Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 digs deep into world’s oceans plastic pollution

This is a complete wrap up of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 3rd leg in Cape Town, South Africa two weeks ago. The glamorous global yacht race -a.ka. the F1 Race of the Seas – is currently leaving Melbourne for Hong Kong (Tuesday morning, 02 December 2018) and carries aloft its masts, a crucial message about the increasing swelling of the world’s oceans with micro-plastics.

The theme of the race is Turn The Tide Against Plastics

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Cape Town: 03 January 2018

The world’s maritime sector is stepping up its fight against pollution of the seas, with particular focus currently being on plastics pollution of the oceans, and in the mix of tools being deployed in the war is water sports.

At the pinnacle of the world’s water racing sports codes now fully engaged against oceans plastic pollution is the Sweden driven global yacht race, the Volvo Ocean Race; a multi-billion rand oceans yacht race equated to the Formula One (F1) annual car racing event, and run every two years across the world’s oceans over a period of just over 260 days at a time.

The 2017/8 Volvo Ocean Race is currently underway, having kicked off with seven yachts in Portugal in November, with a stopover in Cape Town 20 days ago, and now presently departing Melbourne in Australia  for the 6000 nautical miles 4th leg towards Hong Kong, which the yachts should reach in about 20 days (20/1 January 2018).

DSC_2429On arrival in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront for the South Africa leg on November 24, topping celebratory activities to mark the two weeks’ stopover lasting until 10 December, were two, two-day United Nations-driven conferences focused on collaborative efforts for sustainable oceans management

Following to these in the second week, was also a two-day Volvo Ocean Race sponsors’ Oceans Summit on proposed global cooperative actions for the combating of the growing menace of plastics pollution of the world’s oceans that’s said to be increasing at an alarming rate.

Put differently, seven (7) full working days out of 14 of the Volvo Ocean Race stop-over in South Africa from 24 November 2017 to 10 December 2017 were devoted entirely to discussions and information sharing on sustainable oceans management as well as current and proposed actions to combat plastics pollution of the world’s oceans.

Crucially, organizers of the separately staged yet thematic-linked discussion forums were emphatic on the importance of the use of the Volvo Ocean Race as a creative tool to draw the general public’s attention to the oceans management issues, but also as an ideal platform for information sharing particularly about the problems of plastics pollution of the world’s seas.

DSC_2265The Volvo Ocean Race now in its 13th edition since launch 42 years ago is a major drawcard to a global mixed audience of millions of people in 113 countries, and shored up by more than 8000 hours of global television coverage with an average media value of 47.5 euros (2015 values). Corporate sponsors also number in the thousands.

In Cape Town alone, an estimated two-million people take time out to watch the race or visit the yachts’ yard during the two weeks stop over at the iconic V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, located at no more than a kilometre off the foot of Table Mountain, at Victoria Bay.

According to organizers, the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 edition is the first of its kind to focus attention on plastics pollution of the oceans, and its involvement goes beyond providing a platform for publicity and discussion, but also involves direct participation by the racing yachts in collecting scientific data on the extent of the spread of plastics at sea as well as their impact.

A number of scientific consortium are involved in the problem solving endeavor, among them the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), JCOMMPS, UNESCO-IOC, GEOMAR and SubTech.

 

In partnership, the agencies use the Volvo Ocean Race to collect both meteorological and oceanographic data for a better understanding of oceans weather patterns, but also for the first time, use of instrumentation for the measurement of CO2 as well as collection of samples of microplastics increasingly swelling the seas waters.

In the following three videos recorded in Cape Town two weeks ago, Ms Celine Greuzard, Communications director of the Volvo Group, Ms Anne-Cecile Turner, the Sustainability Programme Leader of the Volvo Ocean Race and Mr Richard Brisius, President of the Volvo Ocean Race explain the rationale of the involvement of the global yacht race in the maritime world’s fight against oceans plastics pollution.

 

In the following four videos, Mr David Green, chief executive officer of the V&A Waterfront shares his organization’s perspective of and role in the Volvo Ocean Race to South Africa, while Mr Bruce Parker-Forsyth, MD of Worldsport shares the South Africa perspective of the race to local socio-economic development, and Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) explains the role played by the State agency in monitoring and combating oceans pollution by ships, in terms of both local legislation as well as conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to which South Africa is a member.

In the next two videos, Dr Ivone Mirpuri of the Portugal based Mirpuri Foundation – and contributor during the Volvo Ocean Race Cape Town Oceans Summit – and Mr Ulrich van Bloemenstein of the Department of Environmental Affairs share their views of the event.

Meanwhile, South Africa which in 2017 became the venue of several continental and global meetings on plastics pollution of the seas, these including an Africa Oceans Plastic Pollution Seminar over five days, should see more increased action in the coming year, according to Ms Silindile Mncube.

She is the South Africa leader of the ‘Let’s Do It’ international NGO involved in plastics pollution combating initiatives.

During the Volvo Ocean Race Oceans Summit in Cape Town, she shared the NGO’s plans to actively getting involved in South Africa and the rest of the continent, with the launch of a dedicated “plastics cleanup day” during 2018.

