Weekly Press Review – 12 February 2018

Making headlines this week is the news that fishing company, Sea Harvest, expects to see an improvement in its earnings a share of at least 28 percent for the year ending in December.

The group says the performance was mainly driven by the South African operations with strong market demand for Cape hake globally and significantly enhanced performance from the investments made in the Saldanha Bay processing plants.

With the huge amounts of perlemoen constantly poached from South African waters, a call has been made to national government to turn its attention to the ongoing poaching, as well as its policy towards small-scale fisheries.

A request is to be made to Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) that funding be made available to ensure the effective execution of the small-scale fisheries policy.

DAFF has been accused of neglecting the issue thus far.

Excitement is mounting for the return of 20 cadets who have been involved in a three-month exploration expedition to the Antarctica aboard the SA Agulhas.  According to the press the cadets will be docking in Cape Town later next week.

The cadets are pursuing maritime studies at various institutions and have spent the last three month aboard the science training vessel journeying through the Antarctica.

According to SAMSA chief operations officer, Sobantu Tilayi, “As SAMSA we are proud to have created a platform for young cadets to be trained on our vessel and gain experience in the open sea.”

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Weekly Press Review 29 January 2018

This week the RMS St Helena left Cape Town harbour for its final round trip journey of three weeks to St Helena Bay and Ascension Island – a unique service that linked Cape Town with the mid-Atlantic islands for nearly 40 years.

According to the press, as of 24 January another ship will transport cargo about once a month to St Helena Bay. The only means of regular passenger travel will now be by air, thanks to a South African airline that started a weekly commercial flight in October after the delayed opening of an airport.

“Those who travelled in the old ship, however, will miss her special atmosphere, excellent service, delicious cuisine and wonderful people aboard,” said Brian Ingpen, regular contributor to the Cape Times.

2018 has been a busy year for police thus far with regard to perlemoen poaching. According to the press, millions of rands worth of illegally poached perlemoen has already been confiscated since the start of the year; with several arrests being made in the process.

Weekly Press Review – 22 January 2018

A group of top US maritime business students are visiting South Africa’s major shipping centres this month. According to the press, the aim of the visit is to learn from the local industry and explore the cultural complexity of the global maritime industry.

The event is hosted by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and the visiting students, from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, are accompanied by their South African lecturer, Dr Portia Ndlovu.

“The global maritime family is expanding all the time and it is vitally important to understand the different cultures that may be encountered,” said Dr Ndlovu.

SAIMI spokesperson, Samantha Venter said, “Being able to support professional development and share our advances with international visitors is a big part of putting the African maritime sector on the global map.”

Also making headlines this week is the news that the proposed international listing of South African private freight and logistics group, Grindrod, has been delayed due to differences in legislation in the countries where it plans to list.

In a statement Grindrod said that work is continuing and based on current timing estimates the Grindrod board aims to make its final determination on the proposed international listing in the early part of 2018.

The annual 2018 South African Navy Festival has been cancelled due to insufficient funds.

According to the press, SA Navy spokesperson, Sam Khasuli said, “The organisation is beset with the dwindling of yearly budget allocations.”

The decision to cancel the festival allows the SA Navy to commit its depleted budget to the core business of defending and protecting the South African maritime zone.

Police officials arrested five suspects in possession of abalone with an estimated value of R3.6 million this week.

According to the press, the five suspects, aged between 22 and 26, have already made a court appearance to face a charge of illegal possession of abalone.

Also making headlines this week is the Two Oceans Aquarium battle against deadly single-use plastic straws, which find their way into our oceans.

Aquarium spokesperson, Renee Leeuwner said, “Hundreds of billions of plastic straws are used globally, damaging ecosystems, killing wildlife and contributing to the pollution of our atmosphere.

“Straws are not recyclable. Animals can mistake straws for food, which can lead to their deaths.”

The aquarium is addressing the issue through its “Straws Suck” campaign, saying that giving up straws is an ideal start and listing alternatives to the plastic straw as bamboo, glass, stainless steal and paper straws.

Weekly Press Review – 27 November 2017

Deputy Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Bheki Cele was cornered by a group of small-scale fishers at a launch to mark World Fisheries Day in Saldanha Bay this week.

According to the press, representatives from various fishing organisations seized the opportunity to demand answers to their many grievances. Lambert’s Bay fisher, Ferdinand Fransman, speaking on behalf of The Collective said, “We had a meeting with you, the Minister Senzeni Zokwana and the Fisheries deputy director-general, Siphokazi Ndudane, in September.

“You gave us many promises that turned out to be lies. What we want to know today minister, specifically with the West Coast rock lobster, is what happens to our poor people after February?”

The department announced on 10 November that the total allowable catch (TAC) for 2017/18 fishing season for rock lobster would remain 1924.08 tons – the same as the previous season.

Another arrest was made this week after a man from Swellendam was caught in possession of perlemoen with an estimated value of R7.1 million.

According to the press, police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk said that the police and K9 unit were completing a routine patrol when they stopped a truck to search it. In a hidden area within the truck the police found 1,403,2 kg of perlemoen.

Mentioned in the press this week is the announcement by Barloworld that the listed distribution group has given notice of its possible exit from logistics if its business failed to improve its return on invested capital.

