Weekly Press Review – 16 October 2017

This week Armscor confirmed plans to buy a new torpedo system for its Heroine-class submarines to replace the existing ageing stockpile.

According to the press, it is unclear how many new-generation torpedoes will be purchased (at an estimated cost of R60 million each), but news of the acquisition coincides with a military budget crisis, with the navy unable to afford vital offshore patrol vessels. The government has also delayed a massive shipbuilding programme, Projects Hotel and Biro, which would create thousands of jobs.

“The value to the country of a torpedo weapons system is minuscule compared with building a ship,” said one arms industry insider.

Earlier this year naval chiefs confirmed severe operational challenges stemming from a R5 billion cut in military spending across the army, air force and navy.

Despite the fact that two major perlemoen poaching syndicates have recently appeared in local magistrate courts, the business of perlemoen poaching remains rife in the Western Cape.

According to the press the police arrested three individuals in possession with approximately R30,000 of perlemoen this week.  The men will appear in court shortly.

South Africa and Mozambique are developing more gas pipelines in order to meet the increasing demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in both countries.

According to the press, Mozambique’s Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Augusto de Sousa Fernando told delegates at the International Gas Co-operation Summit in Durban that demand had increased over the last 13 years. He added that South Africa had an opportunity to benefit from the development of LNG in the future by joining other countries in the region.

As part of National Marine Week WWF-Sassi has reiterated its message that whether we will be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of a meal of fish and chips in the future depends largely on the choices that we, as consumers, make today.

Sassi has compiled a list of the status of various fish. Each year this list is reviewed and species are added, removed or have their status changed, according to various species assessments.

Two Ocean Aquarium communications and sustainability manager, Helen Lockhart said, “Teaming up with SASSI this Marine Month provides a great opportunity to take the sustainable seafood message beyond the Aquarium and to focus on informing and empowering consumers during this month.”

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Weekly Press Review – 18 September 2017

The partial sinking of the chartered Robben Island ferry, Thandi, on Friday afternoon has made headlines this week.  According to the press, the vessel began taking on water while returning from the island and the 68 passengers and crew on board had to be rescued.

Senior manager of ferry operations at the Robben Island Museum (RIM), Sandresan Thandroyan, said, “Robben Island Museum is conducting its own internal investigation. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will also be conducting an investigation. RIM will support them throughout the process.”

The vessel has since been towed to Murrays Bay Harbour and stabilised.

Disgruntled fishers stormed the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) offices on the foreshore this week demanding the immediate suspension of the West Coast Rock Lobster fishing rights allocation process.

According to the press, local fishers want the West Coast Rock Lobster offshore allocations shifted from big companies to near shore and small-scale fishers.

The group, representing 10 fishing organisations, including the Hout Bay Fishers Community Trust, Kleinmond Integrated Fishing Forum and Mitchells Plain Fishing Forum, also demanded an immediate meeting with Minister Senzeni Zokwana and other senior officials to address the challenges faced by fishing communities in the area.

Premier Food and Fishing has changed its name to Premier Fishing and Brands Limited.

Chief executive Samir Saban said, “The name change ushers in a new and exciting era for the company following its successful listing earlier this year.”

As part of the International Coastal Clean-up Day started in 1986, the Two Oceans Aquarium invited Capetonians to be part of the 12 million volunteers worldwide and spend two hours picking up litter on Milnerton beach this Saturday.

According to the press, the event included a puppet show for children after the clean-up and volunteers were asked to download the Clean Swell app allowing them to become citizen scientists by tracking their clean-up achievements and at the same time provide valuable data to the Ocean Conservancy’s research data.

Weekly Press Review – 4 September 2017

With the Western Cape facing an ongoing water crisis, two major companies are looking at desalination options for the V&A Waterfront.

According to the press, Growthpoint Properties and PIC (the Public Investment Corporation), equal joint owners of the V&A Waterfront, are investigating the feasibility of establishing a desalination plant to mitigate the risk to their investment caused by Cape Town’s water shortage crisis.

“The city would probably be keen for us to do something like that. We haven’t quite worked out all the risks, all the pros and cons and have to go through the process.

“But certainly in terms of supplying our own needs, we are looking at it pretty seriously at the moment,” says Norbert Sasse, chief executive of Growthpoint.

