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 – 21 August 2015

This week’s marine-related press reports focused on the make-up of the Fisheries Minster’s advisory panel which consists of Julian Smith, Mamakhe Mdhluli and Shaheen Moolla.

 

Lya Louw, founder of the Meermin Visserye CC in Lamberts Bay has voiced her concern about Moolla, of Feike Natural Resource Management Advisers, being on the Ministerial Appeals Advisory Panel which deals with appeals arising out of the 2013 Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP).

She feels that Moolla will not be able to remain unbiased as his family has interests in the fishing industry.  In 2012 Moolla was associated with the fishing company Meermin who approached him for assistance in the management of a 15-year fishing quota.  Moolla was Meermin’s legal representative for the sale agreement and Louw feels that the fact that Moolla’s wife was one of the respondents represents a clear conflict of interest.

Moolla has responded by saying that in the Meermin transaction, he merely served as a legal adviser and prepared the agreements and related documents.

“There is nothing that prevents my family from investing in the fishing industry as it is a sector we understand and know,” said Moolla.

Steve Galane, spokesman for Minister Senzeni Zokwana, said that Moolla had been appointed because of his knowledge  and experience in the fishing sector.

Galane added, “The Minister is happy with the work of the Appeals Advisory Team that has started working on the appeals.  Minister Zokwana would like to see this process coming to finalisation.”

 

 

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.

July/August Editorial Comment

MY EDITOR’S COMMENT FROM THE LATEST ISSUE OF MARITIME REVIEW:

Servest cover designThe recent grounding of the Kiani Satu grabbed media headlines towards the beginning of August. Many of the news reports were to be expected: highlighting details of leaking oil; initial unsuccessful refloating attempts; lack of availability of the patrol vessels as well as comments from concerned environmentalists and citizens. There were those, however, who seemed to use the floundering vessel as a platform to try refloat issues that have long been scuppered by factual evidence. 

Take the media report that focused on comments made by the Chairperson of the Fisheries Portfolio Committee, Lulu Johnson for example.  Mr Johnson chose to lay blame for the lack of readiness of the DAFF patrol vessels at the door of Smit Amandla Marine.

I’ve heard him say it before and he was quoted again saying; “They (Smit Amandla Marine) have got away with murder”.  It is rather a simplistic summation that makes little sense against the almost two-year drama that now surrounds the  cancellation of the vessel management tender; the transfer of the vessels into and then out of the SA Navy – and the current contract which aims to get the vessels operational again.

Documents and reports exist in the public domain clearly disputing this “fact” that Johnson is so determined to  try to qualify. His argument that Smit Amandla Marine handed over a fleet of unseaworthy vessels has even been disputed by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) themselves.

So, Mr Johnson, here are some facts for you to consider. At the time of the vessel handover from Smit, independent third party marine surveyors were contracted to verify the condition and inventories of the vessels. In addition, DAFF was provided with a full risk assessment, which raised a number of concerns the company had.

They specifically emphasised the risks associated with the Africana and DAFF was warned about the consequences of laying the vessels up “inappropriately”. At the time of the handover, the vessels were seaworthy and all statutory certificates were valid.

It would, however, be accurate to note that the vessel is old and that, as admitted by Smit Amandla Marine at the time, she did require some key maintenance work including a main engine overhaul, pipe work, hydraulic and steel work as well as an overhaul of the onboard electronic systems.

That these projects were not carried out is not due to mismanagement by the previous vessel management service provider, but rather due to budgetary constraints of the Department.

Ironically while Mr Johnson was pontificating and accusing the company of murderous actions; the self same company was out at sea in their well-maintained workhorse – the Smit Amandla (previously the John Ross) which is, incidentally, even older than the Africana and still going strong. Called out to the scene of the stricken Kiani Satu under the DOT casualty response contract; the Smit Amandla entered into a Lloyd’s Open Forum (LOF) and shortly thereafter invoked the SCOPIC clause.

What followed was a tremendous effort by authorities, salvors and volunteers to minimise the damage to the coast and to wildlife.

Just over a week later, the vessel was refloated and towed away from the coast.

What Mr Johsnon’s portfolio committee did successfully do was re-awaken media attention to the fact that the DAFF vessels are still not operational. At a joint press conference with Damen in May to announce the contract to affect emergency measures to get the vessels back at sea, Greta Apelgren-Narkedien noted that a period of six months was needed.

Since then the vessel management tender has been announced and the Department has yet to reveal the successful bidder. Factoring in the six months from May – perhaps we can anticipate that this announcement will come sooner rather than later to ensure that the vessels have a new home to go to when eventually certified seaworthy.

Given the controversy that dogged the previous announcement, however, there must certainly be a great deal of pressure for DAFF to get it right with no room for litigation.

The media, the current bidders and the Fisheries Portfolio Committee will be waiting to scrutinise the results.

For Shaheen Moolla, however, the portfolio committee does not have the teeth of a true watchdog – and he seems to describe them as a tame puppy when it comes to their oversight duties. You can read his concerns in this regard on page 8 of this issue.

Perhaps that’s why he has taken it upon himself to act in the capacity of the barking dog next door as he aims to make his neighbours  aware that DAFF’s house is not in order.

We said it last issue, and I’ll say it again: the last few months of this year will vindicate either DAFF or their detractors as deadlines and timelines begin to catch up with them.

Let us know what you think!

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Weekly Press Review – 26 July 2013

The fishing rights allocation process has made the news again this week. Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson published the 2013 policy for the allocation of fishing rights for eight fisheries, but according to industry consultant, Shaheen Moolla, the policy contravenes the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA).

The latest controversy centres around co-operatives. According to the MLRA, co-operatives are not allowed to hold fishing rights. However, the newly gazetted policy has allowed co-operatives to hold fishing quotas in each sector.

Moolla has stated that no new policy or legislation may contradict an act of Parliament and believes that the policy violates the section of the constitution which states that only cabinet can approve policy.

The process has been dogged by controversy and the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) seems to be setting themselves up for a lengthy period of appeals – as they are laying a solid foundation from which unhappy rights holders can litigate.