High Sea Greed

Tony Birkholtz

TONY BIRKHOLTZ is furious at Operation Phakisa for permitting fleets of Chinese fishing vessels to exploit our coastal waters, and thinks you should be too. Here’s why:

Even while fish numbers continue to plummet world-wide, Operation Phakisa is growing the fishing industry in southern Africa’s oceans. Mozambique has now permitted fleets of Chinese fishing vessels to exploit its coastal waters and conservationists fear the impact of overfishing and our government’s inability to control fishing regulations.

Billions lost

The amount of fish in the oceans has plunged to the “brink of collapse” due to over-fishing and other threats, according to the WWF conservation group. Populations of fish stocks, including tuna, mackerel and bonito, has fallen by almost 75%, according to a study by the WWF and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) which tracked 5 829 populations of 1 234 species, such as seals, turtles, dolphins and sharks.

“The report suggests billions of animals have been lost from the oceans in my lifetime alone,” said Ken Norris, director of science at the ZSL. “This is a … dangerous legacy to leave to our grandchildren.”
World marine fish catches dipped to 79.7 million tonnes in 2012 from 82.6 million in 2011, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Operation Phakisa

South Africa is mainstreaming its Operation Phakisa that aims to ‘unlock the economic potential’ of our oceans. “South Africa is uniquely bordered by the ocean east, south and west. With the inclusion of Prince Edward and Marion Islands, the coastline is approximately 3 924km long,” former President Jacob Zuma told delegates at the launch of the initiative.

Late last year, China’s fishing industry celebrated the landing at a port in Shenzhen of its first haul of seafood caught off Mozambique.

The return to port of six vessels owned by the Yu Yi Industry Co. – carrying 359 tons of crustaceans and fish – was marked with a major ceremony overseen by corporate executives and Communist Party officials. Yu Yi Chairman Zhang Zhiming said China’s fishing effort was best expended abroad. “Offshore fishing resources are falling,” Zhang said. “Now is the time for us to expand. ”

Isn’t it time we pressured the Mozambican and South African governments to preserve what’s left of one of our most precious resources?