And finally, in the last three videos below; is an overview of the UN Sustainable Oceans Management two-day conference that also involved a visit to Robben Island….

followed by Mr Adnan Award, South Africa director of the International Oceans Institute (IOI) who gives an overview of the entire oceans management and pollution combating gatherings held during the Volvo Ocean Race’s South Africa leg….

and Mr Rafe Axelson gives local boat building industry’s view of the importance of the race to the sector locally.

For videos of the UN Sustainable Management Conference, Click Here, and for more general videos and photos of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 South Africa leg, Click Here.

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Toasting home grown talent: Volvo Ocean Race Team electrical engineer, Ashton Sampson

DSC_2538CAPE TOWN: 06 December 2017

The Volvo Ocean Race is generally regarded worldwide as the most supreme water sailing sport in the world, and with good reason. Oceans sailing skill and talent combined with the most modern technology in yacht racing over a period of over 260 days at sea at a time, simply positions the sport at the top of rankings of its kind.

For South Africa, the Volvo Ocean Race would mean pretty much very little without its direct participation and contribution, both as a touching point during the race’s course around the world, and for the opportunities it offers for business investment especially in the boat manufacturing and repair sector, as well as the marine tourism and hospitality sectors.

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Crew members of the Vestas team who took third place on the South Africa leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18

Strategically positioned as the gateway to the southern ocean, South Africa but specifically Cape Town in the Western Cape has, according to organizers and local hosts of the event, always been a welcome sight for sailors and boat crews, not only because of its world renowned beauty and hospitality, but also due to the boat building maintenance and repair expertise in the city.

During a two week stop-over in the Mother City, this time around occurring in the window period of 24 November 2017 to 10 December 2017, the race pumps into the local economy more than R500-million and in the process, creating new and expanded business and job opportunities for locals.

Such job opportunities are what have led to one young South African, a young electrical engineer from Grassy Park in the Cape Flats, Ashton Sampson, aspiring to and eventually joining the VoR Team a few years ago, and never having to look back again.

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South African born Volvo Ocean Race Team electrical engineer, Mr Ashton Sampson in Cape Town this week

Sampson dropped in back home this past week with the arrival of the VoR for the South Africa leg (second leg of the race overall) to do what he does best – making sure that the seven yachts are in tip top condition once again, when they sat sail for the third leg of the race on Sunday, 10 December 2017.

The yachts having started arriving on the afternoon of Friday, 24 November 2017, have  since been spending time in the dedicated VoR Boat Yard on the south western end of the Table Bay harbor where Sampson and teammates have been working long hours to ensure that the ‘Volvo 65’s’ will be in their best sailing condition to take on the 6 500 nautical mile journey to Melbourne, Australia.

This blog learned that 38 year-old Sampson developed a love for the ocean from a very young age and through hard work and determination, was able to become part of the Volvo Ocean Race team, known as the ‘best of the best’.

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Some boating business and Volvo Ocean Race enthusiasts visiting the VoR Boat Yard at the Cape Town habour near the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Educationally, he is the product of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), one of the top institutions in the country which working closely with other partners including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), produces top notch sailors and other maritime sector related graduates.

Sampson’s is a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering, which eventually led to his being hired and employed by London’s Diverse Yachts in 2009, which he then left in 2015 only to rejoin again in 2017.

DSC_2805.JPG“I’ve been passionate about sailing and electronics for as long as I can remember and always wanted to combine the two. I was given the opportunity to join the South African America’s Cup in 2004, which set a path in motion that I don’t regret at all.

“I work very hard and I think I have a good work ethic. I believe this always shows in the quality of my work and people notice this, said Sampson in an interview.

About his direct involvement with the VoR Team, speaking in a remarkably flawless English accent, he said: “We’ve been contracted to the Boatyard, a sub organisation of the Volvo Ocean Race, which has been setup to maintain all systems relating to the fleet.

“For the first edition of the one design fleet of Volvo 65’s in the 2014/15 race, I eventually ended up managing the installation phase of all the electronic systems across the fleet.

‘We were then appointed to maintain the fleet’s electronics as they raced around the world and worked closely with various suppliers.  This time round it’s a very similar setup, but we’ve refined the processes.”

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The ‘Gateway’ to the Volvo Ocean Race precinct at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town

In between the times he has left and rejoined his current employer, Diverse Yachts, Sampson worked for the British America’s Cup team, Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing as a systems technician. His rejoining the former employee a few months ago was for serving specifically in the current VoR, he says.

This 2017/18 VoR South Africa leg stop over is not the first for him. He’d been here before, he told a group of local boat manufacturing and maintenance that visited the VoR boat yard a few days after the racing yachts docked.

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Crew members of the Mapfre, the first Volvo Ocean Race yacht to reach Cape Town on 24 November 2017

Describing his love for the F1 of yacht racing, Sampson said: “It takes a lot of professionalism and teamwork to make this race a success, both on and off the water. All the people across the fleet have very high standards and I thrive in this kind of environment. The hardest part is to always plan and anticipate events that the race will throw at you and being fully prepared for it.”