TNPA anticipates that more than 20 luxury passenger ships from 17 international shipping lines will visit South African harbours during the cruise season. According to the press, Cape Town and Durban will receive the largest number of passenger ships. Shulami Qalinge, head of TNPA, said that the two harbours are positioned as the country’s major ports for attracting passenger ships.

An investigation into the near sinking of the passenger ferry, Thandi, has cited weather conditions as one of the key contributing factors causing the incident that led to the rescue of 60 tourists en route to Robben Island.

The Robben Island Museum (RIM) says the report, carried out by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), has helped the organisation to evaluate its current safety procedures and to provide an even better and safer experience for all visitors to the island.

Weekly Press Review – 13 November 2017

Yet another perlemoen bust has made headlines this week, this time in the Mfuleni area where 5,553 perlemoen were discovered in 55 bags with an estimated value of R1 million.

In a separate incident a tip-off  led to the arrest of five people found in possession of perlemoen with an estimated value of R3.5 million. This included the equipment used by the suspects in the Mfuleni incident.

A total of 4,645 interested parties and residents from Langebaan in the Western Cape have signed a petition requesting that plans for an aquaculture plant in the Langebaan lagoon be abandoned.

According to the press, the planned aquaculture project, over an estimated 884 hectares in the town’s lagoon, is part of the government’s Operation Phakisa and is driven by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as private investors.

Jennifer Kamerman, spokesperson for Save the Langebaan Lagoon Action Group (SSL), says that the proposed area for the aquaculture development is predominantly used by small-scale fishers. The development will deny this community the right to fish in the lagoon.

“These people earn a living from the fish that they catch here,” says Kamerman.

SSL has said that they are not against aquaculture development in the area, but feel that it should be an inland development, not on the coast, and definitely not in the lagoon.

Weekly Press Review – 16 October 2017

This week Armscor confirmed plans to buy a new torpedo system for its Heroine-class submarines to replace the existing ageing stockpile.

According to the press, it is unclear how many new-generation torpedoes will be purchased (at an estimated cost of R60 million each), but news of the acquisition coincides with a military budget crisis, with the navy unable to afford vital offshore patrol vessels. The government has also delayed a massive shipbuilding programme, Projects Hotel and Biro, which would create thousands of jobs.

“The value to the country of a torpedo weapons system is minuscule compared with building a ship,” said one arms industry insider.

Earlier this year naval chiefs confirmed severe operational challenges stemming from a R5 billion cut in military spending across the army, air force and navy.

Despite the fact that two major perlemoen poaching syndicates have recently appeared in local magistrate courts, the business of perlemoen poaching remains rife in the Western Cape.

According to the press the police arrested three individuals in possession with approximately R30,000 of perlemoen this week.  The men will appear in court shortly.

South Africa and Mozambique are developing more gas pipelines in order to meet the increasing demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in both countries.

According to the press, Mozambique’s Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Augusto de Sousa Fernando told delegates at the International Gas Co-operation Summit in Durban that demand had increased over the last 13 years. He added that South Africa had an opportunity to benefit from the development of LNG in the future by joining other countries in the region.

As part of National Marine Week WWF-Sassi has reiterated its message that whether we will be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of a meal of fish and chips in the future depends largely on the choices that we, as consumers, make today.

Sassi has compiled a list of the status of various fish. Each year this list is reviewed and species are added, removed or have their status changed, according to various species assessments.

Two Ocean Aquarium communications and sustainability manager, Helen Lockhart said, “Teaming up with SASSI this Marine Month provides a great opportunity to take the sustainable seafood message beyond the Aquarium and to focus on informing and empowering consumers during this month.”

Weekly Press Review

Police are investigating the robbery of a Gansbaai perlemoen packing and export enterprise. It is believed that the robbery was an inside job.

According to the press nine men arrived at the premises just after 11pm on Sunday night, showing a police identity card in order to gain access to the property.  They then loaded a minibus with an unknown quantity of perlemoen and left the premises, taking three security guards with them.  The guards were found unharmed in the Mitchell’s Plain area on Monday.

The company remains closed while the incident is under investigation.

A letter in the Cape Times this week written by Professor Kevern Cochrane, professor of ichthyology and fisheries science at Rhodes University, addressed the recent and ongoing protests by small-scale and nearshore fishers regarding concerns about possible reductions in the allocations of West Coast rock lobster in the 2017/2018 season.

According to Cochrane the protests centre on two main issues:  the total allowable catch of rock lobster for the coming season and how that will be allocated between the small-scale, nearshore, commercial and offshore commercial sub-sectors.

Cochrane expressed his concern regarding the response to these issues by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

“Rock lobster is a vital resource for thousands of fishers on the West Coast and it would be a disaster for them, as well as for the ecosystem, if the department allowed this already threatened species to decline further.

“History will judge whether the department was able to provide the leadership and guidance to reverse the current decline,” says Cochrane, offering four key steps that he feels the department should take in order to fulfil its social, economic and ecological mandate for  this species and the dependent fisheries.

These are:

  • Senior management must respect and adhere to the scientific advice on the TACs,
  • vague promises that controls will be increased in the future are insufficient,
  • the department should urgently convene a working group, and
  • options consistent with the goals of South Africa’s fisheries policy ned to be identifies, while minimising harm to those who bear the brunt of the necessary reductions in some quotas.