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

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

Pretoria: 17 November 2020

An investigation into how millions of nurdles came to envelope the Cape coast, from south of Port Elizabeth through George and nearby towns is currently still underway, while an effort is made to clean the coastline of the small plastic pellets.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a statement in Pretoria on Tuesday. This was a further reaction to reports last month of the discovery of nurdles across the southern Cape coastline – from Fish Hoek in False Bay to Plettenberg Bay and lately, along the Eastern Cape coastline.

(Video courtersy of African News Agency [ANA])

According to SAMSA on Tuesday, the source of the nurdles is still unknown but the agency confirmed that this latest incident is not related to the spillage that occured in KwaZulu-Natal in 2017.

“Authorities are working hard to address the nurdles recently washing up along certain regions of the south Western Cape coastline from Fish Hoek in False Bay to Goukamma Marine Protected Area and Plettenberg Bay.

“The nurdles are also reported to be washing up along the Eastern Cape coastline, the exact locations are still to be confirmed.

“The authorities, including, the Departments of Transport, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, local authorities, NGOs and volunteer groups have all been working consistently to clean up nurdles washing up on beaches,” said SAMSA

The organisation described nurdles as “… small plastic pellets used in the manufacture of plastic products. In the raw stage (pre-moulded and packaged) they are not toxic to touch, but probably shouldn’t be chewed given the unknown synthetics that make up the pellets.

“However, once released into the marine environment they have a high attraction to harmful substances such as land-based pesticides, herbicides, other organic pollutants as well as heavy metals that end up in the ocean. At this stage they are very harmful to life, especially to wildlife when mistaken for food.”

SAMSA said: “The source of the nurdles is not yet confirmed but an investigation is currently ongoing and being led by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). These nurdles are not related to the spillage that took place in Kwazulu-Natal in 2017.

“While the investigation into the source of the nurdles is being undertaken, SpillTech has been appointed to assist and conduct clean-up efforts along the affected sections of coastline. Spilltech will also be storing the nurdles collected through clean-up efforts and are working with authorities, NGOs and volunteer groups to identify collection points and arrange the pick-up of nurdles.

“The extent of the clean-up operation is significant and is anticipated that the removal of nurdles from the affected coastline will continue for some time to come. The authorities and NGOs look forward to working with SpillTech as the lead agent for the duration of cleanup-operations.

“Spilltech can be contacted on 063 404 2128 for information on collection points and pick up of collected nurdles,” said SAMSA

End

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

Pretoria: 09 November 2020

With Covid-19 entry restrictions still on for crossborder travels, the world’s yachting community will find relief in the special dispensation by South Africa allowing them to call into the country’s ports.

That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Marine Notice No.50 published on the agency’ website on Monday.

The notice titled: “COVID-19: Humanitarian Relief Project to Support Stranded Yachts to enter South Africa during Lockdown Period” dated 4 November 2020 states that, the implementation of the new measures is in recognition that Covid-19 restrictions in the maritime sector, particularly seafaring, have had highly negative consequences for sailors worldwide.

“The issue of stranded yachts has become topical in the past months and it is a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic that had dire consequences for the ocean cruising community. This community utilizes a wide range of yachts and small pleasure craft to navigate their way across the oceans and who primarily sail the world’s oceans as a way of life.

‘As a response to Covid-19, many countries around the world closed their borders and making it extremely difficult for sailors to proceed with their traditional sailing voyage along the Indian Ocean The current weather patterns along the Indian Ocean (are) posing a huge risk to yachts and sailors.

With these and related issues in mind, says the notice: “The South African government is continuously reviewing its processes and procedures to identify challenges within the maritime sphere during the Covid-19 Pandemic. As such, the government has found that there is a need to address the challenges faced by the yachting industry.”

In terms of the new measures, according to SAMSA, “Sou1h A!ica will offer a safe corridor and humanitarian services to yachts stranded along the Indian Ocean from 09 November 2020 to 15 December 2020.

“Yachts falling within this category must only utilise Yacht Clubs wthin the port of Richards Bay, port of Durban (both Indian Ocean) and port of Cape Town (straddles both the Indian and Atlantic Ocean). All yachts will be eligible to receive all services including stores, provisions, refuelling, repairs, maintenance and disembarkation of foreign sailors.”

