With relaxation of Covid-19 pandemic national regulations, validity of seafarers’ certificates is back to normal: SAMSA

Pretoria: 03 August 2022

With the recent repeal of Covid-19 regulations in South Africa, the validity and revalidation administration of South African seafarers’ certificates will revert back to normal under terms as given in the Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations 2021, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has announced.

This development, according to SAMSA in a Marine Notice Information 09 of 2022 (MN 09 22), comes in the wake of the repeal of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak State of Disaster Regulations by government in April 2022. According to SAMSA, the reversion to normal regulations shall apply to all classes and types of seafarers’ certificates, inclusive of education and training institutions.

However, this will exclude fishing and boating certificates, this due to what SAMSA describes as “ongoing technical delays.”

In the Maritime Information Notice published on Wednesday, for all other categories of certificates, SAMSA states: “Following the 2020 outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of disaster regulations was repealed on 4th April 2022. The requirement for extension of certificates in terms of COVID are therefore no longer applicable.”

Precisely on the validity and revalidation of certificates classified under the STCW and Port Operations, says SAMSA: “All certificates of competency and certificates of proficiency for seagoing vessels (other than fishing vessels) and port operations vessels shall be revalidated as required by the Regulations using the appropriate forms.

“Persons working on port operations by virtue of holding certificates issued under the Examination Regulations for Certificate of Competency as Marine Motorman, 1993 shall ensure that they have revalidated their certificates and such are endorsed accordingly,” says SAMSA.

Furthermore, all extentions of validity of certificates previously granted under the State of Disaster Regulations (excluding fishing and boating certificates) are now also discontinued, with the online system for extensions disabled for these.

The same changes will apply to certificates issued by SAMSA accredited training institutions. SAMSA says: “The provision… …..applies to all course completion certificates issued in accordance with the Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations, 2021, by institutions accredited by SAMSA. SAMSA accredited institutions may (also) not issue extension of course completion certificates.”

The changes are equally applicable to medical certificates, with SAMSA saying: “Validity of all Medical and Eyesight certificates shall be in accordance with the certificate.”

Regarding the exemption of fishing and boating certificates, SAMSA says the status quo shall remain until further notice.

Against the backdrop, fishing Certificates of Competency issued under the 1993 Regulations (Fishermen and Marine Motormen) remain valid for service until 30 June 2023. That notwithstanding, fishers able to revalidate their certificate are encouraged to do so at the earliest possible time.

In this regard, says SAMSA: “Fishers who hold the old format certificates issued under the 1993 Regulations may apply for conversions (using a form appended to the new Marine Information Notice), and that….only fully issued certificates may be converted. Where a candidate produces the old TV5/1061 form as proof of qualification – the PO (Principal Officer) shall cause an investigation into the veracity of the same and reasons why the certificate has not been issued before the same may be converted.”

On the validity of Small Vessel Interim Certificate of Competency, SAMSA says it continues to battle delays with issuance of National Small Vessel Certificate of Competency (skipper’s licences) certificates due to conditons related to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak since about 15 December 2019.

For the reason, says SAMSA: “The Small Vessel Interim Certificates of Competence (that are) valid for a period of six (6) months, issued by SAMSA and external participants in the National Small Vessel Examination Regime are extended until 31 July 2023.”

However, SAMSA warns that boating owners or operators that intend using expired interims need to keep a copy of the newly released Marine Information Notice “as proof that the certificates as mentioned before has been extended when confronted by enforcement officers, gatekeepers, or officials at launching sites.”

End

South Africa’s budding maritime business chamber formation a vital intervention; industry sector players

Pretoria: 21 July 2022

Current ongoing efforts towards broadening involvement and engagement of business of all sizes in South Africa’s maritime economic sector through a representative national business chamber have received a nod from a number of keyrole players in the sector, among them diverse national institutions as well as industry sector principals.

