Working on an imaginary major oil spill incident off the southern coast of South Africa, at a location some 78 nautical miles (144km) south of Mossel Bay, between 50 and 90 officials from various organisation across the public and private sector as well as non governmental, have been working flat out for two days on an action plan to effectively and efficiently manage the incident.
The ”Incident Management and Command Centre” is the Durbanville Community Centre – some 30 kilometres north east of Cape Town – where for four days, the South African officials have been undergoingextensive classroom type training on an advanced Incident Management Systems (IMS)300 module, conducted by a set of international oil spills management experts from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and IPIECA.
It is South Africa’s third such joint Government and oil and gas industry training exercise supported and conducted by the IMO and IPIECA under the auspices of the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI-WACAF) Project in conjunction with the Department of Transport, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the national Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) and various other role players.
According to IMOrg co-chairman, Mr Chueu Terrence Mabuela, the exercise is consistent with requirements of South Africa’s new National Oil Spill Contingency Plan whose draft legislation is currently before Parliament.
The training exercise currently underway in Cape Town this week is aimed at equipping South Africans with modern and advanced skills in the prevention of oil spills at seas, alternatively, providing them with advanced techniques in the management oil spills as and when they occur.
It will be followed later – possibly in about 24 months – by an actual exercise out at sea, utilising real materials, tools and equipment necessary to fully enable the various role players in oil spills management to display the skills so far acquired.
For Mr Mabuela’s full remarks in Cape Town on Thursday – the last day of the training – click on the video below.
Meanwhile, one of the experts involved in the training of South Africans in oil spills prevention and management, Mr Zal Rustom, Chief Executive Officer of Ambupar Response; has applauded the country for its expressed and demonstrated interest in preparing itself with the necessary skills in oil spillages prevention and management.
According to Mr Rustom, while incidents of oil spillages were decreasing significantly across the world, they were still a possibility that requires preparedness by all countries with access to the seas.
Equipping African countries with advanced skills in oil spillages prevention and management was also highly relevant in a continent currently with a huge potential for increased oil and gas extraction investment – with South Africa looking at potentially 30 such wells in the next few years.
As evidence, a recent report by the country’s Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) indicated that oil and gas exploration in South Africa was lead investment sector over the last five years in the country’s maritime economic sector.
In Cape Town this week, Mr Rustom shared his views and for these, click on the video below.
South Africa’s resolve to organise its state of readiness for the prevention of oil spills at its oceans as well as maintain an effective and efficient management system of oil spill incidents when they occur is again being demonstrated in Cape Town this week with the staging of an advanced practical training course in oil spills incident management, conducted by international experts in the field.
The training over four days this week involving about 40 South African officials – and the third of its kind in recent years – is being conducted on behalf of the South African government and domestic oil and gas industry by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and IPIECA international oil spill experts. It was organised through the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI-WACAF) Project.
It is a spin-off of and spill-over from last week’s GI-WACAF four day conference also held in Cape Town involving more than 20 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean’s east coast.
Spokesperson for organisers, Mr Chueu Terrence Mabuela, the chairman of the South African Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) under the Department of Transport, says the initiative is informed by the country’s National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP).
Its goal, he says, is to firmly establish and maintain a management system where “the right people at the right time with the best-suited skills and accountabilities’…are at hand to both prevent and manage oil spills at the country’s oceans.
“In identifying the potential impact of offshore oil and gas production, the critical issue of oil spills and their impact on the marine environment was raised. In the context of preliminary discussions which initially took place in 2014 during the Operation Phakisa ‘Oceans Economy’ collaboration sessions, it was clear that there was a need for a joint-government/industry response approach to marine pollution incidents in the maritime and oil & gas sectors.
“By adopting international best practice in incident management, South Africa is proactively preparing to manage marine pollution incidents effectively, ensuring that the appropriate resources and stakeholders are mobilised quickly – and important and timeous decisions made,” says Mr Mabuela
Captain Ravi Naicker, a senior manager for Navigation, Protection Services and Environment at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and co-chairman of IMOrg, says the training event currently underway at the Durbanville Conference Centre is the 3rd joint industry and Government national oil spill response exercise of its kind with an endorsement by the IMO.
