history   nature   visitors   images  gamezone   explore    government   

The Island
News and Events
South Georgia Museum
Realities of Fishing
Discovery House
Search sgisland.org



   News and Events 

South Georgia Newsletter April 2005

(To subscribe to the SGIsland News Alerts list click here)

Anti-poaching success in South Georgia

The owners of the fishing vessel “Elqui” were fined £250,000 plus costs by the Senior Magistrate in Stanley following their conviction on April 18th for poaching.

The South Georgia Fishery Patrol vessel “MV Sigma” arrested the “Elqui” on March 2nd following a boarding and inspection during a routine patrol. The court heard how she had baited fishing lines on board ready for use and around 10 tonnes of processed fish in her hold, as well as more bait defrosting. Both the Master and the owners, Geneagles Corporation, were charged with fishing without a license as well as to lesser charges of being in South Georgia waters without reporting to the Government Officer and having unstowed gear on board. They pleaded ‘Not guilty’ to the charge of fishing without a license but were convicted following a trial at which Fishery officers and a scientific expert witness gave evidence.


The Great Storm

Storm surge over KEP jetty. Photo by AA Dean
The Morrison team remove the remaining tin from the roof of Discovery house after the storm

A storm caused damage to structures on King Edward Point on April 8th. An exceptionally low barometric pressure of 932mb was recorded at the Point and a resulting storm surge covered the KEP jetty where the BAS ship “RRS James Clark Ross” (JCR) was moored. As the centre of the depression passed, the wind increased rapidly and gusted more than 70 knots. The two new harbour launches were surging to and fro and risked serious damage on the submerged jetty. Alternative moorings at Grytviken were unsuitable in the storm conditions, so the boats were kept out in the cove until the storm surge subsided, after which they were moored held off the jetty with a line to the bow of “JCR”.

As the boatmen returned to the base in the early hours they noticed a sheet of tin wedged against a guy line for the HF radio antenna tower and were alarmed to see Discovery House roof waving in the wind. As the wind was still gusting 60 knots, and the risk presented by flying sheets of tin was considerable, it was decided that for safety reasons no attempt to secure the roof should be made until the winds dropped. By later morning the most of the south facing side of the roof had shed its tin. Some of the material was recovered after the storm for reuse and a team of three Morrison FI Ltd. employees are now removing the rest of the tin and horizontal battens and making the roof secure for the winter. They may also strengthen a mast damaged by the flying tin. Permanent repair work will be carried out in spring.

The wrecks of the longliners “Moresko 1” and “Lyn” were also further damaged in the storm. Powerful waves ripped open the decks of the “Lyn”.


Toothfish Vessel Licensing Begins

“Protegat” is both a jigger and a longliner

The first of eight vessels that will receive licenses to fish for toothfish in the South Georgia Maritime Zone started arriving for inspection at the end of the month.

The toothfish season starts on May 1st, the first long-lining vessel to arrive for pre-license inspection and licensing was “Viking Bay”, followed by “Argos Georgia”, “Protegat” and “Argos Helena”. Two more longliners are due to arrive on May 1st, with the final two vessels in the next fortnight.

Two of the vessels licensed so far are of special interest. The new “Argos Helena” is set up so the fishing line is recovered into the vessel through a moonpool, an opening in the bottom of the hull, allowing the fishermen to remain indoors for the tricky work of gaffing the fish aboard. This method of hauling the long-line inside has other advantages: it helps prevent birds being caught in the line; and any fish that fall off the hooks into the moonpool can usually be recovered, fish that would normally be lost by the more normal method of recovering the line over the side of the vessel. Whereas most of the toothfish vessels can only long-line, the adaptable vessel “Protegat” is both a longliner and a jigger.


A Long Way from the Builders Merchants!

The Morrison FI Ltd team building the new base at Bird Island urgently needed some equipment, lack of which was delaying their work. On April 5th, a Falkland based RAF Hercules aircraft of 1312 flight came to the rescue by airdropping the equipment into Cumberland Bay, which were picked up by the waiting GSGSSI harbour launches, then transferred to the BAS ship “JCR” and taken up to Bird Island. The whole operation went smoothly in perfect weather conditions.


The airdrop of urgently needed spares is recovered by boat in Cumberland Bay. Photo by AA Dean


Construction of the new base building at Bird Island is progressing well. The main shell of the new building is up and is now being fitted out. The small team of builders expect to remain on the island until June.



The new base at Bird island under construction. Photo by Pat Lurcock


Family News

The Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Mr Howard Pearce and his wife Caroline recently announced that Caroline is pregnant and expecting the baby to be born in September.


Bittercress Fight over for Winter

The fight to eradicate the aggressively invasive plant Cardamine flexuosa (Bittercress) at KEP continues.
Government Officer Ken Passfield did a last spray of newly emerged bittercress seedlings in mid April before the arrival of the winter snow. To control the outbreak and eradicate the plant, repeated sprayings will be necessary for many years to come.


South Georgia Snippets

Winter has arrived with ski-able snow falling towards the end of the month. The keenest skiers had managed to get the first ski in before that on April 11th. As normal this early season snow has now melted, but we can be confident of more soon.


Mt Hodges in early season snow


“JCR” loading cargo with “Quest” out of the water

The last call of the BAS ship “JCR” also heralded the change of season, though her stay alongside was longer than expected as a result of the big storm. Whilst here she lifted the scientific fishing vessel “Quest” out of the water for inspection. “Quest” is beginning to show her age and will probably be replaced next year. The two new harbour launches were also drawn out of the water on trailers to be inspected.

When “JCR” did eventually leave on April 11th it also took the last of the Morrison FI Ltd employees, the Government’s On Site Representative David Peck, and boatman Hamilton Males.

New arrivals are boatman Bernard Meehan, who worked at the BAS base Rothera this summer, and Government Officer Pat Lurcock and his wife Sarah returning from their holiday. The Lurcocks will move into the newly constructed Carse House on May 2nd.

Liberation Day, April 26th, was marked with a half-day holiday for most base members, who took advantage of early snow to get out for a ski.

Two of the outlying huts had repairs done. The door of the historic hut at Jason Harbour had blown off and was replaced, and new cables were attached to the hut at Harpon Bay to help it resist South Georgia’s strong winds.

Three cattle egrets were seen in King Edward Cove on the 30th. Every year these all-white birds are seen on the Island about this time of year, blown off course from their usual range in South America. Sadly the conditions on the Island are too severe for them and they always die soon after arrival.

(To subscribe to the SGIsland News Alerts list click here)

link to project atlantis homepage   >>Back to top This site and all text content is copyright 2001 Project Atlantis. Rights reserved for all images to respective copyright owner.