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MosselbayonTheline | First With The News

Shark Cage Diving's origin in South Africa - in majestic Mossel Bay - from a  risky "rogue cowboy business" to a major tourist industry and global research initiative.  


Beast of beauty? Man-eating monster or magnificent master of the marine jungle?  They've been called MANY derogatory names through the ages - especially after the release of the blockbuster movie JAWS in 1975 - based on the best-seller thriller of Peter Benchley.  


However, it took a few South African spearfishermen and their fear of, and fascination with these iconic hunters of the ocean to gradually help change the world's perception of one of the oldest original species on Planet Earth.  

Ironically, it was the "crazy" idea of a Mossel Bay fisherman and diver, Jimmy Eksteen, in the late 1980's to share his close face to face encounters and underwater face-offs with these sleek and gracious marine hunters with the broader population, that spearheaded global research and a greater understanding of the Great White shark.

Jimmy Eksteen


Thanks to Mossel Bay's prolific marine life and abundance of Great Whites that feed on the seal population on the nearby Seal Island, Eksteen's diving excursions often brought him in close contact (and harrowing encounters) with these predators. He soon learned their behavioural patterns, and fear became fascination, respect, awe and a dream to share this invigorating experience with other adrenaline junkies. 

The idea of shark cage diving was born

Eksteen recalls he had to use his own imagination and ideas to design a steel cage that could safely be submerged into the "unknown underwater world" to give a cage diver ample protection, yet maximum exposure to the Real McCoy. The original structure was a single detached cage in which a single diver was lowered into the water for a unique eyeball-to-eyeball face-off with the feared icons.

Shark Cage diving video Jimmy Eksteen Moment8 Moment

In those days there were no rules or regulations for such an extreme eco-adventure in South Africa, and in the beginning, it was pretty much a cowboy industry based on trial and error to smooth things out as you go along.

Shark Cage diving video Jimmy Eksteen Moment7

The public outcry was overwhelming - especially based on fear that the chum (oil and blood mixture to lure the Great Whites) would bring the sharks closer to the swimming areas. The authorities were engaged and new legislation and regulations had to be formulated regarding chumming and this new "water sport and tourist attraction". 


Ironically, during that time there were quite a few shark attacks along Mossel Bay's coastline - including a fatal attack on a female scuba diver near Hartenbos. All chumming was initially forbidden.   

Around 2003 Jimmy and his restaurateur brother-in-law JJ Moorcroft started marketing their first official cage diving adventure packages - including meals and accommodation at Moorcroft's The Gannet restaurant and guest house.

Shark Cage diving video Jimmy Eksteen Moment

Meanwhile, another South African spearfisherman from Gansbaai, André Hartman (dubbed Shark Man), stunned the world with real-life footage of his free-swimming endeavours with mammoth Great Whites, and even riding them by holding onto their dorsal fin. His fearless encounters with the fearsome JAWS were published in National Geographic and aired on international TV stations.

Suddenly, South Africa was at the forefront of UN-demonizing the marine beast and taking the bite out of JAWS. The late author of Jaws, Peter Benchley, visited Hartman in Gansbaai to witness the "unbelievable" with his own eyes. After spending some time with Hartman on a small boat in a shark-infested ocean near Dyer Island, Benchley declared he would never have written Jaws if he knew then what he knows now . . . (The story and pictures of that encounter were also published in National Geographic.)     

In Mossel Bay, Eksteen's shark cage diving excursions also drew the attention of the son of the late world-renowned French Navy officer, conservationist and scientist Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The latter designed and built the world's very first shark cage in 1956 for the production of the movie Silent World, and his son visited Eksteen to see his tourism-based cage and Mossel Bay's Great Whites.

Shark Cage diving video Jimmy Eksteen Moment6Shark Cage diving video Jimmy Eksteen Moment5

Today, there are several shark cage diving industries in the Western Cape - Mossel Bay, Gansbaai (9) and False Bay - and they all have marine biologists on board doing exemplary research work to better understand these endangered icons and to create global awareness of their essential role in marine ecology in order to save them from becoming extinct.

 * Although South Africa continues to play a leading role in Great White shark research and conservation, cage diving originated in Australia. Rodney Winston Fox, a South Australian filmmaker, conservationists and survivor of a Great White attack, designed and built the first commercial shark cage in 1965 after he miraculously survived one of the most horrific non-fatal attacks. He is still one of the world's foremost authorities on the species.   


From the archives: A TV documentary on the first shark cage diving excursions in South Africa featuring pioneer Jimmy Eksteen in Mossel Bay's waters around 1993.  

Unfortunately, there's also a dark side and these iconic predators of the ocean have become almost extinct due to their worst "unnatural" enemy - the human. This year, not a single Great White was seen in False Bay - a first in recorded history. Last year, local fishermen made a gruesome discovery at Kanon beach along the Mossel Bay coastline when they encountered tens of decapitated shark heads on the beach. This is how we reported in June last year:




Also check/read our Facebook posts with more pictures in Afrikaans:  

14 Augustus 2019: 

Mosselbaai se withaaie lok toenemend internasionale filmspanne wat dokumentêre TV-programme oor dié gevreesde, dog manjifieke oerspesie langs die Wes-Kaapse kuslyn kom verfilm.

Ons het op 'n bewolkte dag in Julie 'n filmspan van die Discovery TV-kanaal by die ou seiljagklub (nou Mossel Bay Waterfront) raakgeloop waar hulle saam met die Gansbaaise marienebioloog Alison Towner insetsels vir hul TV-program verfilm het.

filmspan van Discovery channel

Ongelukkig sien Mosselbaaiers selde die ongelooflike eindproduk van dié internasionale filmspanne wat hier op eie bodem verfilm word. Die betrokke filmsessie langs die Suid-Kaapse kuslyn van Robeiland in Mosselbaai tot by Robberg in Plettenbergbaai was juis vir Discovery se gewilde Haaiweek-program Air Jaws Strikes Back wat op 30 Julie 2019 gebeeldsaai is.
Die filmspan het ook van hommeltuie gebruik gemaak om aksie-tonele van dié roof-marienediere oor 'n groter gebied te probeer vaslê. Op een video is 'n groot withaai wat 'n niksvermoedende rob aanval en verorber perfek vasgevang.

