In celebrating World Maritime Day 2016, South Africa reflects on its maritime heritage

A commercial cargo vessel entering the port of Port Elizabeth in May 2016.
A commercial cargo vessel entering the port of Port Elizabeth. (May 2016: Photo by SAMSA)

Gariep Dam (Free State): 28 September, 2016

The global celebration of shipping as this year’s theme of the World Maritime Day on Thursday,  29 September 2016; will see South Africa broadening focus to include its own maritime heritage specific to shipping as part of the country’s oceans economy development discourse  aimed at enhancing public awareness, drawing investment and creating employment opportunities.

South Africa’s celebration of World Maritime Day this year takes place at the site of the country’s biggest dam, the Gariep; situated some 200km south of Bloemfontein, on the Orange River in the Free State.

Led by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the global celebration’s theme is: “Shipping: Indispensable to the world” – this in recognition of trade statistics indicating that as much as 80% of world’s goods trade in volume, and 70% in value; is handled between countries and continents via oceans bearing vessels.

Docked at the port of Cape Town, the SA Agulhas II, South Africa's dedicated research vessel owned and operated by the Department of Environment Affairs (DEA). Photo: SAMSA
Docked at the port of Cape Town, the SA Agulhas II, South Africa’s dedicated research vessel owned and operated by the Department of Environment Affairs (DEA). Photo: SAMSA

According to the IMO, in early 2015, the world’s commercial fleet stood at about 90,000 vessels, with a total carrying capacity of some 1.75-billion dead weight tons, manned by more than a million seafarers.

“A single ship can carry enough grain to feed nearly four million people for a month; another, enough oil to heat an entire city for a year, and others can carry the same amount of finished goods as nearly 20,000 heavy trucks on the road. Modern ships are, truly, among the engineering wonders of the modern world.

“The truth is, shipping affects us all. No matter where you may be in the world, if you look around you, you are almost certain to see something that either has been or will be transported by sea, whether in the form of raw materials, components or the finished article. Yet few people have any idea just how much they rely on shipping.

“For the vast majority, shipping is out of sight and out of mind. But this does a huge disservice to the industry that, quietly and efficiently, day and night, never pausing and never stopping, keeps the world turning and keeps the people of the world fed, clothed, housed and entertained. This is a story that needs to be told,” says the IMO in statement prepared to mark this year’s celebration of World Maritime Day.

The Gariep Dam built from 1965 and opened in 1972 is South Africa's biggest, with a height of 88 meters, allowing it a holding capcity of 5,340 hm3 (megaliters)) on a surface area of more than 370 square kilometres (140 sq mi) when full. (Photo: SAMSA)
The Gariep Dam on the Orange River built from 1965 and opened in 1972 is South Africa’s biggest, with a height of 88 meters, allowing it a holding capacity of 5,340 hm3 (mega-liters)) on a surface area of more than 370 square kilometres (140 sq mi) when full. (Photo: SAMSA)

In South Africa, on the west bank of the Gariep Dam near to its majestic sluice gates pillars, where this year’s celebrations led by the Department of Transport (DoT), are hosted by the Free State Provincial Government; the country will look as much at the crucial role of shipping currently in global business trade as has been and continues to be in other spheres of life such as, in South Africa’s case – the use of ships as instruments of liberation during the country’s past few decades of political strife over apartheid.

This focus on ships as versatile transport ready for action even during periods of civil strife will take two forms: the launch Wednesday of a South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) driven and Department of Transport endorsed initiative to have maritime heritage incorporated into the country’s swathe of national heritage records.

The two hour function to be attended by among others, National Heritage Council chief executive officer Advocate Sonwabile Mangcotywa; is anchored on a significant yet little known event involving the African National Congress’ then armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe (a.k.a MK) whose USSR-trained naval wing in the 1970s once attempted to infiltrate then apartheid South Africa via the oceans.

The story goes that the unit of between 22 and 30 men, then based on the east European coastal city of Baku, a capital town of Azerbaijan; had through assistance by Moscow, acquired a mid-size leisure vessel known as the Aventura.

SHARING EXPERIENCE: The three veterans, part of a group of five still alive today in South Africa, also shared their story of the aborted occupation of the USSR vessel, Aventura, which they'd commandeered towards South Africa for attack against the then apartheid regime.
SHARING THEIR NAVAL EXPLOINTS: The three of only five surviving veterans of ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe naval wing sharing their story of the aborted occupation of the USSR vessel, Aventura, which they’d commandeered towards South Africa for attack against the then apartheid regime (Photo: SAMSA).

