UPDATE: Seafarers on board stricken Taiwanese fishing vessel successfully rescued. SAMSA

Photo for illustration only.

Pretoria: 13 September 2023

All 16 crew of a Taiwanese fishing vessel that sank in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday were successfully rescued overnight (South African time), with none reported to have suffered an injury, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported on Wednesday.

According to the SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch and Response based Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town, the successful rescue of the crew occured at approximately 02h30 on Wednesday, with assistance of several vessels that responded to distress and assistance request calls broadcast on Tuesday.

The rescue mission got underway on Tuesday after the Taiwanese fishing vessel DER HAE NO 66 crew sent out a MAYDAY call reporting that the vessel was taking in water to a point that it had to abandon it, in an area at sea some 598 kilometers off the coast of Durban in the Indian Ocean.

According to the MRCC, several ships in the vicinity were immediately called upon to render assistance, and they did so successfully.

The Centre for Sea Watch & Response reported on Wednesday morning: “MRCC Cape Town is glad to report that all of the 16 crew from the fishing vessel (FV) DER HAE NO 66 were rescued.

“The bulk carrier GOLDEN EARL arrived at the scene where the DER HAE NO 66 sank after being abandoned by the Taiwanese and Filipino crew. Unfortunately, the GOLDEN EARL could not recover the survivors from the life raft due to the prevailing swell of 4.0 meters.

“MRCC Cape Town then requested the GOLDEN EARL to remain on-scene, and with the drifting life raft until the fishing vessels JAIN LIH NO 212 and DER HAE NO 6 arrives.

“MRCC released the other vessels, liquid natural gass carrier LOBITA and crude oil tanker RED NOVA EARL to continue with normal voyage.

“The on-scene coordinator, GOLEN EARL reported by 2am on 13 September 2023 that the two Taiwanese fishing vessels had arrived by, and the JAIN LIH NO 212 recovered the 16 crew. No injuries were reported to MRCC Cape Town. The GOLDEN EARL was also released to continue with normal voyage. The on-scene coordinator reported that both fishing vessels shall continue with fishing operations.

“MRCC Cape Town appreciates the efforts of all vessels involved, and the assistance provided by RCC Taipei and Telkom Maritime Radio.”

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Foreign fishing vessel rescue operation underway on Indian Ocean off the coast of Durban: SAMSA

Pretoria: 12 Septembet 2023

A rescue operation for fishermen onboard a Taiwanese vessel reportedly sinking is currently underway some 598 kilometers off the coast of Durban in the Indian Ocean, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reports.

The number of fishermen involved is not yet known, save for a MayDay call recorded from the sinking vessel at about 03.18pm (South African time), said the SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch & Response based Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town. A number of vessels in proximity of the reportedly sinking fishing vessel had since been mobilised to offer assistance, said the MRCC.

According to the MRCC: “MRCC Cape Town was notified at 15:18 today (12 September 2023) by RCC Taipei that the Taiwanese fishing vessel (FV) DER HAE NO 66 was sinking due to flooding in a position approximately 323NM (598km) East-south-east from Durban, and that the Taiwanese fishing vessels DER HAE NO 6 and ZAN LI NO 212 were diverting to assist.

“The weather forecast for the incident position is winds South-east up to 25 knots (approximately 48km/h) and the Sea State being swell of up to 4m mainly south westerly, as per South African Weather Services (SAWS).

“A MAYDAY relay was issued by Telkom Maritime Radio at the request of MRCC Cape Town and the Liqued Natural Gass Carrier, LOBITA was requested to divert and assist after responding.

“The LOBITA was approximately 155NM (287km) west from the incident position. The vessels bulk carrier, GOLDEN EARL, at approximately 35NM (65km) and the crude oil tanker, RED NOVA EARL, at approximately 60NM (111km), were identified on AIS and requested to divert to the incident position for assistance to be rendered.

“This is a developing and dynamic incident with the SAR response being conducted as aligned with the SASAR Act and Policy.”

This blog will update the story as and when new information is shared.

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Super blue moon spring tide warning! NSRI

Video supplied

Pretoria: 30 August 2023

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has issued an appeal to the public to be cautious around the South African coastline during the full moon Spring tide that has already begun and peaks during the full moon period over the 30th and 31st of August, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

SAMSA says according to the NSRI: “This Blue Moon (a blue moon is a rare second full moon during the same month) will be a supermoon, meaning the moon is closer to earth than is normal. And it is the third of four supermoons in a row and this one will be the biggest (closest) full supermoon of 2023.

