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.

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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.

Weekly Press Review – 28 August 2017

The sale of Maersk oil and gas assets to Total made headlines this week. Total agreed to buy the oil and gas unit AP Moller-Maersk, paying Maersk with $4.95 billion (R65.03 billion) of its own shares and assuming $2.5bn of the company’s debt.

The board at Grindrod is investigating the possibility of a separate offshore listing process.

According to the press, Mike Hankinson, executive chairman of Grindrod said, “The Grindrod board has for many years reiterated the intention to separate the shipping business from the balance of the group, as it does not believe that the value of the shipping business is fairly reflected in the Grindrod share price.”

The company has said that it has appointed South African and foreign advisers to assist and it is expected that the listing process will be concluded within the first half of next year.

Despite Sasol announcing a 15 percent fall in headline earnings, Sasol shares traded in positive territory this week.

According the press, the stock moved 1.58 percent up in early trade with the shares settling 0,57 percent up at R392.80 at the close of the JSE on Friday.

Sea Harvest, the fishing division of Brimstone, is working towards the purchasing of a freezer ship valued at $15.5 million.

According to the press, Felix Ratheb, executive head of Sea Harvest, says the vessel is a necessity to ensure optimal use of the fleet.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) says that it is making progress in the fight against abalone poaching after two separate arrests last week and the confiscation of abalone worth approximately R13 million.

According to the press, the department says, “The protection of Marine Living Resources, including abalone, is one of the priorities of the department.”

Weekly Press Review – 22 May 2017

The big headline this week is the search and seizure warrant issued by the HAWKS at the offices of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in Cape Town.

In response DAFF suspended a member of its fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) following a complaint that could amount to corruption.

The Hawks confiscated the laptop and cell phone of the unnamed member of FRAP. When asked whether DAFF felt compelled to reveal the identify of the person, Thembalethu Vico, DAFF’s acting chief director for monitoring control and surveillance, said that DAFF would be dealing with the issue internally.

Police have arrested a 42 year-old man in Crawford, Athlone in connection with perlemoen poaching. According to the press perlemoen, with an estimated value of R78 million, was discovered packed into fridges at a mortuary in Philippe East.

The man will appear in the Athlone Magistrates’ court this week.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of one of the worst South African maritime losses ever recorded. According to the press, on November 28, 1942, the Nova Scotia was torpedoed and sank in shark infested waters 48km east of St Lucia in Zululand.

The tragedy resulted in the death of 858 lives, many of them South African soldiers.

Weekly Press Review – 1 August 2014

Perlemoen rights are back in the press this week with Minister Senzeni Zokwana (DAFF) making the announcement that all existing perlemoen rights’ holders have been granted the right to continue fishing for another year.  The existing perlemoen rights expired on Wednesday.

Fisheries management consultant, Shaheen Moolla was quoted as saying that this is the ninth fishing sector to be given exemptions.  “What we are seeing is the farcical collapse of the fishing system to what it was in the 90s.”

In other news, the NSRI was called into action this week after various eyewitnesses reported seeing what looked like paraglider or microlight crashing into the sea near Sunny Cove.

Preparing for the worst, the NSRI launched a rescue vessel and headed to the scene, only to be greeted by 15 “Happy Birthday” balloons tied together and floating in the water about 15 nautical miles offshore.  Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simon’s Town station commander, said, “It is understandable that at the distances involved it looked like a crashing paraglider or microlight aircraft and the good intensions of the eyewitnesses is commended.”

A young subantarctic seal has also made the news this week after appearing in the water off Scarborough, a mere 2000km away from its home on Marion Island.  The seal is a little thin, so the SPCA has stepped in to help fatten her up and fit her with some high tech tracking gear to monitor her progress back to the island once she is released.

Fingers crossed that she makes it home.