According Captain Naicker, who had been central to organisation of the event, working closely with the IMO: “South Africa is fortunate to be part of the GI-WACAF, a project that sees the IMO collaborating with IPIECA – a global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues – to enhance the capacity of partner countries to prepare for and respond to marine oil spills.
Captain Naicker says central to the success of the training initiatives is the involvement and collaboration of both government and industry because all relevant national Government departments and authorities, local and municipal responders, pollution prevention, containment and clean-up organisations, as well as vessel and offshore installation operators need to be aware of their responsibilities in the case of an incident.
As such, regular oil spill response exercises – initiated and managed by the Interim IMOrg utilising the Incident Management System (IMS) – bring together accountable designated representatives from a number of departments and state institutions such as the Department of Transport (DOT), Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries (DEFF), SAMSA, Department of Minerals and Energy (DME), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), South African Police Service (SAPS), National, Provincial and Local Disaster Management Centres.
Others include the Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA), PetroSA, Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), Offshore Petroleum Association of South Africa (OPASA), Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF), various environmental Conservation Agencies, as well as non-profit organisations such as the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Industry role players in emergency response, oil spill response and marine operators, amongst others.
At this week’s advanced training in IMS300 module, participants are being prepared as team members for response management by the application of the IMS to the higher levels of sustained oil spill response management, including management of complex incidents involving multiple types of concurrent emergencies.
According to Captain Naicker, the course is a more focused look at IMS and a greater in-depth description of the roles under the various structures.
“IMS 300 is therefore a continuation of IMS 200 and thus IMS 100 and IMS 200 is a requirement. The course will provide participants an understanding of , among other issues; a greater technical and functional understanding of IMS, IMS Section functions, including the Incident Action Plan (IAP), completion and facilitation of the various IMS forms, and the roles and duties of the various organisational striations under IMS.
Course topics include management of expanding incidents, area command concepts, IMS organisation for multiple command posts, and sustained incident planning and development of multi-layered Incident Action Plans as well as resource management and demobilisation.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the trainees will then undergo a practical training in many of these issues.
Oil spills in the world’s oceans remain a dreaded possibility at all times whether through human handling or natural disasters, and preparedness for such eventuality by both industry and governments in concert are the key prerequisites for successful prevention or effective, and efficient management of such spills when they occur.
It was for that reason that, according to Mr Brian Sullivan, executive director of IPIECA (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association), regional collaboration, cooperation and teamwork between and among countries with coastal access was absolutely critical to oil spills combating anywhere at seas across the world.
This, he told about 100 delegates from 22 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean on the last day of their four day conference in Cape Town on Thursday, under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) led Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern African (GI-WACAF) Project.
Mr Sullivan’s organisation, IPIECA, established in 1974 with the encouragement of the United Nations Environmental Program, and now with about 65 member companies and organisations, describes itself as ‘the global oil and gas industry association for advancing environmental and social performance..and convenes a significant portion of the oil and gas industry across the value chain, bringing together the expertise of oil and gas companies and associations to develop, share and promote good practice and knowledge.”
IPIECA further describes itself as the oil and gas industry’s ‘principal channel of engagement with the United Nations,’ a position it says enables its members to ‘support the energy transition and contribute to sustainable development.’
IPIECA member companies include BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, Shell, Woodside and dozens others.
GI-WACAF on the other hand, launched in 2006, is a regional organisation of 22 African countries on the south, central and north Atlantic Ocean east coast, and was established to promote and encourage close collaboration between governments and industry to enhance oil spills preparedness, response and cooperation.
The GI-WACAF member countries, among them South Africa, comprise countries among which are signatories to no less than three conventions, such as the Abuja and Benguela Current Conventions – and all of which collaboration and cooperation instruments aspire to similar goals as the GI-WACAF.
For all of last week, bar Friday, delegates from the 22 African countries spent considerable time, both in conference at a hotel in Newlands as well as at an oil spill management demonstration site at a lagoon near Cape Town, deliberating over a variety of issues all aimed at strengthening their national systems for preparedness and response in case of an oil spill anywhere in their region.
The intended outcome, according to the IMO and IPIECA, both which directed proceedings of the gathering, would be a further two year agreement on an action plan of defined activities in the period.
Split in two groups by language – French and English speaking country groups – during working groups sessions, such a list of actions proposed to form the two year agreement emerged on Thursday, and would be consolidated and shared among represented countries by the GI-WACAF secretariat in due course.