“This coincides with planet Saturn, that can seen in the sky near to the moon, also in her planetary position closest to the earth for 2023. As is normal this full moon brings the Spring tide – where high tide is higher than normal and low tide is lower than normal.

“With spring tides occurring at full moon and at new moon every month, these occurrences can have an increased affect on the strength of rip currents and caution is advised. NSRI are appealing to bathers, coastal hikers, shoreline anglers, boaters, sailors, paddlers and the maritime community to be cautious around our coastline during this full blue supermoon’s Spring tide.

“Already you will have noticed the growing Spring tide’s high tide higher than normal and the growing Spring tide’s low tide lower than normal – building gradually over the past few days.

“The full affect of this Super Moon Blue Moon Spring Tide peaks during the full moon period over the 30th and 31st of August / and then gradually begins to decline over the next few days into the new week.

“Together with winter rough sea conditions that are prevailing around our coastline with cold fronts that have past in recent days and weeks and with storms prevailing deep sea off the South African coastline – NSRI are appealing to the public around our coastline to be cautious during this Spring tide,” said the NSRI.

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Recovery of grounded fishing vessel underway Sunday: SAMSA

Pretoria: 14 August 2023

Efforts were undertaken over the weekend to initiate the recovery of a fishing vessel that ran aground off the Cape coast near Mossel Bay last week. These efforts were preceded by actions to prevent any potential oil spillage from polluting the sea area, as confirmed by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Sunday.  

The salvage operation, led by diverse teams including disaster management experts from the Garden Route region, commenced shortly after successfully locating a crew member who had gone missing during the vessel’s mishap.

The vessel named DIJAANDA, had struck rocks and capsized while engaged in a fishing expedition at sea along the Cape coastline to the south of Mossel Bay on a Wednesday morning.   Out of the seven crew members, five (5) tragically lost their lives, and two (2) managed to survive the ordeal, according to a SAMSA’s statement.  

SAMSA also reported that prior to commencing the recovery efforts on the distressed fishing boat over the weekend, a thorough examination of the sea area was conducted to identify any potential oil contamination. Fortunately, no signs of an oil spill were detected during this inspection.

Despite the vessel being grounded with a noticeable large hole on one side, it appeared to have contained minimal oil onboard. However, authorities will maintain ongoing vigilance to ensure that any contamination risks are minimized or proactively controlled.  

In light of the unfortunate loss of crew members’ lives, SAMSA conveyed its heartfelt condolences to the families affected and expressed its hopes for a swift recovery for the surviving crew members following the traumatic and unfortunate incident.  

Furthermore, SAMSA affirmed its commitment to continue investigating the root and underlying causes of this incident.

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Search for fishing vessel crew member underway in Cape seas: SAMSA

A photo of the stricken fishing vessel in Gouritzmond area as captured earlier today. Photo Supplied.

Pretoria: 08 August 2023

An urgent search and rescue operation commenced in the southern seas of South Africa early Tuesday morning for a fisher who went missing from a fishing trawler.

This was prompted by a distress signal received from the vessel, which was later discovered to have run aground near Mossel Bay in the Gouritzmond area, according to a report by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).  

The incident began when a distress call was transmitted by the fishing vessel DIJAANDA, pinpointed to the Gouritzmond region. Responding swiftly, the fishing vessel Vuna Elisa headed toward the potential emergency location, while the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Mossel Bay initiated a search along the coastal shore.  

Ultimately, the NSRI managed to locate the vessel stranded on the rocks and successfully rescued the crew members on board. Sadly, out of the seven (7) crew members, four (4) were discovered to have perished, one (1) was injured, and another remained missing.  

“The NSRI teams stationed in Mossel Bay and Stilbaai have launched a search and rescue operation for the missing crew member since approximately 7:30 am today,” SAMSA informed.

Further updates are anticipated throughout the day.

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Prevention of drownings a focus area for SAMSA & NSRI during Nelson Mandela Month

Pretoria: 19 July 2023

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) kickstarts its annual Corporate Social Investment & Sustainability (CSI) programme on Nelson Mandela month with an initiative aimed at contributing to drownings prevention in Gauteng.