Mosselbaai het 'n lang geskiedenis met withaaie wat tradisioneel rondom Robeiland boer en was, sover bekend, die eerste dorp in Suid-Afrika waar haaihokduik in die laat 1980's amptelik bekend gestel is.

shark Amanda Brewer2

Hoewel dit destyds aanvanklik maar 'n redelike Cowboy-bedryf was met 'n primitiewe losdrywende hok wat Jimmy Eksteen op die been gebring het omdat daar nog nie spesifieke wetgewing en regulasies vir só 'n adrenalien-avontuur was nie, het dié bedryf sedertdien in Suid-Afrika ontplof tot een van die top-toeriste-attraksies.

Jimmy Eksteen1

Eksteen vertel hy het destyds maar sy eie kop gevolg met die ontwerp en mates van die haaihok en danksy raad, bystand en hulp van Theo Ferreira en sy seun, Craig, het Mosselbaai die eerste haaihokduike in die land begin.

Selfs die seun van die beroemde Franse vloot-offisier en wetenskaplike Jacques-Yves Cousteau, wat destyds in 1956 die eerste haaihok ontwerp het vir die verfilming van die rolprent Silent World, het saam met Eksteen na Mosselbaai se haaie kom kyk . . .

Haaihokduik het onregstreeks ook gelei tot intensiewe navorsing oor dié spesie wat in 1974 wêreldwye vrees ingeboesem het met die vrystelling van wyle Peter Benchley se rillerboek JAWS. Die Amerikaanse skrywer se boek was 'n blitsverkoper en sowat 20 miljoen eksemplare is destyds verkoop. Toe Steven Spielberg boonop in 1975 die boek verfilm vir die treffer-rolprent JAWS, was die Witdoodshaai jare lank seker dié mees gevreesde seedier wat mense nagmerries gegee en uit die see gehou het.


* Interessant genoeg was dit juis 'n Suid-Afrikaner wat Peter Benchley jare later skuldig laat voel het oor die "onregverdige stigma" wat sy boek aan dié vaartbelynde en sierlike seejagter laat kleef het. Tydens 'n besoek aan Gansbaai in die vroeë 1990's het die wêreldbekende "Haaiman" André Hartman aan Benchley gewys hoe hy vreesloos saam met withaaie swem en selfs op hul rug ry deur aan hul dorsale vin vas te hou . . .

Dit het wyle Benchley laat sê dat hy nooit die boek sou geskryf het as hy destyds geweet het wat hy nou weet nie.

Deesdae is Suid-Afrikaners in die voorste linie van wêreldkenners en navorsers oor die kenmerke, getalle, gewoontes en gedragspatrone van dié gevreesde, dog gerespekteerde koning van die mariene-oerwoud en leef ook Mosselbaai se seeliefhebbers in vrede en harmonie saam met dié diere wat so 'n belangrike rol in die balans van die marienelewe speel.
Hier is die hommeltuig-video wat die Discovery-span van die haai-aanval op die rob langs die Suid-Kaapse kuslyn verfilm het.

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing, sky, ocean, cloud, outdoor, water and nature
Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, beach, outdoor, water and nature
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Image may contain: water
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31 Augustus 2019: 

As dit nie die haaie in Mosselbaai se waters is wat ná dekades steeds sensasie veroorsaak nie, is dit 'n onopgeëisde Power Ball-wenkaartjie van R141 miljoen wat die dorp aan die gons het.
Amanda Brewer, 'n Amerikaanse natuurlewe-fotograaf en stigter van die internasionale haaibewaringsprojek Sharkservation, se foto's van Mosselbaai se withaaie wat sy onlangs vir dokumentêre TV-programme soos Air Jaws Strikes Again hier kom neem het, is só vreesaanjaend dat gemanipuleerde poetsbak-foto's eintlik mak vertoon vergeleke met die ware jakob.

shark Amanda Brewer

Dit volg nadat selfs haaikenner Craig Ferreira uitgevang is deur Jaco Vollgraaff se poets toe hy sy vriende se diepsee-hengelekspedisie met 'n hommeltuig verfilm het en sommer vir die pret 'n foto van 'n reuse-haai ingelas het sodat dit lyk of die haai die boot agtervolg. Die eindresultaat van dié foto-manipulasie was só lewensgetrou dat selfs Ferreira dit as die ware jakob op Facebook gedeel het en 'n herrie op sosiale media veroorsaak het.

shark bullshit


shark Jaco Vollgraaff

Dié herrie rondom haaie het ons 'n ou koerant van November 1993 uit die Mossel Bay Advertiser se argiewe laat opdiep waarin die voornemende haaikyk-pakkette van twee bekende plaaslike sakemanne Jimmy Eksteen en JJ Moorcroft destyds al 'n soortgelyke haai-herrie veroorsaak het. 

shark Amanda Brewer1

Die publiek was destyds nie soseer gekant teen die toerisme-voordele van dié plan nie, maar bekommerd oor die tipe lokaas (chum) wat gebruik sou word en dat die bloederige visolie-mengsel meer haaie na die swemgebiede sou lok. In die onderhoud wat die uwe destyds self met Eksteen en Moorcroft gevoer het, het hulle egter die versekering gegee dat hul haaihok-pakket streng volgens erkende wetenskaplike riglyne bedryf sal word.

