Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa thrills SA maritime students with meeting in Vietnam

South African maritime studies students in Vietnam (third from Left) Zenzele Makukula, (infront leaning forward) Mandisa Mthembu, (third from Right) Kentse Matshira and (extreme Right) Mpumelelo Ndebele; with South Africa's Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and members of his delegation during a stop over in Vietnam on October 4, 2016.
South African maritime studies students in Vietnam (third from Left) Mthunzi Zenzele Makukula, (infront leaning forward) Mandisa Susan Mthembu, (third from Right) Kentse Sendra Matshira and (extreme Right) Mpumelelo Ndebele; with South Africa’s Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and members of his delegation during a stop over in Vietnam on October 4, 2016.

Pretoria: 11 October 2016

A stop-over in Haiphong City, Vietnam by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government delegation a week ago brought about much joy and celebration for a group of South African tertiary level maritime education students resident in the country.

The visit and meeting with the group of four students at the Vietnam Maritime University and International School of Education – Sendra Kentse Matshira, Mpumelelo Ndebele, Mandisa Mthembu and Cyril Makukula – reportedly occurred at Mr Ramaphosa’s request during his visit of the East Asian region, including Singapore.

On Tuesday 04 October, accompanied by among others Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr Kebby Maphatsoe and Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Bheki Cele; Mr Ramaphosa invited the four students for a lunch meeting and they duly obliged, with much excitement.

dsc_4265After the most appreciated lunch meeting, Mr Ramaphosa on a brief tour guided by Vietnamese foreign ministry directorate official, Mr Nguyen Trung Kien; tagged the group along to the Haiphong City harbour where Vietnam’s reputedly biggest shipyard, Vinashin is located. It turned out to be yet another photo shooting opportunity for the four students.

Recounting the experience shortly thereafter they described it as a great honour to have the opportunity to meet and interact with Mr Ramaphosa and his delegation.

“We were honored with an invitation to have lunch with Deputy President of South Africa and his delegation. The meeting took place at a government building in Haiphong city where our university is also located

“Firstly, when we arrived at the venue we were called in by his delegate and then we went to his

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa with Khentse Sendra Matshira
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa with Khentse Sendra Matshira

table to greet him. The basic questions he asked included: “What’s your name, Where (in South Africa) are you from?….. ” and then, after that we greeted his delegation with some asking us about the courses we are doing and requirements to study this course.

“Secondly, he wanted to take photos with us – one by one and then in a group.. Mr Kebby Maphatsoe the Deputy Minister of Defence Force and Military Veterans of South Africa was very happy about us. He even encouraged us to study hard because he believes we are the future solution of our country.

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Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa with Mandisa Susan Mthembu.

“He told us he would be glad to assist with anything when we get back home. He also took photos with us. At the end of it, it was a good day. We had fun and it gave us hope that we have a bright future ahead and all we have to do is to work hard at school.” related the group afterwards.

Working hard at their studies, they are – according to their latest academic results report since joining the Vietnamese maritime university a year ago.

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa with Mthunzi Makukula

Makukula, Matshira, Mthembu and Ndebele joined the Vietnam Maritime University in 2015 on a Vietnamese government sponsored scholarship intended for youths interested in pursuing tertiary level maritime sector related studies.

Vietnam Maritime University, currently with about 17,000 students engaged in various study courses provided in 35 undergraduate subjects is a long established institution dating back to 1956. It is one of 17 key universities of Vietnam as well as the largest school in the Vietnamese transportation sector.

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa with Mpumelelo Ndebele

In terms of the South Africa deal, according to Vietnam Maritime University rector, Associate Professor Dr. Luong Cong Nho; Vietnam Maritime University grants scholarships worth approximately US$23 000 per student per whole course of study beginning in the academic year 2015 -2016.

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The four South African students in Vietnam with South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Defense and Military Veterans, Mr Kebby Maphatsoe during a visit with Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa to Vietnam in early October 2016

However, the scholarship only covers all the tuition fees and university‘s hostel accommodation (if required), but excludes subsistence allowances and return international airfares.