Also making headlines this week is the announcement that South Africa will host the 10th summit of the Brics bloc in 2018, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Addressing the Brics Business Forum, President Jacob Zuma said that South Africa welcomed attendees of the forum to visit South Africa, saying that South Africa is a new frontline of growth and prosperity and that the country expected to realise inclusive economic development and further increase its trade with other Brics countries.

The Two Oceans Aquarium was involved in an unusual rescue operation this week. According to the press, aquarium staff rescued an ocean sunfish (Mola mola) from the Robertson Dry Dock next to the aquarium and released it back into the harbour at the V&A Waterfront.

The rescue operation involved several staff members from the Two Oceans Aquarium, and thanks to the help of Summit Crane Hire and H&I Construction, the team was able to airlift the sunfish out of the dry dock and back into the harbour.

Weekly Press Review – 17 July 2017

Progress has been made in the fight against abalone poaching with the police confiscating illegally poached abalone in two different Western Cape locations this week.

According to the press, police arrested two suspects in connection with the operating of an illegal abalone processing facility on a farm in Brackenfell.  In a separate incident, 213 bags of frozen abalone, weighing approximately five tons, were found in a cold storage truck in Montegu Gardens on the same day.

Police spokesperson, Andre Traut, said, “The exact value of the abalone confiscated during the two operations is yet to be determined. However, it is estimated to be several million rand.”

The Two Ocean Aquarium in Cape Town is once again putting its weight behind the banning of the single-use plastic bag. According to the press, the Aquarium is supporting the EcoBricks awareness campaign, created in an attempt to offer an alternate solution to the use of plastic bags, which so often contribute to the multitude of plastic polluting our oceans.

The EcoBrick is a “brick” made from plastic two litre bottles. The idea is to encourage the public to form the habit of stuffing paper and plastic (particularly single-use plastic bags) into the bottles. When the bottle is full it can be dropped off at various pick up points around the city.  The bottles are then used as building materials to create sustainable homes, schools and furniture.

July has been proclaimed Plastic Free July and the Aquarium has called for a complete ban on single-use plastic shopping bags in South Africa through its Rethink the Bag campaign.

Eight fishermen remain missing after their vessel capsized at Cape St Francis over the weekend.

According to the press one fisherman died in the accident, five wee rescued and eight remain missing after an extensive air, sea and shoreline search by the NSRI.

Weekly Press Review – 3 July 2017

The big news for maritime historians this week is the discovery of the ship’s bell belonging to the ill-fated SS Mendi, which sank 100 years ago resulting in the deaths of more than 600 sailors.

According to the press, the ship’s bell was left to Steve Humphey, a well-known local television personality with a special interest in the SS Mendi, in the English coastal town of Swanage.

An anonymous tip led Humphrey and a television crew to the Swanage Pier in the early hours of June,15. According to Humphrey, the bell was wrapped in plastic inside a tarpaulin sack and was tied with string and duct tape. There was an envelope attached to the bell with the journalist’s name of it.

The note read: “Knew of the Mendi’s historical importance to South African heritage, but was concerned that it might not go to the right place. This needs to be sorted out before I pass away as it could get lost.”

The bell has since been transported to a museum in the area where it will be authenticated.

This week marks the graduation of more than 100 SA Navy members after six months of military training at the SAS Saldanha.

According to the press, the navy believes that the aim of the training was not only to provide the youth military skills, but also to teach them the basic life skills required in the work environment, the military environment as well as a  good work ethic.

Skills provided included: seamanship, environmental awareness, musketry, computer skills, basic financial management and discipline.

The SAS Saldanha has recently undergone an extensive upgrade, receiving modern accommodation, mess and classroom facilities.

The impact of the recent international cyber attack has been felt on South African shores. According to the press, the offices of Maersk Line in South Africa were affected by the cyber attack and all computers and landlines were offline.

Matthew Conroy, commercial manager for Maersk Line Southern Africa, said that he did not know when things would return to normal and that the cyber attack was still being investigated.

The Two Oceans Aquarium has declared this month Plastic Free July. According to the press the aquarium has thrown its weight behind the ban on single-use plastic shopping bags through its campaign Rethink the Bag.

The campaign was launched by Hayley McLellan, the aquarium’s environmental campaigner, who has worked since 2010 to promote the campaign, by educating the public and retailers and establishing partnerships.