The MK naval unit’s Commander at the time, Mr Fanele Mbali and his second in command and commissar, Mr Tlou Rankabele Cholo – two of only five surviving members of the crew – will be at the function Wednesday and Thursday to share their memories of the ill-fated effort – the emphasis being on the historical role of ships in the shaping of South Africa’s history.

The event Wednesday will be followed by the main celebration on Thursday, punctuated by a formal launch of an inaugural Maritime Heritage Lecture and Dialogue series involving Mr Sobantu (SAMSA acting CEO), the Azerbaijan ambassador to South Africa, Mr Eikhan Polukhov and Mr Mbali.

Other participants in the main event on Thursday include Free State MECs, Messrs Bhutana Khompela and Weziwe Tikana, senior officials of the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), and local government officials.

The traditional rendition of the IMO statement will be done by Mr Khompela.

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Arrested Taiwanese fishing vessel released from South Africa

RELEASED: Taiwanese fishing vessel released by South African authorities on Tuesday after it was arrested earlier this month and on inspection by SAMSA, was found to have violated anti-pollution conventions governing management of vessels at sea.
RELEASED: Taiwanese fishing vessel released by South African authorities on Tuesday after it was arrested earlier this month and on inspection by SAMSA, was found to have violated anti-pollution conventions governing management of vessels at sea.

Cape Town:  27 September, 2016

A Taiwanese fishing vessel arrested and detained in South Africa earlier this month has been released, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed on Tuesday.

SAMSA said in Cape Town on Wednesday that the vessel was released after it settled admissions of contravention imposed on it relating to violations it was found to have committed while sailing in the country’s waters on the Indian Ocean.

It had been found non-compliant with International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, (MARPOL) as there was no record in the Oil Record Book of oily waste having been landed ashore or discharged through the oily water separator, a SAMSA statement said.

The arrest of the vessel known as the Chin Jen Wen on 09 September was conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)  after it was spotted through the department’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) apparently entering the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from Mossel Bay towards  Cape Town.

DAFF initially suspected that the vessel had not applied for permission to be in the area. Fisheries protection vessels including The Victoria Mxenge were then set successfully on its pursuit and arrest eventually culminating in its detention at the port of Cape Town.

While in detention under the Marine Living Resources Act, according to DAFF spokesman, Ms Bomikazi Molapo; the vessel would undergo a thorough inspection conducted by all relevant law enforcement stakeholders, including SAMSA – the country’s maritime safety authority.

SAMSA sought to ensure that it complied with all relevant international maritime conventions relevant to that type of vessel. SAMSA also used its jurisdiction as a Coastal State to ensure that the vessel was of no threat to the State from a safety and pollution perspective.

Ms Molapo said: “The Minister has undertaken to intensify the fight against any form of illegal fishing in our exclusive economic zone to ensure that our resources are utilized for the benefit of the country to reduce poverty and ensure food security for all. South African waters remain a sovereign jurisdiction and its marine living resources will be protected by the Department”.

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Arrested Taiwanese fishing trawler still in detention

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Pretoria: 12 September 2016

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is continuing with investigations of a Taiwanese fishing trawler nabbed off the southern part of the Indian Ocean and detained in Cape Town at the weekend on suspicion of illegal activity.

The arrest of the vessel known as the Chin Jen Wen; was conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) late last week after the trawler was spotted through the department’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) apparently entering the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from Mossel Bay towards  Cape Town.

According to DAFF, suspicion had been aroused as the vessel had not applied for permission to be in the area. Fisheries protection vessels including The Victoria Mxenge were then set successfully on its pursuit and arrest eventually culminating in its detention at the port of Cape Town.

While in detention under the Marine Living Resources Act, according to DAFF spokesman, Ms Bomikazi Molapo; the vessel would undergo a thorough inspection conducted by all relevant law enforcement stakeholders, including SAMSA – the country’s maritime safety authority.

The Taiwanese trawler is the latest to be arrested and detained by South African authorities in 2016 due to suspicion of illegal or unauthorized fishing activity on the country’s waters.

In a recent incident also off the Indian Ocean along the Eastern Cape coast, a set of Chinese fishing vessels were arrested on suspicion of illegal activity. While initially suspected of illegal fishing, owners were eventually fined for a variety of law transgressions relating to general management of the vessels.

In Pretoria on Thursday last week, Ms Molapo said: “The Minister has undertaken to intensify the fight against any form of illegal fishing in our exclusive economic zone to ensure that our resources are utilised for the benefit of the country to reduce poverty and ensure food security for all. South African waters remain a sovereign jurisdiction and its marine living resources will be protected by the Department,” she said.