This emerged this past week during a three (3) days strategy planning session of the budding Maritime Business Chamber (MBC) previously the Eastern Maritime Business Chamber – held at the St Francis Bay Conference Centre in the Eastern Cape province and attended or actively addressed in person or virtually by representatives of several national institutions and businesses across the private and public sectors, including financial institutions.

From the public sector, these included the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Maritime Centre of Excellence, and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitican Municipality (NMBM).

Financial institutions included the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and Absa Bank while private sector institutions included FishSA as well as individual company representatives, among them CEO of Algoa Bay based bunkering services firm, Heron Marine SA, Ms Kgomotso Selokane; and Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, group executive of Johannesburg based maritime sector consulting firm, Elekhom Global.

The event hosts, the MBC are an upsized version of a small business chamber that started off in Gqeberha (a.k.a Port Elizabeth) in Algoa Bay in 2019 as a small, micro and medium entreprises (SMME) organisation with express interest in involvement and engagement for business and other economic opportunities identification and exploration in the region’s maritime economic sector.

Maritime Business Chamber chairperson, Mr Unathi Sonti

According to MBC chairperson, Mr Unathi Sonti last Tuesday in St Francis Bay, through ongoing intense and expansive interaction with various stakeholders in South Africa’s maritime sector mostly across the four coastal provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape), a “clear gap” was identified for an institution of the nature operating at national level, in order to advance the interests of those people and businesses with direct interest but without any formal representation in the sector.

According to Mr Sonti, such business chamber with precise focus on the maritime sector was also vital in terms of the national interest of the country.

The feedback over the past two years culminated in last week’s three days’ strategy session workshop as a formal step towards formal expansion of the maritime business chamber countrywide, he explained. For his full views on the subject, click on the video below.

Mr Unathi Sonti, chairperson of Maritime Business Chamber chatting about the development of a national business chamber for the maritime sector in South Africa

Meanwhile, all the companies and institutions represented at the event at St Francis Bay on Monday to Wednesday last week, expressed a common agreement in terms of their full support of both the idea of a business maritime chamber, as well as the expanse of its reach, domestically and abroad.

In the next three videos below, this blog chatted to at least two of the representatives of five key public sector maritime focused institutions present; SAMSA’s Head for Corporate Affairs and Acting Chief Operations Officer, Mr Vusi September; and SAIMI’s Mr Malwande Nkalitshana.

Mr Vusi September, SAMSA Head for Corporate Affairs and acting Chief Operations Officer; sharing the agency viewpoint on its support for the formation of a national maritime business chamber.
Mr Malwande Nkalitshana of the South African Internaitonal Maritime Institute (SAIMI) also weighing on why a national maritime business chamber matters.

From a private sector business perspective, Ms Selokane, CEO of Heron Marine SA also shared her views.

Ms Kgomotso Selokane. CEO of bunkering services firm Heron Marine SA and patron of the Maritime Business Chamber also sharing her own perspective of the importance of such a structure within context of South Africa’s broad economy and people’s interests

End

New Safe Manning Document fee held in abeyance due to outbreak of Covid-19, back in force: SAMSA

SAMSA File Photo

Pretoria: 07 June 2022

A new Safe Manning Document fee approved two years ago but withheld from implementation due to the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 is now back in force effective from August 2022, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has announced.

The announcement in the form a Marine Information Notice (07-22) was made by SAMSA in Pretoria on Thursday.

The Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations 2021 describes a Safe Manning Document as “….. a document that describes the minimum manning considered necessary to ensure that a ship is sufficiently and efficiently manned, and that is issued –
(a) in the case of a South African ship, by the Authority; and
(b) in the case of any other ship, by or under the Authority of that flag State;

The SAMSA announcement on the coming into effect of the new fees states: “Historically, a charge was payable for the issue of a Safe Manning Document. However, there was no charge for the Safe Manning Document if it was issued together with a Local General SafetyCertificate for the same vessel.