“All role-players, especially consumers, remain responsible for the approximately 8 billion plastic shopping bags we use every year in South Africa. Remember that demand drives supply, so let’s simply stop demanding and using them,” says McLellan.

Plastic Free July is a worldwide campaign.

Weekly Press Review – 2 May 2017

Making headlines this week is the allegation that President Zuma allegedly tried to silence a confidant who had information regarding how the president benefited from the arms deal, by asking him not to testify at the Seriti commission.

Pretoria lawyer, Ajay Sooklal, filed an affidavit in support of a high court application by Corruption Watch and the Right2Know campaign, which are challenging the findings of the Seriti commission of inquiry into the arms deal. The commission found no evidence of corruption.

The Kwazulu-Natal education department this week unveiled a ferry that will assist school children to cross the lakes that make up Kosi Bay in order to get to school.

According to the press, members of the island community have been struggling for years to cross the crocodile and hippo invested waters.

The vessel will allow easier access to and from the island and  another seven ferries, at a cost of R500,000 each, have been commissioned by the department.

It seems that positive solutions to the issues facing the fishing industry are just not on the cards and this sentiment seems to be felt by many involved in the industry.

This was the sentiment shared at the recently held Suidoosterfees, which took place in Cape Town last week.

According to the press, a panel discussion was held at the event, the first in the Jakes Gerwel discussion series. RSG presenter, Lynette Francis, led the discussion. The panel consisted of: Chris Nissen, from the Human Rights Commission, Prof. Moenieba Isaacs, University of the Western Cape, Pieter van Dalen, DA spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in the Western Cape and Pedro Garcia, chairman of the South African United Fishing Front.

Garcia feels that there are no solutions to the problems faced by the fishing industry.

According to van Dalen, the situation would be greatly helped if large fishing companies were encouraged to start fish farming, as this would help to ease the pressure on natural fish resources.

There is no political will to change things in the South African fishing industry was the general consensus of those involved in this panel discussion.

The discussion was supposed to be broadcast live on RSG, but technical issues prevented this from happening.

The first scientific expedition to investigate underwater mountains and the Walters Bank, south of Madagascar, got underway this week.

According to the press, the French vessel, the Marion Dufresne, departed on a 19 day voyage to investigate the unique life forms found in this area.

This week the Two Oceans Aquarium hosted six of the Miss Earth SA leadership programme semi-finalists as part of its World Penguin Day programme.

According to the press, several events were held across the globe to draw attention to the plight of these endangered animals.

Weekly Press Review – 13 February 2017

The fishing rights allocation process has once again made an appearance in the press this week with the news that proceedings in the Western Cape Court, focusing on a review into the allocation of rights to the inshore trawl fishery for hake and sole, have been postponed.

The postponement is due to Viking Inshore Fishing challenging DAFF Minister Senzeni Zokwana’s new criteria that reduced Viking’s fishing rights by 70 percent.

Another company facing challenges due to the fishing rights allocation process is BMC Fishing who claims it is being held to ransom by Minister Senzeni Zokwana over matters of fishing transformation that are at present before the court.

According to BMC director Lionel Brown, “The minister is the only person who can give the existing rights holders an exemption to catch fish. We are at the mercy of the minister who needs to make a decision.”

Zokwana’s spokeswoman, Bomikazi Molapo responded to this by saying that the minister was unable to issue fishing exemptions because the matter was still before the courts.

The immediate result of this is that the once bustling harbour of Mossel Bay is at a stand still and it would seem that the small quota rights holders are the ones paying the price.

This week it was announced that seafood giant Sea Harvest plans to list on the JSE by March this year.   According to the press the company says that it will raise R1.5 billion in capital through private placement with the proposed listing. This money will then be used to repay all debt and support the company’s organic growth and any future acquisitions.

Also make headlines this week is the announcement that the Two Ocean’s Aquarium in Cape Town has developed a marine sciences matric curriculum. The move is designed to attract young people to careers in the marine sciences field and also to protect invaluable ocean resources and coastline.

It is hoped that the new school subject would be piloted at Lawhill Maritime Centre in Simon’s Town next year.

Curriculum developer and Two Ocean senior teacher, Xavier Zylstra, said, “The ocean is an unexplored realm. If we get researchers in there, they will help to ensure the sustainability of its resources.”