When on dry land, Sampson lives in a small town, Fareham, in the south of England near the coast with his fiancé. 

DSC_2517He admits to missing Cape Town and South Africa. “I mostly miss family and friends, but also the many attractions around Cape Town relating to nature; the local fauna and flora, animals, mountain ranges, oceans, inland lakes and friendly people. Cape Town is truly unique in this regard as it has so much to offer and explore.”

To stay close to the sight and smell of the ocean, and which his Fareham abode offers in abundance, Sampson said:  “I always live near the coast – I love being around water. My parents and most of my family are based in Cape Town and I generally visit at least once a year. Of course it helps that the race is in my home town. Cape Town is most certainly the best stopover in the world!”

Sampson’s fellow South Africans on the team include Mike Coburn, who is involved in sail making through North Sails, and Simon Botes, who is involved in the hardware (deck gear, winches and more), dealing with Harken.

End

SA research and training vessel, SA Agulhas reaches Mauritius en route to Antarctica: SAMSA

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(File photo) The SA Agulhas departing from Cape Town to Port Louis, Mauritius on Friday, 24 November 2017 to pick up a group of Indian scientists en route to Antarctica for the second scientific research and cadet training expedition of 2017. The sojourn will last at least 80 days.

CAPE TOWN: 04 December 2017

SA Agulhas heads back to Antarctica with scientists and 20 new cadets on board: SAMSA

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Pretoria: 22 November 2017

The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel will be heading back to the Antarctica region on Friday, on yet another scientific research and cadet training expedition scheduled to last about three months, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced on Wednesday

According to SAMSA in a statement in Cape Town, on board the vessel will be a group of Indian scientists to conduct studies of parts of the Indian and Southern Oceans, and in their company, a group of new South African cadets under the Port Elizabeth based South Africa International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), drawn from the Cape Peninsula and Durban Universities of Technology (CPUT and DUT) to undergo seafarer training during the expedition.

IMG_4815 (2)The expedition beginning with the SA Agulhas setting sail from Cape Town on Friday, will be the second of its kind in the past 14 months involving the combination of a scientific study and the training of South African cadets.

The last one occurred between December 2016 and March 2017.

According to SAMSA on Wednesday: “The vessel will transverse through the Indian ocean with its first stop in Mauritius, to collect the scientists, and then head south to Antarctica to spend three months on a research mission. For the 20 cadets, recruited for various on board technical functions, this will be their maiden voyage.

“The SA Agulhas is expected to reach Antarctica in four weeks. The cadets, aged between 20-27 years old, fresh from their academic studies from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Durban University of Technology comprise a corps of 19 deck cadets and one engine cadet. Twelve are males and eight are females,” said SAMSA

Management of the training of the cadets has according to SAMSA,  again been entrusted The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) which will work jointly with two deck training officers, Captain Merwyn Pieters and Steven Paulse, who are both experienced in the operation of the vessel and repeat travelers of scientific expedition route undertaken a year.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayo. COO South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Remarking about the expedition, SAMSA COO Mr Sobantu Tilayi said: “As SAMSA we are proud to be part of this endeavor to train young people and expose them to new opportunities. We are confident that the cadets chosen possess the steely determination and focus to survive in the Antarctic.

“The knowledge acquired from this cold journey will benefit South Africa’s fast growing maritime sector and the entire world.

“It is through such initiatives that we aim to fight the plague of unemployment, create awareness about our oceans and help contribute towards our oceans economy,” said Mr Tilayi.

Captain Pieters, an experienced seaman with almost 46 years under his belt working on various vessels, said the cadets were enthusiastic and keen.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for these young people – a trip like this would normally cost over $50 000, and they are being afforded this opportunity to learn under some of the most trying conditions. Between the other training officer and I we are honored to pass on our expertise and knowledge.

“It takes guts of steel to be away from your family and loved ones. For this group, this journey is new to them, and it would come with many new experiences, including building team spirit,” said Capt Pieters.

End

 

Cape maritime high school pupils drive Professor Jansen to ‘tears’!

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Glowing in Glory: South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi (Right) and Chief Human Capital Officer, Ms Lesego Mashishi and two other officials posing for a pic with 14 Lawhill Maritime High School pupils supported by the organisation during Wednesday night’s 2017 annual awards ceremony in Simonstown.

Cape Town: 13 October 2017

The eloquence and apparent sheer constant focus of a group of maritime high school children at an awards ceremony held at the quaint Western Cape town of Simonstown last night drove renowned South African academic and author, Professor Jonathan Jansen into tears, literally.

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Professor Jonathan Jansen presenting an award to one of Lawhill High School achievers at an annual awards presentation ceremony at the high school in Simonstown on Thursday evening

And by his own admission, Prof Jansen, a former Vice-Rector of the University of the Free State, committed to sharing publicly the moving experience of his encounter with the group of children on Thursday evening. He’d tell it all in his regular national newspaper column due next Thursday, he said.