In Cape Town at the weekend, the Taiwanese vessel was inspected by SAMSA to ensure that it complied with all relevant international maritime conventions relevant to that type of vessel. SAMSA also used its jurisdiction as a Coastal State to ensure that the vessel was of no threat to the State from a safety and pollution perspective.

The investigation established that the vessel was non-compliant with International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution (MARPOL) as there was no record in the Oil Record Book of oily waste having been landed ashore or discharged through the oily water separator. The vessel remains in detention pending finalization of the inspection on Tuesday.

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Enkovukeni: (not) a bridge too far!

Initiative to alleviate community plight now a Presidential Project – Deputy Minister of Transport

Transport Department Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga (in black outfit) and some senior government officials at provincial and local government level in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi on board a boat donated by private sector companies to the water-locked community of Enkovukeni at Umhlabuyalingana on the north coast of KwaZulu Natal on Friday
Transport Department Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga (in black outfit on the far right) and some senior government officials at provincial and local government level in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi on board a boat donated by private sector companies to the water-locked community of Enkovukeni at Umhlabuyalingana on the north coast of KwaZulu Natal on Friday

Pretoria: 11 September 2016

After wading through crocodile, hippopotamus and rhinoceros infested waters for decades – more than five centuries by one account – the community of Enkovukeni, a small village patched on a forested hill surrounded by deep lakes waters on the one side, and the pulsating waves of the Indian Ocean on the other, at Umhlabuyalingana on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, might soon have a bridge at last.

That is if the South African government which has taken focus of the area fully for the first time, can negotiate a few treacherous corners inclusive of international conventions governing the management of the country’s first ever World Heritage Site; the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park in which the village is tightly locked in.

Department of Transport Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga address the cmmunity of Enkovukeni at Umhlabuyalinga on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast on Friday
Department of Transport Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga address the community of Enkovukeni at Umhlabuyalinga on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast on Friday

On Friday, Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga accompanied by members of top management of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), a group of private sector representatives and provincial and local government officials in KwaZulu-Natal; met the villagers with their traditional leader, Inkosi Tembe and she gave an undertaking that national government would look into the plight of the community.

They told her in unison, without a second thought; they wanted a bridge, along with a ‘two-lane’ road.

The desperate request is based on the fact that an only entrance by a vehicle into the area – stopping short of a kilometer to the village, on the banks of an oft swollen lake – is a three to five kilometer long single-lane shifting sand pit barely two meters wide, running rugged through a thicket on which only off-road vehicles are able successfully to grind.

Folklore has it that a few locals who’d ever managed to buy a vehicle, any type of vehicle; have never ever been able to take it home. Boating on the heritage site lakes is also apparently highly regulated.

Marooned by lake and ocean waters all around and with barely any road to speak off in a thicket, Enkovukeni vehicle owners never ever take them home, when they have managed to nearby their village - that is when they have survived tyre punctures in the sandpit single lane that makes for a road in the area.
Marooned by lake and ocean waters all around and with barely any road to speak of in a thicket, Enkovukeni vehicle owners never ever take them home, when they have managed to arrive nearby their village – that is when they have survived tyre punctures in the sandpit single-lane that makes for a road in the area.

On Friday, Ms Chikunga however described it as a bizarre situation that should not obtain still in the new South Africa, and committed that government would fully investigate the possibility of constructing a bridge across some part of the lake in order to provide more secure and safe mobility for the community.

But that will partly require working past a basket of international conventions along with domestic laws, rules and regulations governing the management of the Isimangaliso World Heritage Site.

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Information on the park’s website states that the iSimangaliso Wetland Park was listed as South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in December 1999 “in recognition of its superlative natural beauty and unique global values.”

It states: “The 332 000 hectare Park contains three major lake systems, eight interlinking ecosystems, 700 year old fishing traditions, most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests, Africa’s largest estuarine system, 526 bird species and 25 000 year-old vegetated coastal dunes – among the highest in the world. The name iSimangaliso means miracle and wonder, which aptly describes this unique place.”

The deputy Minister’s visit of the area on Friday was the second since August 14, 2016; following to an initiative by the Pretoria headquartered South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) together with private sector partners in the Durban region’s maritime sector to assist the Enkovukeni community with mainly water based transport.

According to SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, the initiative was sparked by a news report earlier this year that depicted the living conditions of the community as dire due to an almost complete lack of not only transport, but anything else to enhance its life to a level others in surrounding areas generally take for granted.

As part of its community outreach programme under the annual Nelson Mandela International Day (2016), the authority mobilized support for help among some private sector companies that could lend a hand, in the form of boats that could be donated,.

