay on Sunday by the NSRI and admitted to hospital.

The Namibian government has made a decision to increase the price of sport and recreational permits.

According to the press, the permit price has been increased to R50 per day with a limit of 10 fish per permit.

The money will be allocated towards sustaining the country’s marine resources.

Weekly Press Review – 17 July 2017

Progress has been made in the fight against abalone poaching with the police confiscating illegally poached abalone in two different Western Cape locations this week.

According to the press, police arrested two suspects in connection with the operating of an illegal abalone processing facility on a farm in Brackenfell.  In a separate incident, 213 bags of frozen abalone, weighing approximately five tons, were found in a cold storage truck in Montegu Gardens on the same day.

Police spokesperson, Andre Traut, said, “The exact value of the abalone confiscated during the two operations is yet to be determined. However, it is estimated to be several million rand.”

The Two Ocean Aquarium in Cape Town is once again putting its weight behind the banning of the single-use plastic bag. According to the press, the Aquarium is supporting the EcoBricks awareness campaign, created in an attempt to offer an alternate solution to the use of plastic bags, which so often contribute to the multitude of plastic polluting our oceans.

The EcoBrick is a “brick” made from plastic two litre bottles. The idea is to encourage the public to form the habit of stuffing paper and plastic (particularly single-use plastic bags) into the bottles. When the bottle is full it can be dropped off at various pick up points around the city.  The bottles are then used as building materials to create sustainable homes, schools and furniture.

July has been proclaimed Plastic Free July and the Aquarium has called for a complete ban on single-use plastic shopping bags in South Africa through its Rethink the Bag campaign.

Eight fishermen remain missing after their vessel capsized at Cape St Francis over the weekend.

According to the press one fisherman died in the accident, five wee rescued and eight remain missing after an extensive air, sea and shoreline search by the NSRI.

Weekly Press Review – 24 April 2017

Two men were arrested in Gordon’s Bay this week in possession of 3,015 crayfish tails. According to the press, Captain van Wyk, provincial police spokesperson, said that the goal of responsible policing in the area had been achieved after information provided by members of the local community lead to the arrests.

The K9 dog unit was responsible for tracking down the vehicle in question. “In the vehicle they found plastic bags containing 3,015 crayfish tails and 60 whole crayfish,” said van Wyk.

The two suspects, aged 23 and 34, were arrested and will appear in the Strand Magistrates court on charges of the illegal transport of crayfish and other charges involving the Marine Living Resources Act.

In an unusual headline this week two members of the NSRI required rescuing after their boat overturned near Jacobsbaai during a scuba diving session.

According to Craig Lambinon, NSRI spokesman, the NSRI was called to the rescue of two of its staff members, Megan and Matthew Melidonis, who got into trouble when their rubber boat overturned.

No one was injured in the incident.

Weekly Press Review – 6 February 2017

The dangers of working in the maritime sector, seems to be the theme of this week’s press review. According to the press there were two separate incidents over the weekend where fishermen lives were endangered and rescue efforts were required.

A fishing boat capsized off Macassar on Sunday. The captain braved shark-infested waters to swim ashore and raise the alarm. The Skymed rescue helicopter located the upturned boat with four men clinging to the side. The NSRI performed the rescue and all crewmembers were later declared fit. They had been in the water for almost four hours.

In a separate incident, one man died after a service boat capsized over the weekend. The fishing vessel, the Jin Syi Shiang, was first on the scene and its crew managed to rescue two of the men from the over-turned vessel. The captain of the stricken vessel, however, remained missing. His body was later discovered aboard the sunken vessel.

The cause of the deaths of two PetroSA workers at the Mossel Bay Gas Liquids Refinery has still not been confirmed. According to the press the two workers received medical attention at the scene, but could not be resuscitated. The families have been notified and an investigation into the incident is taking place.

Also making headlines this week is the announcement that soon-to-be listed Premier Fishing South Africa has installed the first solar energy initiative in the abalone aquaculture space in the country and looks to expand its plant in the Western Cape.

The company stated that it completed the solar energy investment on its Atlantic Abalone farm in Gansbaai with the aim of doubling abalone imports to overseas markets and creating more job opportunities.

Premier Fishing chief executive, Samir Saban, said, “The abalone operation currently employs more than 100 people and with the further expansion of our existing operation we expect to employ more than 300 people once the expansion is completed.”

Weekly Press Review – 30 January 2017

According to the press, chemicals and energy group Sasol’s share price fell 3.02 percent to R409.26 on the JSE this week. This after the company announced an expected 44 percent drop in its headline earnings.

The company has attributed the fall to currency losses and a strike at its Secunda mining operations.

The NSRI were in action this weekend. According to the press three crew-members were rescued and treated for shock after their ski-boat, the Mi Lady, capsized off Strand Beach.

The three Strand residents were in the water for more than an hour before they were rescued.

In a separate incident two men, aged 44 and 53, were rescued from a sinking yacht that they were transporting from Durban to Mossel Bay. The NSRI were once again called to action. The rescue involved the use of an NSRI rescue vessel, as well as an NSRI rescue helicopter.

Also making headlines this week was a shooting incident between to suspected perlemoen smuggling gangs, which took place near Gansbaai, resulting in the death of one of the gang members.

It is suspected that the violence between the gangs broke out due to inflated pricing of poached perlemeon by one of the gangs.

Cape Town maritime enthusiasts were treated to a splendid sight this week, as the Queen Mary 2 visited Table Bay Harbour for a brief two-day visit.