The SAMSA CSI initiative, involving mostly young people at school level, is being undertaken in partnership with the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), a national organisation already engaged with the crisis since 2006.

“The target population will be school children in Gauteng where we plan to contribute to

their basic water handling skills, involving approximately 10 000 pupils from several schools located in communities across the social spectrum,” said SAMSA and the NSRI in a joint statement.

According to SAMSA, the decision by the entity to join the NSRI initiative this year is driven by its commitment to contributing annually to addressing identified socio-economic development needs of particularly the poor, deprived and marginalised. Drowning prevention was identified for this current year as but one such critical water-based crisis in South Africa requiring urgent attention.

According to SAMSA, a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) published in 2021 indicates that on average, 236 000 people deaths occur every year due to drowning.

Closer home, according to the National Library of Medicine (National Centre for Biotechnology Information), said SAMSA; South Africa is globally listed in the top 45 countries with a drowning rate of 4.06 per 100,000 population, or an average 1477 drownings per year, of which fatal drownings accounted for a rate of 2.54 per 100,000 population from 2016 to 2021

The National Library of Medicine states that: “…drowning is a serious public health concern with low-and-middle-income countries [being] the most affected by drowning, as they carry 90% of the global drowning burden.”

Furthermore, drowning is reported to be one of the leading causes of death among mostly people aged 1–24 years, thus denoting the population group that seems more vulnerable. Dr Jill Fortuin, Executive Director of Drowning Prevention Services at the NSRI states that since the inception of the NGO’s water safety programme in 2006 the organization has reached four (4) million children through the project.

“We are delighted as the NSRI that organizations such as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) are collaborating with us to reach more people, specifically under 14’s through this programme,” she states.

In response, said SAMSA; “From a SAMSA perspective, it is a laudable achievement, but one that requires more support, hence our involvement this year directly with the NSRI.”

According to SAMSA, its CSI focus is shaped by the organisation’s period five-year trategic Plans (2020-25) and attendant Annual Performance Plans developed to advance and maintain consistent attainment of the entity’s mandate which encompasses ensuring safety of people and property at sea, prevention and combating of pollution of the sea by ships, promotion of South Africa’s maritime interest, as well as promotion of safe boating in the country’s inland waters.

“The consistent theme in the mandate is the promotion of safety of people and the environment, be it in our three oceans, the Atlantic, Southern and Indian Oceans; or in our vast inland waterways punctuated by hundreds of small and big dams as well water-based leisure facilities along dozens of rivers

“We are trying to reduce the drowning statistics in our country, and we are delighted in such partnerships as we would like to also change lives for the better and create futures, one child at a time,” said SAMSA.

The organisation also explained what it targeted Gauteng for the drownings prevention campaign support. “According to latest available data on drownings in South Africa, Gauteng is the province with the third highest drowning incidence in South Africa after KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, even as landlocked and being the smallest of the country’s nine provinces, and with the least number of rivers and dams compared to other provinces.

“As it were, according to the NSRI, inland locations in South Africa significantly contribute to the country’s drownings statistics. Meanwhile, it is highly significant that Gauteng just so happens to be home to the country’s highest provincial population (15.8-million 2021 estimates) inclusive of the most poor, deprived, and marginalised. It also holds the record for the highest incidence of drownings across all nine provinces in the 5-19 years age category.

Ms Mapitso Dlepu, Acting Executive Head: SAMSA Centre for Corporate Affairs and Head of SAMSA CSI

“We have joined forces with the NSRI expertise in this area and we specifically chose to run the campaign in July because this year is the 10th anniversary of Madiba’s passing, thereby making it fit with the theme of The Legacy Lives on Through You”, said SAMSA Acting Head of the Centre for Corporate Affairs, Government and International Relations, and head of SAMSA CSI.

Ms Dlepu said key outputs planned would include 10 000 persons receiving Water Safety Education Lessons, deployment of 46 Pink Rescue Buoys, provision of 460 Survival Swimming Lessons and orientation of 46 Drowning Prevention Champions

“To kick start this project we have selected Glen Austin Primary School as the first beneficiary and this school has 200 children who range from Grade 1 to Grade 7. This is the critical age in which they need to be water safe as they are the most vulnerable,” Dr Jill added.

In addition to this, in the summer season, survival swimming lessons would be taught to persons who are residing in the area in which the NSRI teaches survival swimming lessons in the Gauteng province.

