Weekly Press Review

Police are investigating the robbery of a Gansbaai perlemoen packing and export enterprise. It is believed that the robbery was an inside job.

According to the press nine men arrived at the premises just after 11pm on Sunday night, showing a police identity card in order to gain access to the property.  They then loaded a minibus with an unknown quantity of perlemoen and left the premises, taking three security guards with them.  The guards were found unharmed in the Mitchell’s Plain area on Monday.

The company remains closed while the incident is under investigation.

A letter in the Cape Times this week written by Professor Kevern Cochrane, professor of ichthyology and fisheries science at Rhodes University, addressed the recent and ongoing protests by small-scale and nearshore fishers regarding concerns about possible reductions in the allocations of West Coast rock lobster in the 2017/2018 season.

According to Cochrane the protests centre on two main issues:  the total allowable catch of rock lobster for the coming season and how that will be allocated between the small-scale, nearshore, commercial and offshore commercial sub-sectors.

Cochrane expressed his concern regarding the response to these issues by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

“Rock lobster is a vital resource for thousands of fishers on the West Coast and it would be a disaster for them, as well as for the ecosystem, if the department allowed this already threatened species to decline further.

“History will judge whether the department was able to provide the leadership and guidance to reverse the current decline,” says Cochrane, offering four key steps that he feels the department should take in order to fulfil its social, economic and ecological mandate for  this species and the dependent fisheries.

These are:

  • Senior management must respect and adhere to the scientific advice on the TACs,
  • vague promises that controls will be increased in the future are insufficient,
  • the department should urgently convene a working group, and
  • options consistent with the goals of South Africa’s fisheries policy ned to be identifies, while minimising harm to those who bear the brunt of the necessary reductions in some quotas.
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Weekly Press Review – 24 July 2017

The Bengis name has made local headlines again this week with the news that 81 year-old Arnold Bengis, will face another 57 months in an American Federal prison.

According to the press, Bengis senior was sentenced in the Court for the Southern District of New York for charges related to the case stemming from his company’s poaching of marine life, specifically West Coast rock lobster.

Along with the prison sentence, Bengis will have to pay $37.3 million (R485m) in restitution after failing to pay an original 2004 restitution order.

Now residing in Tel Aviv, Bengis faces extradition.

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries acting chief director for monitoring control and surveillance, Thembalethu Vico, says, “ DAFF will stop at nothing to ensure that the full might of the law is applied against anyone who is found to be robbing the South African communities by stealing their invaluable fisheries resources.”

Also making headlines this week are allegations of corruption and bribery within South Africa’s multi-billion rand fisheries industry.

According to the press, industry sources have revealed that the suspension of the director-general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mike Mlengana,  last week could open a Pandora’s box in an economic sector already riddled with controversy.

Sources have also revealed that the department has recently awarded a number of tenders under questionable circumstances, including one valued at R150 million which was awarded to a preferred company with a 19 year-old, with 25 years experience in the fishing industry, on the company’s board of directors.

In May this year, the Hawks visited the department’s offices and confiscated a laptop and cellphone belonging to an official.

The department has stated that it is co-operating with the Hawks’ investigation.

The search continues for the four fishermen still missing after their vessel, the Maledon, capsized off St Francis Bay last week.

According to the press, eight of the 16 crew members survived the incident, four lost their lives and four remain missing.

The families of these missing men now face a new shock in that without the bodies of their loved ones, they have a battle to get any insurance payouts. In order to access the benefits of an existing provident fund, they need to produce a death certificate and without a body, this is simply not possible.

General manager of Balobi Fishing Enterprises said, “Where there is no body, we will assist by means of our attorney to work through the legal process to get the presumption-of-death certificates, but it is a lengthy process.”

The search for the missing fishermen continues.

Weekly Press Review – 15 May 2017

The Western Cape ANC has called for an immediate suspension of the provisional rights allocation of West Coast rock lobster, calling for an urgent engagement with Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) minister Senzeni Zokwana.

According to the press the party says that they have been flooded with desperate calls from communities along the West Coast, Cape Town, Overberg and the Southern Cape.

ANC provincial executive member Linda Moss says, “The fundamental flaw in this process is that DAFF has not declared what the total allowable catch (TAC) for this sector is …. Normally there is a consultation process regarding the TAC split every year.”

A senior Sasol executive has voiced concern saying that the government should immediately resolve the uncertainty around the introduction of clean fuel specifications in order to ensure the sustainability of an industry that is a significant contributor to job creation and economic growth.

According to the press Sasol executive vice president of energy business, Maurice Radebe says that the industry contributes 8.5 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)

“Let us do our best to protect (the petrol and liquid fuels) industry for the sake of the economy,” says Radebe.

Weekly Press Review – 14 October 2016

Long-term fishers from the West Coast rock lobster and abalone sectors gave a sigh of relief this week with the news that they have been exempted from applying for commercial rights for the 2016/2017 season.

According to the press the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) made the decision in order to enable it to process a “substantial number” of applications, including new entrants into the sector.

The department’s assessment team along with the delegated authority, require sufficient time to properly assess and evaluate the applications in the two fishing sectors.

Just in time for this year’s holiday season, 10 Cape Town beaches have achieved the highly valued Blue Flag status.

The press has made mention of the 10 beaches who have attained full Blue Flag status for the upcoming 2016/17 summer season. They are:

  • Melkbosstrand
  • Clifton 4th beach
  • Camps Bay
  • Llandudno
  • Fish Hoek
  • Muizenberg
  • Strandfontein
  • Mnandi
  • Bikini Beach
  • Silwerstroomstrand

Mayco member for community services, Anda Ntsodo, said that the City had worked hard to ensure that Cape Town’s beaches were clean, safe and full of fun activities for holidaymakers.

 

 

 

Weekly Press Review – 31 May 2013

The Seli 1 is back in the news this week. The SA Navy resumed the blasting of the vessel earlier in the week and a fuel tank was damaged resulting in a spill of light bunker fuel. As a result, the city restricted public access to the sea in the Blouberg area and the press started to nose around.

City disaster risk management spokesman, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said that a helicopter crew had been dispatched to monitor the spill but, at present, there was no danger to the coastline or marine wildlife.

One must ask why there were no protective measures in place during the blasting? This is, after all, a public beach with a large marine wildlife presence. One also has to presume that, had a commercial entity been contracted to undertake the wreck removal, very stringent measures would have had to have been in place before any form of blasting was permitted.

West coast rock lobster is also back in the news this week, but this time not linked to the rights allocation process. Sadly, our very South African kreef has been downgraded from “green” status to “orange” status on the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (Sassi) list. This means that when you now order rock lobster in a restaurant, from an environmental perspective it has gone from “best choice” to “think twice”.

The Spanish Navy vessel Rago is visiting our shores this week. The combat frigate is part of the EU naval force’s anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa and earlier this month was involved in the capture of several suspected pirates. The 10-day visit is designed to provide the crew with a short rest period and also to strengthen ties with the SA Navy.