Prof Jansen, generally known for his outspokenness on especially educational matters in South Africa, was the guest speaker at a Lawhill Maritime High School annual awards presentation ceremony – an event during which the school’s top performing pupils are rewarded with a range of scholarship awards, some for continuance at the high school, others for near future advanced education at tertiary level, while the rest are for pure personal recognition.

The annual event at the hill side school overlooking the South African Navy naval base at the Simonstown harbour below, also presents the pupils an opportunity to reflect on their school related experiences during a given school year period.

Among these are their oft sojourns out of the classroom into the world of maritime sector transport in South Africa and abroad, courtesy of a range of sponsors and other supporters of the school in its ongoing maritime education endeavors.

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Paying attention: Former Lawhill Maritime High School head, Mr Brian Ingpen (Second Right) flanked by the school’s Principal, Mrs Jean Human (Right) and past student and now a Third Engineer with the Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ms Blondie Jobela (Left).

At Thursday night’s event, true to form, Prof Jansen – clearly highly impressed by the evident sharpness of the group of pupils that made presentations during the function, as well as their high level of achievements in various aspects of their school life as reflected by their range of awards – was both highly grateful for their performance but also scathing towards the country’s general education authorities for what he described as the ‘dumbing down’ of children’s intelligence and consequently, their potential.

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Driving a Professor to Tears: Professor Jonathan Jansen (Front Left), almost in tears while seated with some of the school’s pupils, listening attentively to one of them giving testimony about their enjoyment of their maritime studies and about the appreciated support they get from the school.

Prof Jansen said the country’s education authorities’ attitude was that the country’s school going children were not really expected to achieve much academically hence the lowered levels of pass marks, to as low as 20%, in crucial subjects such as mathematics.

“The biggest problem we have as South Africans is that they mess with your head! They told you can pass with 30%. You know what they did last year, your Government? They said they would condone the entire Grade 8 class last year with a pass mark of 20%”

“Thank goodness that black people can’t blush! I blushed. I was embarrassed. They were not talking about the children at Saxon and Bishopscourt. They were talking about you and me. The expectation of you is so low! You only just have to get up, dress nicely, write your name on a matric certificate and you pass, because the expectation of what you can achieve is so low” said Prof Jansen.

Sadly, he added that the low expectation was also prevalent among tutors at the country’s universities where the dominant approach was an emphasis on what students could not achieve rather than a positive focus on their potential and what was possible for them.

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Part of the crowd of people, among them sponsors or representatives thereof, attending Thursday evening’s Lawhill Maritime School annual awards.

Partly as a result of this condescending and demeaning attitude, some of the country’s best achievers globally, such as Elon Musk, a former Pretoria Boys High pupil and later the founder of American automaker Tesla and aerospace firm, SpaceX; have had to leave South Africa for places in the world where they were better recognized for their potential to achieve.

Prof Jansen said while overseas, he’d had an opportunity to meet a group South Africans who’d gone to make sterling achievements elsewhere, and asked them why they’d left the country.

“They said ‘Professor, here, people expect us to do well. They look at you and they see greatness.

“Young people of maritime I am emotional, because I am so proud of what I saw here tonight.

A highly animated and sometimes tearful Prof Jansen heaped praises upon the Lawhill Maritime High School pupils for their ‘go getting’ attitude, urging them to not only be constantly vigilant in the look out for emerging opportunities but to also grab them with both hands at the first instance.

On national unity and race relations, Prof Jansen also said  ‘old white people’ supporting the awards as well as other financial support to the school and similar institutions, should be welcomed as a benevolent, albeit, necessary gesture that is a crucial contribution by the previously advantaged to nation building, and an investment in the country’s youths.

To listen to Prof Jansen full remarks, Click on the video below.

 

More pictures from the ceremony:

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Time for talking about the importance of South Africa’s maritime economy is over. Let’s work on it!’ urges Transport Minister, Joe Masangwanyi

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Celebrating World Maritime Day 2017. Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi (Right) chatting with South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) officials, Ms Mapitso Dlepu (Left) and Mr Sobantu Tilayi (second left) and Port St Johns mayor, Ms Lindelwa Rolobile. during a lifesaving demonstration that was part of the day’s activities in the town of Port St Johns. Eastern Cape.

Port St Johns: 28 September 2017

The development of South Africa’s maritime sector is now formally in full swing under the banner of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative, with billions of rand of State funds currently being invested in particularly ports and related infrastructure.

DSC_1335.JPGHowever, now absolutely crucial is a need to ensure that all South Africans are on board and involved, and central to strategy is a need to both broaden and entrench fully education and skills development of especially the young, Minister of Transport, Mr Joe Masangwanyi told hundreds of people – among them 400 high school children – attending this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations held in Port St Johns, Eastern Cape.

Port St Johns, a little town settled in a picturesque area of South Africa’s Wild Coast along the Indian Ocean, midway between East London and Durban, was chosen by the Department of Transport for this year’s observation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) driven World Maritime Day on September 28 for a number of reasons.

