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.”

Weekly Press Review – 17 June 2016

According to the press last week, existing boat-based whale watching (BBWW) and white shark cage diving (WSCD) operating permits allocated in 2011 will be renewed for a further 12-month period.  The Department of Environmental Affairs has stated that this is due to the fact that the allocation process for the permits has been postponed.

A spokesperson for the department  said, “The department will, towards the end of the year, commence with the allocation process by inviting applications for BBWW and WSCD operating permits.”

The department added that, as part of Operation Phakisa – Oceans Economy, activities involving non-consumptive use of marine resources are being considered to grow the ocean economy.  Boat-based whale watching and white shark cage diving provide South Africa with the opportunity to boost this contribution considerably, leveraging its rich marine resources in a sustainable manner to boost both economic and social development.

The Two Oceans Aquarium was also in the news this week with the introduction of the first fish into its new exhibit at the V&A Waterfront.  Commenting on the new I&J exhibit, Two Oceans Aquarium chief executive Michael Farquhar said, ” The opening of this exhibit to the public brings to an end two-and-a-half years of construction and anticipation.  As South Africans we are fortunate to live in a country with incredible cultural and biological diversity and our oceans are no exception.”

Weekly Press Review – 3 June 2016

A whale stranding training session presented in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the City of Cape Town has made headlines this week.

On Saturday 28 May, 90 members of the South African Stranding Network (SASN) attended a three-hour training session at the NSRI Strandfontein beach rescue centre. The session allowed for the practicing of rescue procedures for stranded cetaceans, adopted under a National Response Plan developed by the SASN and co-ordinated by the DEA, using two life-like model whales.

It is intended that these training sessions will become an annual event to ensure that the appropriate infrastructure, manpower and expertise are available to respond to any stranding situation at short notice.

The Two Oceans Aquarium was also in the news this week with the announcement that it will be releasing the last two of its ragged-tooth sharks near East London this week.

The sharks formed part of the I&J Predator Exhibition which will be closing for repairs in mid-June, with plans to replace it with a newer and larger one.  The sharks will be removed from the aquarium with the use of a PVC cone and then moved into a 6,000 litre holding tank on the back of a truck for the journey to East London.

Sharks have been released from the aquarium since 2004. According to operations manager, Tinus Beukes, all released sharks are fitted with transmitters allowing the aquarium to receive data from these released sharks for a period of up to 10 years.

Weekly Press Review – 30 January 2015

There were mixed headlines in the news this week relating to the maritime industry.

A warning from Saldanha Bay’s Port Manager, Willem Roux, that if the harbour does not make the most of opportunities available for oil services now, they will lose out to other harbours in the southern hemisphere made headlines.

These comments came on the back of a major new oil service project in Saldanha Bay launched earlier this month by TNPA and the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone.

The stricken cruise liner the Costa Concordia is back in the news this week.

Calls have been made for a strict sentence to be passed down to Francesco Schettino, the captain of the vessel which ran aground in early 2012 causing the deaths of 32 passengers. Italian lawyers for the prosecution have said that if found guilty Schettino should serve a minimum of 26 years for the part that he played in the accident.

The release of 17 young turtles back into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean has also made headlines. They were found washed up on various beaches in the Western Cape over the past 18 months and rescued by concerned members of the public.

The turtles were taken to the Two Oceans Aquarium for the first part of their rehabilitation, after which they were transported to Ushaka Sea World in Durban for further rehabilitation including antibiotics, stabilising their body temperature in warmer waters, wound care and assistance with flotation.

“How wonderful to see them all swimming away again. Some were in a really poor state when they came to us,” said Renee Leeuwner, Two Oceans Aquarium communications manager.