The SAMSA notice further gives operational procedures on how relevant applications and related matters will be handled by the various government departments and institutions in conjuction with sailing communities organisation, with emphasis that: “these operational procedures are only applicable to yachts that fall within the humanitarian scope as outlined.”

End

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

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

Cape Town: 28 October 2020

There were sighs and clear signs of relief on the faces of both a group of seafarers as well as the handful of family members as the SA Agulhas II – the country’s most advanced polar research vessel – berthed at Eastern Mole 1 at the port of Cape Town on Monday evening with the seafarers safely onboard.

It was the end of a +5 000 kilometer journey for the 60 seafarers on board – 47 of them South African – who narrowly escape injury two weeks ago some 2600 kilometers deep in the Atlantic Ocean, after their Balize-flagged fishing research vessel, the Geo Searcher, sank within a mile off the Gough Island after it reportedly struck underwater rocks, quickly took water and sank.

The hair raising incident, and during which two of the 62 sailors suffered minor injuries had, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), occured in the late afternoon of Thursday, 15 October 2020, while the group of seafarers was sailing in the vicinity of Gough Island.

When the vessel reportedly struck the underwater rocks and rapidly took water, the seafarers scrambled onto safety boats that helped them reach dry land.

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

SAMSA through its Sea Watch and Rescue linked Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town not only first picked up the frantic calls for help from the vessel’s crew after it got into difficulty that Thursday afternoon, but also co-ordinated the entire rescue mission – working hand in glove with various institutions and State departments including the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), owners of the SA Agulhas II.

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

With Captain Knowledge Mdlase as Master of the SA Agulhas II, a week ago the vessel was dispatched to the Gough Island to fetch the stranded seamen and after initially battling with choppy ocean winds, it succefully reached and fetched all the seafarers for on boarding onto the SA Agulhas II for the 2500 kilometer trip to Cape Town, which ended on Monday evening.

From a SAMSA perspective, the safe rescue and return of the 60 seafarers (two more others were dropped of at Tristan da Cuhna) marked the successful completion of South Africa’s most biggest sea rescue mission in over a decade.

This is according to the head of SAMSA’s MRCC in Cape Town, Mr Jared Blows. In a brief chat on Tuesday, the morning after the return of the SA Agulhas II from Gough Island, Mr Blows said constant alertness and closer cooperation with various others institutions was key to the success of the mission.

For his views (+3 minutes) click on the video below.

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

Meanwhile, Captain Bengu described the rescue mission as having been relatively smooth, this despite challenging weather conditions initially on their arrival near the Gough Island last week. It took the vessel the entire four days to get there.

According to Captain Bengu, the rescue mission started hurriedly during the evening of Thursday, 15 October when he and his SA Agulhas II crew had to drop off in Cape Town a group of passengers that were onboard returning from a research mission, and had to rush back towards Gough Island.

“The vessel departed at about 11pm on Thursday and sailed full speed – at about 16 knots per hour – towards Gough Island, which took us about four days.

“Unfortunately when we got to the island on 20 October, the weather was unfavourable to conduct any flight operations especially with regards flying seafarers onboard. We had to wait it throughout the evening until we decided to call off the operation for the day. The following day, as soon as there was a weather opening – a two hour gap in the weather – a very brave helicopter crew took a decision to fly even as the conditions were not so good. They managed to bring on board all 62 seafarers safely and unharmed,” said Captain Bengu.

He said in addition to rescuing the stranded seafarers, the SA Agulhas II crew also conducted an environmental inspection for oil spillage around the wreck of the sunken vessel, the Geo Searcher.

Later upon departure from the island, the SA Agulhas first headed for Tristan da Cunha where it dropped two of the 62 seafarers after which it headed for South Africa.

“On our arrival at Tristan da Cunha, the Tristanians were very generous and donated clothing and food for the rest of the survivors,’ he said.

For Captain Bengu’s full remarks, click on the video below (+-4minutes)

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

He also described the 62 rescued seafarers as “most grateful and with full appreciation of the hospitality they received.”

Regrettably, this blog could not convince any of the rescued seafarers on Monday evening to speak on record about their ordeal this past week. This notwithstanding, several seemed happy to have made it back home in good health and were full of praise for the SA Agulhas II crew.