The issues ranged from legislation, cross boundary co-operation to shoreline waste management and quite a few others.
In closing remarks, Mr Sullivan applauded the participating countries’ demonstrated commitment to the GI-WACAF Project, describing it as encouraging that governments and industry in the region, showed willingness and determination to work closely together in preserving the oceans environment integrity through prevention and combating of oil pollution.
He further noted that the compulsory implementation of lower sulphur oil for ships fuel in January 2020 by the IMO would present its own challenges to shipping and oil industries in general, but expressed confidence that through the established and sustained healthy cooperation and collaboration between industry and governments, the challenges would be overcome.
Both IPIECA and the IMO, the latter through its deputy director, Ms Patricia Charlebois, also expressed gratitude to South Africa, precisely the Department of Transport and its agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for assistance with the conference.
For both Mr Sullivan and Ms Charlebos’s full closing remarks, Click on the respective videos below.
Meanwhile, in an effort to gain further insight into the IMO and IPIECA driven GI-WACAF Project – one of three across the globe – as well as glean an understanding of its significance to South Africa in particular, this blog charted to SAMSA’s key representative at the conference, Captain Ravi Naicker, For the interview, click on the video below and for his presentation to the conference, the next video.
Supplementary to the above, this blog further obtained a series of interviews with both IMO and various other delegates that attended. These will be uploaded as soon as processed.
Consultation and closer collaboration in the implementation of measures to prevent and combat oil pollution at the world’s oceans remains the key to success, delegates to an African regional conference of the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF), heard in Cape Town on Monday.
The advice was shared by industry chair of the GI-WACAF Project, Mr Rupert Bravery during the opening of the four-day conference, from Monday to Thursday, and during which a further two-year agreement on a regional action plan is hoped to be discussed and endorsed.
As many as 100 delegates from about 22 west, central and southern African countries are attending the bi-annual conference, now in its 13th year, and led by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in collaboration with hosts, South Africa, via the Department of Transport’s Maritime Directorate as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
Countries represented include Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
This year’s banner of the 8th conference of the GI-WACAF in Cape Town, South Africa from Monday to Thursday (28-31 October 2019)
According to the IMO, the main objectives of the conference are to address the challenges of oil spill preparedness and response in the region, to review the progress achieved since the last regional conference, and to highlight the benefits of the GI WACAF Project.
“The event will also be used to agree on a two-year action plan (2020-2021) to strengthen oil spill preparedness and response in the region. In view of the risks that these pollution events represent for the marine environment, it is paramount to foster cooperation between the countries of the region so that they can respond to oil spills in an effective manner. Cooperation with the local oil industry, a key aspect of the project, is also strongly encouraged,” said the IMO.
It added that the success of the GI-WACAF Project depended heavily on the involvement of the countries themselves.
In his opening address on Monday, Mr Bravery expressed pride and delight in the achievements of the GI-WACAF Project over the last few years, saying that consultation and collaboration, along with adaptability in response to changing needs of individual countries in the group were the hallmark of the success being achieved. For his full remarks click on the video below.
In her welcoming remarks, Ms Patricia Charlebois, deputy director of the IMO highlighted a number of achievements that were being made in efforts to combat oil pollution globally. Among these was the issue of compensation for countries affected by oil pollution, improving cooperation and collaboration between industry and institutions such as the IMO, as well as an encouraging increase in the number of women now visible in country representations such as GI-WACAF conference in Cape Town. For her full remarks, Click on the video below:
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula; Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane said South Africa was delighted to be the host of the conference as it would help enhance its own learning and state of preparedness for oil spills prevention and combating at a time when oil and gas exploration in the country’s coastline was increasing and other economic activities such as bunkering were taking shape.
Ms Taoana-Mashiloane said South Africa had embarked on an initiative called Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) intended broadly to expand inclusive economic activity at three oceans, inclusive of oil and gas based industries, this in addition to managing increasing ships traffic utilising the southern African corridor for transportation of trade goods between the east and the west.
The expansion in oceans based economic activity was leading to clashes between business, government and environmental groups which she described as unnecessary.
This notwithstanding, the oceans based expanding economic activity required South Africa to be at the top of its game when it comes preparedness for oceans environmental protection. For her full remarks, click on the video below.