IMG_6162Among these is that the town symbolizes one of the most under-developed areas of South Africa settled along the country’s 3200 km long coastline. It used to fall under the jurisdiction of the former Transkei homeland or Bantustan whose development was simply ignored by the apartheid government.

The town is now among coastal areas of the country earmarked earlier this year as part of a coastal and marine tourism initiative for a rapid development plan over five years beginning in 2017.

Port St Johns also falls under the O.R Tambo District Municipality which is home to former African National Congress president, Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo whose contribution to the country’s liberation struggle is being celebrated in 2017.

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Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi (centre in yellow jacket) and his deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga (in floral dress)  posing for a photograph with State officials and youths recently trained as lifeguards through a SAMSA driven marine skills development programme for youths of Port St Johns and the O.R Tambo District Municipality. The youths were awarded their certificates during the celebration of World Maritime Day 2017 held in the town on Thursday.

The World Maritime Day event held in the town on Thursday (28 September) was the second of its kind with an international maritime theme to be held in the region, the first having been the international Seafarers’ Day held in Mbizana in June.

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Some of the high school children from the O.R Tambo District Municipality region that attended Thursday’s celebration of the international World Maritime Day in Port St Johns on Thursday

Also preceding the event were a number of marine skills and related project targeting close on 300 youths from the region since June this year.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) driven initiatives included a Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) for youths keen on working on cruise vessels; a Corporate Social Investment Youth Skills project for youths keen on sea diving, life-guarding and related), a Coastal and Marine Tourism initiative aimed at facilitating infrastructure development and enhancement, job creation and entrepreneurship.

DSC_1280.JPGAt Thursday’s event, Mr Masangwanyi said these maritime sector related initiatives were a clear indication of Government’s expressed commitment to driving new investment into areas that are both underdeveloped and with great potential to contribute to the country’s economy through business investment and job creation.

According to Mr Masangwanyi, there is no longer a reason why populations of people living in the country’s coastal provinces (Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) should not be in the lead in the development of the country’s maritime economic sector.

Infrastructure development, education and skills development would be the key drivers for investment; he said.

 “Government has identified the maritime sector as an important sector of the country’s economy

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Some of the 400 high school youths who received maritime education and training guide brochures during this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations held in Port St Johns on Thursday (28 September 2017).

“Various ports across the country are receiving billions of rand in investment to enhance their capacity – facts of which will be fully revealed when President Jacob Zuma reports to the nation about the progress of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) in Durban next month.

“We are not going to leave behind Port St Johns. Among highlights of projects in the area is the expansion of the N2 and which will formally link the town of Port St Johns to increased road traffic between the major cities of East London and Durban. As much as R8-billion is being invested in the Wild Coast road construction project.

“The cabinet has approved the comprehensive maritime transport policy, it provides further opportunity for investment in the country’s maritime transport sector.

“This welcome development indicates that as a country, we cannot remain consumers of maritime services of other countries while we have such coastal heritage.

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Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi and deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga preparing to handover certificates to newly trained Port St Johns youths equipped with life guarding and deep sea diving skills.

“Gone are the days when our people are consumers. Now is the time that our people should also contribute to productions of services. Gone are the days when our oceans are dominated by big shipping companies from Europe, America and Asia. Now is the time that vessels should be owned and operated by South Africans and in the main, Africans.

“Through the maritime transport and manufacturing projects we will create between 40-56 000 job opportunities, whereby our people will be involved in maritime construction, telecommunication technologies and equipment manufacturing. These will contribute between R21-25-billion to the economy of South Africa. In order achieve these goals within the set timeframes, it cannot be business as usual,” he said.

To listen to his full speech (about 20 minutes) Click on the video below.

97 Eastern Cape youths due for send-off on cruise ships around the world.

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Port St Johns: 22 August 2017

A joint initiative between government, private sector companies and non-governmental organizations to not only skill but create job opportunities in the maritime economic sector will pay off for 97 Eastern Cape youths this week, when they are officially sent off to join tourism cruise vessels sailing across the world.

The 97 youths out of a total 128 that recently completed specialized training in basic marine skills under the Maritime Youth Development Programe (Eastern Cape) over the last two months, are to join MSC Cruises vessels in different parts of the globe.

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The Umzimvubi River Month adjacent to which Port St Johns is situated.

A ceremony to wish them well in their new venture into the maritime world is to be held on Wednesday in Port St Johns, an Eastern Cape town on the spectacular Wild Coast region of the Indian Ocean, midway between East London and Durban.

The joint partners in the MYDP Eastern Cape initiative include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, and Harambee.

More than half the youths due for send-off on Wednesday – some for their first jobs ever – are from the O.R Tambo District Municipality, and precisely Port St Johns; an area that is targeted this current year for a series of maritime sector related projects, primarily by SAMSA, for both maritime awareness and associated youth skills development and local community social upliftment.

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Port St Johns ‘2nd Beach’ the most popular among domestic and foreign tourists and the venue of Wednesday’s youth for cruise ships send-off event.

