An investigation is underway into the circumstances of the capsizing of a fishing boat off the coast of the Western Cape, in the vicinity of Rooi Els on Thursday afternoon and during which one fisherman died, three sustained minor injuries and one still missing, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed.
In a statement in Pretoria on Friday, SAMSA said the fatal incident reportedly involved an under 9 metre crayfish boat, with five men on board.
According to SAMSA, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was alerted to the incident at about 12.48pm and raced to the scene. However, on arrival at the site of the capsized crayfish boat, the rescue teams found at least one of the fishing crew had passed away, three others sustained minor injuries and one other missing.
The three survivors reached the shoreline safely.
“SAMSA has appointed a surveyor to investigate the incident. SAMSA will also involve a Welfare Officer for providing counselling to the survivors and families of all affected parties,” said the agency.
Meanwhile in a separate report on its website, the NSRI said it had been alerted to the incident by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) .
The NSRI then scrambled its Gordons Bay and Kleinmond sea rescue teams, who along with the Western Cape EMS rescue squad, the SA Police Services (SAPS), GB Med Sec ambulance services, Overberg Fire and Rescue Services and the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter raced to the scene of the incident.
“On arrival on the scene it was confirmed that (five) 5 adult male fishermen, believed to all be from Mitchell’s Plain, were on a local crayfish boat that capsized in the surf just off-shore of Rooi Els. (Three) 3 of the fishermen had managed to reach the shoreline safely.
“A search commenced for (two) 2 fishermen who were missing and who were not accounted for. During the search one of the missing fishermen was located in the surf and he was recovered onto a sea rescue craft and sadly the fisherman, age 48, has been declared deceased. A Police Dive Unit responded and a dive search was conducted.
“Despite an extensive sea, air and shoreline search there remains no sign of the remaining one missing fisherman. Police divers are tasked to continue in an ongoing search operation for the missing fisherman. The casualty boat remains washed up in amongst rocks on the shoreline.
“The body of the deceased fisherman was brought to the NSRI Gordons Bay sea rescue station and the body of the man has been taken into the care of WC Government Health Forensic Pathology Services. Police have opened an inquest docket,” reported the NSIR.
An investigation into how millions of nurdles came to envelope the Cape coast, from south of Port Elizabeth through George and nearby towns is currently still underway, while an effort is made to clean the coastline of the small plastic pellets.
This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a statement in Pretoria on Tuesday. This was a further reaction to reports last month of the discovery of nurdles across the southern Cape coastline – from Fish Hoek in False Bay to Plettenberg Bay and lately, along the Eastern Cape coastline.
According to SAMSA on Tuesday, the source of the nurdles is still unknown but the agency confirmed that this latest incident is not related to the spillage that occured in KwaZulu-Natal in 2017.
“Authorities are working hard to address the nurdles recently washing up along certain regions of the south Western Cape coastline from Fish Hoek in False Bay to Goukamma Marine Protected Area and Plettenberg Bay.
“The nurdles are also reported to be washing up along the Eastern Cape coastline, the exact locations are still to be confirmed.
“The authorities, including, the Departments of Transport, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, local authorities, NGOs and volunteer groups have all been working consistently to clean up nurdles washing up on beaches,” said SAMSA
The organisation described nurdles as “… small plastic pellets used in the manufacture of plastic products. In the raw stage (pre-moulded and packaged) they are not toxic to touch, but probably shouldn’t be chewed given the unknown synthetics that make up the pellets.
“However, once released into the marine environment they have a high attraction to harmful substances such as land-based pesticides, herbicides, other organic pollutants as well as heavy metals that end up in the ocean. At this stage they are very harmful to life, especially to wildlife when mistaken for food.”
SAMSA said: “The source of the nurdles is not yet confirmed but an investigation is currently ongoing and being led by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). These nurdles are not related to the spillage that took place in Kwazulu-Natal in 2017.
“While the investigation into the source of the nurdles is being undertaken, SpillTech has been appointed to assist and conduct clean-up efforts along the affected sections of coastline. Spilltech will also be storing the nurdles collected through clean-up efforts and are working with authorities, NGOs and volunteer groups to identify collection points and arrange the pick-up of nurdles.
“The extent of the clean-up operation is significant and is anticipated that the removal of nurdles from the affected coastline will continue for some time to come. The authorities and NGOs look forward to working with SpillTech as the lead agent for the duration of cleanup-operations.
“Spilltech can be contacted on 063 404 2128 for information on collection points and pick up of collected nurdles,” said SAMSA
With Covid-19 entry restrictions still on for crossborder travels, the world’s yachting community will find relief in the special dispensation by South Africa allowing them to call into the country’s ports.