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Maritime sector applauds relaunch of reconstituted education and training syllabus committee.

Pretoria: 07 July 2023

The relaunch of South Africa’s maritime sector education and training syllabus committtee in Durban a week ago, after a haitus of just over a year, has been warmly welcomed by the sector, and key to its significance, among other issues, described as being its enhanced inclusiveness.

Stewarded by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), no less than 30 members of the committee, representing virtually all subsectors of the country’s maritime industry across public and private institutions, gathered in Durban over three days from Tuesday to Thursday last week (27-29 June 2023) for the formal relaunch of the national syllabus committee.

According to industry, the 37 member strong commitee’s notable enhanced inclusiveness, now also strongly entrenched through adoption of a new Constitution, and a Code of Conduct, denotes a welcome reapproach to needed broad sector stakeholders’ consultation and collaboration.

Ms Yvonne Wright, founder of Saldahna Bay based Project Maritime Training, Ms Alicia Moreland, Training Coordinator for Viking Fishing, a division of Sea Harvest, and Ms Theresa Williams, a Transnet executive for training, were among those that applauded the latest development.

Ms Theresa Williams. General Manager, Transnet Academy
Ms Alicia Moreland. Training Coordinator, Viking Fishing
Ms Yvonne Wrght. Seafarers Trainer, Progressive Maritime Training. Saldahna Bay

According to SAMSA, the legally mandated custodian and enforcer of the Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations 2021, the relaunch of the maritime sector education and training national syllabus committee last week followed its desolution in June 2022 due to gaps and weaknesses that were identified as hindering its intended objectives.

Among these, was the absence of guiding documentation regarding the committee’s composition and operations, which led to unseemly complications that hampered its effectiveness.

Following the dissolution, said SAMSA Chief Examiner, Mr Azwimmbavhi Nelwamondo last week, industry-wide consultation ensued over a number of months, eventually leading to both the development of a new Constitution and a Code of Conduct, as well as reappointment of sector representatives as members of the committee who were inducted during the relaunch meeting in Durban last week.

Mr Nelwamondo said the Syllabus Committee’s chief role is to serve as a sector advisory body on national maritime sector education and training for certification of seafarers across the board, in terms of the Regulations and, where applicable, strictly consistent with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping (STCW, 1978 for seafarers) and (STCW-F 1995 for fishers ).

As now fully outlined in the newly adopted Constitution, Mr Nelwamondo said the work of the Syllabus Committee is limited in focus to three aspects; the development, review and maintenance of the training and assessment standards for seafarers, through the Training Standards Code, development and submission of proposals for consideration amendment of Regulations, and identification and channelling to the authority of any other matters relating to the training, assessment and certification of seafarers, raised by members of the public.

Crucially, he added that with membership of the committee in three broad categories comprising ordinary, associate and invited person’s for purposes of formality (‘good order retention and continuity’); “The Syllabus Committee is a public engagement forum, therefore its meetings are open to all members of the public who have interest in the training and development of seafarers.

Below, is a 15 minutes interview with Mr Amwimmbavhi Nelwamondo, in which he fully explains the latest development.

Meanwhile, Ms Zamachonco Chonco, acting CEO of SAMSA described the relaunch of reconstituted Syllabus Committee, almost a year to the day since dissolution, as highly significant with regards to ensuring South Africa’s maintainance of high standards of seafarer education and training on an ongoing basis.

For her full remarks, click on the video below.

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Prevention of oil pollution at seas, the focus of Day of Seafarers 2023 celebrations on Sunday: Department of Transport.

Pretoria: 23 June 2023

Global celebrations of the Day of the Seafarer on 25 June 2023 – falling on Sunday this year – shifts its focus somewhat from welfare-centric matters towards one key environmental issue of general concern in the maritime sector: sea oil pollution and current as well as future mitigating measures against it.

According to the Department of Transport (DoT), lead organisers of South Africa’s marking of the annual International Maritime Organisation (IMO) event, to be hosted in coastal cities; Durban Gqeberha and Cape Town on Tuesday, 27 June 2027; the theme for this year’s celebrations, as endorsed by IMO is: Marpol at 50 – Our Commitment goes on.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which jointly with the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) will co-host the event in Durban and Gqeberha, respectively, says the theme spotlights the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which covers prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.

