SAMSA launches probe into capsized fishing boat, with loss of life, off the Cape west coast

(SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 27 November 2020

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.

Ends

Organisations hard at work picking nurdles off the Cape Coast while investigation of source continues: SAMSA

Sudden surfacing of nurdles along the southern Cape coastline still under investigation according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) (SAMSA Photo File)

Pretoria: 17 November 2020

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.

(Video courtersy of African News Agency [ANA])

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

End

Yachts given reprieve from Covid-19 rules to enter SA ports: SAMSA

Pretoria: 09 November 2020

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.”

End

Relief at last as a 62 sailors’ rescue mission deep in the Atlantic Ocean succeeds: SAMSA

The SA Agulhas II berthing at the port of Cape Town during its arrival from a rescue mission in Gough Island on Monday afternoon. (Photo: SAMSA)

Cape Town: 28 October 2020

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.

The Balize flagged fishing vessel named the Geo Searcher photographed while sinking off the coast of the Gough Island, some 2600km west of Cape Town and whose 62 people crew bailed out with boats and sought temporary refuge at Gough Island on Thursday, 15 October 2020

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.

SA Agulhas II Master, Captain Knowledge Bengu shortly after berthing his vessel in Cape Town on Tuesday night (Photo: SAMSA)

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.

MRCC Chief, Mr Jared Blows in a brief chat about the successful rescue mission in Gough Island this past week.

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)

SA Agulhas II Master, Capt. Knowledge Bengu reflecting on the successful rescue mission of 62 seafarers of the sunken Geo Searcher off the Atlantic Ocean island known as Gough Island this past week.

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.

End.

Rescued crew of sunken vessel on their way home: SAMSA

South African rescue mission personnel on board the country’s research vessel, the SA Agulhas II near Gough Island to placate 62 stranded seafarers – a majority of them South African – whose fishing vessel sank a mile off the Atlantic Ocean island a week ago. Bad weather affected the rescue mission but all is reported to be well now.

Pretoria: 22 October 2020

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.

Some of the seafarers of the Geo Searcher that sank a mile of the Atlantic Ocean island known as Gough Island, now safely onboard the SA Agulhas II and on their way back home to South Africa. (Photo: SAMSA)

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.

End

Fishing research vessel with SA group sinks off Gough Island; crew evacuation underway – SAMSA

Photo of the Geo Searcher fishing research vessel, courtery of MarineTraffic.com

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.

The MFV Geo Searcher off Nightingale Island on 19 September 2020 prior to its accident and sinking on Thursday 15October after reportedly hiting a rock off Gough Island. (Photo courtersy of Tristan da Cuhna News)

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.

SA Agulhas II

“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.”

End

Africa oil spill contingency planning under focus at GIWACAF webinar Wednesday.

UPDATE: GI WACAF Webinar on Africa oil spills contingency plans held on Wednesday (16 September 2020)

https://event.webinarjam.com/replay/18/w804zf6sxiktrov

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.

Representatives of GIWACAF African member countries gathered at most recent conference held in Cape Town, South Africa in 2019 (Photo: SAMSA File)

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.”

GIWACAF africa Member States representatives during attending an oil spill management exercise conducted in Milnerton, Cape Town as part of the group’s annual conference in the city in 2019. (Photo: SAMSA File)

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;
  • an understanding of concrete implications of the OPRC Convention; and
  • knowledge on the challenges and successes faced when planning for oil spills through case studies shared by the experts.
Captain Ravi Naicker. SAMSA Senior Manager for Navigation, Security and Environment

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).

End

Post Covid-19 maritime economic development: low hanging fruit for the Eastern Cape.

Port Elizabeth: 14 September 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic that’s engulfed the world since about the end of 2019, killing as many as nine hundred thousand people so far and forcing periodic national lockdowns, may have had a truly devastating impact on the world’s economy – the world’s maritime economic sector that’s an essential lifeblood to world trade included – but it has also presented opportunities to refocus priority areas for economic development.

At least that was the dominant view of contributors and participants in a webinar organised by the Eastern Cape provincial government last Thursday. For South Africa’s maritime economic sector, and precisely that of the Eastern Cape – one of the country’s four coastal provinces with the second biggest claim to a coastline along the Indian Ocean – five specific areas of business investment opportunity are beckoning.

These include the fledgling ships bunkering services at Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth established only four years ago, coastal and marine tourism along the province’s largely pristine and underdeveloped Wild Coast coastal corridor, fishing and aquaculture, skills development and environmental protection.