Ironies genoeg was daar destyds in dié tyd 'n hele paar haai-aanvalle langs die Mosselbaaise kuslyn - waaronder 'n noodlottige aanval by Hartenbos - en is die gebruik van lokaas (chumming) aanvanklik heeltemal verbied.




Ons het in 'n vorige plasing genoem dat Jimmy Eksteen, 'n ervare duiker, destyds die eerste haaihokduike in Suid-Afrika uitgevoer het met 'n staalhok wat hy self ontwerp en laat bou het. Sedertdien het die bedryf baie meer gesofistikeerd en wetenskaplik geraak en gegroei tot 'n winsgewende toeriste-aantreklikheid in Mosselbaai, Gansbaai en Valsbaai.

Intusssen is daar groot kommer oor die skerp afname in grootwithaaie in Valsbaai waar die afgelope jaar nog nie een gewaar is nie teenoor 'n gemiddeld van 205 per jaar in vorige jare. Verlede jaar is slegs 50 grootwithaaie gedurende die lente en somer in Valsbaai opgemerk.
Sover bekend is dit die eerste keer nóg dat geen withaaie in die area opgemerk word nie en sukkel haaihokoperateurs om hul besighede aan die gang te hou.
Dié kommerwekkende afname kan verskeie oorsake hê - van moordwalvisse (Orcas) wat toenemend in Valsbaai boer en die haaie uitroei en kommersiële vissersbote wat die haaie teiken vir die Oosterse haaivinsopmark, tot ekologiese veranderinge, 'n voedseltekort of selfs erge seewaterbesoedeling.

'n Skokkende verslag oor hoe erg die Kaapse kuswater reeds besoedel is weens chemiese en rioolafval wat daarin beland, het onlangs verskyn. Volgens 'n berig in The Citizen is die see rondom Kaapstad so erg besoedel dat die vis vol farmaseutiese en nywerheidschemikalieë soos antibiotika, ontsmettingsmiddels en selfs antiretrovirale medikasie is.

Dit laat ook die gevaarligte vir Mosselbaai flikker waar grootskaalse hawe-ontwikkelings, nywerhede en olie/gas-ontginnings alles saam in die kleinste werkende hawe in die land beplan word.

Grootwithaaie speel 'n kardinale rol in die mariene-ekologie en hul teenwoordigheid dui juis op 'n gesonde eko-stelsel. Sal Mosselbaai se haaie en gesonde marienelewe hoegenaamd sulke ingrypende nywerheidsontwikkelings kan oorleef?

Intussen is die sperdatum vir kommentaar oor die beplande vergroting en uitbreiding van die Mosselbaai-hawe verleng tot einde Oktober 2019. Die aanvanklike sperdatum vir kommentaar was 31 Augustus, wat die publiek 'n skrale paar dae kans sou gee om insette te lewer sonder dat hulle hoegenaamd ingelig is oor die impak wat die verdieping/vergroting van die hawe moontlik op die ekologie, seestrome en kusbuurtes soos Hartenbos, Dias en Bayview kan hê, ens.

Lees meer hier:…/grootwithaaie-verdwyn-uit-val…/…/cape-towns-waste-is-ending-up-in-i…/…/comment-on-port-plans…?

Ons plaas soos gebruiklik ook meer nuus onder die foto-onderskrifte.

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The many faces and facades of Mossel Bay . . .


There are many ways to say something, but euphemisms to placate the public should not be used when a disaster is looming . . .

visvrek Hartenbos6

The seriousness of the situation is often skilfully hidden in flowering media reports glamourizing the dire problems that Mossel Bay faces regarding essential service delivery and infrastructure. The red flags were already raised last year (albeit between the lines) in a report by Mossel Bay Municipality's former manager of integrated development planning (IDP), George van der Westhuizen, at an IDP forum.


Maybe it's time to call a spade a spade: The town's infrastructure is under threat of collapsing due to delays and an apparent lack of political will and expertise to identify, prioritize and fund the most essential necessities to keep a fast-growing town afloat: Clean drinking water, sanitation, electricity and an efficient road network.

somer Riaan Hammond

Beautiful sunset over the Hartenbos river . . . while schools of fish and other marine species are regularly dying due to unsolved problems and pollution. Photo: Riaan Hammond.  

Mossel Bay's roads and the aged and inadequate sewerage and waterworks systems cannot cope with the overwhelming influx of people and all the residential and industrial developments shooting up like mushrooms.

paradise Beach lifestyle villages

Clean drinking water and sanitation should be a priority, but the only short-term solution mentioned thus far, is the same draconic penalties that the City of Cape Town implemented last year during the Day Zero campaign.  

visvrek Hartenbos5

Our dam levels are dropping daily, our rivers are drying up and rotting, fish and other river species are dying, and instead of addressing the cause(s) of the escalating problem, superficial, costly and cosmetic "remedies" are implemented - regular mechanical breaching of the river mouths, pretty pedestrian bridges over the polluted Great Brak River, unnecessary pedestrian boardwalks along the (currently blocked) mouth of the Little Brak River . . . and now even (hushed) plans to build a multi-million rand River Resort development along the polluted Little Brak River . . .  


 Earlier this year, scores of dead fish also washed ashore at the Hartenbos River mouth  . . .  

visvrek Hartenbos9

Van der Westhuizen spoke on Mossel Bay's IDP last year at a "first of its kind" representative forum for integrated development planning, budgeting and performance management hosted by the Eden District Municipality in Mossel Bay. The broader public has no idea of what is being said/discussed at these closed forum meetings, other than what the media is allowed to report.  

Van der Westhuizen called on the various government departments to use the annual public participation meetings on the IDP to engage first hand with communities to establish their needs at grassroots level for service delivery.

However, between the lines in a flowering report, the graveness of the situation was unmistakable and it seems as if the same problems are still unresolved: 

 1. The ageing main electrical, sewerage and water network infrastructure demands urgent replacement before complete deterioration.

