Weekly Press Review – 16 April 2018

Two South African universities have been selected to form part of an international scientific expedition aiming to explore one of the coldest and most remote locations in the Antarctic for two months.

According to the press the team will comprise of glaciologists, marine geologists, marine biologists, marine biogeochemists, oceanographers and marine archaeologists. The team also comprises members of the UK’s Nekton Foundation and the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

The team will be using autonomous underwater vehicles to survey the seafloor below 3,000 metres and study cavities on the underside of the ice shelf.

UCT’s Professor Isabelle Ansorge said, “Participating in the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 will give South African researchers an unprecedented opportunity to investigate and explore one of the most remote and least-studied places on our planet, and to collaborate with international research colleagues across different disciplines.”

Oceana shares fell 0.24 percent on the JSE this week. According to the press this was despite the company reporting that it expected its basic earnings a share for the six months to March to increase by 55 percent and 65 percent.

The company attributed the increase in earnings to the release of $13 million deferred taxation in Daybrook, following the reduction in the federal corporate tax rate in the US from 35 percent to 21 percent.

According to the press, the H5N8 bird flu virus is threatening the lives of protected African penguins at Boulders beach.   State veterinarian Dr Laura Roberts says that 18 penguins have already succumbed to the disease.

“All possible measures are in place to prevent the spreading of the virus through human interaction. These are wild birds so we cannot control the natural spreading of the virus,” said Dr Roberts.

This week the fate of our plastic infested oceans has once again made headlines with more frightening statistics.

Around 12.2 million tons of plastic enters oceans annually. This plastic is ingested by dozens of species of marine mammals and birds and degrades vital habitats. Million of birds, sea mammals and turtles die each year from ingesting this plastic.  Countering this epidemic of ocean pollution will require big, bold international actions by governments and small, personal actions by citizens. And both need to happen now!

The world’s rarest turtle has been discovered in Vietnam.

According to the press the discovery of a single Yangtze giant soft turtle, living in a lake outside Hanoi, has been confirmed, bring the total number of globally known population for this species to just four.

“This finding brings new hope, with the possibility of bringing wild animals together in a controlled environment for captive breeding,” said Timothy McCormack of the Turtle Survival Alliance, Asian Turtle Programme (ATP).

The HMS Bullfrog, which survived attacks by both the Nazis and the Japanese during World War 2, is headed for the scrap yard unless it finds new ownership.

According to the press, the 75-year-old, 2,000 ton-museum ship, now named the Cable Restorer, has been berthed in Simon’s Town for 24 years.

The man at the helm, former Simon’s Town mayor Harry Dilley, has been instructed to dispose of the vessel.

Dilley said that he is running out of options to save the vessel. He has maintained the her for over a quarter of a century. In that time she has served as a restaurant, a wedding venue, a film set and a floating dormitory for maritime college pupils.

Not only is the vessel costly to maintain, but it is also unclear how long the navy will host it inside the military base.

“We do not have a good record with this kind of thing,” said Brian Ingpen, maritime educator and co-founder of the Lawhill Maritime Centre.  “To my thinking it would be wonderful if we could preserve her, but it costs a lot of money.”

Veteran Hout Bay operator Ken Evans believes that the vessel has both commercial and developmental potential.

“It is a difficult one. You actually need a bunch of philanthropists to keep it alive,” he said.

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Weekly Press Review – 6 November 2015

This week a small slice of maritime history was celebrated as the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) hosted a commemoration entitled:  Remembering the Icons of the Sea.

Members of the media were included in the event which took place aboard the SA Agulhas in the Cape Town docks.  The commemoration was in honour of the approximately 40 brave men exiled from South Africa who attempted to enter the country aboard the Soviet vessel, The Aventura.

The vessel was bound for KwaZulu-Natal, but Operation Aventura was abandoned just outside Somalia and the men then found their way into South Africa via Swaziland and Botswana.

Former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) commander Fanele Mbali and fellow comrades Tlom Cholo and Zola Nqose, who were all part of the Luthuli attachment, attended the event.

“We desperately wanted to get back home to fight the boer, and die in that engagement if we had to,” said Mbali.

SAMSA chief executive Tsietsi Mokhele said, “Our stalwarts played a significant role in maritime heritage.  What the stalwarts made us realise was that the sea offers more than just fish and a good view.  Maritime explorations were critical.”

The Oceana Fishmeal Factory in Hout Bay is back in the headlines this week.

The jobs of 98 of the factory’s employees have been saved thanks to a successful bid by the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (FAWU).

In August Oceana made the announcement that they would not be able to keep the factory working due to continual complaints from some residents in the area about the smell emitted from the factory.

The jobs of the workers have been saved after the signing of an agreement between Fawu and Oceana, extending the operating lease of the factory from one to five years.

Oceana also announced this week that the company would be spending an estimated R11 million to update their chemical scrubbing technology to deal with the odour problem.

