Weekly Press Review – 5 December 2016

The SA Agulhas II embarked on her latest voyage this week. According to the press a group of 10 local scientists and researchers will spend 14 months doing scientific research for South Africa on the white continent, Antarctica.

According to Department of Environmental Affairs spokesperson Zolile Nqayi, “The team will be doing various types of research, including on weather, oceanography and marine animals such as sea birds.  One of the new interesting projects they will work on is doing remote digital surveillance on penguins, in which they track penguins and how they travel for feeding.”

The research is aimed at providing information regarding the effects of climate change.

PetroSA remains in the headlines this week with a call by the DA for PetroSA bosses to pay back their annual bonuses.

According to the press 10 of the company’s top managers, responsible for Project Ikwhezi, received a total bonus of approximately R17.3 million, while regular workers received nothing; and the company registered a deficit of R14.5 bn. Trade union Numsa is insisting that workers are paid some kind of bonus immediately, and also calling for an immediate forensic audit of the company.

A mix-up at Cape Town’s main harbour dry dock left a 67m supply vessel, the Go Regulus, perched on the wrong blocks this week. According to the press the resultant damage has led to a probe by harbour operator Transnet.

According to global ship repair company EBH the mix-up occurred due to dry-dock workers apparently “misinterpreting designs”.

EBH South Africa shipyard manager Deon Chetty said, “ The Go Regulus has sustained limited damage to the hull. This was due to the inadvertent misinterpretation of drawings submitted. However, in the spirit of its lengthy association – as well as co-operation and goodwill – EBH SA is working closely with Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to resolve the matter as speedily as possible.”

Unconfirmed reports suggest that another vessel may also have been damaged due to the docking designs being swapped.

TNPA has previously highlighted massive investment in port infrastructure under Operation Phakisa.

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Weekly Press Review – 7 October 2016

The press has reported this week that South Africa will invest up to R50.55 billion at ports in both Richard’s Bay and Coega to build infrastructure for a gas-to-power programme aimed at easing the country’s dependence on coal.

The Department of Energy has said that a plant at Richard’s Bay will generate 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from liquefied natural gas imports and the Coega industrial development zone will generate another 1,000MW.

The government will be seeking bidders to manage the project.

Also making headlines this week is a challenge against the awarding of an R80 million experimental fishing permit to Global Pact Trading in response to several companies crying foul over its lawfulness and alleged bias

The South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry and 21 other companies have taken the minister, deputy director-general and chief director of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), as well as Global Pact Trading to court to have the permit set aside.

It has been reported that advocate Shaheen Moolla, appointed to defend the case, helped the owner of Global Pact Trading to secure the successful bid for the permit. Johann Augustyn, executive secretary of the SA Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association argued that this was a conflict of interest, adding that the permit was awarded to Global Pact Trading for an ulterior purpose or motive and in bad faith.

Moolla responded by saying, “You can’t be conflicted when you did not participate in any of the decisions and when you are advising parties who essentially stand on the same side of the litigation divide.”

There is also further controversy surrounding DAFF’s three-year fishing rights allocation, which was handed out last month.

According to the press small-scale fishers intend to appeal the process, stating that the three-year rights allocations were barely sufficient and demanded that this be extended to lifelong rights as their livelihoods depend on the sea and what the sea supplies them.

DAFF spokesperson, Palesa Mokomele, said that fishers had 30 days to object to the rights allocation.

“Fishers should also provide reasons for why they object to the duration of the right. A fishing rights allocation process would be required in order to allocate new rights,” said Mokomele.

Most of the fishers are located in the Western Cape.

The SA Agulhas II has made headlines again this week with her return to Cape Town harbour following another 13-month visit to Gough Island.

The vessel’s latest expedition has once again been regarded as a success. Dr Greg Hofmeyr, head of scientific research on Gough Island said, “We are very satisfied with the results of the research done.”

The research has provided new information regarding the weather, sea birds, seals and, as well as the mouse plague on the island.

Another vessel making headlines this week is the Nujoma, a brand new diamond-exploration vessel which docked in Cape Town harbour this week.

The vessel, which was built in Norway, is receiving some finishing touches while in Cape Town before heading on to the Namibian coast to begin service.

The vessel is part of a joint project between Debmarine Namibia, the Namibian government and De Beers and was built for diamond exploration in deep water. According to the De Beers website the vessel cost R1.9 million to build.

Weekly Press Review – 8 July 2016

The SA Agulhas II is back in the headlines this week with a group of post-graduate students from 15 universities across South Africa joining the crew of the research vessel.

The 41 students will be studying aboard the vessel until 15 July.  Their areas of focus will include:  dynamics of the ocean, marine instrumentation, life in the sea and data analysis, all with a specific focus on the Agulhas Current.

“SEA-mester” is South Africa’s first dedicated class afloat and aims to introduce marine sciences as an applied and cross-disciplinary field to students who have shown an interest in these fields.

On board, the students will be able to combine theoretical classroom learning and the application of this knowledge through ship-based, hands-on research, while working alongside specialist scientists in internationally relevant research activities.

The SEA-mester cruise will provide valuable ocean data to better understand the role of the Agulhas Current in a global ocean and provide scientific background for SEA-mester to engage with.