But perhaps crucially, the SAMSA inspired and driven MYDP’s impact in the O.R Tambo District Municipality occurs against the backdrop of a Government announcement last week that Port St Johns has been declared one of six nodes in the country to be targeted for an Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) marine and coastal development programme over the next five years.

 

In a statement last week, Department of Tourism Minister, Ms Tokozile Xasa said following to Cabinet approval earlier this month, the Coastal and Marine Tourism Plan would be implemented in a nodal or cluster approach that would prioritize destinations rather than individual tourism projects or products.

She said the identified nodes/clusters in the first phase of up to five (5) years) would involve five geographic areas encompassing (Node 1) Durban and surrounds and (Node 2) Umkhanyakude District including Umhlabuyalingana and surrounds – all in the KwaZulu-Natal province; (Node 3) Port St Johns to Coffee Bay and (Node 4)  East London, Port Elizabeth and surrounds – in the Eastern Cape province; (Node 5) Cape Town and surrounds  in the Western Cape province and finally, (Node 6) West Coast and surrounds in the Northern Cape province.

Meanwhile, regarding Wednesday’s event in Port St Johns, according to SAMSA on Tuesday, the successful placement of the 97 youths on cruise vessels worldwide beginning September 2017, is a major achievement as it exceeds an original target of 50 youths originally planned for the first send-off.

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Mr Sizwe Nkukwana. SAMSA Programme Manager for Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy Initiatives (Marine Transport and Manufacturing Delivery Unit)

“We are pleased that the EC project has been a resounding success. We completed the entire preparation process at the end of last week with MSC interviewing the final 128 candidates that successfully completed the training program.

“MSC Cruises has agreed to place 97 candidates in this year’s intake that starts from 1 September. This number far exceeds he initially agreed target of 50, which was our SLA with the client, Office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape. This means we exceeded our target by 80% or we had an 180% achievement,” said SAMSA Programme Manager for Operation Phakisa initiatives (Marine Transport and Manufacturing Delivery Unit), Mr Sizwe Nkukwana.

Mr Nkukwana along with some senior SAMSA management headed by Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mr Sobantu Tilayi will join Eastern Cape Premier, Hon. Phumulo Masaulle – MPL, Eastern Cape provincial government officials, local traditional leadership, officials of the O.R Tambo District Municipality at the send-off ceremony tomorrow, which will characterized by a colourful display of AmaMpondo cultural activities including dance.

‘’The time to work with young people, to alter positively their future prospects and fortunes is now. As an entry point it is good that these young people are getting this kind of exposure and opportunity, to actually work on cruise liners to gain that international outlook and experience.

“It is also important that we do not position to only take up the lower layers level jobs in the sector, but we must move to empower these young people to go on to captain these ships, to be the engineers and ports officials and so, in essence, we must strive to penetrate all sectors including scarce skills in the maritime space’’, says Premier Masualle.

The event to be held at Port St Johns 2nd Beach – notorious for some spectacular shark attacks these last few years – will be beamed live on SABC radio and television (MorningLive as well as on Umhlobo Wenene, Trufm and local radio stations).

The ceremony in three stages; a media session, a maritime exhibition and formal send-off, begins at 7am in the morning through to 2pm in the afternoon.

End

 

Port St Johns thrilled by SAMSA driven maritime youth development programme

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Pretoria: 24 July 2017

Port St Johns, a small coastal town along the Indian Ocean in the Eastern Cape, almost midway between the port cities of Durban and East London, is beyond itself with excitement over a series of programmes intended to equip local youth with maritime related skills and possible creation of badly needed jobs.

The multi-stream maritime related skills development programme also involving a degree of corporate social investment, is driven by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) along with partners including the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Harambee, as well as the Eastern Cape provincial and local municipalities.

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Port St Johns Tourism office block

The basic maritime skills development initiatives relate to coastal marine tourism in two streams; cruise tourism under a Maritime Youth Development Programme, and a Coastal and Marine Tourism and Youth Leadership path involving youth training in sea diving, life guarding, and related skills.

Training under the programmes began in early July involving an initial group of 50 youths in the cruise tourism stream, and about 35 youths in the Coastal and Marine and Youth Leadership stream.

The cruise tourism youth skills development stream, formally launched by SAMSA together with the Eastern Cape Government and Harambee in East London on 14 July, anticipates the placement of the youths on cruise vessels around the world by as early as September 2017, after which a second and third batches of youths will also undergo training.

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A group of Port St Johns youths sitting for an initial written exam as part of an assessment for inclusion in the basic maritime skills development programme

The other stream involving the 35 youths and involving the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, is also already underway with training, with completion also earmarked for August 2017.

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Some of the 35 Port St Johns youths who passed their first written exam to qualify for inclusion in the initial phase of the training programme

Alongside these youths skills development initiatives in marine and maritime related basic skills, is an assessment process of various tourism facilities in the area, inclusive of accommodation and hiking trails for possible assistance in promotion in tourism markets.

