Weekly Press Review – 4 December 2017

A call by the Committee for Economic Opportunities has been made for further investigation into the sinking of the Tandi, which nearly sank off Robben Island on 15 September with 60 passengers on board.

According to the press, this is after an initial investigation conducted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) released their initial findings stating that the boat had taken on water causing the engine to fail, adding that the weather had had an impact on the incident.

Beverley Schafer, LLP and DA spokesperson, said that questions must be asked as to how a ferry boat like the Thandi can be allowed to operate when the tender requirements of SAMSA had not been completed on the vessel.

The West Coast rock lobster season officially opened on Saturday.

According to the press the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has allocated a total of 69.2 tons of West Coast rock lobster for the season.

Fishermen will be allowed to catch from 08.00 to 16.00 each day, with a limit of four lobster per person.

The season officially closes of 2 April 2018.

“Egypt is an example of what African countries can do for themselves without European influence.”

So says an article in the Cape Times this week commenting on the New Suez Canal constructed in response to increased world trade in 2014.

Taking only a year to build and running parallel to the original one, the project cost $8 billion, an amount raised by the Egyptian people in only eight days with the help of a bank opened especially for these contributions. Citizens of the country contributed to the project from their own pockets.

The New Suez Canal is aimed at increasing the Egyptian national income in foreign currency – an idea which South Africa could certainly take on board.

According to the press this week South Africa is leading the way in tuna fishing. Thus far little attention has been paid to the well-managed tuna fisheries sector amongst the many other activities that DAFF manages.

According to the article, in the world of tuna management, South Africa is fast emerging as a leading light and a role model looked up to by many developing nations.

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Weekly Press Review – 27 November 2017

Deputy Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Bheki Cele was cornered by a group of small-scale fishers at a launch to mark World Fisheries Day in Saldanha Bay this week.

According to the press, representatives from various fishing organisations seized the opportunity to demand answers to their many grievances. Lambert’s Bay fisher, Ferdinand Fransman, speaking on behalf of The Collective said, “We had a meeting with you, the Minister Senzeni Zokwana and the Fisheries deputy director-general, Siphokazi Ndudane, in September.

“You gave us many promises that turned out to be lies. What we want to know today minister, specifically with the West Coast rock lobster, is what happens to our poor people after February?”

The department announced on 10 November that the total allowable catch (TAC) for 2017/18 fishing season for rock lobster would remain 1924.08 tons – the same as the previous season.

Another arrest was made this week after a man from Swellendam was caught in possession of perlemoen with an estimated value of R7.1 million.

According to the press, police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk said that the police and K9 unit were completing a routine patrol when they stopped a truck to search it. In a hidden area within the truck the police found 1,403,2 kg of perlemoen.

Mentioned in the press this week is the announcement by Barloworld that the listed distribution group has given notice of its possible exit from logistics if its business failed to improve its return on invested capital.

TNPA anticipates that more than 20 luxury passenger ships from 17 international shipping lines will visit South African harbours during the cruise season. According to the press, Cape Town and Durban will receive the largest number of passenger ships. Shulami Qalinge, head of TNPA, said that the two harbours are positioned as the country’s major ports for attracting passenger ships.

An investigation into the near sinking of the passenger ferry, Thandi, has cited weather conditions as one of the key contributing factors causing the incident that led to the rescue of 60 tourists en route to Robben Island.

The Robben Island Museum (RIM) says the report, carried out by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), has helped the organisation to evaluate its current safety procedures and to provide an even better and safer experience for all visitors to the island.

Weekly Press Review – 31 October 2017

 Transnet has instituted a group-wide investigation into its contracts and suppliers amid the rampant allegations of rent seeking and kickbacks at state-owned companies.

 According to the press, chief executive Siyabonga Gama said that the company was dealing with allegations of wrong-doing in its contracts, insisting that the problem was not about Transnet governance processes or integrity, but about suppliers.

According to the press this week, there is a growing optimism about the potential of Africa’s oil and gas development, given the sustained increase in crude oil prices.

Speaking at the open session of the 24th Africa Oil Week conference, held in Cape Town last week, Energy Minister David Mahlobo said, “This bodes well for many of the continent’s economies that had suffered when there was a downturn in commodity prices.”

Also making headlines this week is a statement from Premier Fishing and Brands saying that it would continue to grow its business both organically and through acquisitions in the future as it sought to diversify its portfolio.

“We will continue to grow our business organically and by acquisition, as well as focus on the expansion of our product basket to meet our customer’s demands,” said chief executive Samir Saban.

According to the press, despite the fishing season officially beginning on October 1, the delegated authority, Siphokazi Ndundane, has yet to determine the global rock lobster total allowable catch (TAC) for the commercial offshore and near-shore, small scale and recreational sub-sectors.

The Collective representing thousands of small-scale fishers from coastal near-shore fishing sectors says that the system used to allocate West Coast rock lobster fishing rights remains skewed and does not benefit small-scale and near-shore fishers.

Spokesperson for the fishers, Pedro Garcia, says, “When they eventually finalise the allocation for the TAC for the rock lobster, it will be percentages and not kilos. This will not address the imbalances in a system that still only caters for the commercial companies and keeps the indigenous and traditional fishers marginalised.”

Garcia added that the collective still felt that the best solution at this point would be to suspend the current allocations and implement interim relief for a period of three years.

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.

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.