“The Determination of Charges which came into effect on 24ᵗʰ August 2020, made provision for fees to be payable for the issue of a Safe Manning Document. Due to the COVID Pandemic at that time; it was decided to waive this charge considering the financial implications.

“On the 23ʳᵈ of June 2022, South Africa ended all COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, SAMSA has decided to implement the charge to issue a Safe Manning Document effective from 1ˢᵗ August 2022, as required under Regulation 8(2) of the Determination of charges. Therefore, a charge of R 1117 will be payable for the issue of a Safe Manning Document; unless a Safe Manning Document is required under Regulation 8(8), which will attract a higher fee.

“If a new Determination of Charges is gazetted in the future, the charge for the issue of the Safe Manning Document will be determined as per that gazette,” says SAMSA.

The notice will be accessible from the SAMSA website from Thursday.

End

Climate change, future of sea transportation come under focus at Southern Africa Transport Conference 2022 in Pretoria next week

Pretoria: 30 June 2022

Southern Africa’s transport sector across all modes – on land, sea and the air – will have its eye turned onto this year’s Southern Africa Transport Conference (SATC) scheduled for the CSIR International Convention Centre (CSIR ICC) in Pretoria over four days, from Monday to Thursday next week.

Arranged as a hybrid event to facilitate greater participation, the SATC’s 40th event for 2022, under the theme ‘addressing the new normal and the future of transport’ is billed as providing an “excellent platform” for the transport industry to exchange ideas and insights, as well as engage in discussions on a wide range of topics that are of immediate and direct interest, or with impact to the transportation sector in general.

South Africa Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula

For the maritime sector, however, focus on sea transportation contemporary trends onshore and offshore is slotted for the third day of the SACT, Wednesday (06 July 2022) wherein the session will provide for a mix of domestic and international presenters, sharing ideas and guidelines on the future of maritime transport.

According to a preliminary programme shared by the organisers, among the contributors during this session will be Mr Moses Ramakulukusha Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) who will be sharing notes on developments in the Marine Spatial Planning for South Africa, which has been developed through the Operations Phakisa ‘Oceans Economy’.

With climate change being a global topical issue, and with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) having adopted the Initial Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Strategy, focus will also be on shipping and ports stakeholders on account of their responsibility to ensure that they contribute to mitigating and decarbonising shipping.

Further insights on the subject of sea transportation will be shared by Ms Katrina Abhold, from the Global Maritime Forum.  Ms Abhold, the lead author of the recently published paper “Shipping’s Energy Transition: Strategic Opportunities in South Africa”, is expected to highlight the opportunities for decarbonising shipping in Southern Africa.

More on the topic is expected also from Ms Lydia Ngugi, the Africa Head of the Region’s Maritime Technology Co-operation Centres headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya; and whose specific focus will be on greenhouse gas emissions and the role played by MTCCs in helping countries transition to a decarbonised future.

On the specific topic of GHG emissions, a case study with focus on Madagascar is expected to feature in a presentation by Miora Rabemiafara of the Agence Portuaire Maritime et Fluviale, who will look at how maritime sectors in least developing island states can be addressed.

It will be within that slot also that Dr Leticia Grimmet of the Moses Kotane Institute will also share her views on whether the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is positioned to transition into smart ports. Specific focus is expected to be on freight forwarders’ role in enabling efficient ports systems, with Ms Sibongile Mokoena and Ms Cashandra Mara  of the University of Johannesburg weighing in onto the subject.

Sea transport security and related contingency measures will also feature, with Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Centre for Sea Watch and Response billed to share insights on the Incident Management System (IMS) with precise focus on how it prepares countries on how to respond to maritime incidents.

Captain Ravi Naicker. Senior Manager, Navigation, Security and Environment. SAMSA

Capt. Naicker’s insights will also reflect on the country’s recent staging of its IMS training as well as a live mock oil spill incident management exercise held at sea near Cape Town, with participation of Angola and Namibia, which along with South Africa, are member states of the Benguela Current Convention.