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Officials of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Port St Johns Tourism and the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board during a meeting in the town ahead of the start of the youth training initiative

The initiatives come also against the backdrop of Port St Johns, located in an area of some 1,291 km²  that falls under the O.R Tambo district municipalities, having been earmarked as the host for this year’s country celebrations of the World Maritime Day in the last week of September.

IMG_6188When once formally confirmed as host, this little town along the Eastern Cape’s 800km coastline – the second longest of the country’s four provinces bordering the oceans – and known more for its picturesque landscape through which the Umzimvubu River meets the sea, as well as pristine beaches and hiking trails that are a constant hit with domestic and foreign tourists alike, it will be the first time that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) driven annual event is held at a coastal town outside of South Africa’s major commercial port cities.

The staging of the World Maritime Day in Port St Johns in September according to the town’s mayor Ms Lindelwa Rolobile, may also just be the catalyst needed to draw more attention to the area’s potential for bigger contribution to the country’s maritime economic development currently pursued under the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative.  

IMG_6655The town quietly harbours hope for development of a small fishing industry launchpad. There are claims that it had been promised.

However, Ms Rolobile believes that in addition to tourism – in a coastal area also known worldwide for some spectacular shipwrecks over the years, including the sea cruise vessel; the Oceanos – Port St Johns can also be a hub for small to medium sea craft manufacturing.

An elated Ms Rolobile has described the much needed focus in the area by SAMSA as exciting and a long needed intervention particularly with regards youths skilling and possible creation of much needed jobs in an area of the country where youth unemployment is extremely high.

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Ms Lindelwa Rolobile. Mayor of Port St Johns

Speaking during the launch of the MYDP strand of the programme in East London recently, Ms Rolobile praised SAMSA for living up to a ‘promise’ it had made to the town back in 2012.

She also applauded the partnerships the organization has established with various other players in pursuit of realization of the socio-economic enhancement initiatives.

To listen to her remarks, Click Here.

Meanwhile, one of the youths from Port St Johns involved in the marine and maritime basic skills development programme, Mr Siphamandla Masikode, committed to making the best of the opportunities that were emerging for youths in his hometown.

Involved in the cruise tourism skills development stream under the Maritime Youth Development Programme, Mr Masikode said he considered himself lucky to have made it into the first group of 150 youths and hoped he would make it also in the first 50 who started formal training a week ago.

To listen to his remarks, Click Here.

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Marine tourism jobs boost on the cards for Eastern Cape: SAMSA

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East London: 15 July 2017

Marine tourism but precisely the cruise ships tourism subsector is set for a major boost in South Africa with the setting up of a sea cruise business partnership involving shipping group, Vukani Marine and an international operator, in Port Elizabeth.

An immediate positive impact would be the creation of much needed jobs on cruise ships for local youth, revealed Mr Sobantu Tilayi, chief operating officer at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in East London on Friday.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Chief Operations Officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) addressing youths at the launch of the Maritime Youth Development Programme for the Eastern Cape in East London on Friday

Mr Tilayi was speaking during the formal launch of a Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) for the province – a joint youth empowerment initiative between the Office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape, national multi-stakeholder youth empowerment outfit, Harambee; and SAMSA.

At its official launch at the port of East London on Friday, the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) linked project involved about 130 youths from the province who will undergo training in maritime related skills for possible deployment initially on cruise liners around the world.

This is the first marine tourism related initiative of its kind focused on the Eastern Cape Province, with the first batch of about 50 youths likely to be deployed as early as September this year.

Shipping group Vuka Marine is a joint venture between Via Maritime Holdings of South Africa and K-Line of Japan. It is the first shipping group to have its cargo vessels registered under the South African flag – the first of these, the Cape Orchid, flagged in September 2015.

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Some of the 130 youths from the Eastern Cape selected for training in a set of marine tourism skills related to cruise ships under the SAMSA driven Maritime Youth Development Programme during launch of the project in East London on Friday

Addressing the group of youths ahead of the start of their training programme in the next few weeks, Mr Tilayi, in the company of Eastern Cape Premier, Mr Phumulo Masaulle and some provincial senior government officials, Mayors and councilors of the Buffalo City and Port St Johns municipalities and others, said Vuka Marine in partnership with a Hong Kong based cruise ships operator, were planning the establishment of a training and jobs placement operation in Port Elizabeth.

The unnamed Vukani Marine partner according to Mr Tilayi, operates about 720 cruise liners mostly in the Caribbean, with a total crew of about  44 000 people.

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Mr Tilayi during an interview with national television and radio during launch of the Eastern Cape leg of the Maritime Youth Development Programme in East London on Friday. The entire event was broadcast live both on SAFM, SABCTV News, regional and local radio stations.

“They are setting up in Port Elizabeth so that we (South Africa) can have a slice of those job opportunities,” said Mr Tilayi, adding that one of the attractions that were drawing the initiative to South Africa was the country people’s versatility borne of the diversity of the domestic population.

He said South Africans generally spoke English which was the universal maritime language, and that South Africans generally interacted and therefore were more familiar with people of different ethnic groups – a characteristic also deemed as highly important in the maritime transport sector.