Professor Isabelle Ansorge of the University of Cape Town (UCT) is directing the programme with the assistance of Tahlia Henry, a former Cape Peninsula University of Technology student who is the SEA-mester coordinator.

The voyage is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology.

Weekly Press Review – 12 February 2016

The SA Agulhas II has made headlines this week with its return to South African waters.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) welcomed back the research team, consisting of international scientists and members of the CSIR, after their latest three-month research mission to Antarctica.

DEA spokesperson, Zolile Nqayi, said, “The teams who participate in the research are different each time, conducting different types of research.  Gough Islands, in the South Atlantic Ocean, will be the next expedition with weather-related research.  It is scheduled for March.”

The announcement by Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, that 22 new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are in the pipeline along the South African coastline also made headlines this week.

The proposed area covers a massive 70,000 km² and if all 22 of the proposed areas are declared Marine Protected Areas, the result will be that just over five percent of South Africa’s ocean will be protected, a vast improvement on the 0.5 percent of marine ecosystems that are presently protected by existing MRAs.

The aim behind these protected areas is to promote biodiversity, restore fishing balances, promote tourism and serve as areas to support scientific research.

Weekly Press Review – 24 July 2015

The sardines are back! The good news for fishermen was covered in the press this week as large catches of sardines along Durban’s beach front caused much excitement.

For more than five years sardine catches have been unsuccessful in the region, but this week large numbers of sardines were spotted along the South Coast, as fishermen scoured the waters between Blue Lagoon and uShaka Beach.

Seasoned fisherman, Tony Outar Moon, said, “The sardines were in deeper waters in the past few years.  It is hard to predict where they will show up next.”

The SA Agulhas II has embarked on its latest research expedition.  According to the press this week the vessel left Cape Town harbour on Tuesday to carry out a 25-day research expedition in the Southern Ocean.  The research will be taking place in three main research areas:  the third Southern Ocean Seasonal Cycle Experiment, South Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation South Africa and the Southern Ocean Trace Metal and Bio Geochemistry.

There has been a focus in the press this week on the uncertain future of the South African penguin.  Although there has been some stabilisation in bird numbers, this is no reason to allow for complacency.

According to Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) spokesman, Zolile Nqayi, the department has set several goals to ensure the future of the African penguin.  These include ensuring that the birds continue to be regarded as a protected species and the department is looking into the possibility of establishing new bird colonies in areas where there is more protection and more food readily available.

Weekly Press Review – 20 February 2015

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the decision to once again extend all long-term commercial fishing rights has made headlines this week.  DAFF is apparently in need of more time to sort out the fishing rights allocation process in general and, therefore, existing fishing rights due to expire this year have been extended, in some sectors for up to one year.

The department said that the extensions would allow  for a “well managed and transparent” allocation process.  This news follows in the wake of the disastrous fishing rights allocation process (FRAP) of 2013 over which there was such an outcry that the then Minister of Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, called for a forensic audit.  The ultimate findings of the audit were that the FRAP of 2013 had been legally faulty and that it was simply not possible to correct these faults. You can read more about the extensions and implications in the forthcoming issue of Maritime Review Africa.

The war against perlemoen poaching continues and it was reported in the press this week that another R1 million worth of illegally fished perlemoen was confiscated by police in Somerset West.  A 26 year old man was arrested and taken in for questioning after 1958 perlemoen were found in his possession.  His initial court appearance was set for this week.

The SA Agulhas II has returned from her 14 month mission to Antarctica.  The vessel was photographed by various press agencies as she docked at the V&A Waterfront after fourteen months in Antarctica.  On board was Christiaan Crous, member of the scientific research group Sanae 14 who was quoted as saying that the trip was unbelievable, but just too short.

 

Weekly Press Review – 5 September 2014

Two South African animal rights activists made headlines this week when they were arrested in the Faroe Islands after attempting to stop islanders from killing pilot whales during a traditional hunt.

The hunt is an annual event on the Faroe Islands, an autonomous state. Islanders defend the killing as a cultural right, but animal rights campaigners condemn it as a “brutal slaughter.”

The South African activists, part of the group the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, were arrested by the Danish navy, who provide assistance to the Faroe Islands to secure their fishing rights.  They have both been released, but are apparently severely traumatised by witnessing the slaughter of these sea creatures.

Cape Town has played host to a fishing conference this week. It was reported in the press that more than 100 delegates from approximately 30 countries attended the World Forum of Fisher Peoples, where the interests of small fishers was the main topic of discussion.

Speaking at the conference was Seth Macinko, an academic from the University of Rhode Island in the US.  He warns that there is a global push to privatise the oceans’ stocks.  In theory, this would mean that investors would have exclusive property rights over these public resources which would be used like any other commodity to be traded.

Macinko said, there is “A heavy emphasis on the idea of privatising fishing rights to make it an investment option, a commodity to attract Wall Street-style investors.”

This idea would obviously create a huge problem for small scale fishers who would no doubt be completely cut out of the loop.

Whether a proposal like this would ever find its feet in South African waters is doubtful.  Fishing rights allocation is an extremely troubled process at present and the outcry over small scale fishermen being cut out would surely be to huge a hurdle to overcome.

The SA Agulhas II has once again set sail for Gough Island on her annual visit.  It was mentioned in the press this week that the research team on board the vessel will spend 14 months on the island and will be joined by members from the Department of Public Works, Starlite Aviation and officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs.