Weekly Press Review – 11 July 2017

Viking Fishing’s court battle against the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) regarding fishing rights in the Western Cape has been dealt a blow.

According to the press, the Western Cape High Court has decided that the company’s interdict against the department should not be made final. This after the fishing group won the first round of a battle after the court ruled in favour of its interdict against new fishing rights in January; calling a halt to the department’s latest allocation of fishing rights.

Viking has not given up, stating that the court’s ruling was not unanimous and that one in three presiding judges had handed down a dissenting judgment.

Ghana has made headlines this week with the country sending its first satellite into orbit.

According to the press the satellite, launched from the International Space Station, was developed by students at the All Nations University in Koforidau and will be used to monitor Ghana’s coastline for mapping purposes.

Taking place at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown at present is Sabamnye Nomendi, a creative interdisciplinary and multimedia interpretation of the sinking of the SS Mendi.

The troop ship sank 100 years ago off the Isle of Wight, resulting in the deaths of more than 600 black South African soldiers.

According to the press, Sabamnye Nomendi, conceptualised and curated by Mandla Mbothwe, goes beyond the theatre walls and through song, dance, pictures, film and multimedia takes the audience through this very sad story.

Sabamnye Nomendi is based on a poem by SEK Mqhayi about the sinking of the vessel.

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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 – 2 October 2015

The tragedy aboard the MFV Lincoln which ran into trouble near False Bay resulting in the deaths of 11 fishermen received a lot of coverage in the press this week.  The search for the remaining missing crew member continues.

According to survivor Peter Julies, the weather was extremely turbulent and the boat started taking water on the port side.  Soon the boat was leaning completely to the one side.

“I jumped from the starboard side into the freezing water.  Soon I could not feel my legs.  The rain was pelting and the gale-force wind had no mercy.  Fortunately help did not take too long.  But it was too late for some of my friends.”

The Financial Director of Viking Fishing, who own the vessel, said that their first priority was to support the families of those who lost loved ones.

The vessel has been towed to Cape Town harbour and SAMSA is investigating the incident.

History was made this week with the vessel, the Cape Orchid, being the first merchant vessel to register in South Africa since 1985.

Tsietsi Mokhele, SAMSA chief executive said, “About 98 percent of the country’s internationally bound trade is carried by ships and at least R160bn a year is paid for shipping services to foreign owners and operators.”

The Department of Transport said that the Cape Orchid “would be a boost to our maritime economy.”

According to the press many residents from Walker Bay are expressing their concern about mother and baby whales being harassed by over eager onlookers entering the bay during the whale breeding season and disturbing the mammals.

The question has been raised as to why the Department of Environmental Affairs is not monitoring whale-watching tourism boats and other vessels in the bay.  Residents are saying that complaints to government, the local authority and the tourism body are simply receiving no response.

Environmental Affairs Oceans and Coasts spokesperson Zolile Nqayi confirmed that Walker Bay was in fact a sanctuary and that no unauthorised boats were allowed in the bay during whale season.

He appealed to the public to report any incidents of boats getting to close to the whales to the department.

Weekly Press Review – 15 May 2015

Eskom power outages are affecting a fish processing facility in Philippi the press reports this week.  Viking Fishing is one of nine Philippi industries who were without power for several days after Eskom’s repair teams were chased away by people apparently trying to protect their illegal electricity connections in the Marikana informal settlement nearby.

Tim Reddell of Viking Fishing said that his company had been forced to truck fish into the city in an attempt to keep it frozen.  The problem seems to be that thieves took advantage of load shedding on Saturday and stole the main supply cable.

“I don’t think people realise how bad this whole power thing is.  We can manage the two-hour load shedding, but not 48 hours.

“So what must I do?  I have 256 people employed here, must I send them all home?  We put the factory here so that we could be close to where the staff live, but now I am starting to question that idea,” said Reddell.

Xolani Joja, Marikana community leader, said that he had recently been out of the province and was, therefore, not aware of the matter.

According to the press, a group of Orcas in False Bay are being mobbed by over-enthusiastic sightseers, causing unnecessary stress to the animals.

People are using groups of powers boats and jetskis in an attempt to get as close as possible to these beautiful creatures.

Word travels fast via social media when the Orcas are in the area and loads of people enter the water, boxing in the animals and placing them, as well as the dolphins in the area, in an unnecessarily stressful situation.

The law states that boats may not get within 300 metres of any whale, however, there is a loophole in this case as Orcas are categorised as dolphins and not whales and the law, therefore, technically, does not apply.

Environmental Affairs Department spokesman, Zolile Nqayi said that the department was looking at ways to address these compliance issues and that this would most likely have to take the form of amendments to the existing legislation.