2. The worrisome condition of two major provincial roads stifles development.

3. Planning for the Louis Fourie Road upgrading is in an advanced stage for certain intersections as well as the improvement of pedestrian mobility and traffic flow. However, there is no indication of available funding or specific timeframes for the project to commence.

4. The upgrading of Long Road In Great Brak River will have a major impact on business development.

5. The delay in implementation of the Regional Landfill Site results in a planning conundrum, exacerbated by illegal dumping and vandalism of municipal infrastructure. Furthermore, the excessive cost to rehabilitate waste transfer stations is prohibitive.

6. In addition to plans to establish an aquaculture industry with related processing facilities, the provincial Department of Agriculture was approached to fund a business plan and to give technical and specialist support. (MBOTL: WHO is the applicant and WHERE is the notice of the required formal application for public interest?)

A year later the situation has deteriorated even further  . . .  

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The Hartenbos River mouth had to be breached mechanically twice this year already after hundreds of dead fish washed ashore . . . yet the CAUSE of the problem remains unsolved. 

 A lack of expertise and political will to address the real cause of the drastic deterioration of all three Mossel Bay's rivers seem to be an underlying problem. Above the river mouth was breached at an angle close to the ATKV caravan park earlier this year and underneath it was breached more to the middle of the river last week after the sand under the pedestrian walkway started caving in . . .   The drone footage (underneath) was shared on the internet by an unknown source. 


Earlier this year, blackish sludge was spilling into the Kleinbrak River for days before it was noticed and reported by a group of hikers who accidentally stumbled upon it. The valve of a sludge pipe could only be replaced a few days later.

Besoedeling van Mosselbaai se drie riviere neem ernstige afmetings aan en as dit nie spoedig aandag geniet nie, kan dit op 'n ekologiese ramp afstuur soos wat by die Vaalrivier gebeur het . . .
Chemiese afvalwater en slik van die watersuiweringswerke besoedel toenemend die boonste sytakke van die Klein-Brakrivier en vleiland . . .en met die grootskaalse ontwikkelings in die Mosselbaai-omgewing is dit onseker watter aanpassings gemaak word om die riviere van dié toenemende riool- en afvalwater te red. Só lyk die taai slik wat in die Klein-Brakrivier gevind is, maar geen watermonsters is blykbaar geneem om te bepaal wat dit is nie. . 

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12 September 2019


The weekend's sweltering heatwave made way for some cooler weather and welcome downpours, but much more rain is needed to alleviate the devastating impact of the prolonged drought on the environment and available drinking water. The Wolwedans Dam levels dropped further to 56% last week shortly after the Mossel Bay Municipality issued a warning that severe water restrictions and penalties will have to be implemented if the dam level dropped below 50%.


While all three rivers are badly polluted and battling, and the Hartenbos river mouth again had to be opened mechanically following the demise of hundreds of fish, residents' concern over the water situation is justifiably growing.


In May last year, it was already mentioned in a report on Mossel Bay's Integrated Development Planning (IDP) that the ageing main electrical, sewerage and water network infrastructure demands urgent replacement before complete deterioration. That was more than a year ago . . .

The former IDP manager, George van der Westhuizen, also warned that the "continuous delay in the implementation of the Regional Landfill Site results in a planning conundrum, exacerbated by illegal dumping and vandalism of municipal infrastructure. Furthermore, the excessive cost to rehabilitate waste transfer stations is prohibitive."



 * While the town's infrastructure is facing collapse, PetroSA is fast running out of gas and funding, with no long-term solution in sight. It was reported that the closing down of PetroSA could cause the economy of the entire South Cape region to collapse.

“Reserves are close to depletion and are expected to run out by December 2020 and there is still no sustainable techno-economic long-term solution for the gas-to-liquid refinery,” a presentation by the Central Energy Fund said.…/mossel-bay-gtl-plant-could-be…/

* Despite the above serious warnings, new multi-million rand coastal developments are continuously approved, including a 5-star hotel development Paradise Coast near the Pinnacle Point Golf Estate.
It is described as a world-class luxury hotel and estate villas boasting breathtaking sea views and overlooking the famous Dead Man's Cliff.
The question is whether the prestigious coastal land belonged to the municipality and for what price it was sold to the developer . . . Why the silence and where will the water and infrastructure come from?

"Paradise Coast’s development will consist of 240 rooms or 80 villas, a conference centre and health spa, with direct access to the famous St Blaize walking trail.

"A world-class hotel, 813 villa stands, and retail development opportunities are planned for the Paradise Coast Beach & Eco Estate."…/paradise-coas…/10_22_9191

Other multi-million rand developments in the area include Moquini Coastal Estate next to Dana Bay and the Nautilus Bay Coastal Nature reserve with 78 residential plots with architecturally designed homes.


* While stubborn secrecy and silence prevail about the planned merging of Mossel Bay and George municipalities to form a metropole, a new storm was unleashed around the head of George municipal manager Trevor Botha.
One cannot help wondering what role politics in local governments are playing and at what cost to the taxpayers and the environment?

GEORGE NEWS - A forensic investigation launched by Local Government MEC, Anton Bredell, has erupted in a full-scale blow-up between Minister Bredell and George Municipal Manager, Trevor Botha.…/mec-and-mm-lock-horns-201909…

Related Articles:

Is teenstand teen vismeelfabriek stank vir dank?

Maroela Media 2 Augustus 2019  Susan Purén 

Mosselbaai se ekonomie gaan binnekort ʼn groot hupstoot ontvang as die oprigting van ʼn vismeel- en visoliefabriek die groenlig by die owerhede kry.

Afro Fishing, ʼn plaaslike visfabriek wat sardyne inmaak, het buitelandse kapitaal van nagenoeg R350 miljoen bekom om hul bedrywighede in die hawegebied uit te brei. Daar word beplan om duisende tonne pelagiese visspesies, soos ansjovis en rooikappie (red-eye herring) by die aanleg te verwerk.

Afro Fishing

Dit sal seisoenale werk aan ʼn bykomende 200 persone verskaf.
Nie almal is ewe opgewonde oor die projek nie en sowat 420 inwoners het ʼn aanlyn petisie onderteken om teen die fabriek kapsie te maak. Honderde mense het ook as belangstellende partye registreer; hulle wil weet watter impak die fabriek op dié skilderagtige kusdorp op die Tuinroete gaan hê en of daar permanent ʼn stank oor die dorp gaan hang?

Deon van Zyl, Afro Fishing se besturende direkteur, sê die fabriek doen aansoek om ʼn moderne aanleg op te rig wat die beste bewese praktyke en beskikbare tegnologie sal gebruik om die stank wat vismeelfabrieke veroorsaak, te bestry.

afro4 Deon

Volgens ʼn luggehalte-impakstudie wat verlede jaar vir die beoogde projek gedoen is, sal ʼn sogenaamde nat skropper keer dat onaangename reuke in die atmosfeer losgelaat word. * Volgens die studie sal daar, indien nodig, bykomend van regeneratiewe termiese oksidasietegnologie (RTO) gebruik gemaak word. Dit word reeds in die buiteland toegepas en die Mosselbaai-aanleg sal die eerste in Suid-Afrika wees waar dit gebruik word.

 * (RTO gaan dus nie noodwendig hier gebruik word nie, maar (dalk) eers ingespan word as dit klaar te laat is en die reuk onhoudbaar raak? Wie bepaal wanneer dit nodig is?) 
ʼn Span wat met die beplande projek te doen het, was onlangs by ʼn vismeelfabriek in Peniche, Portugal waar RTO gebruik word en is vol lof vir die tegnologie.

Die oorgrote meerderheid van Mosselbaai se inwoners is egter steeds bekommerd dat die dorp dieselfde paadjie as Houtbaai en Gansbaai gaan loop. In Houtbaai was daar onlangs weer ʼn vlaag klagtes oor die vrot reuk wat van die plaaslike vismeelfabriek af kom en daar word nou selfs navorsing gedoen oor die impak wat slegte reuke op die mens se gesondheid kan hê. In Gansbaai het die reuk so erg geword dat die vismeelfabriek ʼn paar jaar gelede verbied is om tydens vakansietye te werk omdat dit toeristegetalle negatief beïnvloed
Die Mosselbaai-gemeenskap vrees ook dat die fabriek die voorloper is vir die oprigting van ʼn visplaas of sogenaamde akwakultuur, soos dié wat nou vir die Weskus beoog word. Visplase kan ernstige omgewingsrisiko’s inhou en is ook moeilik volhoubaar.
Die visse wat in die onnatuurlike omstandighede aangehou word, word juis vismeel gevoer en met die fabriek in die hawe is akwakultuur dalk nou ʼn stappie nader.

fish farm

Elsa Wessels, die redakteur van die aanlyn nuusplatform Mosselbayontheline, sê in Suid-Afrika, soos in ander Afrika-lande, is die probleme erger omdat die betrokke owerhede selde die noodsaaklike maatreëls en wetgewing ten opsigte van water-, lug- en omgewingsbesoedeling toepas en afdwing.
“Gaan daar nimmereindigende hofsake op Mosselbaaiers wag soos wat nou in Saldanhabaai die geval is? En wie gaan kyk dat viskwotas gehandhaaf en die regte visspesies gevang word?” is van die vrae wat Wessels onlangs aan haar lesers gestel het.

Afro Fishing bestaan sedert 2007, maar het verlede jaar van eienaar verander. Verslae by die Kommissie vir Maatskappye en Intellektuele Eiendom (CIPC) wys dat vyf van Afro Fishing se direkteure in 2018 bedank het. Shamera Daniels (foto onder), ʼn bekende in die seevisserybedryf in die Wes-Kaap, is steeds op die direksie en Johannes Breed is die enigste nuwe direkteur wat aangestel is.

Shamera Daniels

Die 37-jarige Breed, ʼn geoktrooieerde rekenmeester van beroep, dien sedert verlede jaar op die direksies van agt Suid-Afrikaanse maatskappye in die visbedryf. Volgens die aanlyn Fish Information Service (FIS) is Breed ook die besturende direkteur van die Angolese maatskappy African Selection Trust (AST). AST se webwerf sê die maatskappy se visie is om bestaande visfabrieke te restoureer en maksimale produksie te verkry wat werkverskafng en voedselsekuriteit in Angola sal bring.

AST het sedert 2017 sy vlerke in Suider-Afrika gesprei en besit ʼn 60%-aandeel in die Namibiese maatskappy Seaflower Pelagic Processing (Pty) Ltd. Die Namibiese staatsbeheerde Fishcor besit die ander 40%. Volgens die Namibiese dagblad, The Namibian, verteenwoordig Breed, die ekonoom Adriaan Louw en prokureur Marén de Klerk, AST op Seaflower Pelagic se direksie.

Die amaBhungane-sentrum vir ondersoekende joernalistiek het in 2017 berig dat die Namibiese visindustrie woedend was omdat ʼn internasionale belangegroep, verwysend na AST, gebaat het by die toekenning van ʼn reuseviskwota aan die staatbeheersde Fishcor. Volgens die Daily Maverick behels die kwota 50 metrieke ton makriel (maasbankers) per jaar vir 15 jaar met ʼn geskatte waarde van R120 miljoen per jaar.

Daar is destyds gesê dat ten minste vyf Namibiese maatskappye as vennote vir Fishcor kon kwaliseer, maar oor die hoof gesien is. Ten minste een, Bidvest Namibia, moes sy bedrywighede intussen staak en sowat 1 200 mense het hul werk verloor.

Seaflower Pelagic het pas ʼn visfabriek van nagenoeg R540 miljoen in Walvisbaai in gebruik geneem. Die aanleg kan soveel as 600 ton makriel (maasbankers) per dag verwerk.

As Johannes Breed by AST se bedrywighede in beide Angola en Namibië betrokke is, dan is die logiese vraag of AST ook die belegger agter die R350 miljoen-inspuiting in Mosselbaai se Afro Fishing is?

Wat is AST se aandeel in die ander plaaslike vismaatskappye waar Breed ook op die direksie dien? En wat beteken dit alles vir die plaaslike visbedryf?
Deon van Zyl, Afro Fishing se besturende direkteur, ontken dat die maatskappy ʼn filiaal van AST is en was slegs bereid om te sê dat die geld vir die Mosselbaai vismeelfabriek ʼn belegging uit die buiteland is wat privaat bekom is.

Maroela Media se navorsing wys dat Norfund, die Noorweegse Beleggingsfonds vir Ontwikkelende Lande, in 2010 ʼn privaat aandelefonds in Angola begin het en dat verskeie Europese banke en ontwikkelingsfondse intussen by Norfund aangesluit het.
Die fonds word deur Angola Capital Partners (ACP) bestuur en die ACP-webwerf verwys na ses verkose Angolese maatskappye, waaronder African Selection Trust, waarin daar in die laaste paar jaar miljarde belê is vir uitbreiding.

In Angola het dit vooruitgang vir gemeenskappe gebring deur werkgeleenthede te skep en die plaaslike bevolking te bemagtig. Maar in Namibië het meer as ʼn duisend mense, na bewering, hul werk verloor, aldus koerantberigte.
Die beplande vismeel- en olieproduksie is uitsluitlik vir die uitvoermark bedoel waar dit as ʼn bestanddeel van dierevoer gebruik word. Sowat vier kilogram vis is nodig om een kilogram vismeel te vervaardig.

Van Zyl sê Afro Fishing het nie self viskwotas nie, maar koop pelagiese vis aan by ondernemings wat wel kwotaregte het.

Dis eintlik ironies hoe die visbedryf werk, want Afro Fishing se bestaande inmaakaanleg het sedert 2016 duisende ton gevriesde sardyne uit Marokko ingevoer om steeds aan die plaaslike markvraag te voldoen nadat kwotas gesny is.

Maar wat van Mosselbaaiers se vrese oor visplase in die see en op land?
En al die omgewingsprobleme wat daarmee kan saamkom? Kenners is dit eens dat die kanse skraal is dat Afro Fishing ook ʼn visplaas sal begin omdat vismeel en visolie reeds wêreldwyd in groot aanvraag is en toppryse behaal.

Tog is dit nie te vergesog om te glo dat akwakultuur dalk wel na Mosselbaai op pad is nie. Johannes Breed se pa, Jannie, was vir baie jare die besturende direkteur van Ridge Solutions Aquaculture in Angola waar garnale op groot skaal vir die uitvoermark verbou is.

Dan is daar ook al gesê dat Mosselbaai beskou word as dié mees geskikte plek in Suid-Afrika om ʼn visplaas te begin waar geelstert verbou kan word. En net verlede jaar was daar ʼn omstrede inligtingsessie oor akwakultuur wat deur die Mosselbaai-munisipaliteit aangebied is.

visplaas Indaba

Die beplande ontwikkelings mag dalk werk skep en die Mosselbaai-ekonomie ʼn reuse-inspuiting gee, maar
teen watter prys?

African Selection Trust (AST) se hoofkantoor in Angola en plaaslike kantoor in Kaapstad het nie Maroela Media se skriftelike vrae beantwoord nie. Johannes Breed het nie op telefoniese boodskappe reageer nie.

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The sudden arrival of an impressive oil rig platform vessel in Mossel Bay's waters inspired many local photographers to capture the beauty of the beast - and caused quite a stir on social media networks.
olieboor Pieter en Tiekie Oberholzer1
Pieter Oberholzer was one of the local photographers who captured the Deepsea Yantai shortly after her arrival in Mossel Bay on Monday. 
olieboor Pieter en Tiekie Oberholzer

According to a press release by Transnet National Ports Authority, the gigantic vessel is a semi-sub rig platform vessel called the Deepsea Yantai which is en route to Norway after its stopover in Mossel Bay for a crew change and some essential services. 


The Deepsea Yantai, a semi-sub rig platform vessel, arrived in Mossel Bay on Monday, 5 August 2019. The rig travelled from Singapore and is currently anchored just outside of Transnet National Port Authority Port of Mossel Bay port limits, where it will undergo services and crew change before departing for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. 

Built in in the Bahamas in 2019 by Chinese rig builder CIMC Raffles, the Deepsea Yantai, previously called Beacon Atlantic, is managed by Odfjell Group. It has a gross tonnage of 24000 and a summer deadweight of 17670 tonnes.
Earlier this year, it was announced by Neptune Energy, one of Europe's largest independent exploration and production companies, that the rig will be used for up to 16 wells offshore Norway as part of the Duva (PL636) and Gjøa P1 (PL153) projects in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. 

The Deepsea Yantai, a semi-sub rig platform vessel which arrived in Mossel Bay on Monday, 5 August 2019.

Port Manager, Shadrack Tshikalange said the Port of Mossel Bay is well-equipped to service the needs of large vessels like the Deepsea Yantai despite being the smallest of TNPA’s commercial ports along the South African coast.
“We commend the efforts of all role-players in ensuring the safe arrival of the Deepsea Yantai. TNPA values the opportunity to assist vessels of this nature and size in the future, which will earn us the trust of international organisations,” he said. 

Another vessel owned by the Odfjell Group, Deepsea Stavanger, is penned to work on the next exploration phase of the Brulpadda project in the Outeniqua Basin situated off the coast of Mossel Bay, where energy giant, Total, discovered gas condensate earlier this year.
Mossel Bay is the only port that operates two off-shore mooring points within port limits. TNPA’s investment into the oil and gas industry ties into government’s efforts to develop the "oceans economy" through its Operation Phakisa.
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Afro Fishing's application to add a fish meal and oil manufacturing plant to its sardine canning operation on Quay 1 of the Mossel Bay harbour, has caused quite a stir and public outrage - not in the least due to the way it was initially only announced in an unobtrusive municipal notice on a back page of the local community paper where very few people saw it.

While the environmental impact studies and public participation process is still ongoing, we spoke to Afro Fishing's managing director Deon van Zyl, to find out more about his plans.

afro4 Deon

Deon van Zyl at Afro Fishing's premises on Quay 1 of the Mossel Bay harbour.

Deon is a qualified chemical engineer with an MBA (University of Cape Town). From Deon’s LinkedIn profile, he has mostly worked in the food sector of which more than 20 years was in the fishing and seafood industry.

He returned to South Africa in January 2018 and was recently appointed MD of Afro Fishing (Pty) Ltd in Mossel Bay.

Afro Fishing pilchards

Fish meal plants historically have a bad reputation - not only due to the air pollution and repellent odours, but also water pollution from the continuous dumping of thousands of litres of bloody waste and effluent into the sea. Overfishing is another major concern - especially these days when it is alleged that up to 90% of edible wild fish are indiscriminately caught to supply in the insatiable fishmeal market for animal feed and the aquaculture industry. It is alleged that millions of tons of fish are being harvested from the wild every year to produce fishmeal and fish oil to feed caged fish reared in underwater factory farms, which hugely increases the pressure on already depleted edible wild fish stock. Fish meal plants is also a water-intensive industry putting more strain on drought-ridden areas.  

In a pledge for transparency and to dismiss fears that the fish meal factory is part of a ploy to establish the groundwork for open sea fish farming, we asked Deon the following questions:

  1. After your extensive travels and experience, what made you choose Mossel Bay specifically for such a notorious endeavour? Especially in the light of all the ongoing court cases against fish meal factories and aquaculture sea farms in other harbour towns in the Western Cape?

DvZ - Afro Fishing (Pty) Ltd (AF) recently won the bid to lease the old I&J site adjacent to its canning operation with the strategy to grow the business into other related activities. The proposed fish meal and oil facility is a natural extension to the existing cannery as the same fishing vessels are used and both operations are in the small pelagic fishing sector. Yes, we are aware that fish meal plants have in the past generated negative publicity. AF is, however, requesting authorisation for a modern facility, using the best-proven practices and the best odour management system available.

  1. Who are the other directors of Afro Fishing and what experience do they have in fish meal plants?

DvZ - There are two other SA directors, Shemara Daniels and Johannes Augustinus Breed. They have extensive fishing industry experience plus they own freezing facilities, fish meal plants, fishing vessels and canneries in Angola and Namibia.

  1. Afro Fishing has been operating as a sardine cannery operation in Mossel Bay since 2007. Since 2016, it was forced to import thousands of tons of Moroccan sardines in order to meet market demands. This was mainly due to a combination of factors - a drastic reduction in the national total allowable catch (TAC) for sardines, shifting shoaling patterns caused by climate change and poor recruitment (number of fish surviving to enter the fishery or to some life-history stage such as settlement or maturity). Has the local situation re sardine stock changed since and how will an additional fish meal and oil manufacturing plant benefit the company and / or the town?

DvZ - The entire local canned pilchard industry does rely currently on a mix of freshly caught pilchards and frozen imported pilchards. Currently, the industry is going through a period of low TACs for pilchards. The biomass (total weight of sardine in the SA sea) as observed during annual hydro-acoustic surveys has reduced considerably. This is, however, a cyclical fishery and the biomass of pelagic species varies considerably over time due to many factors. Therefore, this fishing sector is regarded as a ‘boom or bust’ fishery. The main reason is that the species is short-lived and hence dependent mainly on the level of recruitment. * Recruitment means the count of eggs and larvae produced by the current stock and that will mature to become adults. This recruitment requires many environmental processes to come together to grow biomass. The Fisheries Scientists and DAFF have relatively conservative models to determine the annual TAC. The primary factors influencing small pelagic biomass levels are recruitment, predation and climate-related factors.

A fish meal and oil plant will benefit as it will diversify AF into other species, namely anchovy and red-eye herring and into other products and markets. The erection of a cold store will allow AF to process sardinella, another pelagic species fished in Southern Africa waters. Currently, AF only cans pilchards making the company vulnerable to the nuances of the pilchard biomass and a single product. Canning sardinella will also open other products and markets.

  1. What water will be used in the water-intensive industry - potable municipal water, seawater or will a desalination plant have to be used?   

DvZ - This is not a potable water-intensive industry. No potable water is added to the products. Water will be required for the boilers, but we will also be installing condensate recovery units to reduce the boiler water consumption. Some potable water is also used for cleaning. The expansion will however not use more water than the previous user of this site used.

Seawater is used for cooling. This is where the large volumes are. This cooling seawater is however returned to sea untainted.

Afro Fishing

 An aerial photo of Afro Fishing's plant on Quay 1 of the Mossel Bay harbour taken in 2010. 

  1. It is claimed that ten kg of edible wild fish is used to produce one kg of fish meal for animal food and to feed caged/farmed fish. Isn't that defying the purpose and contributing to the depletion of healthy wild fish species around the globe to fund a false economy that actually causes food scarcity under the noble banner of the World Food Programme? 

DvZ - The conversion factor in South Africa is closer to 4kg of industrial fish to produce one kg of fish meal. There is however also fish oil produced for other markets. The fish meal product is mixed with other ingredients to produce agriculture or aquaculture feed. It is important to note that only a fraction of a short-life species is harvested for this purpose. South Africa has a good record at fisheries management and no species has ever been depleted due to overfishing.

The biomass and distribution of pelagic species are assessed bi-annually using hydro-acoustic surveys. These surveys have been conducted without interruption for 35 years. This comprises a summer adult biomass survey and a winter recruit survey. This plus ongoing research of the small pelagic fisheries assist the department to develop, manage and revise the sector Operational Management Procedures (OMP). Data on catch statistics including landed mass, species composition, and catch position and date are also obtained by DAFF for the pelagic fishery.

  1. What fish species and how much will be used in the fish meal and oil manufacturing plant and how will it affect the food chain in Mossel Bay's prolific waters where the marine Big Five - whales, sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins - are still abundant? How can be assured that all other fish species are not being caught indiscriminately as well for fish meal and oil?   

DvZ - The intention is to harvest anchovy and red-eye herring for the fish meal and oil plant. The biomass of both these species is currently healthy. Once again only a fraction of the biomass will be allocated to catch as per the OMP’s referred to in the previous question. The TAC’s are established at levels that have a negligible impact on your big five or other eco-systems. 

The quantities will depend on the TAC allocated by DAFF and then the portion thereof AF is able to secure.

Yes, it is correct that sardines play an important role in regulating ecosystem functioning. It is for this reason that DAFF has closed off fishing areas with the aim of eliminating the impact on for example African penguin and Cape gannet breeding colonies.

  1. What are the fish meal and fish oil used for and to where and how will it be exported from Mossel Bay's harbour?  

DvZ - Fish meal is one of the ingredients blended with other ingredients to produce various animal and aquaculture feeds and hence controlled by the Department of Agriculture. Fish oil is mainly used as an Omega-3 source for various foodstuffs and health foods.

Both the fish meal and fish oil are packaged in containers and shipped to export customers. Initially, the containers will be road transported to PE for export. The Port of Mossel bay does have plans to become an import/export port. When that happens exports will be direct from the Mossel Bay harbour precinct.

  1. What will happen to the waste/effluent of the plant and how will it be treated not to cause further pollution to the ocean?

DvZ - There is no waste from a fish meal and oil plant. All the landed fish and blood water are reduced into the finished product.

  1. How many people are currently employed full-time at Afro Fishing and how many extra people will be employed full-time for the fish meal and oil plant? How can be made sure that local people get preference to outsiders flocking to Mossel Bay as soon as they hear of another industry? 

DvZ - Currently, AF employs 340 staff when we are running two shifts. The expansion plan is expected to increase the total to 500 plus.

AF has a policy of employing locally where possible. The intention is to also recruit locally during the construction phase as was done when the cannery was built.


Employees at Afro Fishing's sardine canning operation on Quay 1 of the Mossel Bay harbour. The impressive building and machinery were established in 2007 by Dewald Lourens who started the family-business against all odds in Mossel Bay.  

  1. Mossel Bay is traditionally a tourist town with tourism being the main/only? source of income to most local businesses. People fear the negative impacts of such an industry in close proximity to restaurants, guest houses and other tourist attractions will have a severely negative effect on their businesses and cause a much greater loss of jobs than the few hundred jobs that a fish meal plant can supply - again defying the purpose of job creation.  False or true? 

DvZ - Mossel Bay is not only a tourist town. Mossel Bay has a working harbour, a thriving fishing industry, tourism industry, a gas refinery, gas platform supporting industry, an agriculture sector and many other industries. The drive through Voorbaai certainly does not depict a town that is only based on tourism. The Municipal Precinct Plan and the Transnet National Ports Plan cater for all these industries and opportunities with the aim of maintaining sustainable economic growth and employment opportunities in all sectors, not just tourism.

  1. Air pollution: On certain days (depending on the wind direction), unpleasant smells from the cannery have been offending people in neighbouring buildings for years despite strict control. How will the latest RTO technology and equipment ensure that even worse odours do not occasionally occur?   

DvZ - There has not been a single complaint with the current canning operation and AF has always been regarded as a compliant and nuisance free neighbour. I can assure you all odours emitted comply with legislative thresholds. AF also burn ‘low sulphur fuel oil’ in our boilers precisely to reduce certain emission levels.

Please also note that we are a fishing operation located in the part of the harbour allocated and zoned for fishing and industrial activity.

  1. What are the overall benefits of such a fish meal and oil manufacturing plant to Mossel Bay? 

DvZ - Currently the port is operating at less than 20% of its capacity. The site designated for this project has been dormant for almost ten years. This project will develop this site, provide added harbour activity, contribute towards the Mossel Bay economy and most importantly provide much-needed employment opportunities.

  1. What are the worst-case scenarios to the environment?

DvZ - There is no worst-case scenario. There has never been an environmental disaster linked to a fish meal and oil facility. The intention is to expand and grow AF in a sustainable and environmentally compliant manner. There will be no flouting of regulations and environmental laws.

     14. On a more personal note: Are you a family man and do you plan to settle in Mossel Bay? 

DvZ - Yes, my wife Yvette and I have settled in Mossel Bay. Yvette is an architect. We have bought a property in the area. For this reason, I also want to build a facility that contributes to the economy of Mossel Bay and that does not become a nuisance.


Deon van Zyl, managing director of Afro Fishing, invites the public to buy directly from their factory shop at discount prices. 

A modern sardine canning factory in Costa Rica that operates very similar to Afro Fishing's plant.    


The public is invited to register and participate as an interested and/or affected party (I&AP) in the ongoing public participation process. Click on the link to read more and to register as an I&AP:…/MOS569%2…/MOS569.01%20BID.pdf

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 Fish meal and fish oil factory proposed on Quay 1 at Mossel Bay harbour


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