Following to her presentation, this blog chatted to Ms Toaona-Mashiloane for further clarity on some of the issues she raised, inclusive of South Africa’s preparations for the inaugural hosting of the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel Event in the coming year.
She described the country as excited and looking forward with great anticipation to hosting the IMO’s biggest annual event in Durban for the first time in October 2020. Click on the video below for her remarks.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which has worked closely with the IMO over the past few months in preparation for the 8th GI-WACAF conference in Cape Town, said in addition to contribution to discussions on the planned action plan to be adopted for the next two years, it would be taking advantage also of the several experts in oil pollution combating attending the gathering to milk them for their knowledge while they were still in the country.
SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller said South Africa had experienced a few oil spills and it was to its advantage to draw knowledge and experience from other countries in order to prepare itself effective strategies to prevent and manage oil spillages at sea. For his remarks click on the video below:
There will be more conference news updates on this block in the next couple of days. Among these will be SAMSA’s Captain Ravi Naicker on the role of the GI-WACAF Project and South Africa’s involvement in it, as well as his presentation to the conference on South Africa’s ‘wish list’ for assistance by member countries.
The blog will try to capture and present here the reports of Tuesday’s two working group’s discussions on legislation, shoreline response and waste management and trans-boundary co-operation.
An envisaged reorganization and alignment of education and training in South Africa’s maritime sector is a welcome development, but role players would be well advised not to waste South Africans’ time with skills sets that won’t lend them jobs, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation was warned.
The warning came from the department’s head of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy), Mr Mpumzi Bonga while addressing delegates to a two-day conference organised by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) in Durban last week.
The indaba, in Durban on Monday and Tuesday, according to SAIMI, was organised against the backdrop of a realization that while the oceans economy in South Africa and the rest of the African continent was being probed anew as the future frontier of economic development, South Africa is inadequately prepared as it does not have the manpower with the skills to match present and anticipated future demand in the sector.
According to SAIMI acting chief executive, Mr Odwa Mtati: “In order to activate the potential, we need the skills to match the demand….”
However, Mr Bonga in an overview address of the overall performance of the Government driven Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) since launch in 2014, said investment performance had so far exceeded expectations, but it was simply not creating the number of jobs anticipated.
He said investment to date in the targeted maritime sector subsectors had risen to above R40-billion – about R9-billion above target – in the five years since launch of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) and yet anticipated job creation on the other hand, had only yielded less than 10 000 direct jobs – a far cry from the 77 000 jobs hoped to be created.
Even with indirect jobs accounted for, Mr Bonga said the jobs creation picture in the maritime sector remained dismal. The mismatch in growing direct investment and job creation by the sector in the five year period, he said, could be explained by the fact that the bulk of the investment generated to date had been by the off shore oil and gas subsector, directed largely at seismic surveys and exploration, which required very highly specialized skills and fewer people to perform.
Even so, he said it was barely an acceptable fact that the maritime sector in general, and specifically the targeted subsectors, were not delivering on the promise the launch of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) gave at inception.
“Continued implementation of Operation Phakisa reveals that we have attracted so far R41-1-billion and less than 10 000. The anticipation was to grow the GDP contribution by R171-billion and create a million jobs by 2033. Now, this is five years on and not the 16-17 year horizon that we used for planning.
“In today’s terms, we were supposed to have grown the GDP contribution by R32-billion this year, and created 77 000 jobs. If we look at a leniarity constant between investment made and the GDP we can happily say we have exceeded the investment that was expected. But can we say the same of job creation, and the answer is decidedly, no!” he said.
A star performer in investment attraction was the off-shore oil gas and MPG subsectors which were responsible for the large bulk of the R41.1-billion investment made to date. Laggards on the hand included the maritime transport and manufacturing and the tourism subsectors – the subsectors with the greatest potential to create jobs.
Part of the reason this was not happening, Mr Bonga suggested, was an apparent mismatch of skills with jobs requirements, coupled with very slow transformation of the sector in terms human capital population demographics.
“The reason I am bringing this up is so that we should sober up when we plan the skills development that we are planning for, and to remind us that as when we do what we do, we be mindful that we do not have the luxury of time, as the majority of people out there are becoming restless. There is no room for mistakes.
“Whatever skills we plan for, South Africans will not take kindly if you gonna plan to train them in skills that will not be beneficial to them, skills that will not change their material conditions, ” said Mr Bonga.
