Weekly Press Review – 2 September 2016

The issuing of fishing permits by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has once again made headlines this week.

According to the press, local fishing associations have lodged an urgent high court application to interdict and restrain DAFF from issuing further horse mackerel fishery permits to Global Pact.

Both the South African Deepsea Trawling Industry and Midwater Trawling Associations describe the department’s decision to allocate an additional 8,000 tons of experimental quota in the horse mackerel fishery as irrational. They have requested that the court set the decision aside.

The Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA), World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) and BirdLife SA have also expressed concern at the decision and are advising that a “cautionary approach” is required when dealing with the horse mackerel resource.

Johann Augustyn, executive secretary of the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry and Mid-water Trawling Associations said, “The fact that the permit is called a “permit for exploratory fishing” does not change its substance. It allows Global Pact to fish directly for horse mackerel utilising the same type of vessel as other existing rights holders, but without any effort limitation component, and with no spatial restriction.”

He added that he believed the decision to be influenced by an undisclosed ulterior purpose or bias.

In response DAFF spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo said that the proposal by Global Pact was designed to assist the department to better understand the size and extent of the South African horse mackerel stock.

 Shark season is once again upon us and Cape Town’s beach-goers are being warned to be aware of the increased great white shark activity in-shore at our local beaches.

According to the press the City and Shark Spotters are hard at work to ensure the safety of beach-goers over this period.

According to Johan van der Merwe, Mayco member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, “All beach and ocean users are reminded that the presence of great white sharks in in-shore areas increases at this time of year. We are also asking surfers to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise and Macassar Beach as research has shown that the presence of sharks is extremely common at this time of year.”

An extraordinary whale rescue has also made headlines this week. The NSRI and South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were once again called to action to rescue a Humpback whale entangled in rope and a floatation buoy. Once freed the whale did not however simply swim away.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said, “Once all the ropes and the floatation buoy were removed, in a most incredible reaction from the animal, the whale swam right up alongside the sea rescue boat and he gently placed his head on the gunnel of the sea rescue craft.

“The whale remained there for almost 20 minutes seemingly staring at the rescuers. All involved described a surreal and emotional moment shared between the SAWDN volunteer team and this beautiful animal. The whale then swam off.”

Weekly Press Review – 19 August 2016

Saldanha Bay has made headlines this week celebrating the terminal ‘s milestone of a billion tons of exports.

Most of South Africa’s iron ore exports pass through the terminal, which has the capacity to stockpile 4.5 million tons of ore of 13 different grades.  According to Robert van Rooyen, Saldanha Bay terminal manager, the bulk terminal handles approximately 59 million tons annually, compared to smaller multi-purpose terminals which handle about 7 million tons of iron ore.

“We are delighted with the success of the terminal and commitment that has been shown by the staff and management team, which has seen us go from the terminal’s total handling capacity increasing gradually from 18 million tons per annum in 1976 to where we are today at 60 million tons per annum – an increase of 233 percent.”

It has been a busy week for the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN), as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).  The organisation was called once again called to action to rescue a whale entangled in fishing rope and flotation buoys off Glencairn.  According to the press, SAWDN volunteers, along with members of the NSRI, used disentanglement equipment to free the 7.5m juvenile humpback whale.

According to SAWDN head Michael Meyer the whale appeared to be healthy.

“All indications are that the animal has survived and we are satisfied that the operation has been successful,” said Meyer.

In a separate incident, the NSRI and the South African Stranding Network (SASN) were called to rescue a 2.5m dolphin stranded at Jeffey’s Bay. According to the press the dolphin was successfully returned to the ocean.

These two incidents once again remind us that we need to be mindful of the impact that our marine activities have on the wildlife in our oceans.  Fishing ropes and buoys remain a problem, but even the shark nets designed to protect swimmers often result in the deaths of dolphin, turtles and otters that get caught in them.

A balance needs to be found between using our oceans and abusing our oceans.

 

Weekly Press Review – 12 August 2016

The three suspects arrested in connection with the break in and theft of various weapons and hand grenades from the Simon’s Town naval base on 23 June appeared in court this week.

According to the press, although the State has a strong case against the three, the concern remains as to why the weapons were stolen, particularly around election time.

A possibility is that the suspects were intending to sell the weapons.  It is now imperative that it is established to whom and for what purpose they intended to sell the weapons.

Also making headlines this week was the arrest of two men at the Peka Bridge border with Lesotho in possession of abalone and stolen wine.

The arrest was made after officers inspected the suspects car.  “The members found two sealed plastic bags containing dry abalone weighing 1,75kg with a street value of approximately R8650.”

The suspects will appear before the Ficksburg Magistrate’s Court.

