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Archive for July, 2011

The Sunday Times of 31 July 2011 reported on the fraudster and con-artist, Yusuf Achmat. The article however seems to create an air of ambiguity regarding the role that Feike played in the matter. These are the facts:
1. Feike was approached by both Ixia Trading and Gansbaai Marine (via Marine Admin Consultants) to urgently source pilchard quota for them for the 2011 season.
2. Feike was advised that a person called Yusuf Achmat who represented 4 pilchard quota holding companies was prepared to sell the pilchards belonging to these entities for the 2011 season for a specified price on certain terms and conditions, which were communicated to Feike by Achmat in writing.
3. Feike communicated these terms to the both Ixia and Gansbaai whose respective managing directors confirmed their concurrence and that Feike must proceed with the drafting of the agreements. The agreements were subsequently drafted and presented to Achmat for signature. As the quota holders he represented are close corporations, the contracts drafted by Feike explicitly required Achmat to warrant that he was properly authorised to represent and bind the quota holders and sell the fish concerned. Achmat further warranted his authority to bind and represent the corporations when he signed each agreement. Feike was not requested to or required to conduct any due diligence on Achmat or any of the close corporations. Indeed, based on the urgency of the parties to conclude the contracts, any due diligence would have been impossible.
4. The applicable agreements were then counter-signed by Ixia and Gansbaai Marine’s respective managing directors.
5. In terms of the agreements, Ixia and Gansbaai would pay “deposits” to Achmat on signature of the agreements. These deposits varied from 5% to 10% of the total purchase price. A portion of Feike’s legal fees and commissions were payable on signature of the agreements. The deposits were paid by Feike to Achmat between 29 April & 3 May as required by Achmat.
6. During the subsequent 2 weeks, it became apparent that Achmat could not produce the requisite tax clearance certificates and other documents required to uplift the fishing permits for the four corporations. At this stage, Feike alerted both Gansbaai and Ixia to the fact that Achmat may not be able to produce the documents he was obliged to produce in terms of the contracts.
7. During informal correspondence with a director of another Cape Town based fishing company, the director mentioned how his company was recently conned by two separate persons – the one being a Yusuf Achmat. At this stage, Feike informed both Ixia and Gansbaai Marine of the possibility that Achmat was a con-man and a fraud who may have signed the sale agreements with any legal mandate or authority.
8. With the concurrence of both Ixia and Gansbaai, Feike appointed a firm of attorneys to urgently issue summons to recover the deposits paid to Achmat. Feike also appointed a debt collecting agency to attempt to recover the deposits. Further, Feike reported Achmat to SARS for violations of the Income Tax Act and VAT Act – as Achmat had issued fraudulent VAT invoices for the receipt of the deposits and would not have declared these deposits to SARS as income.
9. For reasons only known to Gansbaai Marine and Ixia Trading, they suddenly decided to not sue Achmat for the deposits he received and invoiced for. Feike remains committed to suing Achmat for the damage caused by his fraud, misrepresentation and deceit by signing agreements for which he had no legal mandate or authority.
The only reason fraudsters and con-artists like Achmat continue to operate in the fishing industry is because companies like Ixia Trading and Gansbaai Marine refuse to expose and sue these types of people. How often did a certain Mr W (now deceased) operate in a similar fashion, selling his quota 3 and four times over in the same season collecting illicit deposits on his quotas without anyone (other than the Grim Reeper) putting an end to the practice?

Another ANC official bust for abalone poaching

The Cape Times (26 July 2011) reports that one of the 19 people arrested as part of an abalone poaching syndicate is Samuel (Sammy) Brett, 42. Brett was an ANC candidate for ward councillor in the recent local government elections. A senior ANC source confirms that Brett stood as the ANC’s official candidate during the recent municipal elections for Ward 2 in the Gansbaai area. The source also says Brett’s name was on the list that was submitted to the IEC ahead of the elections.
Brett has a number of previous convictions relating to transgressions of the Marine Living Resources Act.
Brett is by no means the only senior local ANC caught poaching abalone. If we recall, in 2009 a local ANC leader was caught with 2 474 fresh abalone outside Hermanus, after a short chase in a vehicle covered with stickers of the ruling party and its leader, Jacob Zuma.
There is no news on whether this ANC leader was ever prosecuted or what happened to the 2474 freshly shucked abalone. Was this ANC leader ever expelled from the party? Will Mr Brett’s membership of the ANC be terminated? It is noted that Mr Brett has prior criminal convictions.