To date a handful agreed, among them the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, shipping group Smit-Amandla Marine, Dormac, Subtech, Unicorn, SA Shipyards, MIASA, FBI Communications, Viking Lifesaving and Surfing Equipment FBI Communications and some others.

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Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga helping launch officially the first of possibly three boats donated to Enkovukeni villagers at Umhlabuyalingana on Friday.

The event Friday was to both hand over the first of possibly two or three boats the community would be donated with in order just to be safe enough for day to day travel, including school children who have to cross the lake daily to attend school, the sick who need medical help and the elderly who have to collect their social grants.

It was also for government at all three tiers to consult further with the community on how best it could be further assisted.

Ms Chikunga announced that government had taken serious note of the situation such that it was now being undertaken as a Presidential Project under the direct control of President Jacob Zuma.

Members of the Enkovukeni village community, listened attentively of Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga on Fiday.
Members of the Enkovukeni village community, listened attentively of Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga on Fiday.

Mobilization, she said; had begun by the Department of Transport (under her directive) to involve and engage fully no less than seven other national departments – Public Works; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Basic Education, Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Small Business, Trade and Industry, Energy Affairs, and Arts and Culture; but also the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government in efforts to focus their attention to action to alleviate the plight of the Enkovukeni community.

“When I visited the area for the first time on 14 August 2016, and held talks with Inkosi Tembe and some members of the community, I promised I would be back with a progress report. Today, I am back not only with a report back, but also with tools and equipment intended to alleviate the plight of this community. The boats are not a total solution, but are a start.

“As promised, I have since taken your situation to the Office of the President with a proposal that this situation be undertaken as a Presidential Project, and he has agreed. The next step proposed is the establishment of an inter-Ministerial Task team involving deputy Ministers of the respective departments in order that we package a comprehensive programme that will deliver on the issues requiring address.

“The Director General in the Office of the President is currently arranging for the first of such meetings,” she said.

A community member sharing the villagers' frustration with the Isimingalisa Heritage Site management with government officials at Enkovukeni on Friday
A community member sharing the villagers’ frustration with the Isimingalisa Heritage Site management with government officials at Enkovukeni on Friday

Ms Chikunga said the involvement of as many national government departments as was possible was a necessity to ensure that as many challenges facing the community as possible were noted and where possible addressed holistically as soon as possible.

These included skills development for especially fishermen, small business development in particularly tourism as well as aspects related to arts and culture.

In addition, housing assistance and electrification, school nutrition and related matters, land management and general development needed specific and urgent attention, she said.

Ms Chikunga promised to return to the village within the next few weeks to deliver shoes to school going children (estimated at about 150) as well as certain basic necessities to families.

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 To listen fully to Ms Chikunga’s address (mainly in isiZulu), as well as the rest of the officials and community members, please click on the audio clips and video links provided below. The clips are in order of the programme as presented on Friday. 

Clip 1: Welcome Address, Inkosi Tembe

Clip 2: Outreach Programme broad outline – Mr Sobantu Tilayi (SAMSA aCEO)

Video

Clip 3: Outreach Programme Specifics – Ms S. Molemane (SAMSA Board Member)

Clip 4: Boat donation – Mr Vincent Zulu (KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board)

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Clip 5: Community Response – Mr Ngubane

Clip 6: Local government speaker – Ms B.T Tembe

Clip 7: Key address – Ms Sindisiswe Chikunga (Deputy Minister, Transport Department)

Video

 

 

 

 

Transport Ministry and SAMSA take to water to bail out long struggling rural KwaZulu-Natal community

 

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Durban: 07 September 2016

Peaceful co-existence with the natural environment should soon take on a whole new meaning from this weekend for a KwaZulu-Natal community virtually water-locked by a river upon which modern bridges are by law not allowed to be constructed even as the surrounding deep waters are infested with crocodiles and other indifferent water based animals.

The community of Enkovukeni will on Friday host a delegation of public and private officials led by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga and the acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Mr Sobantu Tilayi; on a visit to deliver to the community a whole range of developmental materials, including boats, all intended to assist the community in its day to day strife with a water-centred life.

Confirming the event postponed from last month to this week in order to allow for more input by other interested parties, in a public media statement on Tuesday evening, the Department of Transport wrote:

The Department of Transport, supported by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) invites members of the media to the handing over ceremony of basic essential services including boats and engines to the Enkovukeni community on Friday, 9 September 2016 in KwaZulu-Natal.

The small impoverished rural community which is situated in the north of KwaZulu-Natal forms part of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park. The Park is South Africa’s first world heritage site.