South Africa's Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa during a tour of the Vietnamese Vinashin Shipyard at Haiphong City's harbour on 4 October 2016 and during which he tagged along South Africa's four students in maritime studies based in the city.
South Africa’s Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa during a tour of the Vietnamese Vinashin Shipyard at Haiphong City’s harbour on 4 October 2016 and during which he tagged along South Africa’s four students in maritime studies based in the city.

The SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – a government institution at the forefront of facilitating among other issues, the expansion of education, training and skills development for South Africa’s maritime economic sector – covers the extra costs excluded in the grant for three of the four students.

Provided copies of their academic progress to date show that all four are coping relatively well, with all of them notching an average B to B+ (76-80: 81-84) score marks per semester, in a range of subjects inclusive of Mathematics, Micro and Macro-economics, Oceans Politics, International Law and Relations, Global Logistics, Economic Geography, to Politics of Pacific Asia, International b+Business and Globalization.

The group is expected to complete its junior degree studies in another two to three years.

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Fate of arrested Chinese vessel in Cape Town to be determined soon

Pretoria: 16 May 2016

An image of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186. Courtesy of Independent Online
An image of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186 arrested by South African authorities off the Eastern Cape coast at the weekend now berthed at the Cape Town harbour. (Image courtesy of Independent Online

The fate of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186, currently docked in Cape Town after being successfully chased and captured by South African authorities off the Eastern Cape coast at the weekend will soon be fully determined by the extent to which it violated both the country’s laws and international conventions.

The vessel is one of several – about nine – possibly from the same company believed to have entered and operated in South African waters illegally about a week ago.

On Monday (May 16) the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed that it had begun investigations of the vessel relating to its conduct in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Captains Karl Otto and Gustav Louw confirmed that SAMSA surveyors boarded the vessel on Monday afternoon and their findings would be shared as soon as they were available.

According to SAMSA, the investigation is looking precisely into the vessel’s seaworthiness inclusive of its condition, its operation certificates as well as those of the crew, the vessel’s manning conditions, as well as its general conduct in South African waters involving its radio availability and responsiveness to South African authorities.

A SAMSA team set out early Monday to investigate the vessel and to make a determination of its overall condition and conduct.

The SAMSA ship surveyors team’s findings will add to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) investigations and findings at the weekend shortly after the cornering and arrest of the vessel in Cape Town.

Shortly after its berthing at the Cape Town harbour on Saturday, according to DAFF, rummaging was conducted on the captured vessel involving the South African Police Services (SAPS), the South African Revenue Services (SARS) as well as the Department of Home Affairs.

“There was a total of nine crew members on board,” said DAFF’s spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo, also confirming that no fish was found onboard the vessel.

She said: “The crew claimed to have been travelling to the Democratic Republic of Congo where they claim they were going to fish and claim to have the necessary permits to do so. We have also established that this fleet of nine vessels is related and belong to the same company.”

Ms Molapo said while the early investigators found no fish on board the vessel, it had however violated the country’s Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) in that the fishing vessel entered the country’s EEZ without the authority of a valid permit.

“The vessel also contravened Section 56 (2) in that (the) Master or crew member of the fishing vessel in question, did not immediately comply with lawful instruction as given by a fishery control officer and also did not facilitate the safe boarding, entry and inspection of the fishing vessel,” she said.

Due to these violations, DAFF issued a seizure notice that will involve the vessel, its gear and equipment, stores as well as cargo.

In terms of this, the vessel will not be allowed to leave the port of Cape Town or relocate to any other berthing space within the port, unless authorized to do so by DAFF.

According to DAFF, SARS had also fined the vessel R8 000 for tobacco and cigarette related charges. SAPS was also following up and investigating a case involving the keeping of dogs in the vessel.