There is no gainsaying that South Africa geographically is, for all intents and purposes, a maritime country. But are South Africans a nation all at sea, without a single drop of water in sight?
This was one of the questions to arise at this past week’s two day conference organised by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) at the Durban International Convention Centre, and to which question a clear answer seemed elusive.
One strong view to emerge though, and stated without equivocation by one delegate from the academic sector, Ms Theresa Williams, was that: “South Africa may be a maritime country, but South Africans are not a maritime nation!” And this, according to her, has serious long term implications for a whole range of issues, but particularly maritime education and training.
Conference attendees, among them top academics, researchers, teachers, seafarers, heads of public and private sector companies and institutions, government representatives and associated came from across South Africa to Durban at the invitation of the Port Elizabeth based SAIMI.
For one and half days they’d discuss how best the country could effectively organise and manage its education and training of a future workforce that’s suitably prepared to develop and advance the country’s maritime economic sector in the 21st century and beyond.
South Africa’s maritime features include a country of 59-million inhabitants on a land area at the most southern tip of the African continent surrounded by a 3 200 kilometres long coastline spanning three oceans, the Indian to the east, the Southern to the south and the Atlantic to the west, with as much as a 1.5-million square kilometres of an exclusive economic zone, and possibly soon to be extended.
Through that corridor thousands of world trade vessels pass, while some dock at the country’s major ports. The seascape is also full of flora, fauna and other natural resources and whose responsible exploitation could contribute to expanded economic activity and wealth creation leading to jobs creation.
The indaba, in Durban on Monday on Tuesday, according to SAIMI, was staged against the backdrop of a tanking realisation backed by a recent assessment study that while the oceans economy in South Africa and the rest of the African continent was being probed anew as the future frontier of economic development, with a potential to generate domestically more than a million jobs and contribute as much as R177-billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the next decade, South Africa simply does not have the manpower with requisite skills to match present and anticipated future demand in the sector.
SAIMI acting chief executive, Mr Odwa Mtati said: “In order to activate the potential, we need the skills to match the demand….Notwithstanding inroads that have been made at post-school education and training institutions in recent years, SAIMI’s 2018 Oceans Economy Skills Development Assessment (report) for South Africa highlighted a potential mismatch between current skills being produced and the actual industry needs.
EXCHAGING NOTES: (From Left: Ms Sobantu Tilayi (SAMSA), Ms Theresa Williams (MAISA), Mr Pieter Coetzer (SAMTRA), Ms Lyn Bruce (Klaveness) and Mr Victor Momberg (TETA) listening attentively to presentations during the Seafarer Development session of the SAIMI conference in Durban
“The study suggests that while the supply of skills is adequate in numbers, there is a disconnect between the type of skills being produced and those required by the industry hence the need for greater industry participation in shaping outcomes of the skills production system.”
Mr Mtati said the two day conference in Durban on Monday and Tuesday, under the moniker: “Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence” would hopefully produce ‘actionable outcomes to strengthen maritime education and training.’
“This conference offers a collaborative platform for stakeholders in industry, academia and government to review current maritime skills supply capacity against future demand, and to consider collaborative and collective ways to address deficits in the current system and close gaps,” said Mr Mtati.
This was repeated by Dr Sibongile Muthwa, the chairperson of SAIMI’s advisory committee and Vice-Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela University that’s home to SAIMI, in her opening remarks of the conference, all contained in the video above.
Meanwhile, as the conference wrapped up on the second last day, Mr Mtati was upbeat and confident that the gathering had achieved some of its objectives.
In a brief interview as delegates dispersed, Mr Mtati said: “Our sense is that out of the many stakeholders that participated, there is an acceptance of the need for engagement in meaningful discussions. Going forward, one of the outcomes that we will pursue is the development of a collaborative model to ensure that all the voices are accommodated.”
Further, he said, there was a strong commitment made by some of the stakeholders to get directly involved in the establishment and implementation of solutions to some of the challenges identified. Click on the video below for his full brief assessment,
Parallel Session: Seafarers Development
The conference had been packaged in sessions, first a full plenary soon followed by two parallel sessions – one focused on seafarers development and another directed towards skills needs assessment for the off shore oil and gas sub-sector.
This blog, tagged along with delegates that engaged in the seafarers development session and below, it features all the contributions of the seven main presenters during the discussion.