Chief executive Francois Kuttel was, however, quick to point out that the this was not going to solve the problem to the satisfaction of all residents of Hout Bay.

“Let me be categorical here, unfortunately, nothing we are going to do will stop the smell.  The technology simply does not exist,” he said.

The name Bengis is also back in the headlines this week with the announcement that David Bengis, son of former Cape Town fishing magnate Arnold Bengis, has agreed to pay $1.5 million to the South African government as restitution for the illegal harvesting of rock lobster in South African waters.

This is part of the $22.5 million that a US court ordered Arnold and David Bengis, along worth their partner Jeffrey Noll, to pay the South African government as restitution for the illegal importation of poached lobster to the US.

The lobster were poached in South Africa between 1987 and 2001.

Weekly Press Review – 26 June 2015

The Lucky Star fishmeal factory in Hout Bay is causing a stink this week.  The press reported that a meeting scheduled to discuss the smell of rotting fish emanating from the factory was cancelled at the last moment.

Lucky Star is a subsidiary of the Oceana group and the meeting between the company and the City’s mayoral committee was set to discuss mitigation measures by the factory to reduce air pollution.

Bulelwa Nombutuma, spokesperson for Oceana, said that the meeting did not take place as one of their council members was not available.

Kiara Worth, chairperson for the air pollution portfolio for the Hout Bay Residents Ratepayers Association said that the smell had been affecting schools, churches and homes as well as the well-being of residents in the area for over 20 years.

No indication has been given as to when, or if, the meeting will be re-scheduled.

From air pollution to water pollution.  It was reported in the press this week that a group of 160 civic organisations have urged the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to refuse the City of Cape Town’s application to continue pumping raw sewerage into the Atlantic, unless the City is able to come up with a plan to phase out sewerage-to-sea outfalls.

Unlike other areas in the city where sewerage is treated before it is pumped into the ocean, at the three areas in question, Hout Bay, Camps Bay and Green Point, the sewerage being pumped into the ocean has not been treated.

The City has responded by saying that it is simply too expensive to first pump the sewerage to the treatment plant at Athlone, and that at present there is no other viable alternative.

The Greater Cape Town Alliance has responded by saying that the time has come for new, innovative and environmentally friendly solutions for sewage disposal.

With the renewed focus on the blue economy and the investment in our oceans as the providers of food and the very air that we breathe, surely step one would be to start to address this kind  of problem and call on our young scientists to come up with financially viable solutions that could be implemented sooner rather than later.

Weekly Press Review – 9 May 2014

Oceana seems to be making a bit of a stink and the Hout Bay community are none too happy about it.  The company’s fishmeal plant located in Hout Bay has been emitting the smell of rotten fish over the last few weeks and residents are up in arms according to newspaper reports.

Chief executive, Francois Kuttel has admitted that some may find the smell offensive, but says that there is nothing that can be done to stop the smell.  “In instances where complaints were logged recently, it was found that the plant had been operating normally.  The regulating authority has also conducted its own investigation and our operations have been found to be compliant,” said Kuttel.

It would seem that the residents of the area do not have a leg to stand on as Mushfeeqah Croeser of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has pointed out in the press that the plant has been in existence for more than 40 years and is a registered offensive trade.

Unfortunately for the residents of Hout Bay, they will simply have to put up with the stink …. or move.

The SA Agulhas II cruised back into Cape Town harbour this week, just in time for all those on board to cast their vote in Wednesday’s elections.  All South African’s on board were said to be delighted to be back in South Africa in time to have their say in the election process.

Weekly Press Review – 4 April 2014

Members of local fishing communities made headlines as they took to the streets in two separate protests this week. The first of these was staged outside the Western Cape High Court in response to allegations that a community from Buffeljachtsbaai is being forcibly removed by the Overstrand Municipality.

The second took place in Hout Bay, where protestors blocked the entrance to the harbour and called for the renewal of their fishing rights, as well as transformation within the fishing industry.

Protest leader, Emmanuel Arendse was quoted as saying, “We are living in poverty.  We want our fishing rights back.  Our people need food on their tables.  We cannot live like this.  Minister (Tina Joemat-Pettersson) must get out of office.”

Are we not all secretly calling for change within the fishing industry?  Perhaps the urgency is just felt that much more keenly by communities who rely on the industry for every meal that is or is not on their table.

Also making news this week was the announcement by Oceana that it would be paying out R289 million to the beneficiaries of its empowerment trust. The company added that the cash payout was only a quarter of the value that the empowerment fund had generated and proved that they were worthy recipients of fishing rights.

Oceana chief executive, Francois Kuttel stated:  “What we have achieved is far more than what we would have been able to achieve if these rights were given to players with less resources and experience.”

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson has previously stated that empowerment and creating value for fishing communities was an important criteria for assessment during fishing rights allocation.

With their fishing rights up for assessment next year and again in 2020, it would seem that Oceana are aiming to tick all the right boxes.