According to the press the 14 year-old vessel is the world’s only operational ocean liner (not cruise liner) and was originally built in 2002 to replace the ageing Queen Elizabeth 2.

Weekly Press Review – 16 September 2016

 Residents of the Overberg region are rejoicing this week as the Western Cape parliament is to finally address the issue of perlemoen poaching in the area.

According to the press, Debbie Schaffer, chairman of the committee for economic opportunity, tourism and agriculture in the provincial parliament said that she has invited representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), security institutions and experts from the perlemoen industry to address the committee with regard to the problem of perlemoen poaching as early as next week.

 Twelve fishers were forced to abandon ship when their vessel ran aground in Port St Francis this week.

According to the press the 48-foot Barcelona ran aground after facing strong winds and waves up to four metres. The crew sent out a mayday at approximately 3.44am. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) responded to the incident, along with various vessels in the area. By the time help arrived, the crew had managed to get ashore.

The captain of the Barcelona was treated for shock and hypothermia, but all other crew members were in good health, except for minor cuts and bruises.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating the incident.

According to the press Sasol’s operations remain under pressure this week due to low global oil and commodity prices. The listed energy and chemicals group’s earnings have decreased by 55 percent for the year to 30 June.

In response Sasol has implemented a business performance enhancement programme and oil price response plan. The aim is to achieve costs and achieve cash savings.

Sasol joint chief executive, Bongani Nqwababa said that the company’s cost reduction and cash savings initiatives were exceeding targets, placing the group on a sound footing as it geared up its balance sheet.

Weekly Press Review – 2 September 2016

The issuing of fishing permits by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has once again made headlines this week.

According to the press, local fishing associations have lodged an urgent high court application to interdict and restrain DAFF from issuing further horse mackerel fishery permits to Global Pact.

Both the South African Deepsea Trawling Industry and Midwater Trawling Associations describe the department’s decision to allocate an additional 8,000 tons of experimental quota in the horse mackerel fishery as irrational. They have requested that the court set the decision aside.

The Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA), World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) and BirdLife SA have also expressed concern at the decision and are advising that a “cautionary approach” is required when dealing with the horse mackerel resource.

Johann Augustyn, executive secretary of the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry and Mid-water Trawling Associations said, “The fact that the permit is called a “permit for exploratory fishing” does not change its substance. It allows Global Pact to fish directly for horse mackerel utilising the same type of vessel as other existing rights holders, but without any effort limitation component, and with no spatial restriction.”

He added that he believed the decision to be influenced by an undisclosed ulterior purpose or bias.

In response DAFF spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo said that the proposal by Global Pact was designed to assist the department to better understand the size and extent of the South African horse mackerel stock.

 Shark season is once again upon us and Cape Town’s beach-goers are being warned to be aware of the increased great white shark activity in-shore at our local beaches.

According to the press the City and Shark Spotters are hard at work to ensure the safety of beach-goers over this period.

According to Johan van der Merwe, Mayco member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, “All beach and ocean users are reminded that the presence of great white sharks in in-shore areas increases at this time of year. We are also asking surfers to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise and Macassar Beach as research has shown that the presence of sharks is extremely common at this time of year.”

An extraordinary whale rescue has also made headlines this week. The NSRI and South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were once again called to action to rescue a Humpback whale entangled in rope and a floatation buoy. Once freed the whale did not however simply swim away.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said, “Once all the ropes and the floatation buoy were removed, in a most incredible reaction from the animal, the whale swam right up alongside the sea rescue boat and he gently placed his head on the gunnel of the sea rescue craft.

“The whale remained there for almost 20 minutes seemingly staring at the rescuers. All involved described a surreal and emotional moment shared between the SAWDN volunteer team and this beautiful animal. The whale then swam off.”

Weekly Press Review – 19 August 2016

Saldanha Bay has made headlines this week celebrating the terminal ‘s milestone of a billion tons of exports.

Most of South Africa’s iron ore exports pass through the terminal, which has the capacity to stockpile 4.5 million tons of ore of 13 different grades.  According to Robert van Rooyen, Saldanha Bay terminal manager, the bulk terminal handles approximately 59 million tons annually, compared to smaller multi-purpose terminals which handle about 7 million tons of iron ore.

“We are delighted with the success of the terminal and commitment that has been shown by the staff and management team, which has seen us go from the terminal’s total handling capacity increasing gradually from 18 million tons per annum in 1976 to where we are today at 60 million tons per annum – an increase of 233 percent.”

It has been a busy week for the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN), as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).  The organisation was called once again called to action to rescue a whale entangled in fishing rope and flotation buoys off Glencairn.  According to the press, SAWDN volunteers, along with members of the NSRI, used disentanglement equipment to free the 7.5m juvenile humpback whale.

According to SAWDN head Michael Meyer the whale appeared to be healthy.

“All indications are that the animal has survived and we are satisfied that the operation has been successful,” said Meyer.

In a separate incident, the NSRI and the South African Stranding Network (SASN) were called to rescue a 2.5m dolphin stranded at Jeffey’s Bay. According to the press the dolphin was successfully returned to the ocean.

These two incidents once again remind us that we need to be mindful of the impact that our marine activities have on the wildlife in our oceans.  Fishing ropes and buoys remain a problem, but even the shark nets designed to protect swimmers often result in the deaths of dolphin, turtles and otters that get caught in them.

A balance needs to be found between using our oceans and abusing our oceans.