The insights into seafarer development in South Africa were breathtaking in some instances as they were astonishing in another. Poor coordination in training and education, lack of funding and requisite infrastructure such as a ships for berths, a poor orientation of youths keen on seafaring and a general poor public awareness of the country’s maritime status, were among issues identified.
At the same time, major opportunities lay still for exploration and exploitation, and therefore much work lay ahead for those willing to put in the hours.
The videos of the main presenters are loaded below for a full perspective of the nature of the discussion. A video of floor contributors will follow soon.
Mr Sobantu Tilayi
Mr Abdrew Millard
Ms Theresa Williams
Mr Pieter Coetzer
Ms Lyn Blake
Mr Victor Momberg
Captain Ian Hlongwane
Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) headed the session giving an overview of the country’s seafarer education and training landscape, along with a brief history of the challenges facing the sector.
Mr Andrew Millard, CEO of Vuka Marine gave a shipowners view of the seafarer landscape in South Africa with focus much on employer expectations.
Ms Theresa Williams of the Maritime Academic Institutions of South Africa focused on challenges and opportunities facing academic institutions currently offering maritime education and training, as well as dwelt at length on the nature of the youth in South Africa currently keen on maritime education. Pulling no punches, she says it is truly an uphill battle. Do note that Ms Williams’ contribution is in two parts, in two videos.
Mr Pieter Coetzer, Commercial Manager: South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) shares an independent cadets trainer’s perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing the sub sector.
Ms Lyn Bruce, Project Coordinator at Klaveness Shipping also shared an employer’s viewpoint of the South African seafarer with specific focus on her company’s activity in contributing towards development of the country’s seafarers,
Mr Victor Momberg, Executive Officer of the Maritime Chamber of the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) spoke on the role of the authority and the need for Technical, Vocational and Education and Training (TVET) institutions to be enrolled into the maritime sector education and training network.
Captain Ian Hlongwane, Manager, National Cadet Programme at SAIMI shares SAIMI perspective on the conference.
The reduction and prevention of deaths of fishermen along South Africa’s coastal area is among key priorities of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and efforts towards this goal are beginning to pay off, thanks in part to strategic partnerships forged with like-minded institutions domestically and abroad.
One such partnership is that with the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) which has over the past year seen more than 1 000 small high tech vessel tracking devices acquired and distributed among particularly artisanal or subsistence fishermen across the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape provinces in order to enable them to quickly and seamlessly request for assistance whenever in trouble while out fishing at sea or on inland waterways.
The project known as ‘Project Oasis”, the first of its kind aimed subsistence fishermen, is being funded to the tune of R10-million by the UKSA and is operated by SAMSA. The UKSA is also working closely with the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in the distribution of the device.
A UKSA team of officials, senior director of UKSA’s Caribou Space programme, Mr Tim Hayward and UKSA’s International Partnership Programme Director,Ms Athene Gadsby, visited South Africa recently to meet in Cape Town with SAMSA and the NSRI as well as a community of fishermen in Lamberts’ Bay on the Atlantic Ocean coastline north west of Cape Town to conduct an assessment of the impact of the project so far.
It was UKSA’s first visit of the region since launch of the project.
Outlining UKSA’s involvement in the project, according to the officials, the South Africa project is among 33 other worldwide project (37 countries) funded through the agency’s International Partnership Programme’s UK£30-million annual funding for developmental projects.
They said the ‘Project Oasis’ focus was in the distribution of a satellite technology based identifying and tracking devices known as the ‘SAT-AIS em-Trak I100 identifier trackers’ for small boats (less than 10 meters long). The target group for distribution and utilization of the device were artisanal fishermen – most of whom were generally poor.
The aim, they said, was to support SAMSA’s efforts in reducing casualties among the country’s subsistence fishing communities and reduction in exorbitant expenses incurred during rescue efforts.
While statistics of casualties shared with the agency by SAMSA reflected a significant decline in the number of fishermen dying at sea over the past decade, they also showed that the most at risk category of people at sea were subsistence fishermen who generally did not have the safety and communication equipment necessary to summon assistance and be located quickly when needed. They are generally poor and with only small boats that were hard to locate when in difficulties.