Participants in the webinar, among them the acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Mr Sobantu Tilayi, and representatives of the Eastern Cape provincial government and associated entities including the Eastern Cape Socio Economic Consultative Council (ECSECC) and Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ERCDA), the Nelson Mandela University (NMU), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) etc, were agreed that these identified areas of maritime sector investment opportunity were also interlinked and therefore highly acquiescent to close alignment.

The webinar on Thursday, attended by about 50 people, was according to the provincial government, intended to probe its Covid-19 scuppered Oceans Economy Masterplan launched with much fanfare in March this year, for low hanging viable investment opportunities for pursuit almost immediately in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was because, the provincial government said: “COVID-19 has upended major sectors of the economy. The lockdown measures imposed on companies to enforce social distancing resulted in supply-side shocks for the economy. The closure of international borders disrupted the global value chains for critical industries such as maritime industry.

“These supply-side shocks induced the demand-side shocks, with most workers losing jobs and incomes. Unemployment across industries skyrocketed, resulting in a deep slump in the economy. Key sectors of the Oceans Economy were not left unscathed by the COVID-19 lockdown measures. With the evidence that the coronavirus is receding, and the country moving to Level 2 of the Risk-adjusted Strategy for Economic Activity, there’s an urgent need to jumpstart economic recovery of the critical sectors of the Oceans Economy in the Eastern Cape.

“The province has a compelling value proposition for investors in the Oceans Economy, and it is the opportune moment to act to leverage on this proposition. Towards this end, the Eastern Cape Operations Phakisa: Oceans Economy Secretariat is convening a one-day session to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the Oceans Economy, and to map a path towards Oceans Economy recovery. Key stakeholders are convening for a conversation to map a way forward for the Eastern Cape Oceans Economy Agenda during a period characterised as the “New Normal”.”

Areas of primary interest and focus for the Eastern Cape’s allotment of some 800km of a coastline in an ocean space incorporating a 1,5-million km2 of South Africa’s exclusive economic development zone, included marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas, aquaculture, marine tourism, small harbours and coastline development, research, technology, innovation; skills development and ocean governance.

Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting Chief Executive Officer: South African Maritime Safety Authority

In his contribution, Mr Tilayi (SAMSA) described the ship bunkering services development in Algoa Bay as one ideal opportunity for business investment, skills development and other socio-economic value exploitation.

Launched in 2016 as a ship refuelling station taking advantage of both the suitability of the Algoa Bay region, and the steadily increasing volumes of especially trade vessels traversing the country’s oceans waters, from Western Europe, the Americas through to Asia, according to Mr Tilayi, the service was already proving to be a potential key contributor to the country’s economy, even if still at a low base.

A critical economic aspect to its potential success were global geo political and economic driven issues affecting the East and Western countries whereby, from a trade costs management point of view, the southern African seas corridor was gaining preference from shipping companies ahead of the oft congested Suez Canal.

Currently operated by three (3) bunkering service providers, he said; “the subsector had already created as many as 260 jobs – more than double the number recorded at launch (117) in 2016, with various business opportunities developing subsidiary to the core services”.

In addition to oil-based fuels, with ship technology advancements gaining pace alongside alternative fuels development, the international vessels refuelling location in Algoa Bay could further expand its services to liquified natural gases thereby expanding diversity of services.

In addition, consistent with the country’s economic development imperatives, alongside jobs creation in general, it provided a critical platform to advance transformation of the country’s maritime economy through skilling of previously disadvantaged communities as well as development of small black businesses.

Linked to this would be development of a range of maritime skills, particularly those relevant to marine and maritime tourism, environmental protection and oceans governance.

To aid this process, Mr Tilayi said SAMSA had among steps taken so far, facilitated the establishment of a Maritime Industry LED Fund whose objectives include the strengthening of sea space environment protection through development of enhanced capacity to manage pollution incidents, support research and related matters, as well as funding maritime industry development, but particularly the entry and development of small black business as well as rural economy development.

This was taking place alongside initiatives to assist the development of rural coastal areas wherein four projects had been launched, involving a maritime youth development programme undertaken jointly with the Eastern Cape government, to equip rural youths with basic maritime skills as well as find them jobs. Mr Tilayi said the MYDP had to date placed in excess of 600 of these youth on international cruise ships around the world.

The other projects involved a coastal and marine tourism initiative undertaken jointly with the Eastern Cape Tourism Board and identified local authorities; a youth skills development initiative focus on boat building and refurbishing undertaken jointly with the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (now with the Moses Kotane Institute) and various others, as a well as a maritime heritage initiative undertaken jointly with the South African National Heritage Council and others.

According to Mr Tilayi, shipping companies in South Africa, among them Vuka Marine, were in the process of contributing to the initiatives with a training and crewing venture focussing on ratings and hospitality.