WSCD APPEALS ANNOUNCED

The Minister of Environmental Affairs finally issued her decisions on the appeals in the white shark cage diving sector on 25 July 2011. It took the Minister some 12 months to decide a mere 16 appeals.

The permits issued are valid for five years, renewable annually in terms of section 13 of the Marine Living Resources Act.
Of Feike’s 5 clients in the white shark cage diving and boat-based whale watching sectors, four have been successful (2 new entrants and 2 exemption holders).
There can be no doubt that an organisation’s public profile today is defined by its various e-platforms. Whether the platform is the “traditional” website, an interactive blog, Facebook, Twitter… these tell the world what you are thinking and where you are at. Used cleverly, these platforms market the organisation’s vision and instills confidence in it.
So the department of fisheries’ website (it has no other e-platform to profile itself and speak to fishing industry) is a comical tragedy. Under “BREAKING NEWS”, the latest news item is from October 2010! Has nothing remotely relevant happened in the fishing industry since October 2010?
And don’t bother with trying to open any of the other pages as they are still all under “construction”! Remember the “new” department of fisheries came into being in June 2009 – that is, in the previous decade! It took less time to build entire soccer stadiums.
Under the “Management” link (which does exist), we are told that the acting DDG is Richard Seleke. Seleke is ancient history. There have been about 4 acting DDG’s since him. We cant even remember who he is or when he “acted”.
But the website does accurately reflect who and what DAFF is… out-dated, irrelevant and not remotely interested in or concerned with fisheries.

"Police-Run" Abalone Syndicate Members Arrested

The Cape Times this morning reports of a significant series of arrests of 19 people, including serving police officers alleged to be involved in the illegal harvesting and trade of wild abalone. It has been reported that the investigations into the syndicate’s illegal activities spanned some three years and involved the Department of Fisheries (and its predecessor, MCM) and the South African Police Service.
The arrest of serving police officers will come as little surprise to fishers who have been alleging police and fishery compliance officer complicity in the illegal harvesting of abalone for some time, having cited numerous examples in public and to the department.
While we must recognise the important and invaluable work of the department of fisheries’ compliance officers in the specialised unit for this important step forward, we must however caution against complacency. We read of literally dozens of arrests of poachers and syndicate members with little news of any successful prosecutions, substantial jail terms for syndicate leaders and the financial destruction of syndicates. It is – as previous cases have shown – the financial implosion of a syndicate that ultimately leads to a turning of the corner.
For one, we need the return of our specialised green courts, specialised prosecutors and magistrates who understand fisheries and environmental laws and the need to efficiently and effectively deal with each case without the burden of other “priority crimes” such as murder, rape and robbery. And then we need significantly more regular arrests, prosecutions and guilty findings of poaching syndicate members.
But these arrests are an important step forward and we must support DAFF in the successful prosecution of those implicated.
The European Union has initialled a new Protocol to the fisheries agreement with Guinea Bissau, which maintains the conditions of the present Protocol i.e. fishing possibilities for 4,400 GRT for shrimp trawlers, 4,400 GRT (gross register tonnage) for fin-fish and cephalopod trawlers, 23 tuna seiners and longliners, and 14 pole-and-line vessels. The EU financial counterpart amounts to 4,550,000 EUR for the right to fish and 2,950,000 EUR for the support of the fisheries sector in Guinea Bissau. A new clause was added to allow for the suspension of the protocol if there is a breach of human rights and democratic principles. This fisheries agreement allows vessels mainly from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and France to fish in the Guinea-Bissau waters. The duration of the Protocol is for only one year since negotiations were delayed by the consultations held in 2011 between the EU and Guinea Bissau under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. The Parties expect to have a new protocol negotiated by March 2012.
The Commission and the Government of Mozambique have initialled a new Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement to come into force from I January 2012. The Protocol will provide a reduced reference tonnage of 8,000 tonnes/year of highly migratory species (due to the impact of piracy on EU fleet activities in the region). However, the financial contribution paid by the EU has increased from EUR900,000 to EUR980,000/year, due to a substantial increase in the financial support for implementation of a sustainable fisheries policy. Fishing possibilities will be offered for a total of 75 vessels, comprising 43 purse seine vessels and 32 surface longliners.