Explaining the exact functionality of the fishing boat tracking and identifier units, the UKSA officials said the devices were designed to be tracked in near real time using a set of exactEarth’s constellation of polar and equatorial orbiting AIS satellites, thereby allowing SAMSA to gain an up-to-date location of the small boats with an up-to-date last known position.
The devices also provide an SOS button that transmits a distress signal when an incident has occurred thereby enabling rescuers access to accurate information about the location and situation of a small fishing vessel.
The device which has since evolved to include a locally manufactured solar powered one, at an estimated cost of about R5 000 per unit, is distributed to small vessel fishermen in South Africa for free.
In a three minutes video interview, Ms Gadsby spoke more on the project. Click below.
Meanwhile according to SAMSA’s head of the Sea and Rescue Centre in Cape Town, Captain Karl Otto who led a SAMSA team of officials in welcoming and meeting with the UKSA officials, revealed that the project had been beneficial not only to South Africa but also five other neighboring countries; Namibia, Mozambique, Kenya, Mauritius and the Comoros.
He acknowledged that the project was still at its infancy and was encountering challenges,d among which was resistance by some subsistence fishermen based on apparent suspicion that the tracking device was also being used to police their activity.
“The true and sole objective to is enhance their safety and in the process also reduce the huge costs involved during search and rescue. We’d rather rescue fast than spend more time search, and the devices addresses exactly that need,” said Captain Otto.
In a 22 minutes in-video chat at his office shortly after the meeting with the UKSA officials, Captain Otto explained fully about the project: Click Here;
Discussions between South Africa and Colombia to strengthen relationships between the southern hemisphere countries but especially to strengthen co-operation and collaboration on safety and security of their seafarers will continue from this week to next week, the two governments announced in Colombia on Tuesday evening (South African time).
Confirmation of the engagement between the countries on the sidelines of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) annual General Council Parallel Event held in Cartagena de Indias since Sunday, involving more than 120 IMO member States, came in the form of a joint communique crafted by the two countries’s ministers of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula for South Africa, and Ms Ángela María Orozco for Colombia.
In the statement, the two ministers indicated that central to their continued discussions this week, through to next week in Montreal, Canada, was the formalization through formal ratification of two cooperation instruments; a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and an Agreement for Mutual Recognition of Seafarers Certificates between South Africa and Colombia.
Montreal, Canada is the host of this year’s 40th Triennial Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization from 24 September to the 4th October 2019.
In the joint communique’, Mr Mbalula and Ms Orozco confirmed that:
“The Ministers of Transport of Colombia and South Africa, met on September 17, 2019 on the sidelines of the Parallel Event to World Maritime Day, under the theme “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.
“As part of the United Nations family, the Ministers welcomed all efforts made by the International Maritime Organization to strengthen coordination, build consensus, enhance cooperation and promote world peace, stability and development.
“The Ministers underlined the need to further strengthen South-South cooperation and advance our partnership to ensure the synergies to preserve the safety of life at sea and the marine environment protection through international mechanisms and instruments.
“The Ministers reiterated their commitment to work together to further the bilateral relation and cooperation on important issues discussed at the Parallel Event to a new level. To this end, the Ministers agreed to stand ready to expand mutual consultations for the conclusion of the current negotiations of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA). The Ministers also agreed that a BASA will enhance trade and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
“The Ministers also welcomed the interest expressed by both countries to negotiate an “Agreement for Mutual Recognition of Seafarers Certificates for Negotiation between South Africa and Colombia”.
“The Ministers agreed to continue these consultations at the upcoming 40th Triennial Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization that will take place in Montreal, Canada from the 24th September to the 4th October 2019.
“The Minister of Transport of the Republic of South Africa thanked the Republic of Colombia for hosting and making excellent arrangements for the meeting.
“The Minister of Transport of the Republic of Colombia wished all the best to the Republic of South Africa for being the next host country of the World Maritime Day Parallel Event in 2020.” Durban, on the eastern seaboard of South Africa side of the Indian Ocean, has been confirmed as the venue for the IMO inaugural event in South Africa in a year’s time.
Meanwhile, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) whose officials attended the IMO Parallel Event, also confirmed entering into an agreement with its Colombian counterpart, the Directorate of the Maritime (DIMAR), over a declaration of intent “to establish a framework for institutional cooperation on matters of mutual interest between the two Maritime Authorities.”