Meanwhile, according to the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA), one other major opportunity for immediate pursuit by the province was the development of its fishing and aquaculture industry.

The aim, according to ECRDA Chief Executive, Mr Ntlanganiso Dladla, was to take advantage of the increasing gap in global seafood demand and supply, wherein current projections indicated a supply-demand gap of between 29-40 tonnes per annum in South Africa and as much as 249-322 tonnes per annum in southern Africa which in global terms, he said, represents 2.53 metric tons or nine (9) percent of global demand stripping supply.

He outlined progress with development of a marine tilapia five phases project over 12 years in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal aimed at producing as much as 100 000 tonnes of fish species per annum by 2032.

According to Mr Dladla, the five phases development is projected to yield about 4736 direct jobs at fish farm and processing clusters – a thousand of these in its planned launch area of Mbhashe along the Eastern Cape ‘Wild Coast’ – and as many as 150 000 jobs for small scale farmers in the value chain across the region, with gross annual income of R3,4-billion against operations expenditure estimated at R1,24-billion.

Associated would be development of small-scale crop farmers producing soya, sunflower and maize, operating on half-hector plots totalling about 172000 with a potential crop value of between R134,7-million and R193,4-million per crop type by phase five of the project development.

Significantly, ownership of tilapia fish farms in the projects was being designed to assign up to 70% of ownership to workers, 30% of ownership in hatcheries and feed plants, and 38% share in fishing processing plants, thereby ensuring effective economic empowerment of affected rural coastal communities in both the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and possibly Mozambique.

Vital allies who voiced commitment in terms of various skills development for these and related projects, were the the Port Elizabeth based Nelson Mandela University and SAIMI along with other identified tertiary institutions in the region, the webinar was told.

End.

Amid alarming spread of Covid-19 pandemic, Africa quietly observes ‘African Day of the Seas and Oceans’.

The port of Cape Town, one Africa’s busiest global trade ports (SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 25 July 2020

Saturday, 25 July 2020 marks the 6th year since African countries, both maritime and inland, agreed to declaration of the day as an occasion to focus the continent’s attention at its endowment with and legacy of millions of acres of ocean space and on the basis of which its general global economic activity depends.

It was at the 22nd Summit of the African Union in 2015, that the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, declared the period of 2015 to 2025 as the “Decade of African Seas and Oceans”, and specifically highlighted that each year on 25 July. the continent shall celebrate the day as the African Day of Seas and Oceans.”‘

This, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Pretoria this week, was done “in order to foster wealth creation from Africa’s seas and oceans by urging African States to develop a sustainable thriving blue economy in a secure and environmentally sustainable manner.

South Africa’s newly dedicated offshore bunkering services established on the Indian Ocean near the port city of Port Elizabeth. Eastern Cape Province. (SAMSA File Photo)

Facts to the logic of the reasoning include a recognition and acknowledgement that, with growth in global trade involving African countries, around 80 percent of international goods are transported on ocean going vessels and over ninety percent of Africa’s imports and exports are conducted by sea.

“In the past four decades the volume of global seaborne trade has increased more than four times over. Ninety percent of the world’s trade and two-thirds of energy supplies are carried by sea- demonstrating the deep sense of how the oceans and seas are interlinked and how action in one sea may have direct or indirect consequences to other seas. Protecting the ocean thus becomes everyone’s business and a joint and concerted effort by the African continent to ensure the protection of her seas and oceans becomes paramount.

SAMSA File Photo

Crucially for Africa however, is the need for ease of access to the oceans by all of the continent’s countries, this to ensure free flow of inter regional and international trade. According to SAMSA, the 2050 AIM-Strategy, all African Union (AU) Member States are “landly connected” to the seas and oceans.

SAMSA states: “The celebration of the African Day of the Seas and Oceans is one of the recommendations found in the African Integrated Maritime Strategy, commonly known as The AIMS 2050 Strategy. The AIMS 2050 strategy broadly provides a framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of Seas and Oceans in the African continent.

“The implementation of the strategy will also assist with:

  • Establishing a Combined Exclusive Maritime Zone for Africa (CEMZA);
  • Enhancing wealth creation through building our countries’ maritime-centric capacity and capability;
  • Ensuring security and safety in the African Maritime Domain;
  • Minimizing environmental damage;
  •  Preventing hostile and criminal acts at sea, and prosecute offenders if necessary;
  • Protecting the populations, Africa’s Maritime Domain (AMD) heritage and infrastructure in the African Maritime Domain;
  • Promoting and protecting the interests of African shippers;
  • Enhancing Africa’s competitiveness in international trade;
  • Improving and facilitating intra-African trade as well as transit transport in landly connected countries;
A lone rural subsistence fisherman on a part of South Africa’s Indian Ocean waterspace known as the Wild Coast. (SAMSA File Photo)

The building blocks of Africa’s maritime sector development however, come against the backdrop, and are cognizant of a number of challenges currently facing the continent’s oceans spaces in the Mediterranean Sea up north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Southern Seas and the Indian Ocean to the east.