That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Marine Notice No.50 published on the agency’ website on Monday.
The notice titled: “COVID-19: Humanitarian Relief Project to Support Stranded Yachts to enter South Africa during Lockdown Period” dated 4 November 2020 states that, the implementation of the new measures is in recognition that Covid-19 restrictions in the maritime sector, particularly seafaring, have had highly negative consequences for sailors worldwide.
“The issue of stranded yachts has become topical in the past months and it is a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic that had dire consequences for the ocean cruising community. This community utilizes a wide range of yachts and small pleasure craft to navigate their way across the oceans and who primarily sail the world’s oceans as a way of life.
‘As a response to Covid-19, many countries around the world closed their borders and making it extremely difficult for sailors to proceed with their traditional sailing voyage along the Indian Ocean The current weather patterns along the Indian Ocean (are) posing a huge risk to yachts and sailors.
With these and related issues in mind, says the notice: “The South African government is continuously reviewing its processes and procedures to identify challenges within the maritime sphere during the Covid-19 Pandemic. As such, the government has found that there is a need to address the challenges faced by the yachting industry.”
In terms of the new measures, according to SAMSA, “Sou1h A!ica will offer a safe corridor and humanitarian services to yachts stranded along the Indian Ocean from 09 November 2020 to 15 December 2020.
“Yachts falling within this category must only utilise Yacht Clubs wthin the port of Richards Bay, port of Durban (both Indian Ocean) and port of Cape Town (straddles both the Indian and Atlantic Ocean). All yachts will be eligible to receive all services including stores, provisions, refuelling, repairs, maintenance and disembarkation of foreign sailors.”
The SAMSA notice further gives operational procedures on how relevant applications and related matters will be handled by the various government departments and institutions in conjuction with sailing communities organisation, with emphasis that: “these operational procedures are only applicable to yachts that fall within the humanitarian scope as outlined.”
There were sighs and clear signs of relief on the faces of both a group of seafarers as well as the handful of family members as the SA Agulhas II – the country’s most advanced polar research vessel – berthed at Eastern Mole 1 at the port of Cape Town on Monday evening with the seafarers safely onboard.
It was the end of a +5 000 kilometer journey for the 60 seafarers on board – 47 of them South African – who narrowly escape injury two weeks ago some 2600 kilometers deep in the Atlantic Ocean, after their Balize-flagged fishing research vessel, the Geo Searcher, sank within a mile off the Gough Island after it reportedly struck underwater rocks, quickly took water and sank.
The hair raising incident, and during which two of the 62 sailors suffered minor injuries had, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), occured in the late afternoon of Thursday, 15 October 2020, while the group of seafarers was sailing in the vicinity of Gough Island.
When the vessel reportedly struck the underwater rocks and rapidly took water, the seafarers scrambled onto safety boats that helped them reach dry land.
SAMSA through its Sea Watch and Rescue linked Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town not only first picked up the frantic calls for help from the vessel’s crew after it got into difficulty that Thursday afternoon, but also co-ordinated the entire rescue mission – working hand in glove with various institutions and State departments including the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), owners of the SA Agulhas II.
With Captain Knowledge Mdlase as Master of the SA Agulhas II, a week ago the vessel was dispatched to the Gough Island to fetch the stranded seamen and after initially battling with choppy ocean winds, it succefully reached and fetched all the seafarers for on boarding onto the SA Agulhas II for the 2500 kilometer trip to Cape Town, which ended on Monday evening.
From a SAMSA perspective, the safe rescue and return of the 60 seafarers (two more others were dropped of at Tristan da Cuhna) marked the successful completion of South Africa’s most biggest sea rescue mission in over a decade.
This is according to the head of SAMSA’s MRCC in Cape Town, Mr Jared Blows. In a brief chat on Tuesday, the morning after the return of the SA Agulhas II from Gough Island, Mr Blows said constant alertness and closer cooperation with various others institutions was key to the success of the mission.
For his views (+3 minutes) click on the video below.
Meanwhile, Captain Bengu described the rescue mission as having been relatively smooth, this despite challenging weather conditions initially on their arrival near the Gough Island last week. It took the vessel the entire four days to get there.
According to Captain Bengu, the rescue mission started hurriedly during the evening of Thursday, 15 October when he and his SA Agulhas II crew had to drop off in Cape Town a group of passengers that were onboard returning from a research mission, and had to rush back towards Gough Island.
“The vessel departed at about 11pm on Thursday and sailed full speed – at about 16 knots per hour – towards Gough Island, which took us about four days.
