Weekly Press Review – 22 September 2016

According to the press this week, residents of the Overberg region had the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the ongoing perlemoen poaching and the effects that it seems to be having on increased gang violence, drug abuse and prostitution in the area at a committee meeting of the provincial committee of economic opportunity.

Anne Lubbe, head of human resources at Abagold, one of South Africa’s main perlemoen providers said, “Perlemoen is now about many more issues. It is an exit and income for many, but for others the consequences are worse than ever.

Everyone is jumping in the ocean for perlemoen. There is no control over perlemoen poaching. The poachers get the perlemoen, they receive no cash, they get drugs. These drugs have to be sold to make money. School children are used to sell the drugs.”

In response, Col. Jacques Visser of the Hawks in the Western Cape said, “We have successfully pursued 145 cases and arrested more than 400 people. These cases are now in the courts.”

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, DAFF, was not represented at the committee meeting.

In response to low freight and oil prices, Denmark’s Moller- Maersk will spilt itself and focus on transport and logistics, while simultaneously continuing to seek a way out of energy in a much anticipated revamp aimed at reviving its fortunes.

According to the press the conglomerate will focus on its core businesses: Maersk Line, APM Terminals, Damco, Svitzer and Maersk Container Industry, while also looking for solutions for its smaller energy operations.

The news was received cautiously by investors. “It might be one of the most pain-free solutions relative to other scenarios, but they could have gone even further,” said Nykredit analyst Ricky Rasmussen.

Work on the R1.3 billion mixed use development at the gateway to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town has made headlines this week.

“The Yacht Club” is being developed by the Amdec Group and will comprise a hotel as well as  modern urban apartment living in two towers on a podium of premium grade office space.

Nicholas Stopforth, managing director of Amdec, said, “The hotel will have a contemporary four-star grading.” He added that the apartments had proven particularly popular with investors, who had enthusiastically welcomed the massive potential they represented for long-term leases, and owner occupiers. About 20 percent of these buyers are based in Gauteng.

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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 – 26 August 2016

The battle against the poaching of South Africa’s perlemoen has been emphasised in the press again this week with the police making two more arrests and confiscating perlemoen with an estimated value of R3.5 million.

According to Pieter van Dalen DA-LP, poachers seem to be using our ocean as their own personal ATM machine. If they are in need of money, they simply make a perlemoen withdrawal.

“Perlemoen poaching is supposed to be a category-A offence all along the coast, but there is no political will to implement this. It is now being done so openly that poachers seem to regard it as their right,” says van Dalen.

Development plans for Saldanha Bay are back in the headlines this week. Transnet and the provincial government say expansion plans for Saldanha Bay’s harbour are going ahead despite the diminished demand for iron and depressed oil prices.

According to Alan Winde, Economic Opportunities MEC, the iron ore prices will have minimal impact for Saldaha Bay. “If demand drops it will affect jobs. But the IDZ is focused around servicing the oil and gas industry. We’ve already had 31 companies sign memorandums of understanding with the IDZ. Not one of them has pulled back,” says Winde.

Also making headlines this week is a statement by world-renowned fisheries expert, Ray Hilborn, challenging South Africa’s marine protected area (MPA) strategy, saying that closing off areas of the ocean is not the solution to overfishing.

Hilborn, professor of aquatic and fishery science at the University of Washington, is due to present a seminar at UCT this week entitled “Fisheries Myths”.  According to Hilborn myths have generated a belief that fisheries management needs to be more conservative and more of the ocean needs to be closed to fishing.

“In the desire to create an oceanic paradise, advocates of MPAs must consider that it is the world’s poorest people who rely on marine fisheries for nutrition and income,” says Hilborn.

Deputy director-general of Environmental Affairs, Monde Mayekiso, said that the department would engage with Hilborn at the debate.

“We have used MPAs in South Africa for a long time and we are aware that MPAs are not the end-all solution. It is just one tool in the management of our resources,” said Mayekiso.

An appeal by Sanccob for donations to help in the rehabilitation of 50 badly oiled penguins has also made headlines this week.

The birds were rescued at the St Croix Island group off Algoa Bay in a joint initiative involving the NSRI, SANParks and Sanccob. It is believed that the birds were oiled due to oil spilled during a ship-to-ship oil transfer. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating.

In the meantime Sanccob has appealed to members of the public to please donate towels and newspapers to aid in the cleaning of the oiled birds. All donations are to be delivered to the Sanccob offices in Jeffeys Bay.

Weekly Press Review – 13 May 2016

The big maritime news this week was the announcement that after several years of being based in Copenhagen, Safmarine will be moving its head-office back to Cape Town.

Safmarine was founded in South Africa in 1946, taken over by Maersk Line in 1999 and in 2012 the head-offices were moved to Copenhagen.

Vincent Clerc of Safmarine was quoted in the press as saying that as Africa is at the core of the Safmarine strategy, it made sense to move the head-office back to Cape Town.