Regulation of High Seas Mooted

A working group of the United Nations General Assembly in June recommended the establishment of a process that could lead to a multilateral agreement on high seas conservation and sustainable use. Specifically the recommendations call for crafting a legal regime under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to conserve marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdictions, including by designating MPAs. Currently no mechanism exists to designate MPAs on the high seas that would apply to all nations. High seas presently comprise 64% of the world’s oceans. For more see www.iucn.org/?uNewsID=7612

FRAUDSTER WARNING: YUSUF ACHMAT

Fishing Industry News has already reported on the fraudulent conduct of a con-man called Yusuf Achmat who presents himself as the “owner” of a defunct close corporation called MALAFA FISHING CC. Achmat is neither the “owner” nor a member of Malafa Fishing. Malafa does not own any assets and does not have any fishing quotas. Achmat himself owns nothing accept what he has recently purchased from his criminal proceeds (a car, expensive watches etc). He lives in Fairways on the Cape Flats in his mother-in-law’s house.
Achmat has gone on a prolific defrauding spree in the fishing industry this year alone. Relying on the fact that (for some odd reason) many industry operators will happily accept being defrauded without even reporting the fraud to the SAPS, let alone suing for the recovery of the money, Mr Achmat appears to have stolen approximately R355,000 from commercial operators in the fishing industry and has become bolder as he continues to escape sanction, until now at least.
Achmat’s ruse is a simple one. He pretends that his “company”, Malafa Fishing, owns or controls or has shares in quota holders and that he is authorised to sell these quotas either outright or for the season BUT requires an upfront deposit on signature of any agreement (which he happily albeit fraudulently signs even warranting that he is duly authorised to sell the fish concerned). Once the fraudulent agreement is concluded and the funds deposited, he cancels the contracts or simply switches off his mobile phone as he is unable to produce any of the documents required to obtain the fishing permits he “sold”.
He then moves on to his next prey.
In his latest scam, he tries to de-fraud a foreign buyer of fish looking to purchase west coast rock lobsters. The entire record of his fraud is eloquently captured in a series of emails where Achmat commits a series of frauds and other criminal offences. Achmat claims to “own” a 15 ton lobster quota and has 2 tons of purged lobsters immediately ready for export. But he requires an immediate US$4,000 deposit for which he issues a fraudulent invoice in violation of the VAT Act. In a bid to convince the buyer that he actually has 2 tons of lobsters, Achmat issues to the buyer a series of pictures of lobsters and traps which are just bad cut-and-pastes from Google Images!
Once the buyer confirmed that the US$4000 deposit was made, Achmat promptly issued an email canceling the agreement to provide the 2 tons of lobsters.
It is a criminal offence under the Marine Living Resources Act to in any way front oneself as a harvester, processor or exporter of fish or fish products without being in possession of the requisite permits and rights.
In a bid to further legitimise his claims and to conclude the fraudulent transaction, Achmat even criminally impersonates Feike’s Shaheen Moolla by issuing an email to the buyer in Moolla’s name claiming that Moolla is his marketer! This amounted to a further crime – that of criminal impersonation which is an extremely serious fraud affecting large parts of our economy.
Our message is to avoid Malafa Fishing CC and Yusuf Achmat like the plague. Feike has identified a number of international websites on which Achmat has placed adverts that he “harvests, processes and exports” South African lobsters and have informed the administrators of these sites that Achmat is a known fraudster and con-man who does not have any right to harvest, process or export any South African fish and fish products. In order to protect the South African fishing industry, legitimate right holders and marketers in the industry may also want to warn their foreign colleagues to not enter into correspondence with this fraudster. (Of course one ought to never conduct business with people whose sole contact points are a cell phone and an email address with yahoo, hotmail or google!)
Feike has reported Achmat and Malafa Fishing CC to both the Department of Fisheries for criminal violations of the MLRA and to SARS for violations of the Income Tax Act and the VAT Act.

Understanding the IUCN Red List

This opinion was originally posted by Victor Restrepo and Bill Fox on http://iss-foundation.org/2011/07/07/understanding-the-iucn-redlist/ on Thursday, 7 July 2011

On July 7, 2011, a group of scientists published an article in Science magazine, reflecting the status of various tuna and billfish populations according to the criteria used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The so-called “Red List” can be used to identify populations of that face long-term sustainability issues according to IUCN. The Red List puts populations in six different categories: Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, Least Concern, and Data Deficient; the first three are known as the “Threatened” categories in the Red List. Evaluations are based on a standard IUCN formula that classifies populations according to several considerations, such as changes in population size.
The two of us were participating members of the IUCN review team, which – for the first time ever – used information on the global distribution, ecology, population trends, and impact of major threats for all known species of tunas, bonitos, Spanish mackerels, and mackerels and billfishes in order to evaluate their status relative to IUCN categories. The IUCN evaluations rank three of the most highly valued tuna species – southern bluefin, Atlantic bluefin, and bigeye – in the Threatened categories.
However, it is important to note that the formula IUCN uses in its classifications is also applied to a broad range of terrestrial and aquatic species. In other words, it’s a “one-size-fits-all” method; it’s not tailored for assessing specific species.
The main indicator used with the IUCN method to classify fish species is the so-called “rate of decline criterion”. It looks at how much the abundance of mature individuals has declined over a period of time that is related to the age when maturity is reached. If during this period of time (between five and twenty years for tunas) the mature population has declined by at least 50%, it is classified as Vulnerable; if the decline is of 70%-89%, it is classified as Endangered; and, if the decline is 90% or more, it is classified as Critically Endangered.
While there are positive aspects to using a consistent formula, when IUCN lists a fish as “Threatened,” it does not necessarily mean that the species is in real and immediate danger of extinction or collapse. It just means that there has been a drop in the population size that meets the formula used in IUCN classifications. Very often, these IUCN classifications are at odds with what is considered to be successful fisheries management to ensure sustainable seafood production. For example, in a study of 89 fish populations conducted by Rice and Legace[1], use of the IUCN formula suggested that 87% of them were Threatened when, in reality, most of the stocks were not depleted from a fisheries management perspective.
Consider this: Tuna species are actually most productive when they are at 40% to 50% of their maximum population size – this is the population abundance that supports Maximum Sustainable Yield, the management objective of all tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs). Therefore, a 50% drop in population size from the maximum can be reasonable from a fisheries management viewpoint, but still result in a Threatened classification by IUCN.
And now consider another, opposite, possibility: The case where a fish population has been heavily overfished and has remained severely depleted – but stable – for decades. In this case, the IUCN “rate of decline” criterion would not detect a major drop in abundance and would result in a classification of “Least Concern” (not Threatened). This IUCN classification would be at odds with what fisheries management would consider to be a failure to ensure the sustainability of this stock.
These considerations were actually addressed by a group of scientists who participated in the IUCN assessment process for tunas and billfishes in Brazil last year, who called on IUCN to address these differences (click here to view the statement made by that group).
Still, the IUCN approach can be an important tool for setting conservation priorities, particularly at a global level. In the case of tunas, the conclusions of the IUCN review team were consistent with what the majority of fisheries scientists believe to be true: that the longer-lived bluefin tuna stocks are more vulnerable to overfishing, followed by bigeye, and then by albacore, yellowfin and, finally, the shorter-lived skipjack. The publication in Science magazine calls on RFMOs and fishing nations to properly manage species of concern, a call that we wholeheartedly support.
Why DAFF has not officially published a guideline on “How to screw over artisinal fishers”, we don’t know. Especially since no one else in the business can so completely frustrate and jeopardise many hundreds of businesses because of incompetent and red-taped “officials”.

Take a very recent example in the abalone sector. Here, repeated bungling and utter incompetence by DAFF officials has resulted in the failure to properly implement the allocation of 14 tons of abalone in the False Bay and the eastern part of False Bay (Zone E1). Despite the fact that the abalone industry had provided a complete implementation strategy and timetable which has been accepted by right holders – something the department of fisheries ought to have done but simply could not understand – DAFF officials responded to the industry request with this gem of a response –


“Applications or requests like your one are normally submitted at Customer Service Center where they would get registered and forwarded to the relevant authorities for their consideration. Your motivation for the application for an extension of the season needs to be detailed as this will assist the department in making informed decision. It is also important for you to know that the turnaround time for such applications is 20 working days.”

So instead of dealing with an urgent request to extend a fishing season (which could be done within a day if there were any competent or non-acting officials around), DAFF officials expose their own extreme incompetence by instead insisting on some pointless bureaucratic procedure of submitting documents to the “customer service center”! Remember, the only reason the extension is being requested in the first place is because of initial DAFF incompetence!


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