“Unfortunately when we got to the island on 20 October, the weather was unfavourable to conduct any flight operations especially with regards flying seafarers onboard. We had to wait it throughout the evening until we decided to call off the operation for the day. The following day, as soon as there was a weather opening – a two hour gap in the weather – a very brave helicopter crew took a decision to fly even as the conditions were not so good. They managed to bring on board all 62 seafarers safely and unharmed,” said Captain Bengu.
He said in addition to rescuing the stranded seafarers, the SA Agulhas II crew also conducted an environmental inspection for oil spillage around the wreck of the sunken vessel, the Geo Searcher.
Later upon departure from the island, the SA Agulhas first headed for Tristan da Cunha where it dropped two of the 62 seafarers after which it headed for South Africa.
“On our arrival at Tristan da Cunha, the Tristanians were very generous and donated clothing and food for the rest of the survivors,’ he said.
For Captain Bengu’s full remarks, click on the video below (+-4minutes)
He also described the 62 rescued seafarers as “most grateful and with full appreciation of the hospitality they received.”
Regrettably, this blog could not convince any of the rescued seafarers on Monday evening to speak on record about their ordeal this past week. This notwithstanding, several seemed happy to have made it back home in good health and were full of praise for the SA Agulhas II crew.
After losing time battling inclement weather characterised by strong winds, South Africa’s research vessel, the SA Agulhas II is on its way back from the Gough Island, after successfully rescuing the crew of the vessel that sunk just a mile away from the remote Atlantic Ocean island last week.
This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which is coordinating the rescue and safe return of the 62 crew members who were onboard the Balize flagged research vessel, Geo Searcher, when it hit rocks and took water before it sunk to the bottom of the sea near Gough Island on Thursday last week.
On board the Geo Searcher at the time, were 47 South African, three (5) Portuguese, one (1) British, two (2) Ghanaian, one (1) Indonesian, four (4) Namibian and two (2) Tristan citizens,” said the updated statement.
On Wednesday, SAMSA reported the rescue crew of the SA Agulhas II hurriedly dispatched last week to fetch the seafarers off the stricken research fishing vessel as having encountered wild stormy weather on approach to the Gough Island.
“Bad weather with gale force winds has stalled the rescue operation since Tuesday (20 October 2020). Weather forecast for the coming 24 hours is also not looking any better but is being closely monitored. The evacuation will commence as soon as the weather subsides.The weather is reported to possibly subside from Thursday (22nd October 2020),” said SAMSA
On Thursday morning, SAMSA reported all as going well with the rescue mission, and that the SA Agulhas II was on its way back to South Africa.
“The SA Agulhas II is heading to TRISTAN Da CUNHA to drop the two Tristanian survivors from where the vessel will then proceed to Cape Town.
“Arrival in Cape Town will be dependent on weather conditions that may affect the sailing time. All indications are that it will take approximately 4 to 5 days before the vessel arrives in Cape Town.” said SAMSA.
South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA acting Chief Executive Offier, Mr Sobantu Tilayi is the main guest in a webinar scheduled for livestreaming from Cape Town at 4pm today, courtersy of Maritime Review Africa.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) says it has begun a preliminary investigation into the tragic vessel incident that occurred on the Vaal Dam this past weekend and which reportedly claimed the lives of five while two others were injured.
SAMSA in a statement in Pretoria on Monday said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has commenced with the preliminary enquiry to the cause of the small vessel tragic incident that happened this past weekend on the Vaal River.
“The incident took place on Saturday, 17 October, where a vessel capsized with seven (7) persons on board. Two (2) survivors were picked up by another vessel and after a search, five (5) bodies were recovered by the SAPS (South African Police Services) divers. The casualty vessel was also recovered.
“SAMSA is an agency of the Department of Transport whose mandate includes the regulation of inland waterways (only waterways accessible to the public) within the Republic and to ensure boating safety on our waters.
“Condolences are conveyed to the families of the deceased.”
This news story has been updated with new information from SAMSA
Pretoria: 16 October 2020
The South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed the sinking of a fishing research vessel named the Geo Searcher off the Gough island on Thursday afternoon while sailing with 64 crew on board, a majority South African.
“All 62 crew have safely been recovered from the vessel and are now on Gough Island with one crew member having sustained slight injuries,” reported SAMSA in a media statement on Thursday evening.
On Friday morning SAMSA added: “”A multi-organisational effort to collect the 62 seafarers of the now sunken, Belize registered vessel, GEO SEARCHER, is underway.