Also contributing to the maritime sector transport session on Wednesday will be Mr Omar Eriksson of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) whose presentation will feature insights on future trends or the ‘new normal’ for Coastal States.

Other sessions billed over the 4 days include amongst others, freight logistics, aviation, disruptive women forging a new normal in the transport sector, and public private partnerships.

South Africa’s Department of Transport, led by Minister Fikile Mbalula and deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, is also expected to feature prominently on all sessions of SATC 2022, with the event billed to be formally opened by Mr Mbalula on Monday, 04 July 2022.

End

UPDATE: Capsized fishing vessel salvaged and returning on tow to Cape Town

Photo Supplied

Pretoria: 30 June 2022

The recovery of a fishing vessel whose 12 member crew was rescued on Sunday this past weekend after it capsized while out at sea near Cape Point, continues, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

The rescued crew was safely returned to shore following to which a salvage operation to recover the vessel, named Restless Wave, was launched.

According to SAMSA, during the early hours of the morning on 26 June 2022 the pelagic fishing vessel Restless Wave capsized while located approximately four (4) Nautical Miles off the Cape of Good Hope.

Photo Supplied

There were 12 survivors recovered and they were landed safely in Hout Bay at 08h00 the same day. No injuries or fatalities were reported and the vessel owners working with salvors set out to recover the vessel and fishing gear.

On Thursday morning, SAMSA said the vessel was being towed to Cape Town Harbour and was expected to be in the Table Bay anchorage around noon. “SAMSA continues to monitor the operation,”said the agency in a statement

End

A dozen fishermen rescued from vessel off Cape Coast: SAMSA

SAMSA FILE Photo

Pretoria: 27 June 2022

Twelve (12) fishermen were rescued off a damaged fishing vessel off the coast of Cape Town on Sunday, while attempts are underway to salvage the boat, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported.

In a statement in Pretoria on Sunday afternoon SAMSA said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating the capsizing of a fishing vessel resulting in the rescue of 12 fishermen.

“The 12 fishermen have been safely returned to shore following a rescue operation involving two Oceana vessels with coordination from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC). The fishing vessel, Restless Wave,  is still afloat off Cape Point and a Navigation warning has been issued to vessels around the area. A salvage operation is underway to recover the vessel.

More detail to follow onced obtained.

End

Maritime world’s eyes on seafarers globally this weekend for celebration in recognition of their immense role in oceans transportation!

Pretoria: 24 June 2022

Once more, the world’s maritime sector will have its eyes squarely on seafarers globally this weekend to celebrate them in recognition of their incredible role in sea trade transport and related 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

June 25 is the officially appointed Day of the Seafarer celebrated annually each year since its establishment just over a decade ago by a resolution of a Conference of Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, held in Manila, Philippines, in June 2010.

It has since been followed by the establishment of the International Day for Women in Maritime, celebrated on 18 May for the first time this year.

Twelve years on, the Day of the Seafarers however, remains the most important annual calendar event to date for many maritime countries that are Member States of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which leads it by coordinating and deciding the theme for each of the June 25 annual events.

According to the IMO, “The Day of the Seafarer provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the world’s 1.5 million seafarers (risen to 1,89-million by 2015 in 74 000 merchant vessels) for the unique and all-too-often overlooked contribution to the well-being of the general public, and we would like to do it using as many social media networks as possible.

“The Day of the Seafarer is also an opportunity to educate the public about issues facing the modern-day seafarer – issues such as piracy. But, most importantly, it is the occasion for us, the world, to say ‘Thank you, seafarers.’

This year’s theme picked by the IMO is: “Your voyage – then and now, share your journey” with its choice and significance explained thus: “Every seafarer’s journey is different, but they all face similar challenges.