According to SAMSA, representing Colombia’s DIMAR at the talks were Mr Juan Manuel Soltau Ospina and for SAMSA, the agency’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi.
The draft of the declaration of intent between SAMSA and DIMAR indicates that the two organisations “within the scope of competence of the respective Parties, and in recognition of international instruments in which South Africa and Colombia are parties to and the international organizations of which they are members, the main areas and forms of cooperation that the framework would include are the following:
Safety of life and property at sea
Safety of Navigation
Environmental Protection and Prevention
Compliance and implementation of international instruments
Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula is among a host of senior government, parastatals and maritime sector officials due to descend in Colombia this weekend for this year’s International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) General Council parallel event – the biggest gathering of the United Nations’ agency’s Member States on an annual basis.
The World Maritime Day Parallel Event 2019 will be held in Cartagena, Colombia, from Sunday to Wednesday (15-17 September 2019).
According to the IMO, the World Maritime Day Parallel Event is hosted in a different country each year, providing “a platform that brings together important actors and stakeholders in the maritime community to discuss matters of mutual concern.”
The IMO says the event’s theme for this year is “Empowering Women” with focus on issues affecting maritime women that are relevant to the wider maritime community.
In South Africa, part of the reason for the country’s delegation’s attendance of the IMO event is because next year, South Africa will for the first time be the host of the conference – a development this blog wrote extensively about when the IMO made the decision fours year ago. Click on the link below for that story
Meanwhile, according to Mr Mbalula’s office on Wednesday, the Minister met with Colombia’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mr Carlos Andres Barahona Nino on Tuesday as part preparation of his visit to the south American country in a few day’s time.
According to a statement, during the meeting with Mr Nino, Mr Mbalula “highlighted the endless possibilities for job creation in the country’s maritime sector.”
The statement quoted him as saying: “As a country we can not ignore the plethora of prospects in maritime. We must strive to transform this industry and unlock the economic opportunities which lie dormant in the sector. Working with the over 170 IMO Member States, our goals will be attained.
The statement also noted that recently Mr Mbalula led a delegation to the IMO where South Africa deposited an instrument of accession to the Hazardous and Noxious Substances Protocol of 2010, and during which visit the Minister also facilitated the signing of the Multilateral Search and Rescue Agreement by Angola.
Among officials accompanying Mr Mbalula will be senior officials of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) who, the agency confirmed on Thursday, will use the opportunity to discuss and on agreement, sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the Mutual Recognition of Seafarers with their Columbian counterparts.
Where possible, this blog will strive to carry and share whatever news information flows from the event.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has once again given an assurance that South Africa will retain its status in the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) STCW Convention ‘Whitelist’.
The assurance was given by SAMSA acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi while addressing a gathering of members of the South African Institute of Marine Engineers and Naval Architects (SAIMENA) in Cape Town on Friday afternoon.
He’d been invited to specifically come and address the organisation’s members on the status of the country regarding the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (STCW Convention) since the near fall-out earlier this year after close on two thirds of IMO Member States on the list reportedly faced removal.
The incident in April 2019 sparked fears and concerns among seafarers, shipping sector and related marine and maritime professionals across many countries, including South Africa as it reportedly risked among other things, a massive loss of jobs and likely manning challenges in the shipping transport sector.
This was averted after the IMO soon corrected the situation following to a meeting with members States. South Africa, one of 129 countries listed, had been on the IMO STCW Convention ‘Whitelist’ since 2001.
On Friday, for about half an hour during lunchtime, Mr Tilayi outlined the genesis of the challenge with regards South Africa and outlined steps that were being taken currently to ensure that the country meets its periodic review obligations to the IMO’s STCW Convention on time for the next submission due in 2020.
Throughout the process, Mr Tilayi said the maritime sector would be constantly updated and occasional involved directly for its contribution to matters such as reviews of legislation and related.
While about it, Mr Tilayi also touched on various other topics related, inclusive of the current repositioning of SAMSA as a central professional maritime administrator instrumental to the development of South Africa as maritime centre of excellence by 2030 in line with the country’s National Development Plan.
He also touched briefly on the country’s need for higher preparedness to exploit new investment opportunities being identified, similar to the burgeoning shipping bunkering services in Port Elizabeth (a.k.a Nelson Mandela Bay) on the southern east coast of South Africa.
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks (27 minutes), click on the video below.