Another trapped whale has been freed after becoming entangled in fishing rope and floatation buoys approximately 500  metres off-shore Cape Point.

According to the press, the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) described  the marathon 2-day rescue operation as the most difficult disentanglement operation to date.

“The whale had at least five ropes entangled around the flukes and tail and the rope was twisted and entangled into a bird’s nest,” said Mike Meyer, SAWDN and environmental affairs oceans and coast head.

Eventually the whale was cut free and appeared strong and healthy as it swam off.

 

Weekly Press Review – 11 September 2015

The SA Navy’s SAS Umhloti has a new commander.  The press has reported that Lieutenant-Commander Zimasa Mabela took command of the mine counter measures vessel in Simon’s Town this week and is the first black African woman to command a navy vessel.

Commander Brian Short, former commander of the vessel handed over command to Mabela in a ceremony also held in Simon’s Town this week.

Mabela was born in the Eastern Cape and joined the navy in 1999.  In 2004 she completed the Military Training for Officers, followed by the Combat Officer qualifying course and she joined the SAS Isandwana in 2005.

“I remember how excited I was when I first got accepted to be part of the navy.  I am proud to be the first black African woman to command a naval vessel.  But more than the title, I want to be an example to my crew. I want to be judged on my ability to command, and not my gender,” said Mabela.

The press has reported on another whale rescue mission which took place off Cape Point this week.

The SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was called to the scene and found that the whale has become entangled in four ropes apparently anchored to traps on the seabed.

After a long struggle the team, along with the assistance of the fishing vessel Puffin which came to assist, the whale was freed.

Mike Meyer, of the Department of Environmental Affairs said, “The whale appeared healthy and swam away strongly and we are confident that this operation has been a huge success.”

This is the third whale to be caught in octopus traps in False Bay.

Nan Rice, head of the Dolphin Action and Protection Group and a founder member of the SAWDN said, “We will have to sit down and talk about this. There are going to be more entanglements because there are more whales around, especially humpbacks, which breed every second year.”

It is estimated that an average of 308,000 whales and dolphins are killed each year when they become entangled in fishing gear or marine waste.

Weekly Press Review – 31 July 2015

Rescuers have freed another trapped whale according to the press this week.  The incident occurred about 100 metres offshore of Sunny Cove in Fish Hoek.  The 8 metre long humpback whale was freed after it became anchored to the sea bed by Whelk trap lines.

The whale was spotted by a local resident whilst he was out jogging.  The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was called to the scene and the rescue operation carried on late into the night.  Due to the severity and desperation of the operation, the SA Navy were also on standby to assist.

Due to the way the whale was trapped only its’ head was able to reach the surface for air.  Network spokesman Craig Lambinon said, “The line was anchored to the sea bed between the Whelk traps and had snarled around the tail, effectively meaning that the whale’s tail was trapped underwater.”

With the whale rapidly tiring it was a race against time, but the whale was eventually freed.

A thirteen year old girl has made the headlines this week by running her own aquaculture and aquaponics business in Johannesburg.  Rikalize Reinecke says it all started when she watched the movie “Dolphin Tale”.  She says it inspired her to want to be a marine biologist.

“I started doing research and this one page just popped up of an aquaculture farm in America,” she says.

After nagging her father for weeks and weeks he eventually agreed to assist her, but only if she managed to get a qualification.  He believed this would be enough of a deterrent.

His determined young daughter did not give up and completed a week long course at Aquaculture Innovations in Grahamstown and the rest, as they say, is history.

Reinecke’s aquaculture farm is expanding.  She want s to invest in steam boilers and solar power to allow her project to go completely off the grid.  Demand for her products is so great that she will soon be erecting 10 new dams that have already been donated to her project, and she has not given up on her dream of becoming a marine biologist one day…

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 – 20 March 2014

As if the threatened impeachment of our president this week was not enough to bring embarrassment to our nation, a member of the police Sea Border Unit, and his wife, have been arrested after 1,819 abalone were found at their home in Fisherhaven.

Along with the abalone, police also seized crayfish tails, a boat and a car.  The estimated value of the total find is around R1.3 million.

Is there no end to the corruption in this country?  In this case, the very person charged with protecting our oceans is responsible for poaching and stealing from it.  Where to from here?

In happier news, a whale that was entangled in the ropes of a whelk trap off False Bay was freed thanks to the joint efforts of the South African Whale Disentanglement Network and the National Sea Rescue Institute.  The young whale was trapped to such a degree that it was struggling to reach the surface of the water to breathe. After two of the five ropes that it had become entangled in were cut, it was able to free itself and witnesses later reported seeing it swimming strongly in the vicinity of Murdoch Valley.

Another successful operation assisting one of our sea creatures in distress.