The identified challenges broadly include that; with 46 percent of Africans living below the poverty line, fish makes a vital contribution to the food and nutritional security of over 200 million African and provides income for over 10 million people. 

In addition, marine and coastal ecosystems play a significant role in mitigating the impact of climate change. Yet in Africa, the marine and coastal systems are the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change in the world, – this attributed to a low adaptive capacity of the continent.

An image of an oil spillage at sea -one of the continent’s concerns for the maritime environment. (SAMSA File Photo)

Added to the pressure facing Africa’s oceans are the negative effects of marine pollution due to human wastefulness as reflecting in the massive dumping of large volumes of plastics in the continent’s ocean waters, leading to irreparable and devastating damage to marine life. 

In equal measure, maritime security is cited as posing a multidimensional threat to global security in general, and has major effects on issues of food, energy and economic security.

According to SAMSA, in the past decade, Africa has found itself as the epicentre of international maritime insecurity, with such issues as piracy and armed robbery at sea off the east and west coast of Africa alike, causing major human and financial damage.

In parallel, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, toxic waste dumping and human, weapons and narcotics trafficking are an additional burden to Africa’s maritime security.

“Thus for Africa,” says SAMSA: “the sustainable management of coastal and marine environments and resources is of utmost priority. The promotion of sustainable use of marine and coastal resources in Africa will significantly enhance food security, ensure constant economic growth and improve the quality of lives of the people in the coastal communities.”

On the marking Saturday of the Africa Day of the Seas and Oceans, the agency said: “South Africa will observe the 6th African Day of the Seas and Oceans along with other maritime nations and administrations around Africa on the 25th July 2020.

“On this special day SAMSA as the regulating authority of maritime affairs in South Africa encourages South African’s to support the nation’s Blue Economy Agenda which highlights the impact of oceans on our country and the various ways in which the ocean contributes to the country and its economy.

SAMSA File Photo

“The nation is encouraged to also note the developments in the maritime sector and take advantage of the opportunities unveiled in the maritime sector such research activities, Maritime Education Training (MET), maritime careers, investment opportunities, commercial shipping business, technology and port development to name but a few.

“Through active participation in such a continental activity South Africa will continue to grow its maritime sector through the Blue Economy agenda and continue to boost opportunities for wealth creation and generation in the country,” says SAMSA.

End.

Container vessel released to sail while clean-up of lost cargo continues: SAMSA

Photo, courtersy of Vessel Finder

Pretoria: 22 July 2020

An MSC container vessel caught up in foul weather in Algoa Bay, leading to loss of some cargo overboard in the process, about a week ago, has been released from the city to continue on its sea journey.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a statement late on Wednesday confirming the release of the MSC Palak from the Indian Ocean port of Ngqurha, the same day, exactly a week after it was detained following to the loss of a reported 22 containers overboard at sea while battling a stormy and wet weather in Algoa Bay.

According to SAMSA, a salvage operation that soon took place shortly after the incident last week also involving the vessel owners, MSC, had been successful so far in relocating some debris to facilitate safe passage of ships in the area.

In the statement, SAMSA reported: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority has been involved in coordinating the salvage of containers and debris drifting off the coast as a result of the incident on the MSC Palak on the 14th July 2020. The vessel lost various containers overboard as a result of heavy weather experienced in the bay on the same day.

“The salvage operation currently in progress involves SAMSA, the vessel’s Insurance, Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the vessel owners, MSC and local clean-up services providers. They have been working tirelessly to salvage what is left of the containers that came adrift during the incident.

Photo: (SAMSA File)

“Aerial surveillances have been carried out to spot the drifting debris along the coast and salvage crews using boats have towed the spotted debris to a safe place such that it poses minimal risk to ships navigating along the coast and to avoid the environment.

“MSC has given full support to the salvaging operations to recover any floating debris and assist with making the shipping lanes and the general area safe for navigation.

MSC further committed their organization to be financially responsible for any clean up that may be required in the bay and areas in the vicinity for the next five years, if deemed to be linked with the incident.

“The MSC Palak has since been released from detention by the South African Maritime Safety Authority on 21st July 2020 and she has been allowed to sail to her next port.”

End.