This initiative is part of the Umhlabuyalingana Outreach Project which was initially proposed as a Nelson Mandela International Day project by SAMSA. The community of Enkovukeni in KwaZulu-Natal was identified as a beneficiary. SAMSA proposed a partnership with other stakeholders to accelerate delivery of services and bring immediate and long term relief to the community.

Enkovukeni is a thin 5km strip of land, practically an island, stretching from Bhanga Neck to Kosi Bay Mouth with the Indian Ocean on one side and the Kosi Bay lake system on the other. The area is virtually only accessible by foot or make shift canoes which residents currently use.

The community faces various socio-economic challenges including lack of sufficient infrastructure and limited access to social and other services.

This initiative is sponsored by Dormac, Subtech, Smith Amandla Marine, Unicorn, SA Shipyards, MIASA, KZN Sharks board, FBI Communications, Viking Lifesaving and Surfing Equipment.

The Deputy Minister of Transport Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga and members of the community will also grace the event.

Issued by: Department of Transport

This blog and related platforms will carry the highlights of the important function .

Penguins rescuers in Port Elizabeth in line for possible compensation

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Pretoria: 01 September 2016

Organizations involved in the rescue of dozens of penguins caught up in an oil spill along the Indian Ocean coast near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape these last few weeks may be in line to recover some or all of the costs of the operation, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

According to SAMSA Centre for Shipping’s executive head Captain Nigel Campbell this week, a Panama registered Turkish owned vessel found to have been responsible for the disastrous oil spill near Port Elizabeth three weeks ago had been issued with an Admission of Contravention amounting to a total R502 000, in addition to a R1-million provided by the vessel’s insurers for purposes of reimbursing people and or organizations involved in the rescue and clean-up of the sea birds.

More than a hundred penguins inhabiting a small island known as Jahleel near the Ngqurha deep water port some 30 kilometers north east of Port Elizabeth (a.k.a Mandela Bay), were affected by the oil spillage and it took a number of rescue organizations to collect them for cleaning and rehabilitation.

logo1Captain Campbell, in a statement responding to concerns expressed by a senior official of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA) through a local Port Elizabeth daily newspaper this week, said SAMSA had responded immediately to two oil spillages that occurred in the vicinity.

The first spillage involved an accidental discharge of oil from a vessel loading bunkers and which sparked a concern at WESSA.

However, Captain Campbell to sought allay fears that the recently established shipping vessels’ bunkering service at the port of Port Elizabeth might prove problematic, indicating that the accidental spillage during the bunkering had been quickly cleaned up and was therefore not believed to have affected negatively the environment, but specifically wildlife.

Captain Campbell said: “The spill from the refuelling operation was approximately 100 litres and was cleaned up immediately. Although we are still awaiting the outcome of the testing of samples taken SAMSA strongly believes that this was not the source of the oil on the penguins.

“Some two days after this spill a large oil slick was found in the bay and additional slicks were noted further down the coast as far as Jeffrey’s Bay. Our investigation identified a vessel on passage to Cape Town that had pumped oily waste into the sea over a stretch of approximately 120 nautical miles through a faulty oily water separator.

penguins pe 1“The Turkish owned, Panamanian registered bulk carrier was subsequently detained in Cape Town as being unseaworthy. It was issued with an Admission of Contravention of R127 000 for this as well as an additional R375 000 for illegal discharge of oily waste.

“Furthermore the owners, through their insurers were required to lodge an undertaking of R1million to reimburse those parties that reacted to the spill, this would include the cleaning of penguins. The ship was only released from detention when all monies had been deposited,” said Captain Campbell.

Captain Campbell further explained the management of these Admissions of Contravention in terms of relevant legislation. He said the fines were essentially an “Admission of Contravention” in terms of Marine Pollution (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act No 2 of 1986.

“The monies received are deposited into the Maritime Fund which is managed by SAMSA but is controlled by the Minister of Transport.

“In terms of the SAMSA Act, an application to the Minister can be made only for the purpose of furthering the objectives of the Authority (SAMSA) and in this case, this would be ‘to prevent and combat pollution of the marine environment by ships’. The rehabilitation of wildlife would therefore be considered,” he said.

Meanwhile, WESSA chairman of the Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth) branch, Ms Martheanne Finnemore in her letter published in The Herald; praised both SAMSA as well as the several organizations that responded quickly and decisively in alleviating the plight of the wild sea birds affected by the oil slick.

She said: “Well done SAMSA for imposing a fine of R350 000 on the ship that caused the spillage during the oil transfer. This money should be channelled to those voluntary organizations such as SAMREC (South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre) and to SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) and its facility at Cape St Francis Bay to enable them to continue doing their amazing work in rescuing and rehabilitating these iconic birds.”
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