“SAMSA’S MRCC, Department of Environmental Affairs (SA AGULHAS II), and AMSOL along with the representatives and owners of the stricken vessel, have collaborated in arranging for the SA Research vessel SA AGULHAS II to sail this morning (Friday 16th Oct) for Gough Island in the south Atlantic Ocean to collect the seafarers who had abandoned their vessel after it had reportedly struck a rock and started taking on water.
“The stricken seafarers are 47 South African, 3 Portuguese, 1 British,2 Ghanaian, 1 Indonesian, 4 Namibian and 2 Tristan citizens,”said the updated statement.
According to SAMSA, the Geo Searcher had been within a mile off Gough Island when it experience problems and took on water after it reportedly collided with underwater rocks.
SAMSA’s Sea Watch and Rescue center in Cape Town reported that: “At 15/1212LT, MRCC (Maritime Rescue and Coordinating Centre) received a call from a vessel representative in Cape Town advising of a fishing vessel ‘GEO SEARCHER’ / V3WL8. Flag: Belize, which had hit a rock in the morning and started taking in water, and that crew was abandoning the vessel. The vessel was 0.8 nautical miles (NM) north west of Gough Island as per position provided. There was 62 crew on-board the vessel.
The centre immediately sought to mobilise other sailing vessels within the vicinity of the accident, but this was eventually called off after crew of the sunken vessel were reported to have safely abandoned it.
According to MarineTraffic, the sunken vessel was a 69.2 meters long and 12.8 meters wide research/survey vessel built in 1982, with a carrying capacity of 1263 t DWT.
On Friday, SAMSA said: “”The SA AGULHAS II is expected to take about three (3_ days to reach the island, if weather conditions allow. The vessel is carrying two helicopters onboard which will greatly assist in the transfer of the stricken seafarers from the island to the vessel. It is expected that the vessel will then make its return voyage arriving by possibly next week Friday or Saturday.
“The South African search and rescue region covers approximately 28 million km² of ocean stretching half way across to South America and half way to Australia and includes the Antarctic area up to the South Pole. The area is one of the biggest regions in the world and covers some of the most treacherous seas on the planet.
“The coordination and collaboration efforts between SAMSAs’ MRCC and many other organisations deliver the service to seafarers in peril on our seas. Limited resources and the vastness of the area creates challenges but with these efforts, seafarers can rest assured that every possible effort will be made to render them the lifesaving service they may require.”
Announces poverty alleviation initiative for marginalised rural coastal subsistence fishermen.
Pretoria: 13 October 2020
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed plans to launch a corporate social investment and sustainability initiative in October aimed at alleviating reportedly increasing poverty among some marginalised communities within the country’s maritime sector.
Funded to a tune of R3-million co-sponsored jointly by one of South Africa’s biggest commercial banks, Absa, and supported by skills development services provider, the Moses Kotane Institute; the SAMSA CSI&S conceived and driven initiative will, according to the authority, target largely marginalised subsistence fishermen in three coastal provinces; KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.
“The collaboration which will be delivered in two phases will see both SAMSA and Absa committing R3- million to the project,” said SAMSA in a statement.
“The first phase which will be launching today and will comprise of the provision of immediate to near-term essential food support to communities in Mbizana and Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape and communities of Kwa-Xolo, Gamalahle, Ndizimakwhe, Umzumbe and Umdoni in the province of Kwazulu-Natal. Communities in the Northern Cape will be announced as soon as the interactions with the identified municipality are concluded.
“The second phase of the collaboration will see unemployed or retrenched local small-scale fishers and other fishing workersreceiving pre-sea training, skippers training and entrepreneurship training,” the statement read.
Absa, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed financial institution, is one of Africa’s largest diversified financial services groups with a presence in 12 countries across the continent, also with representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria, as well as insurance operations in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, employing approximately 42 000 people.
Moses Kotane Institute on the other hand, is a KwaZulu-Natal (La Mercy, Durban) based higher education institution founded in 2007 and owned by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, with evolving focus now precisely on research and development, innovation and technology, as well as maritime and economics.
The poverty alleviation initiative jointly pursued by the parties, says SAMSA, is a much needed and sort-after intervention in the maritime economic sector.
According to SAMSA: “The spectre of the novel coronavirus (Covid-10) pandemic both in South Africa and globally continues to hog the news media headlines worldwide for its unprecedented devastating effect socially and economically.
“So far in South Africa, about 693 000 people have been infected and close on 17 000 have died since the outbreak of the virus in China in December 2019 and its spread to South Africa since March 2020. But equally devastating has been the effect the rapid spread of the virus has had on the economy, with scores of businesses all across the board having had to close down or drastically down-scale operations, leading to more than 2-million people now left without jobs in the second quarter of this financial year.