“It also reflects the IMO’s long history of protecting the environment from the impact of shipping via a robust regulatory framework, whilst emphasizing its ongoing commitment to this important work.

“The theme is also linked to pursuing the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which include affordable and clean energy (SDG 7); industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG 9); climate action and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources (SDGs 13 and 14); and the importance of partnerships and implementation to achieve these goals (SDG 17),” says SAMSA.

Transnet’s N-Shed hal at the port of Durban, the venue of this year’s leg of the marking of the Day of the Seafarer to be hosted by SAMSA on Tuesday, 27 June 2023

Hosted simultaneously at the coastal cities, with SAMSA in Durban, SAIMI in Gqeberha, and the DoT in Cape Town on Tuesday, the day’s proceedings will, in addition to a key address by the Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga; involve panel presentations and engagements focussing on what the public and private sectors, education institutions and related in South Africa, are doing jointly or individuals as groups, to contribute to the realisation of goals of the IMO Marpol Convention, as consistent also with the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The event, to which seafarers will fully participate and contribute, is scheduled to start at 08h30 and end at 15h00 in all three cities.

End.

Relaunched WOMESA South Africa Chapter has no more time to lose – commits new leadership.

Gqeberha: 05 June 2023

New leadership of the South Africa chapter of the Women in the Maritime in Eastern and Southern Africa (WOMESA) has committed to hitting the ground running to ensure that development of country’s women in the maritime sector do not only make up for lost time but also stay abreast of new trends globally.

This is according to Ms Phyllis Difeto, the new chairperson of the eight (8) member WOMESA South Africa Chapter leadership elected during the relaunch of the structure in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape on Wednesday, 31 May 2023 following a few years of inactivity.

Among those who attended the two day event in Nelson Mandela Bay to lend support to the resuscitation of the domestic WOMESA chapter were Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga along with representatives of various public and private maritime sector business institutions, the Eastern Cape government as well as the Nelson Mandela Bay local government.

In her address of the event on Tuesday, attended by about 150 women in the maritime sector from across the country, Ms Chikunga urged that the election of the new all-women WOMESA South Africa chapter leadership should be premised primarily on development priorities for women in maritime, rather than on personalities; mindful of both a groundswell of support it can bank on across the region, but also of pockets of re-emerging blatant resistance in South Africa to multiracialism, transformation, and equitable development of all the country’s people.

For Ms Chikunga’s full remarks, click on the video below

WOMESA, an eastern and southern African structure now with membership in 25 countries and chapters in 13 of these, was founded in 2007 initially involving five (5) countries, among them South Africa. However, the domestic chapter collapsed and remain inoperational for a number of years, in the process, undermining women in maritime developmental efforts, but especially in South Africa.

According to Ms Difeto in an exclusive interview, that situation will have to change, fast, through among other things; ensuring a functional, attentive and focussed structure living up to its constituency’s expectations and aspirations.

“We can no longer make excuses for our failures,” she said, while describing her election to lead the revived WOMESA chapter as both humbling, and reflective of faith and trust the country’s women in the maritime sector have in her.

For her full remarks, click on the video below.

The relaunch of the WOMESA South Africa chapter in Gqeberha also had the blessing of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which, in a brief message, committed itself to render such support as may be needed from time to time.

For IMO Africa representative, Mr William Azuh’s message – delivered on his behalf by Ms Nokuzola Nkowane, Acting CEO of Ports Regular South Africa – click on the video below.

Various other organisations including WOMESA’s executive based in Mombasa, Kenya; the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Eastern Cape government, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), AMSOL, Heron-Marine, and WISTA also expressed their support of the initiative.

Below are some of their statements as delivered by assigned representatives.

Mr Ndzimeni Ramugondo. Acting CEO. SAMSA
Mr Rufus Lekala. Chief Harbour Master. TNPA
Mr Odwa Mtati. CEO, SAIMI
Ms Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana. Harbour Master. TNPA Durban
Ms Nokuzola Nkowane. Acting CEO. Ports Regular South Africa and newly elected deputy chairperson of WOMESA South Africa Chapter.

This blog further sat down with SAMSA Chief Information Officer (CIO) Mr Ndzimeni Ramugondo and whose six (6) months term as the entity’s Acting CEO ended on Wednesday last week, to establish the significance and importance of the rescucitation of the WOMESA South Africa Chapter from the Transport Department agency’s perspective.