“That is the reason why the world is looking at South Africa producing the kind of people needed in that sector, “ he said.

He urged the youths to grab the opportunities emerging with both hands and work hard to profit from them not only for themselves but for the rest of the country.

For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks on the matter, Click Here.

Never should the Eastern Cape remain the backyard of South Africa’s economy

Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape provincial government applauded both SAMSA, Harambee and others involved in the Maritime Youth Development Programme initiative for the province.

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Mr Phumulo Masualle. Eastern Cape Premier

In welcoming the initiative, Premier Masaulle described it as an anomaly that the Eastern Cape province endowed with the second longest coastline in the country along the Indian Ocean – about 800km in total – yet benefited far less from its exposure to a maritime economy.

With emerging opportunities he said, it would be consistent with the province’s historical role of supplying labour to industries that its people should again emerge dominant in the further development of the country’s maritime economic sector.

Mr Masaulle urged the youth to set their aims high with a view to filling up and occupying any and all ranks available in the sector.

For his full remarks on the aspect, Click on the video above.

For more audio-visual coverage of the event, go to the Multi-Media page and click either on Photos, or Audio & Video, or otherwise, Click Here.

 

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Immense global economic role of seafarers greatly underrated: SAMSA

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Pretoria: 27 June 2017

An immense economic contribution made by a ‘handful’ of seafarers  in enabling seamless operations in global trade and the general world economy continues to enjoy less public recognition than it should, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

The apparent concern emerged at the weekend as South Africa joined the rest of the world in marking the annual international Day of the Seafarer that fell on Sunday (June 25) in recognition of the group of sailors estimated at about 1.5-million worldwide.

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Nomlacu village in Mbizana, the venue of this year’s South Africa celebrations of the international Day of the Seafarer organized jointly by the Department of Transport and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

The country’s event arranged through the Department of Transport and SAMSA and themed #SeafarersMatter, was staged at the Nomlacu village of Mbizana, some 65 kilometers inland northwest of the Indian Ocean, in the eastern region of the Eastern Cape Province.

Addressing about 700 guests, among them some 400 high school children bussed in from a number of schools in the district, as well as about half-a-dozen seafarers based in the port city of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal; Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer of SAMSA said seafarers worldwide  just did not seem to garner any public recognition for their massive contribution into global trade and economic development generally.

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Scores of Mbizana region high school pupils that attended South Africa’s celebration of the international Day of the Seafarer on Sunday

And this was despite the 25th day of June having been marked by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a day of global recognition for seafarers since seven years ago.

The purpose, according to the IMO, is to “recognize the unique contribution made by seafarers all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole.”

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Chief Operations Officer, South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

On Sunday, Mr Tilayi said: “I have argued that seafarers are the most under-celebrated careers, second to teachers. They are the most under-celebrated careers yet these people enable us to live life as we now know it.”

Addressing himself mostly to the youth present, Mr Tilayi outlined the nature and history of the South Africa’s maritime sector, the various careers currently available to choose from, as well as related socio-economic matters.

Mr Tilayi also explained the reasoning behind the staging of the otherwise seashore oriented activity in an inland rural location.

He described it as both about extending awareness of maritime sector careers to all South Africans regardless of location, but also to honour the birthplace of former African National Congress (ANC) president, Mr Oliver, Reginald Tambo in line with the country’s current year-long celebration of the liberation struggle stalwart.

For an edited version of Mr Tilayi’s 30 minutes address (it lasts about six minutes!) please Click Here 

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Liberation struggle veteran and former ANC’s Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK) senior official, General Zolile Nqose.

A lecture on O.R Tambo was delivered by one of his fellow UMkhonto WeSizwe (ANC’s armed struggle wing), General Zolile Nqose

Sailors nod for enhanced maritime careers awareness campaign

Meanwhile, half-a-dozen South African seafarers who attended the event were most impressed with the choice of this year’s Day of the Seafarer event at Mbizana, as in their view, sought to ensure that all youths in South Africa got real time exposure to maritime sector careers from professionals in the field they could easily identify with.

This blog, The 10th Province spoke to two of them, Mr Mnqobi Msane and Miss Sthabile Khambule, and below are clips of their views on this and related matters.

(For Mr Msane, Click Here and for Ms Khambule, Click Here

Education authority excited about his region’s involvement in maritime sector developments

This blog also solicited the views of a local senior provincial education official about his impression of the event held on Sunday. Mr Vuyani Mathwasa, said he was most impressed by the progressive moves towards incorporating his district along the Indian Ocean into the country’s Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) program.

Port St Johns and adjacent areas along the Eastern Cape’s coastline – the country’s second longest by province – would soon see skills development as well as beach and small vessel harbour infrastructure either installed or upgraded, he said.

To listen to Mr Matshwasa, Chief Education Specialist for the O.R Tambo Ocean District region, Click Here

Meanwhile at the weekend, the IMO also issued video message on the Day of the Seafarer 2017 event,  which was also shared in full at the South African event in Mbizana.

 

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