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 – 1 July 2016

The deadline for the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) amendments to the Safety of Lives at Sea Agreement (SOLAS) is today.  According to the press there is some concern as to whether several countries. including South Africa, are ready.

The amendments are to address the issue of container weight mis-declaration.  The amendment requires that the verification of container weights be determined by the shipper and communicated to the master and port terminal before export containers are loaded on board a vessel, effectively making container weight verification a condition for vessel loading.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has been  designated as the body to enforce the SOLAS amendments in South Africa and problems are foreseen with regard to the ability of regulators in the container logistics chain to implement, monitor and enforce these amendments timeously.

The three Chinese vessels suspected of operating illegally in South African waters have once again made headlines this week with the announcement that they have been cleared of all poaching charges and released, but will have to pay fines of over R2 million for other offences.

The Dutch East India (DEIC) company vessel the Nieuwe Harlem which ran aground near Table bay on 25 March 1647 is back in the news this week.

This, however, is not just the story of a Dutch vessel running aground on the Cape coast.  It is believed by many to have had a major impact on relationships between communities in southern Africa for the next 300 years.

After running aground 58 of the crew were rescued by other ships in the Nieuwe Harlem fleet, while 62 remained under the command of a junior merchant, Leendert Janszen.  They were instructed to salvage as much from the vessel as possible and otherwise to live off the land until rescue.

On his return to Holland, approximately a year later, Janszen was required to write a report for the DEIC on the feasibility of setting up a halfway house in the Cape.  It was ultimately this report which led to the decision by the Dutch to set up a refreshment station at the tip of Africa.

The ship that started it all, however, the Nieuwe Harlem, simply disappeared.  It has now been announced that the African Institute for Marine and Underwater Research, Exploration and Education (AIMURE) is set to tackle the task of locating the missing vessel.

The Logos Hope, the vessel hosting the largest floating book shop in the world, also made headlines this week as she docked in Cape Town harbour for a 10 day visit.

Ivy Chiu, spokesperson for the Logos Hope, said that more than 8,000 people have already visited the vessel.  Visitors will have the chance to purchase books, as well as experience a tour of the vessel.  Books are priced from R30 to R300 with a choice of over 5,000 titles to choose from.




Weekly Press Review – 27 May 2016

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has made headlines this week with the announcement that Commander Tsietsi Mokhele has resigned as CEO with immediate effect.

The press have reported that no further information has been provided by SAMSA regarding the resignation of Mokhele or his future plans.  Operational head, Sobantu Tilayi will be stepping in as acting CEO.

Also making headlines this week is the news that three more Chinese vessels illegally navigating South African fishing waters have been arrested. The vessels were arrested after a combined operation between SANDF, Department of Fisheries and SAMSA.

The three captured vessels were escorted to the East London harbour by the the navy supply vessel, the SAS Drakensberg and fisheries inspection vessel Sarah Baartman.

The captains of  the three vessels appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday and the case was postponed for further investigation until 16 June.  The crew have to remain in port aboard their vessel until the matter is settled.

The Oceana Group has also made headlines this week with the sale of their Lamberts Bay Foods to JSE-listed Famous Brands. Lamberts Bay Foods was established in 1995 by Oceana as a social responsibility project and has subsequently matured into a viable commercial operation.

Weekly Press Review – 6 November 2015

This week a small slice of maritime history was celebrated as the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) hosted a commemoration entitled:  Remembering the Icons of the Sea.

Members of the media were included in the event which took place aboard the SA Agulhas in the Cape Town docks.  The commemoration was in honour of the approximately 40 brave men exiled from South Africa who attempted to enter the country aboard the Soviet vessel, The Aventura.

The vessel was bound for KwaZulu-Natal, but Operation Aventura was abandoned just outside Somalia and the men then found their way into South Africa via Swaziland and Botswana.

Former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) commander Fanele Mbali and fellow comrades Tlom Cholo and Zola Nqose, who were all part of the Luthuli attachment, attended the event.

“We desperately wanted to get back home to fight the boer, and die in that engagement if we had to,” said Mbali.

SAMSA chief executive Tsietsi Mokhele said, “Our stalwarts played a significant role in maritime heritage.  What the stalwarts made us realise was that the sea offers more than just fish and a good view.  Maritime explorations were critical.”

The Oceana Fishmeal Factory in Hout Bay is back in the headlines this week.

The jobs of 98 of the factory’s employees have been saved thanks to a successful bid by the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (FAWU).

In August Oceana made the announcement that they would not be able to keep the factory working due to continual complaints from some residents in the area about the smell emitted from the factory.