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WOMESA South Africa chapter relaunch in Gqebera, Eastern Cape a major boost for women in maritime

Pretoria: 29 May 2023

The strengthening of women’s grip and hold onto Africa and global maritime affairs is set to receive yet another boost in South Africa with the relaunch of the country’s chapter of the Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa (WOMESA) at Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, this week.

Leading the relaunch of WOMESA South Africa chapter during the event on Tuesday will be South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, accompanied by the Eastern Cape Province Premier, Mr Oscar Mabuyane, the province’s Transport MEC, Mr Xolile Nqatha, Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor, Mr Gary van Niekerk, along with several women of different occupations in the region’s maritime economic sector.

WOMESA, founded in Mombasa, Kenya in 2007; has membership in about 25 countries within the East and Southern African region including Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Thirteen of these countries have formal domestic WOMESA structures or chapters, in the Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

WOMESA projects its vision as one focused on development of the body to be ‘…a key partner for gender inclusivity in the sustainable development agenda of the maritime sector in Africa.’ Towards the goal, WOMESA’s mission is to “…promote active women participation in the maritime sector and contribute to the growth of the industry in Eastern and Southern Africa through pursuance of activities aimed at promoting gender equality.”

In its strategic aim for the five years 2022-2026, WOMESA says it is pursuing 11 objectives, among them the enhancement of training and capacity building, strengthening of mentorship programs, identification and mobilization of fundraising approaches, establishing and nurturing smart partnerships and networks, intensifying the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV), identifying new opportunities for women in the Blue Economy, operationalizing its regional secretariat, establishing new national chapters, enhancing research and development, promoting visibility, intensifying advocacy and awareness as well as undertaking corporate and social responsibility activities.

Undergirding WOMESA’s drive is the IMO’s program on the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector (IWMS) launched in 1989, with a ‘primary objective is to encourage IMO Member States to open the doors of their maritime institutes to enable women to train alongside men and so acquire the high-level of competence that the maritime industry demands.’

The relaunch this week of the South Africa chapter of WOMESA in Nelson Mandela Bay, occurring during the month of May on which Member States of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) celebrate a Women in Maritime Day (18 May), is a culmination of efforts by various players in the maritime sector, including the Department of Transport, the Association of African Maritime Administrators (AAMA) and others over the last five years, to resuscitate the structure following a collapse of the initiative in the country a few years earlier.

Organisers of this week’s relaunch event, over two-days, on Tuesday and Wednesday; described the resuscitation of the South Africa WOMESA chapter as crucial towards advancement of the body’s vision and mission. “The relaunching of WOMESA (in South Africa) is of paramount importance in harnessing benefits from the IMO and the broader maritime community to empower women in the industry.

“The South African Chapter of WOMESA has been inactive and did not participate in the Strategic Plan 2014-2019. This has left a vacuum in terms of accessing benefits from the IMO and other support partners such as World Maritime University (WMU), United Nations, Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA), etc.

“South African women have therefore not been able to benefit from scholarships and training opportunities offered by the IMO and other women empowerment initiatives.,” said the organisers in a statement. Broadly however, a most fundamental issue, they said, was that the role of women in the maritime sector globally was still very narrow as evidenced by their dominance of only one sub-sector: the cruise industry.

“According to the IMO, women currently represent only two percent of the world’s 1,2 million seafarers in a largely male dominated sector, and 94 percent of female seafarers are working in the cruise industry. This shows that a lot more needs to be done to increase the number of female workers across all areas of maritime professions – both shore-based and sea-going,” said the organisers.

Fraternal organisations rendering support to the initiative in both the public and private maritime sectors include South Africa’s Department of Transport (DoT), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Transnet National Ports Authority (TPNA), National Ports Consultative Council (NPCC), South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), eThekwini Maritime Chamber (EMC) African Maritime Solutions (AMSOL), Oceana, Heron-Marine and the local (South Africa) chapter of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA).

Among other highlights, the WOMESA event will also see a new local chapter leadership elected on the second day of the gathering, and a Memorandum of Understanding finalised with WISTA, on Wednesday.

Proceedings at the Southern Sun Marine Parade Hotel in Humewood, Gqeberha on Tuesday and Wednesday are scheduled to begin a 9am, with the first day punctuated by speeches and statements of support, led by Ms Chikunga, Mr Mabuyane and Mr Van Niekerk.

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