Meanwhile, Ms Molapo confirmed that an alert had been issued to neighboring countries, Namibia and Mozambique to be on the look for the rest of the vessels that have since disappeared. “DAFF has notified and registered an intention to get all the nine vessels red flagged with regional fisheries management organizations,” she said.
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FISH POACHING AT SOUTH AFRICAN OCEANS REACHING ‘CRISIS’ PROPORTIONS!

Fishing sector researchers sound the alarm about popular fish species in South Africa’s seas being ‘poached’ to extinction, and call for general public involvement.

dusky kobBy the time there are only about half-a-dozen rhinos and perhaps only three elephants left in South Africa’s wild, all due to rampant and incessant poaching; there may also be no more edible fish left in the country’s oceans, such is an apparent massive scale of poaching also of popular fish species along the country’s coastline, according to two researchers.

Front page of the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of the Ski-Boat magazine
Front page of the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of the Ski-Boat magazine

Professor Nadine A. Strydom and Bruce Mann’s story of an apparent desperate plight of the country’s fish species’ rapid decimation is carried in the January/February 2016 edition of Ski-Boat, a bimonthly print and digital magazine published by the South African Deep Sea Angling Association.

Prof Strydom is an associate professor in the Department of Zoology at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth. She is described as a specialist in the ecology of and early life history of coastal fish.

Mr Mann is a fish biologist based at the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban. He is said to be a specialist in the stock status, biology and ecology  of linefish and marine protected areas.

A collaborator and contributor in the report is Mr Edward Turner, a sportfishing journalist involved in tourism development.

According to their report, an increasingly popular question in the South Africa fishing sector is: “Where have all the fish gone?”

Their alarm bell comes in the same period as the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is in the process of finalizing the receiving of application forms and issuance of related policy documents, beginning February 1, 2016; for Fishing Rights Allocation for the 2015/16 period.

The researchers’ report also coincides with the release of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Centre for Fishing’s annual fishing sector incidents report (Marine Notice No.1 of 2016) and which, summarily; paints an apparently encouraging picture in terms of gradually yet consistent reducing rates of deaths of fishermen through accidents and related in the country’s seas over the last decade or so.

Meanwhile, the researchers’ report on the dire conditions facing the country’s fish stock, describes none of it as being actually a joke as, they say; of 35 popular linefish species in a 2013 study report known as the ‘Southern African Marine Linefish Species Profiles‘ and published by the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (Oceanographic Research Institute), more than half (19) of the popular linefish had ‘collapsed’, 6 (six) were over-exploited, with only 10 perceived as ‘optimally exploited.’

The researchers state: “Much media attention is placed on charismatic animals like elephants and rhinos and the anti-poaching messages are common on t-shirts and bumber stickers, but much less attention is given to the plight of our fish species.

“Many of our coastal fish species suffer a similar plight to rhino, with rampant poaching serving the greedy few while deriving (sic) other South Africans of their natural heritage. Sadly, the media hype about rhinos seems to miss other threatened species, particularly those that are hard for people to see on a daily basis,” so says the group.

Big fish, the most productive, are gone!

kobSounding a shrill alarm, the experts claim that the current favourite target for fish poachers along South Africa’s coastal waters are big-sized fish, such as a fully grown dusky kob, and the greatest tragedy is that these large fish are also incidentally, the best breeders over time. They are all almost all gone, say the researchers!

“The dusky kop is just one on a long list of fish species for which alarm bells are ringing. Populations of many popular angling fish that formed an integral part of the rock-and-surf, estuary and skiboat fisheries in the past 50 years are already collapsed off our coast,” they say.

Precisely, line fish said to be under severe threat in South African oceans over the last few years include the following in four categories:

  1. over-fished:  the Silver Kob, the Squaretail Kob, and the Geelbek;
  2. vulnerable: the Dusky Kob, the Black musselcracker, the White-edged rockcod, the Scotsman, the Soupfin shark and the Smoothhound shark,
  3. endangered: the White steenbras, the Red steenbras, the Yellowbelly rockcod, and the Red stumpnose and
  4. critically endangered: the Seventy-four and the Dageraad

Apparently, according to the researchers in their January/February 2016 report, the only refuge for many of the fish species are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) such as the Isimingaliso, Pondolond, Tsitsikama, Goukamma and De Hoop areas along the Indian Ocean east of the country.