The jobs of the workers have been saved after the signing of an agreement between Fawu and Oceana, extending the operating lease of the factory from one to five years.

Oceana also announced this week that the company would be spending an estimated R11 million to update their chemical scrubbing technology to deal with the odour problem.

Chief executive Francois Kuttel was, however, quick to point out that the this was not going to solve the problem to the satisfaction of all residents of Hout Bay.

“Let me be categorical here, unfortunately, nothing we are going to do will stop the smell.  The technology simply does not exist,” he said.

The name Bengis is also back in the headlines this week with the announcement that David Bengis, son of former Cape Town fishing magnate Arnold Bengis, has agreed to pay $1.5 million to the South African government as restitution for the illegal harvesting of rock lobster in South African waters.

This is part of the $22.5 million that a US court ordered Arnold and David Bengis, along worth their partner Jeffrey Noll, to pay the South African government as restitution for the illegal importation of poached lobster to the US.

The lobster were poached in South Africa between 1987 and 2001.

Weekly Press Review – 2 October 2015

The tragedy aboard the MFV Lincoln which ran into trouble near False Bay resulting in the deaths of 11 fishermen received a lot of coverage in the press this week.  The search for the remaining missing crew member continues.

According to survivor Peter Julies, the weather was extremely turbulent and the boat started taking water on the port side.  Soon the boat was leaning completely to the one side.

“I jumped from the starboard side into the freezing water.  Soon I could not feel my legs.  The rain was pelting and the gale-force wind had no mercy.  Fortunately help did not take too long.  But it was too late for some of my friends.”

The Financial Director of Viking Fishing, who own the vessel, said that their first priority was to support the families of those who lost loved ones.

The vessel has been towed to Cape Town harbour and SAMSA is investigating the incident.

History was made this week with the vessel, the Cape Orchid, being the first merchant vessel to register in South Africa since 1985.

Tsietsi Mokhele, SAMSA chief executive said, “About 98 percent of the country’s internationally bound trade is carried by ships and at least R160bn a year is paid for shipping services to foreign owners and operators.”

The Department of Transport said that the Cape Orchid “would be a boost to our maritime economy.”

According to the press many residents from Walker Bay are expressing their concern about mother and baby whales being harassed by over eager onlookers entering the bay during the whale breeding season and disturbing the mammals.

The question has been raised as to why the Department of Environmental Affairs is not monitoring whale-watching tourism boats and other vessels in the bay.  Residents are saying that complaints to government, the local authority and the tourism body are simply receiving no response.

Environmental Affairs Oceans and Coasts spokesperson Zolile Nqayi confirmed that Walker Bay was in fact a sanctuary and that no unauthorised boats were allowed in the bay during whale season.

He appealed to the public to report any incidents of boats getting to close to the whales to the department.

Access denied: flirting with the maritime economy?

There’s a general movement that is gaining traction in the maritime sectors that aims to boost the industry’s contribution to job creation and the GDP. The Blue Economy is on everyone’s lips and national, regional, continental and even international strategies are being developed to see our oceans contribute meaningfully to our human desire to produce and prosper.

With so much attention it should, therefore, not be surprising to see a whole new set of eyes flirting with the possibility of developing a long term relationship with the ocean sector. It’s time to give them a dance ticket and allow them onto the dance floor.

At the South African Maritime Industry Conference (SAMIC) organised some three years ago by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), there were people from every sector and plenty who saw themselves as merely standing on the side line hoping for an opportunity to show their moves.

Paul Maclons, Managing Director of Smit Amandla Marine, was unequivocal in his statement during one of the panel discussions at the conference: that the solution for a full and inclusive dance floor was not in promoting the practice of cutting in on existing dancers – but rather on extending the party and mixing it up from the DJ’s box. Well, okay Paul did not mention anything about dancing or DJ’s, but his message was clear – we need to expand the industry to accommodate newcomers.

The truth is though that the industry is expanding and there are more opportunities, but equally the economic reality of a capital-intensive international industry is seeing more consolidation and joint ventures as existing companies seek relationships with other established partners that can offer them the opportunity to extend their own dance cards.

Does that mean that there is no opportunity for newcomers? Are they destined always to be wallflowers?

The quick answer to that has to be NO! There are some newcomers to the industry aiming to show off their signature moves on the dance floor. Our job is not to stop mid beat and point or jeer. Our job is to make sure that there is space for them even if their rhythm is a little different to ours. Our job is to learn a little from the new beat.

This year’s SAMSA Maritime Industry Awards aims to recognise the new dancers on our floor. If you’ve recently launched or know of a company that has launched into our space – please take the time to nominate. It takes courage to start something in any industry and especially into one so entrusted to the “old guard”.