“For 2022, the campaign of the Day of the Seafarers, with the theme ‘Your voyage – then and now share your journey’, look at seafarer voyages, what it includes and how has it evolved over time and what remains at the heart of seafarers’ reality. This campaign gives seafarers a chance to share what resonates with them currently, whether it’s the crew change crisis being unresolved or the future of technology.”

With June 25 falling on a Saturday this year, South Africa, one 175 Member States of the IMO; will celebrate the day on Monday, 27 June 2022 with the ceremony marked simultaneously at the same time in three coastal cities; Cape Town, Gqeberha (a.k.a Port Elizabeth) and Durban, the latter city being where the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula or his deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga is currently earmarked to deliver the main address.

The live staging of the event next Monday will mark the first time in two years that the Day of Seafarers is celebrated in the traditional ‘town hall’ setting since being disrupted and forced to online platforms by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

This passing week, the country’s maritime sector joined the pre-event activity attaching to this year’s theme, with several companies and entities calling on South Africa’s seafarers to share their career journey stories, notable among these being SAMSA, the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Amsol and others and using their social media platforms to publicly share the stories.

While no official word had come forth from either the DoT or SAMSA about Monday’s event prior to publication of this article, nevertheless this blog understands that the Durban leg of it will feature a discussion session involving Government, its agencies as well representatives of the maritime sector inclusive of educational institutions as well as seafarers, all focusing precisely on seafarers’ experiences and anticipations.

A preliminary draft list of likely participants in the session includes Dr Langa Dlamini, Executive Manager: Economics and Statistical Services at the Durban based Moses Kotane Institute, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, Manager: OHS & Maritime Welfare at SAMSA; Mr Nkosinathi Manqele, HoD for Maritime Studies Department, Durban University of Technology; Mr Ross Volk, Managing Director of MSC Cruises, South Africa; Mr Durand Naidoo,  Chief Executive Officer: Linsen Nambi; Ms Pinky Zungu, Deputy Harbour Master, Durban (TNPA), Captain Thobela Gqabu, SAMSA Regional Manager: Eastern Region, and a set of yet to be confirmed seafarers’ representative.

Anticipated topics for exploration through discussion include; Government’s role and commitment to South African seafarers, and individual institutional perspectives one the subject from the Maritime Regulator (SAMSA – the Registrar of Seafarers and Custodian of Seafarer Welfare), Maritime Education, Training and Research, Employers of Seafarers and perspectives of Seafarers themselves inclusive of their gender-specific related experiences and future expectations.

Also in the preliminary list of speakers on the day, in addition to the Minister or his Deputy, are KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Ms Peggy Nkonyeni or DoT Chief Director: Maritime Policy and Legislation Mr Dumisani Ntuli, Mr Bheka Zulu who is both a SAMSA and Moses Kotane Institute Board Member, Ms Zamachonco Chonco, SAMSA Acting CEO; Dr Thandeka Ellenson CEO of the Moses Kotane Institute and Mr William Azuh Head: Africa Section, Subdivision for Maritime Development, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO.

As per tradition, a recorded video message about this year’s event theme by IMO Secretary General Mr Kitack Lim will also be shared.

Monday’s event in all three cities is currently scheduled to begin at 9am through to 2pm

As usual, this blog will attempt to capture such visuals of any of the events as shall be possible during the day.

End

South Africa’s stevedores back in business, applauds resumption of supportive SAMSA periodic safety meetings and workshops!

Cape Town: 20 June 2022

Stevedoring business at South Africa’s coastal areas, mainly the country’s commercial ports, has warmly welcomed the resumption of periodic safety meetings and workshops conducted for their businesses by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).  The gatherings bring together the stevedoring companies, Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) and Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).

This emerged strongly at the third and biggest of these meetings conducted so far this year by SAMSA at the TNPA House at the port of Cape Town a week ago – these being the first in quarterly series since being interrupted by the outbreak of the Covid-10 pandemic in South Africa in February 2020.