However, they say; even these protected areas are only currently serving to keep pressure at bay in the immediate vicinity of the protected areas, as outside them, it is chaos.

In its 5-year strategy document for the period 2015/16-2019/20 DAFF acknowledges the problem and gives a broad outline of its planned activities in the period to counter the trend.

In the document DAFF states: “Fisheries generally is a highly contested industry, both locally and globally. It is plagued by syndicated crime, over-exploitation of high-value species, corruption and poor compliance levels.

“The department, therefore, has to introduce comprehensive responses to this complex, highly technical and technologically advanced challenge by intensifying its  monitoring and compliance efforts and working in close cooperation with other law enforcement
agencies.”

prepared fish foodIn their report however, Prof Strydom and Messrs Mann and Truter, while acknowledging fully a laxity in management and enforcement of fisheries regulations as a primary factor, a lack of public awareness compounds the problem and they believe, they say, that the public should “do more than just eat fish at restaurants.”

South Africans reportedly consumed approximately 313-million tons of seafood in 2010, of which 50% was sourced within the country’s waters. Much of that seafood constituted a variety of fish species.

Illustrative chart courtesy of WWF-SASSI. For a link to the website, click on the chart.
Illustrative chart courtesy of WWF-SASSI. For a link to the website, click on the chart.

“The future of our fish resources in South Africa rests in the mouths of those of us who eat seafood – both anglers themselves and those who by their seafood at restaurants and the local fish shop. You are ultimately the end users of coastal fish in South Africa and you have a moral obligation to participate in conversation effort for our fish stocks,” they urge.

Tools to assist public’s direct involvement and engagement

To assist the greater public engagement sought, the researchers point to a dedicated digital platform known as the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) and which contains loads of information to assist especially fish dealers and consumers with knowledge about the fish they trade in or consume.

For retailers, the WWF-SASSI platform provides fish traders with information that includes guidelines to procurement of linefish from dealers operating in South Africa’s oceans.

In addition, the platform reportedly supports general members of the public by, for example: enabling people to, while seated at a restaurant, SMS the name of the fish on the menu they have ordered to a dedicated mobile number that in turn returns all the critical information known about the fish species, inclusive of its state of abundance or scarcity and some such other detail.

To encourage ease of use by the public, the platform also offers an app that can be loaded to a person’s mobile phone for purposes of accessing same information and alternatively, a downloadable booklet containing loads of knowledge about the country’s fish species and their current status.

“The demise of the dusky kob in coastal waters of South Africa is no less imminent than the threat faced by the rhino, elephant, abalone and others like them. Marine biologists are calling on all South Africans to step up and help fight the cause to ensure the sustainable use of our precious coastal fish resources,” says Prof Strydom and Messrs Mann and Truter.

Fewer deaths of fishermen on SA waters

**Meanwhile, a SAMSA report of recorded incidents of death at sea for the past 20 years (1996-2015) indicates a significant decline in the number of fishermen who die at see while at work.

Fishing Incidents timeline 96_15

Compiled by SAMSA’s Centre for Fishing, the report shows that even as the number of fishermen who died while at work at sea in 2015 more than doubled from only seven (7) in 2014 to 18 in 2015, the overall death trend reflected a significant decline particularly in the last decade from 2006 to 2015.

In the period, fishermen death numbers fell from double digit figures, sometimes as high as 57 per annum in the period from 1996 to 2005, to single digits of as low seven deaths per annum in the last decade to 2015.

The report may be obtained in three ways, from SAMSA offices at 146 Lunnon Road, Hillcrest, Pretoria; by requesting it via email (marinenotices@samsa.org.za) or downloading it via the website: http://www.samsa.org.za.

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