This week the press also made mention of the shockingly high number of perlemoen already lost to poaching since the beginning of the year. Since the start of 2016, and in the Western Cape alone, a total of 465,351 perlemoen have been poached with an estimated value of R166 million.

Measures are in place to try to stop the ongoing surge of perlemeon poaching with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) working with several other players, including the South African police force, as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), but so far the tide of poaching has not been stemmed.

According to DAFF Minister Zenzeni Zokwana, most of the poached perlemoen is exported to eastern countries.

In a bizarre story also making headlines this week, a resident of Glencairn in the Cape has been arrested for having penguin eggs in his possession.

Apparently the suspect stole the eggs from the Boulders colony, which is part of the Table Mountain National Park and falls under SANParks.

Francois Louw, of the South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, said, “The African Penguin is an endangered species. The population in South Africa is 25,000 breeding pairs, which is critical to the survival of the species. We don’t condone actions that jeopardise the survival of eggs or penguins.”

The 30-year old suspect was arrested on Wednesday and has already appeared in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on charges of the illegal possession of penguin eggs.

Press review – December 2015

With 2016 now officially upon us I spent the morning wading through some of the news headlines of the closing weeks of 2015.  To be honest there was very little good news.

Droughts continue to wreak havoc on our agricultural sector with little relief in sight as soaring temperatures prevail and the chances of rain are minimal.

The NSRI had their hands full over the festive season trying to keep members of the public safe on the beaches and in the water. Yet again too many holiday makers lost their lives in our oceans during the holiday season.

More arrests were made in connection with perlemoen poaching along the Western Cape coastline with an estimated R3 million worth of perlemoen being confiscated and the story of the Seli 1 which ran aground in Table Bay in September 2009 has still not come to an end with the vessel now discharging lumps of coal along the beach at Blouberg.

With all this negativity constantly surrounding us it is hard to start the year with a positive spirit.  One can only hope that as an industry members of the maritime sector can work together to focus on areas where changes can be made and move towards a prosperous and positive 2016.

Weekly Press Review – 14 August 2015

An investigation implicating nine international shipping companies has made headlines this week. The Competition Commission investigation has implicated the nine international shipping companies in the prohibited practices of price fixing, market division and collusive tendering for the transportation of vehicles, equipment and machinery by sea to and from South Africa.

It is alleged that the companies involved agreed to fix prices, divide markets and collude on tenders.

The fact that there are a number of respondents to the investigation and that the entities involved are large entities, mostly not residing in South Africa, has only added to the complexity of the investigation.

Anthony Ndzabandzaba, part of the commission’s investigation team, said,”The commission is still proceeding with its investigations in respect of some of the firms that have not shown any willingness to settle.”

It would seem that perlemoen poaching is no longer a silent crime carried out under the cover of darkness.

According to the press this week, holiday makers in Franskraal were shocked to see approximately 30 poachers blatantly searching for abalone along the beach in broad daylight.

Fatima Savel of the Department of Fisheries was quoted as saying that once the department had been made aware of the illegal activities along the beach, officials had immediately visited the site, but the poachers had long gone.

However, people who were on the beach at the time of the incident said that two fisheries department officials, as well as police in the area, had driven passed the scene, but had done nothing.

Similar incidents have been reported at Gansbaai, Onrus and Kleinbaai.

Police spokesman Lt Col Andre Traut said that there were laws against poaching and that the police had a responsibility to act and detain these criminals.

Weekly Press Review – 6 March 2015

Perlemoen arrests have made headlines again this week with another five people being arrested after a raid on a house in Kuilsriver.  Three Chinese nationals and two Zimbabweans were arrested at the scene where wet and dry perlemoen to the value of R3.2 million was discovered.  The five appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

Managing director of Maersk Line South Africa, Jonathan Horn’s comments with regard to South Africa no longer being the only gateway into Africa have also made headlines this week.

At the group’s global results report in Durban, Horn pointed out that ports in both east and west Africa were catching up with South African ports.

“If you look at the emerging markets of West and East Africa, they are slightly smaller, but their growth rates there are increasing significantly and on a much higher level.  South Africa is certainly not the only gateway to Africa anymore,” said Horn.

Also making the news is the strike by Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) members at two crayfish packaging companies in Hout Bay and Saldanha.  The strike is due to a dispute over the manner in which worker-related negotiations should be conducted.

The factories are Inkosi Keta Marine in Hout Bay and the Live Fish Tanks on the West Coast. Fawu national fishing sector organiser, Zolani Mbanjwa said, “We, as Fawu, are pushing for collective negotiations with the two companies.  The dispute started when we tried to consolidate the recognition agreement for both companies under one agreement.  But the companies refused to enter into the agreement.”

Keta marine’s labourer relations manager, Frederi Steyn-Visser said the issue had been referred to the CCMA for a resolution.