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.

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Weekly Press Review – 15 July 2016

The attacks on South Africa’s endangered African penguin by a leopard in the Betty’s Bay area have made headlines over the last few weeks.

These attacks are obviously not good news for conservationists who are working hard in an attempt to protect African penguins in the area as numbers continue to dwindle.  Stoney Point in Betty’s Bay is one of the largest breeding colonies in the Western Cape and also one of the most successful, which makes these attacks even more of a setback.

Despite this according to the press this week SANCCOB have been brought in to assist with rescuing some of the injured birds and eggs that have been left exposed after adult birds were killed.  Five eggs were brought to SANCCOB and two have now hatched successfully.  On another happy note one small penguin chick also survived the attack and is being cared for by SANCCOB staff.  He is getting stronger by the day.

Weekly Press Review – 13 May 2016

The big maritime news this week was the announcement that after several years of being based in Copenhagen, Safmarine will be moving its head-office back to Cape Town.

Safmarine was founded in South Africa in 1946, taken over by Maersk Line in 1999 and in 2012 the head-offices were moved to Copenhagen.

Vincent Clerc of Safmarine was quoted in the press as saying that as Africa is at the core of the Safmarine strategy, it made sense to move the head-office back to Cape Town.

This week the press also made mention of the shockingly high number of perlemoen already lost to poaching since the beginning of the year. Since the start of 2016, and in the Western Cape alone, a total of 465,351 perlemoen have been poached with an estimated value of R166 million.

Measures are in place to try to stop the ongoing surge of perlemeon poaching with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) working with several other players, including the South African police force, as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), but so far the tide of poaching has not been stemmed.

According to DAFF Minister Zenzeni Zokwana, most of the poached perlemoen is exported to eastern countries.

In a bizarre story also making headlines this week, a resident of Glencairn in the Cape has been arrested for having penguin eggs in his possession.

Apparently the suspect stole the eggs from the Boulders colony, which is part of the Table Mountain National Park and falls under SANParks.

Francois Louw, of the South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, said, “The African Penguin is an endangered species. The population in South Africa is 25,000 breeding pairs, which is critical to the survival of the species. We don’t condone actions that jeopardise the survival of eggs or penguins.”

The 30-year old suspect was arrested on Wednesday and has already appeared in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on charges of the illegal possession of penguin eggs.

Weekly Press Review – 5 June 2015

It is good news for South Africa’s hake trawl industry this week as the press reports that the industry has been given the stamp of approval by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

This is the third five-year period that the local hake industry has been certified and will ensure that thousands of industry jobs will be secure and the lucrative EU export markets will not be lost.

Also reported in the press this week was the rescue of 30 oiled-soaked penguins who were airlifted to Sanccob after being discovered covered in oil on two islands in the marine section of the Addo Park.

The birds were found by rangers on St Croix Island and Bird Island.  According to Louanne Mostert, marketing and development co-ordinator at Sanccob, “They’ve all been washed and are doing fantastically.  They need to get their natural waterproofing back and then we will release them into the wild.”

Sanccob pointed out the significant overlap between busy shipping lanes around the South African coast and areas with high concentrations of seabirds and report that hundreds of thousands of seabirds are affected by oil pollution around the world.

The bad weather in Kwazulu-Natal has lead to the closing of most beaches this week as shark nets are removed due to the large swells, the press reported this week.

“These large swells have the potential to cause severe damage to and dislodge shark safety gear,” said KZN Sharks Board spokesman Mike Anderson.

Visitors to the beach have been advised to speak to life guards on duty to determine the status of bathing areas.

Weekly Press Review – 24 April 2015

The press covered a story this week involving the rescue of an entangled whale near Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape.  The NSRI at St Francis Bay, along with trained volunteers from the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN), responded to a distress call and discovered two humpback whales, possibly mother and child, swimming together.  The smaller of the two had become tangled in a rope and three flotation bouys.

Craig Lambinon, spokesman for SAWDN said, “In an operation lasting just under 30 minutes all rope and flotation bouys were successfully removed from the whale and recovered.

“The whale appeared not to be injured from the ordeal and appeared to be swimming confidently following the disentanglement, and SAWDN is confident that the operation has been successful.”

The penguins at Boulders beach have also made headlines this week.  The area is obviously a major tourist attraction, but due to the ignorance of many visitors, the penguins are not 100 percent safe even in this protected area.

It has been reported that many over enthusiastic tourists get too close to the penguins and even pick them up.  This is obviously not ideal as the penguins are frightened and often bite resulting in them being thrown to the ground and hurt.

Tourists are also oblivious to their surroundings, and whilst trying to snap the perfect selfie, walk all over the penguin nests in the area.  These birds are on the endangered list and it is a privilege to be able to view them in their natural habitat, but a privilege that one should be mindful of and not abuse.

Francois Louw of SANCCOB says that more signage has been put up to request that the birds are viewed from a safe distance and to be aware of nesting areas on the ground.  Four penguin monitors have also been employed to keep an eye on the area and to step in in cases where the birds are in danger.

Weekly Press Review – 17 October 2014

The 12 penguins released by SANCCOB at Simon’s Town beach over the weekend made headlines this week.  The birds have been in SANCCOB’s care for the last six to eight weeks for rehabilitation, most suffering from shark or seal bites or general malnutrition.

Only two percent of these penguins still live in the wild.

Over 500 people streamed down to the beach to witness the penguins’ release.

Abalone rights holders made headlines this week amid an outcry over a proposal by the department of fisheries to implement a new catch limit.  The department would like to see the limit altered from the 96 tons of last year to just 43 tons.

Industry representative for the Cape Town area, Andre Cimma, described the proposal as diabolical.  “This is clearly a joke, 43 tons is not commercially sustainable.”

The feeling among industry representatives is that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is punishing the legal industry for their own inability to control the ever increasing levels of abalone poaching, which has obviously had a serious impact on abalone stocks.