Maritime industry keen for speedy action to resolution of maritime risk challenges.

Agrees to support the intention to introduce new levies to boost the Maritime Fund.

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Pretoria: 04 April 2019

Positioning two emergency towing vessels (ETVs) – one more than at present – at strategic locations along South Africa’s coastline, and centralizing technologies for monitoring of South Africa’s oceans at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), are among consensus views shared at the SA Maritime Risk Workshop held in Durban last week.

However crucial also was a unanimous decision by industry for new levies to boost and consolidate the country’s maritime fund administered by SAMSA as the main financial resource for addressing and improving maritime risk related issues.

These were among about a dozen issues enumerated for discussion and decision during a SAMSA organized two-day South Africa Maritime Risk Workshop held in Durban on Wednesday and Thursday last week, involving about 70 delegates from the public and private sector with direct interest in the country’s maritime sector.

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The purpose of the workshop, according to SAMSA, was to provide opportunity for the country’s maritime sector to focus on the state of the country’s maritime risks and come up with workable solutions to ensure safety and security in the sector.

Issues for discussion ranged from an overview of the country’s maritime risk profile involving case studies, the country’s legislative framework and institutional responsibilities, third parties dependencies, to maritime domain awareness, pollution monitoring and combating, the country’s response capability as well as funding.

Several presenters, all experts in their respective fields both in the private and public sectors of the maritime sector, led the discussions. The outcomes would be compiled into a consensus view report for submission to the SAMSA Board of Directors for further action.

In the final analysis, about a half dozen or so issues were enumerated for consensus decisions to enable the fast-tracking of implementation. The list included:

  • South Africa’s tooling capacity to vessels emergency response,
  • Aerial capability for oceans monitoring,
  • Advanced technologies for day to day monitoring and management of vessel traffic and related matters such as oceans pollution, as well as their central location,
  • Oil combating capability as regards its institutional location,
  • A precise definition of the country’s state of readiness spelling out exactly what oceans emergency situations the country should be ready for, and indicators thereof
  • Institutional arrangements: relating to enhancement of cooperation and collaboration among various key role-players in the sector,
  • Legislation: but particularly with regards to ensuring that all relevant legislation to management of the country’s maritime sector is up to date along with related regulations.
  • Funding, with regards to precisely the positioning of the Maritime Fund as envisaged in the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP)
  • Maritime security imperatives as falling within the Maritime Security Advisory Committee.

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On Thursday, the second and final day of the workshop, delegates expressed agreement with a suggestion that two Emergency Towing Vessels would be sufficient for the country’s oceans area – this based on a feasibility study conducted on behalf of the Department of Transport and presented by Mr Brian Blackbeard of the Atlantis Consulting group.

According to Mr Blackbeard, operational requirements of an ETV primarily involve preventing marine pollution at sea and secondary to which are; protecting life and property at sea, detecting, reporting, investigating and combating marine pollution at sea, as well as salvaging wrecked, stranded or abandoned ships at sea.

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The area of operation of the ETV is described as including all of South Africa’s maritime zones as made up of both the territorial waters and contiguous zone, the country’s exclusive economic zone incorporating both the Prince Edward and Marion Islands, the continental shelf, the Antarctic claim as well as the SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre’s area of responsibility.

According to Mr Blackbeard, the area of operation is vast, hostile with dense marine traffic inclusive of large vessels as well as an increase in leisure cruise vessels.

With regards to South Africa’s aerial capabilities, the workshop noted that South Africa possessed pockets of expertise and resources notable working in isolation and that it was necessary for the maritime sector to determine the correct necessary mix of aerial surveillance tools including the alternative technologies such as drones and synthetic aperture radar (SAR)

On the location of dedicated technologies to maritime risk, the consensus view was that SAMSA, as the country’s dedicated maritime safety authority already in charge of Sea Watch and Rescue (SWR) should be the custodian of both existing and future technologies – including that currently under development by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

DSC_9789.jpgWith regards oil combating capability, the view was that ongoing engagement on modalities of the function should continue between DEA, the Department of Transport (DoT) and SAMSA. Otherwise the issue was considered settled with no need for further broad stakeholders engagement.

In terms of institutional arrangements involving cross institutional functions and responsibilities, the Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) would be a peace time forum ensuring preparedness for offshore oil and gas spills . In case of emergency response, plans are underway to introduce the Incident Management System(IMS) as a preferred incident response model.

The IMOrg was established in October 2017 under Operation Phakisa and is chaired by the Department of Transport, charged with managing oil and gas spillages at sea.

The Maritime rescue coordination centre (MRCC)will continue  undertaking sea rescue missions for distraught vessels and seafarers within the 2 798 kilometre South African coastline.

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It is constituted by SAMSA, the National Disaster Management Centre, the Petroleum Agency of South Africa, DEA and the Department of Mineral & Resources to name but a few.

The Durban workshop was assured that the channel was taking shape, but with still a lot of work to be done including clearly defining and finalizing responsibilities for each of its constituent entities.

The Maritime Security Advisory Committee was deemed the ideal forum to handle matters relating to piracy and armed robbery against ships,as well as, port facilities securityOn legislation, the Durban maritime risk workshop delegates accepted that SAMSA along with the DoT would be left to handle management of the revision of the country’s maritime sector laws.

This being the case, the DoT indicated that three base legislations, the Merchant Shipping Act, Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation Bill and the Maritime Sector Development Bill were awaiting Cabinet approval which would occur only after the constitution of the country’s 6th Government administration following the 08 May 2019 general elections.

The ratification of the three pieces of principal legislation would, according to DoT Acting Deputy Director General for the Maritime Transport, Mr Dumisani Ntuli, provide the basis for the updating and development of new regulations.

To hear his full remarks on specifically this matter, click on the video below.

A final and perhaps highly significant consensus agreement reached by the delegates was that relating to funding, with those present nodding support for the intention of imposition of special levies to boost the Maritime Fund as a primary resource for maritime risk related matters.

For the brief moment during which this viewpoint was agreed on, click on the video below.

For closing remarks of the two day workshop by Mr Ntuli, click on the video below.

Meanwhile, the DoT further expressed its pleasure with the holding as well as outcomes of the SA Maritime Risk workshop by SAMSA, expressing belief that it is among important steps due for undertaking to ensure ongoing development of the country’s maritime sector but particularly in terms aims envisaged through the CMPT. For more on this click on the video below. Mr Terrence Mabuela talk to the blog for a few minutes. Click on he video below.

End.

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