Weekly Press Review – 2 September 2016

The issuing of fishing permits by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has once again made headlines this week.

According to the press, local fishing associations have lodged an urgent high court application to interdict and restrain DAFF from issuing further horse mackerel fishery permits to Global Pact.

Both the South African Deepsea Trawling Industry and Midwater Trawling Associations describe the department’s decision to allocate an additional 8,000 tons of experimental quota in the horse mackerel fishery as irrational. They have requested that the court set the decision aside.

The Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA), World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) and BirdLife SA have also expressed concern at the decision and are advising that a “cautionary approach” is required when dealing with the horse mackerel resource.

Johann Augustyn, executive secretary of the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry and Mid-water Trawling Associations said, “The fact that the permit is called a “permit for exploratory fishing” does not change its substance. It allows Global Pact to fish directly for horse mackerel utilising the same type of vessel as other existing rights holders, but without any effort limitation component, and with no spatial restriction.”

He added that he believed the decision to be influenced by an undisclosed ulterior purpose or bias.

In response DAFF spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo said that the proposal by Global Pact was designed to assist the department to better understand the size and extent of the South African horse mackerel stock.

 Shark season is once again upon us and Cape Town’s beach-goers are being warned to be aware of the increased great white shark activity in-shore at our local beaches.

According to the press the City and Shark Spotters are hard at work to ensure the safety of beach-goers over this period.

According to Johan van der Merwe, Mayco member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, “All beach and ocean users are reminded that the presence of great white sharks in in-shore areas increases at this time of year. We are also asking surfers to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise and Macassar Beach as research has shown that the presence of sharks is extremely common at this time of year.”

An extraordinary whale rescue has also made headlines this week. The NSRI and South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) were once again called to action to rescue a Humpback whale entangled in rope and a floatation buoy. Once freed the whale did not however simply swim away.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said, “Once all the ropes and the floatation buoy were removed, in a most incredible reaction from the animal, the whale swam right up alongside the sea rescue boat and he gently placed his head on the gunnel of the sea rescue craft.

“The whale remained there for almost 20 minutes seemingly staring at the rescuers. All involved described a surreal and emotional moment shared between the SAWDN volunteer team and this beautiful animal. The whale then swam off.”

Weekly Press Review – 19 August 2016

Saldanha Bay has made headlines this week celebrating the terminal ‘s milestone of a billion tons of exports.

Most of South Africa’s iron ore exports pass through the terminal, which has the capacity to stockpile 4.5 million tons of ore of 13 different grades.  According to Robert van Rooyen, Saldanha Bay terminal manager, the bulk terminal handles approximately 59 million tons annually, compared to smaller multi-purpose terminals which handle about 7 million tons of iron ore.

“We are delighted with the success of the terminal and commitment that has been shown by the staff and management team, which has seen us go from the terminal’s total handling capacity increasing gradually from 18 million tons per annum in 1976 to where we are today at 60 million tons per annum – an increase of 233 percent.”

It has been a busy week for the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN), as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).  The organisation was called once again called to action to rescue a whale entangled in fishing rope and flotation buoys off Glencairn.  According to the press, SAWDN volunteers, along with members of the NSRI, used disentanglement equipment to free the 7.5m juvenile humpback whale.

According to SAWDN head Michael Meyer the whale appeared to be healthy.

“All indications are that the animal has survived and we are satisfied that the operation has been successful,” said Meyer.

In a separate incident, the NSRI and the South African Stranding Network (SASN) were called to rescue a 2.5m dolphin stranded at Jeffey’s Bay. According to the press the dolphin was successfully returned to the ocean.

These two incidents once again remind us that we need to be mindful of the impact that our marine activities have on the wildlife in our oceans.  Fishing ropes and buoys remain a problem, but even the shark nets designed to protect swimmers often result in the deaths of dolphin, turtles and otters that get caught in them.

A balance needs to be found between using our oceans and abusing our oceans.