“At the same time, within the maritime economic sector, at the periphery of this ongoing economic devastation are subsistence fishermen across South African provinces, who irked a living through daily toil of fishing for home consumption and negligible sales, and whose lives have since turned for the worst, as are now facing dire poverty largely due in part to the necessary yet unfortunate interruption in economic activity brought by the declaration of a State of Disaster that saw a national Lockdown at five (5) levels imposed by Government since March 2020.”
SAMSA said with South Africa faced by the dire situation, national Government appealed to all able and willing South Africans to contribute towards alleviation of this big poverty challenge.
“Against the backdrop, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has responded by putting together a Corporate Social Investment (CSI) and Sustainability driven project to directly alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on rural subsistence fishermen in the three provinces of the Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Northern Cape with basic necessities, including capacitating them with requisite tools to sustain themselves and their communities going into the future.
“The project, undertaken in collaboration with ABSA and Moses Kotane Institute (MKA) rolls out from 19 October 2020 and should conclude in the first week of December 2020.”
Of the collaboration with Absa and MKI: “SAMSA and Absa are also pleased to have the Moses Kotane Institute (MKI) this collaboration. The MKI comes on board as a delivery partner, particularly on the training side of the intervention. MKI is an internationally recognised research, innovation and maritime institution driving economic development in KwaZulu-Natal.
UPDATE: GI WACAF Webinar on Africa oil spills contingency plans held on Wednesday (16 September 2020)
Port Elizabeth: 17 September 2020
South Africa’s state of readiness for oil spills at its oceans space remains a critical factor to the country’s effective management of its maritime and marine environment and remains a work in progress, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The position was outlined during Wednesday’s 3rd webinar hosted by the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Initiative (GI WACAF) involving 22 African countries that are member states of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and global private sector oil organisation, IPIECA founded grouping.
For more info on the GI WACAF and Wednesday’s webinar background information, see the news story below.
To listen to South Africa’s full presentation at the webinar, which was made by SAMSA’s senior manager for Navigation, Security and Environment, Captain Ravi Naicker, please click on the image at the top of this article.
Please do note that the webinar’s entire presentation lasts about one (1) hour 30 minutes, and Captain Naicker’s presentation starts at about the half hour mark of the full webinar presentation, lasting about 20 minutes.
Port Elizabeth: 16 September 2020
Participants from 22 African (mostly maritime) countries including South Africa are to continue engagement on strategies for oil spills contingency planning during a day long webinar scheduled for Wednesday.
The list of invited country participants include Angola, Benin, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The Gambia and Togo.
The webinar is one in a series organised and managed by the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Initiative (GI WACAF) under the auspieces of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) jointly with cofounders, global oil and gas industry association IPIECA. It is the third since June 2020 after GI WACAF activities were momentarily canned due to the outbreak of the Covid-!9 pandemic in March 2020.
GI WACAF involves mainly African countries as launched by the IMO and IPIECA in pursuit of what the two organisations describe as “a shared desire to improve the level of preparedness and response to oil spills in the west, central and southern Africa region.”
GI WACAF states its mission as working “in close cooperation with relevant national authorities in 22 African countries, supporting them in strengthening their oil spill preparedness and response capabilities. By doing so, GI WACAF is contributing to a better protection of the marine and shoreline environment in the region.”
About the webinar on Wednesday acccording to GIWACAF: “This third live webinar of the series will be dedicated to oil spill contingency planning and will present the key aspects of contingency planning in preparedness and response to oil spills from different perspectives and viewpoints.
“For this webinar, we will enjoy the company of leading international experts from Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), the South African Maritime Safety Agency (SAMSA), and ExxonMobil Angola.”
Outcomes expected of the webinar include development of:
an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders involved in contingency planning (national authorities, oil and gas industry and other industries);
knowledge on the main tools used in contingency planning such as Oil Spill Contigency Plans and National Oil Spill Contingency Plans;
knowledge on the challenges and successes faced when planning for oil spills through case studies shared by the experts.
Confirmed among those scheduled to offer South Africa’s perspective on these matters is SAMSA’s senior manager for nativigation, security and environment, Captain Ravi Naicker.
Three other listed speakers are Mr Julien Favier, GI WACAF Project Manager and webinar host and facilitator; Mr Richard Tindell, a principal consultant at Oil Spill Response Limited a well as Ms Tania Augusto, a senior advisor at ExxonMobil Angola.
The webinar will be in two sessions, the first presented in French scheduled for 12 noon (11am London Time), with the next penned for 3pm (2pm London Time).