Minister Zokwana attends memorial service

Newsletter No.3 December 2015

memorial2Mr Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, was guest of honour at the memorial service for the 12 men who lost their lives in the Lincoln tragedy on 27 September.

The memorial service was held at Jetty 2 in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront on 15 November.

Minister Zokwana was joined at the service by the families and friends of the deceased, the entire management team and many employees of Viking Fishing; representatives of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF); the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA); the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI); trade unions; and several executives and employees from fishing companies active in the deep-sea trawl fishery, and other South African fisheries.

Some of the survivors of the Lincoln tragedy also attended the memorial service, which was conducted by Reverend Charles Lange, Port Chaplain of Cape Town.

Relating the events of 27 September, Rory Williams, a director of Viking Fishing and spokesperson for the company, said that the day had begun with a gentle breeze but the weather suddenly picked up and continued to deteriorate rapidly throughout the day. All the vessels in the area, including the Lincoln, were forced to stop fishing at midday. They upped their gear and began moving out of the area, seeking calmer waters. By late afternoon, with a gale force wind gusting at over 100km/h and with waves of between five and six metres, the Lincolnwas swamped by heavy seas breaking over her stern. Water rushed into the factory deck and the vessel was thrust onto her side and began to list dangerously. The main engine cut out and heavy seas continued to pound the vessel.

“It was a situation that only the skipper could assess and act upon, and always with the safety of his crew in mind,” said Williams, “A situation no one ever wants to be in. Time is minimal and decisions need to be made.”

At approximately 17h55, the Lincoln dispatched a SOS mayday call and the crew abandoned ship. Sadly, 12 of the vessel’s crew of 21 did not survive the ordeal.

The memorial service on 15 November was held to honour and remember the lost crewmen.

At the service, a plaque was unveiled by Minister Zokwana and Mr Nico Bacon, founder and Executive Chairman of Viking Fishing. The plaque remembers the men who lost their lives: Cornelius van Neel (the Mate), Bernard Thys (the Bosun), John Diedericks, Jacobus Juries, Deswal Mahala, Bertrum Mitas, Deriek van der Heever (Deckhands), William Adonis, George Daniels, Ashwin Harding, Taurig Martin (Spare hands) and Peter Maroon (the Cook).

The plaque will be permanently displayed at Viking Fishing.

Mr Nico Bacon, Executive Chairman of Viking Fishing and Minister Zokwana unveil a plaque in memory of the men who lost their lives. They are pictured with Reverend Charles Lange, Port Chaplain, who conducted the memorial service.

Mr Nico Bacon, Executive Chairman of Viking Fishing and Minister Zokwana unveil a plaque in memory of the men who lost their lives. They are pictured with Reverend Charles Lange, Port Chaplain, who conducted the memorial service.

The biggest investment in fishing in 25 years

I&J, an AVI subsidiary and South Africa’s oldest deep-sea hake fishing company, celebrated the unveiling, naming and ceremonial blessing of its new fishing vessels by Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu, at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on November 12.

The unveiling of the two vessels, the freezer trawler, Umlobi, and the purpose-built fresh fish trawler, Ferox, forms part of what has been the largest investment in the South African fishing industry in the last 25 years, demonstrating both I&J and its shareholders’ recognition that material investment is necessary in this complex, vertically integrated industry. It also reflects the company, and the deep-sea trawl sector’s, confidence and belief in the Cape hake fishery, internationally recognised as one of the best managed and sustainable fisheries in the world.

Guest of honour, His Grace, Archbishop of Cape Town and head of the Anglican Church of South Africa, The Most Reverend Doctor Thabo Makgoba, congratulated I&J on its considerable investment within the South African borders, underpinning growth and adding badly needed employment in the Western Cape.

I&J’s considerable investment will not only support existing jobs, replace aging vessels and processing technology, but will also see the creation of 75 new jobs in the Western Cape by adding modern fishing vessel capacity and technology to the I&J Fleet.

Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu conducted the formal vessel naming ceremony and delivered a blessing of prayer to bestow good will and divine protection over each vessel. Reverend Tutu became the vessels’ godmother, as she ceremonially broke champagne bottles over each of their bows.