The meetings are primarily for safety issues. However, the practitioners in the subsector feel comfortable to bring industry development related issues to the forum.

SAMSA manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Maritime Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe leading a stevedore business safety meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday, 16 June 2022

According to SAMSA manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Maritime Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, the stevedoring business meetings, now in their 12th year; are held among the main stakeholders with a view to periodically share both general information of good business practices in that specific maritime economy subsector, developments relating to applicable legislation governing both the conduct of stevedoring business, as well as matters concerning the maintenance of good health and safety standards.

Stevedoring essentially involves the loading and off-loading of goods from cargo vessels, as break bulk and containers as well as the conduct of business related thereto.

Generally, says Mr Rantsoabe, as many as 30 registered and licensed companies are responsible for stevedoring at the country’s ports: – from Richards Bay and Durban in the east, East London, Ngqurha, Port Elizabeth in the south, and Cape Town and Saldanha Bay in the west coastline.

In terms of applicable legislation, from a SAMSA perspective, the National Merchant Shipping Act, 1951 is primary; providing for codes of practices and regulations that govern matters of occupational health and safety and cargo handling on board vessels.

It is on the basis of this legislation and codes and regulations that SAMSA also conducts regular inspections as well as audits in the subsector at the country’s ports and stevedore premises, this deriving from its legislated mandate for ensuring the safety of life and property at sea.

Representatives of stevedore businesses at the ports of Cape Town and Saldanha gathered in Cape Town for this year’s first SAMSA stevedore safety meeting.

In Cape Town on Wednesday last week, no less than 14 of these companies were represented at the first Stevedoring Safety Meeting since 2020 and the enthusiasm in the meeting room was palpable.

This was particularly apt given what was described by many as a most torrid time the stevedoring business in the country encountered during the major national lockdowns brought about by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research findings shared by SAMSA at the Cape Town meeting indicated that while the majority (about 95%) of the stevedoring businesses were sparred the spate of Covid-10 pandemic deaths among their employees, however; close on half incurred either a ‘bit more’ or a ‘lot more’ business running costs compared with the pre-pandemic outbreak period.

It also emerged that during the periodically disrupted operations, stevedores were not provided with adequate Personal Protective Equipment, in addition to other associated challenges that included a lack of occupational safety inspections before the beginning of shifts, lack of supervision in instances where foremen and supervisors were not found on board vessels, signallers working without signalling equipment or found not in their correct positions during cargo operations.

However, with Covid-19 pandemic restrictions having slowly been lifted nationally over the past year, and goods shipment worldwide beginning to pick again, the stevedoring business is now almost fully back at work.

At the conclusion of the Cape Town Stevedore Business Safety Meeting, this blog spoke to Mr Whaleed Diedericks, a business owner of Pebblehouse Stevedoring at the port of Cape Town, to solicit his views on the significance and importance of these SAMSA conducted stevedore subsector meetings and workshops. To view, click on the 6 minutes video below.

Mr Whaleed Diedericks, a stevedore business owner at the port of Cape Town sharing his perspective of SAMSA Stevedore Safety Meetings now back on track after a two year absence due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020

Meanwhile, Mr Rantsoabe also took time to outline broadly the developments in the stevedore business from a SAMSA perspective, explaining why the meetings and workshops are pivotal to the success, sustainability as well as growth and expansion of this maritime economy business subsector: To view, click on the video below:

A brief interview with Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, SAMSA Manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Maritime Welfare, outlining briefly the significance and importance of the country’s stevedore business focused periodic safety meetings and workshops resumed in 2021 after a break of two years due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

End.

Bunkering back in business in Algoa Bay as oil spill clean-up comes to an end: SAMSA

Bunkering services back in business in Algoa Bay, announces oil spill incident management authorities (SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 14 June 2022

The clean up of an oil spill recently in Algoa Bay on South Africa’s eastern (Indian Ocean) seaboard has formally been concluded, with bunkering services (ship-to-ship fuel transfers) back in business, authorities responsible for the incident management – among them being the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – announced in Pretoria on Monday.

