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 – 20 May 2016

There seems to be an unhappy buzz in the maritime industry this week regarding the “escape” of eight Chinese fishing trawlers illegally navigating South African fishing waters over the weekend. A ninth vessel was arrested.

According to the press the vessels were first spotted around Durban, Port St Johns and Cape Recife, where they were suspected of fishing illegally. On Thursday the fisheries patrol vessel, the Victoria Mxenga, was sent to search for the vessels.

The vessels were discovered and appeared to co-operate, agreeing to be escorted to the Port of Saldanha for proper inspection. However, enroute the vessels split into two group and raced away at high speed. The Victoria Mxenga managed to capture one of the nine vessels, but the others escaped.

The problem seems to be that only one patrol vessel was sent out to address the problem and to bring the vessels into harbour. This was clearly not enough to deal with nine vessels and Pieter van Dalen of the DA-LP is now criticising DAFF saying that the vessels escaped due to the fact that the South African coastline is simply not sufficiently protected.

Although no fish were found on the captured vessel, the Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186, fishing equipment was found. It was found that the vessel had contravened the Marine Living Resources Act by entering the South African exclusive economic zone without a valid permit and had failed to comply with lawful instructions by a fisheries control officer, among other offences.

Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has instructed the South African Navy to assist with the chase of the remaining eight vessels.

Weekly Press Review – 17 January 2014

Tina Joemat-Pettersson has already made headlines in 2014 with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) stepping up in defense of allegations against the minister.  According to DAFF, the Public Protector’s allegations against Joemat-Pettersson are unsubstantiated and President Zuma has no grounds for disciplinary action against her.

Many would disagree with this, but Department director-general, Edith Vries ‘s response to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the R800 million a year tender irregularly awarded to Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium stated that, although these irregularities are not being disputed, four of the allegations against Joemat-Pettersson have nothing to do with the tender.

DA MP Pieter van Dalen has voiced his disapproval by stating that the department’s reaction was a “last ditch effort to protect the minister from being held accountable.  The pressure is now rightfully mounting for her to be removed from cabinet – once and for all.”

An interesting proposition has been put forward by a local Kalk Bay fisherman to declare old Kalk Bay linefish vessels “moving national monuments” with fishing licences attached as a way of protecting fishermen and their historic way of earning a living.

The proposal has been made by Joao Simoes, a local fisherman, in response to the lack of jobs after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries failed to renew the fishing licences of many skippers.

Certainly food for thought.

As if there was not enough genuine heartbreak and tragedy in the world, a Chinese theme park has added a life-sized replica of the Titanic featuring a shipwreck simulation giving visitors a harrowing sense of the 1912 disaster.

Visitors will be shaken, tumbled and sound and light effects will be used to create the feeling of water coming in.  “They will think they are drowning,” says Su Shaojun chief executive of the company funding the project.

Each to their own.

Weekly Press Review – 10 May 2013

The big news of the week this week is the announcement by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) that Desmond Stevens will take over as acting head of the fisheries department after Greta Apelgren-Narkedien stepped down last month. The department is now in the process of appointing a permanent head of fisheries.

We wait with bated breath.

The Paternoster fishing community has made the news this week with a plea to the government to increase their crayfish quotas and ease regulations. During a meeting held in Paternoster with DA parliamentarian Pieter van Dalen, fishermen stated that their concerns had largely been ignored over the past seven years.

Peter Coraizen, representing small-scale fishermen on the local council, said that fishermen generally earn less than R500 per week, resulting in their children leaving their studies to join their parents in an attempt to increase family revenue.

The quota system offers no easy solutions and it is almost impossible to please all the parties involved, but it would be nice to see the small-scale fishing community taken care of more appropriately.

In a follow up to last week’s story regarding the arrested vessel, the E Whale, and the crew stranded aboard. The Taiwanese bank that owns the vessel has agreed to take responsibility for the wages of the crew until such date as the vessel is sold.

Good news for the crew and nice to see a financial institution stepping up and doing the right thing.