I&J’s ground-breaking R0.5 Billion Rand investment includes the purchase of the Ferox at a cost of more than R150 million; the acquisition of the 66 m freezer factory ship, Umlobi, worth in excess of R255 million, as well as the R67 million upgrade of I&J’s Woodstock processing facility in Cape Town, where the daily Cape hake catch is converted into product for both domestic and international markets.

Ferox is a Latin word that means “fierce” and the vessel is named after the indigenous Aloe ferox. The 45m, 907.40 GRT Ferox was delivered at a cost of R150 million from the Astilleros Armon shipyard in Spain.

Ferox is a Latin word that means “fierce” and the vessel is named after the indigenous Aloe ferox. The 45m, 907.40 GRT Ferox was delivered at a cost of R150 million from the Astilleros Armon shipyard in Spain.

For photographs of the launch of Umlobi and Ferox, please visit the SADSTIA Facebook page.

How bad is trawling, really?

Early results from a global study show that the impact of trawl gear on the seabed is probably much less devastating than is often portrayed by environmental NGOs and the media, and the commonly held belief that trawling is turning the seabed into a desert, is unfounded.

SADSTIA is participating in an independent study on trawling and its effect on benthic life. The study is called, “Trawling: Finding Common Ground on the Scientific Knowledge Regarding Best Practices”. It is supported by, among other partners and funders, the Walton Foundation, the Packard Foundation and the National Fisheries Institute of the US.

A team of international scientists is involved in the study which recognises the need to strike a balance between food security and the need to make fisheries sustainable in the long-term. About 25% of the world’s fish catch comes from the use of trawl gear.

The project has five phases, one of the most important of which is to examine the global extent of trawling and habitats. At present, a continental shelf area approximately equivalent to three times the area of Brazil is affected by bottom trawl gear and dredges. Although trawls can transform sensitive benthic ecosystems, extensive studies have shown that there are fewer changes to less sensitive habitats, particularly in regions subject to frequent natural disturbance, such as storms and powerful ocean currents.

Southern Africa is just one of the regions of the world to be included in the global study and early results have shown that, in line with other parts of the world, the footprint of trawling in South African waters was consistent over time. Effort was highly concentrated, with large areas being untrawled or lightly trawled.

In South Africa, the proportion of the area within the 0 to 200 m depth strata that is untrawled differs between macro-regions: as the diagram below illustrates, 60% of the area in the East Agulhas Current hasn’t been impacted and 92% of the South Benguela is untrawled. The fraction of the area in the 200 to 1 000 m depth strata that didn’t record trawling activity was 64% in the East Agulhas Current macro-region and 51% in South Benguela.

Figure 1: Reporting areas; the dotted lines indicate the macro-regions (TBP areas) of South Benguela and East Agulhas. The blue and red areas correspond to the offshore and inshore “trawl frozen footprint” respectively.

Figure 1: Reporting areas; the dotted lines indicate the macro-regions (TBP areas) of South Benguela and East Agulhas. The blue and red areas correspond to the offshore and inshore “trawl frozen footprint” respectively.

The major data collection and analysis for the Trawling: Finding Common Ground on the Scientific Knowledge Regarding Best Practices project has been completed, including assessments of bottom trawling in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa.

One of the early key findings of the global study is that high-resolution data paints a different picture than low-resolution data that has traditionally been used to estimate the extent of trawling. Low resolution estimates of trawl footprint greatly exaggerate the true extent of activity because frequently trawled areas were aggregated with unfished areas. The current study is making use of data from Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) to identify trawling activity at a very high resolution – mostly at 1 kilometer squared, in order to get a more accurate representation of how much of the seafloor is being trawled.

The team has found that, as in South Africa, trawling tends to be highly concentrated, rather than widespread and in many fisheries trawling activity is either stable or declining.

The ultimate goal of the project is to identify and test a range of management options and industry practices that may improve the environmental performance of trawl fisheries, with a view to defining “best practice”. For each option or practice, the impact on biota, sustainable food production, ecosystems and ecosystem services will be evaluated, along with changes in fuel consumption and other costs and impacts.

Read more about the Trawl Best Practices project:
https://trawlingpractices.wordpress.com
https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2015/11/23/research-finds-trawling-not-as-devastating-as-often-portrayed