“The oil spill clean-up in Algoa Bay has concluded and the incident has been closed and response and monitoring will return to normal status,” read a statement issued jointly by SAMSA, the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE) and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

This came almost a week after the lifting of a suspension imposed on bunkering services in the ocean space area following to an incident of an oil spill between two vessels belonging to the same bunkering services company while transferring oil between them on Monday, 23 May 2022.

According to the oil spill incident management authorities, the cause of the oil spill is still being investigated.

Meanwhile, they said: “The conclusion (of the clean-up) follows days of monitoring of the St Croix Island group by the SANPARKS rangers following an oil spill on Monday, 23 May 2022. The last monitoring exercise was done on Thursday, 09 June 2022 and there were no oiled birds reported. The beaches that form part of the Addo Marine Reserve have also been inspected with no reports of oil or oiled wildlife.

“Both vessels have been cleaned and returned to service. A debrief has been concluded with the responders to assess how the response can be improved in the future. An investigation into the course of the spillage is ongoing by the Authorities.”

End

Oil spill incident vessels separated as mop up continues in Algoa Bay

Photo supplied

Pretoria: 27 May 2022

Two oil tankers involved in an oil spill incident at Algoa Bay on South Africa’s eastern seaboard near Ngqurha have been finally separated, a few days after accidentally spilling oil at sea what conducting a ship-to-ship transfer about midday on Monday this week.

Incident management authorities, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) said in a joint statement on Thursday afternoon that the cause of the oil spill was still under investigation.

Photo supplied

Initially, the two vessels were kept side-to-side since the incident, in order to contain the spillage in their location, said the authorities. Now, with much of the oil around them collected from the waters, the authorities released the smaller tanker to sail back to the port of Port Elizabeth while the bigger one remained anchored offshore awaiting a berth at the port.

SAMSA, DFFE and Transnet said on Thursday: ” The investigation into the cause of the oil spill on Monday in Algoa Bay is continuing. The clean-up and recovery of the spilled oil continued this morning (Thursday 26 May), (with) the recovery teams also continu(ing) with the aerial surveillance, using a drone and oil recovery boats.

“The two (2) vessels involved were separated yesterday (25 May 2022) and the smaller vessel MT Lefkas has berthed at the port of Port Elizabeth and all the oiled equipment has been removed from the water thus posing no pollution threat to the port and its operations. The motor tanker Umnenga II is not able to enter port yet due to the unavailability of a suitable berth,” said.

According to the authorities, “None of the oil has reached the beaches. Most of the oil was cleaned and there is no oil sheen visible on the waters.

They further indicated that boat patrols by SANParks “revealed no oil near the Algoa Bay Islands and no oiled birds were spotted.”

That nowithstanding, they urged members of the public to report oiled birds and wildlife to SANPARKS or SANCCOB Gqeberha at Cape Recife Nature Reserve on 063 942 4702, “but not to approach or try to capture the affected wildlife. Rangers will continue to monitor the Islands for oiled birds retuning from their feeding grounds in Algoa Bay.”

Meanwhile, their surveillance of the coastal areas as well as the ocean adjacent the oil spill incident was continuing.

“A fixed wing aircraft with the state-of-the-art oil sensing equipment has been charted from Cape Town to conduct a full search for any oil over the entire Algoa Bay area. The aircraft will use high-definition cameras and oil detection systems to complete a full aerial surveillance of the Algoa Bay area.

“If there is any oil spotted the aircraft will also complete live oil spill modelling to determine the direction of oil, however the authorities are optimistic that most of the oil has been recovered and only the vessel hull cleaning needs to be completed. The Environmental Protection Vessel , the Sarah Baartman is on standby in Algoa Bay to assist with the clean-up operations,” they said.

They further confirmed that bunkering operations remain suspended.

End