Weekly Press Review – 18 July 2014

The Costa Concordia and the salvage team responsible for resurrecting the stricken vessel, headed by Capetonian Nick Sloane,  have made headlines this week as the luxury vessel was refloated in one of the largest salvage operations in history.  The liner capsized two-and-a-half years ago off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people.  A year ago it was righted and has been resting on a temporary platform waiting to be refloated.

The vessel will now be raised a further two metres to allow it to be moved to the harbour, after which tugs are on standby to tow it to Genoa in northern Italy where it will be scrapped.

Sloane is not the only South African involved in the salvage operation.  Kevin Kelly, managing director of Xtreme Projects has also played a part, supplying the orange containment booms surrounding the vessel.

Another proudly South African operation.  Congratulations to the team on a job well done.

In yet another attempt to deter sharks from coming too close to our country’s most popular beaches, a group of developers have come up with a new eco-friendly shark barrier and are hoping to secure funding for the project.

The “Sharksafe” barrier is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional shark nets and is made up of a combination of permanent magnets and artificial “forests” of plastic pipes that look similar to underwater kelp.  The goal would be to use this kelp deterrent as an alternative to more traditional and lethal systems used in Kwazulu-Natal and Australia.  Traditional nets aim to catch sharks where these “kelp nets” aim to merely deter.

A year long trial of the product, involving more than 60 sharks, showed that no sharks ventured through the “kelp”.

This is certainly something to get excited about, especially with the ongoing shark culling in Australia.  It would be fantastic to see our government get behind this project and protect these beautiful creatures, as well as beach goers, but also to set an example to the rest of the world that traditional shark nets are not the only option.

Weekly Press Review – 16 May 2014

It has been a long time coming, but Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has finally stepped up to the plate and decided to scrap the entire fishing rights allocation process of 2013 (FRAP 2013).

This comes after an independent audit found that the Fishing Department’s fishing rights allocation process was fatally flawed and would not stand up to a court challenge.

“To pre-empt further legal challenges, I intend to set aside the entire FRAP 2013 process, including all decisions and outcomes.  I have directed that the requisite legal steps be initiated for this to happen.”

This is the first time in South African history that a fishing rights allocation process has ever been scrapped.

So, it is back to the drawing board for the fisheries department.  Let us hope that a viable solution can be found as soon as possible.

The Minister is also in the news this week as she sets a deadline to receive final reports from both officials and Foodcorp, in connection with R50 million worth of fishing quotas that were allegedly awarded to two companies without due public process. Thereafter the minister will refer the issue to the public protector and the Special Investigating Unit.

Minister Joemat-Pettersson said, “I have proved throughout my term that I’m committed to clean governance and will not tolerate any decisions or transactions which undermine this.”

It will be interesting to see the results of this investigation and at whose feet the responsibility will ultimately fall.

This week the company NTP Logistics asked local authorities for permission to dock its ship, carrying material used to make nuclear fuel, in South African harbours.

The substance in question is known as yellowcake, or uranium oxide and is enriched to make fuel for nuclear power stations.  If the substance is further enriched it can be used to make nuclear weapons.

Anti-nuclear groups have objected in writing to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) in response to advertisements placed in Eastern Cape newspapers by the company announcing the application and calling for objections to its request to dock the ship.

It is not government policy to allow radioactive waste into South Africa.

The press has reported that nets set up at the southern corner of Fish Hoek beach in April last year as a pilot project, may become a permanent feature.

Sarah Waries, project manager of Shark Spotters says that the response from the public has been extremely positive, especially from parents of small children, all saying that they are far more comfortable swimming at the beach with their families with the nets in place.

The city was granted a research permit by DAFF and the Department of Environmental affairs to carry out the trial and it is these departments that will decide whether the nets will become a permanent feature or not.

These nets are different form those used elsewhere in the country which are designed to trap and kill sharks.  These are exclusion nets and are designed to keep sharks out, but not actually trap them

It would be a great coup for environmentalists if the nets became not only a permanent feature along the beaches at Fish Hoek, but were also implemented along the beaches of all of South Africa’s coasts.  And taking it a step further; perhaps even provide an environmentally friendly alternate to shark nets being used worldwide – especially in Australia, where a shark culling programme is being used in an attempt to protect beach goers from possible shark attacks.

Simon’s Town welcomed the SAS Spioenkop home this week amid much fanfare.  The vessel returned after a three-and-a-half month visit to the Mozambique Channel where she took part in Operation Copper – working with the Mozambican fleet against piracy.

Maritime historians from around the world will be delighted with the news of the possible findings of two well-known sunken vessels.  US marine archaeologists have announced that they believe they have discovered the remains of a sunken Civil War-era ship.  The steamship, Planter, was commandeered by a group of African-American slaves in Charleston to sail to freedom nearly 152 years ago, on May 13, 1862. The ship later sank off the South Carolina Coast.

Expeditions to find the ship began in 2010 and despite the find, due to the fact that the vessel is buried, excavation will probably be too expensive and she will remain where she is.

Equally as exciting, a ship wreck discovered off the coast of Haiti may be the remains of the Santa Maria, the flagship of Christopher Columbus from his first voyage to the America’s.

“All geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria,” says Barry Clifford, a archaeological investigator from the US.

Clifford is planning a return trip to Haiti next month to meet with officials and plan the next steps to take.