Weekly Press Review – 31 October 2016

 The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has issued a provisional list of 126 fishing communities, but press reports state that small-scale fishers are adamant that they will appeal the list.

DAFF small-scale fishers director, Craig Smith, said that many traditional fishers do not have permit records to substantiate their claims as small-scale fishers, adding that DAFF elected to involve communities in the verification of community fishers as part of the prescribed small-scale fishing regulations.

“The department does not know the community members to decide whether they meet the small-scale fisher criteria or not. Hence DAFF requested community members to elect community panel members to assist DAFF with the verification of fishers,” said Smith adding that in many cases community members were excluded by their own elected panel.

According to Smith the list is likely to increase with the assessment of appeals and after all appeals have been thoroughly assessed, the department will announce a final list of successful small-scale fishers.

A new research trip to Marion Island has made headlines this week. A team of more than 50 scientists from South Africa and abroad will join the Russian research vessel, Akademik Tryoshnikov, for a plankton study on the island later this year.

It is hoped that the study will reveal why there is not more life in the nutrient rich Southern Ocean.

UCT oceanographer Sarah Fawcett said that the ship leaves Cape Town on December 20 and the study will cover everything from biodiversity and whales to bird life, interaction between winds, waves, currents and ice and the problems a caused by plastic pollution.

The City has launched a Shark Spotters app aimed at enhancing beach safety this summer.

According to the press the Shark Spotters app provides water users with current and accurate shark safety information on their smartphones, giving beach-goers the opportunity to make informed decisions on shark risks before arriving at the beach.

“We believe the Shark Spotters app will be an essential beach safety and information tool for all water users in Cape Town during the upcoming beach season. This app will provide keen surfers and swimmers with specific information about their favourite beach spots even before they travel to them,” said Mayco member for energy, environment and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe.

The Antarctica’s Ross Sea has been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). According to the press the announcement, which was made at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, is regarded as a victory and historic moment in the history of conservation.

The move marks the first time that a large-scale MPA has been established on the high seas.

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.