End.

SAMSA/ABSA lend hand to country’s push back against Covid-19 pandemic rampage

Announces poverty alleviation initiative for marginalised rural coastal subsistence fishermen.

Pretoria: 13 October 2020

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed plans to launch a corporate social investment and sustainability initiative in October aimed at alleviating reportedly increasing poverty among some marginalised communities within the country’s maritime sector.

Funded to a tune of R3-million co-sponsored jointly by one of South Africa’s biggest commercial banks, Absa, and supported by skills development services provider, the Moses Kotane Institute; the SAMSA CSI&S conceived and driven initiative will, according to the authority, target largely marginalised subsistence fishermen in three coastal provinces; KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.

“The collaboration which will be delivered in two phases will see both SAMSA and Absa committing R3- million to the project,” said SAMSA in a statement.

“The first phase which will be launching today and will comprise of the provision of immediate to near-term essential food support to communities in Mbizana and Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape and communities of Kwa-Xolo, Gamalahle, Ndizimakwhe, Umzumbe and Umdoni in the province of Kwazulu-Natal. Communities in the Northern Cape will be announced as soon as the interactions with the identified municipality are concluded.

“The second phase of the collaboration will see unemployed or retrenched local small-scale fishers and other fishing workersreceiving pre-sea training, skippers training and entrepreneurship training,” the statement read.

Absa, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed financial institution, is one of Africa’s largest diversified financial services groups with a presence in 12 countries across the continent, also with representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria, as well as insurance operations in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, employing approximately 42 000 people.

Moses Kotane Institute on the other hand, is a KwaZulu-Natal (La Mercy, Durban) based higher education institution founded in 2007 and owned by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, with evolving focus now precisely on research and development, innovation and technology, as well as maritime and economics.

The poverty alleviation initiative jointly pursued by the parties, says SAMSA, is a much needed and sort-after intervention in the maritime economic sector.

According to SAMSA: “The spectre of the novel coronavirus (Covid-10) pandemic both in South Africa and globally continues to hog the news media headlines worldwide for its unprecedented devastating effect socially and economically.

“So far in South Africa, about 693 000 people have been infected and close on 17 000 have died since the outbreak of the virus in China in December 2019 and its spread to South Africa since March 2020. But equally devastating has been the effect the rapid spread of the virus has had on the economy, with scores of businesses all across the board having had to close down or drastically down-scale operations, leading to more than 2-million people now left without jobs in the second quarter of this financial year.

“At the same time, within the maritime economic sector, at the periphery of this ongoing economic devastation are subsistence fishermen across South African provinces, who irked a living through daily toil of fishing for home consumption and negligible sales, and whose lives have since turned for the worst, as are now facing dire poverty largely due in part to the necessary yet unfortunate interruption in economic activity brought by the declaration of a State of Disaster that saw a national Lockdown at five (5) levels imposed by Government since March 2020.”

SAMSA said with South Africa faced by the dire situation, national Government appealed to all able and willing South Africans to contribute towards alleviation of this big poverty challenge.

“Against the backdrop, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has responded by putting together a Corporate Social Investment (CSI) and Sustainability driven project to directly alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on rural subsistence fishermen in the three provinces of the Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Northern Cape with basic necessities, including capacitating them with requisite tools to sustain themselves and their communities going into the future.

“The project, undertaken in collaboration with ABSA and Moses Kotane Institute (MKA) rolls out from 19 October 2020 and should conclude in the first week of December 2020.”

Of the collaboration with Absa and MKI: “SAMSA and Absa are also pleased to have the Moses Kotane Institute (MKI) this collaboration. The MKI comes on board as a delivery partner, particularly on the training side of the intervention. MKI is an internationally recognised research, innovation and maritime institution driving economic development in KwaZulu-Natal.

End

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

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

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

Port Elizabeth: 17 September 2020

South Africa’s state of readiness for oil spills at its oceans space remains a critical factor to the country’s effective management of its maritime and marine environment and remains a work in progress, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

The position was outlined during Wednesday’s 3rd webinar hosted by the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Initiative (GI WACAF) involving 22 African countries that are member states of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and global private sector oil organisation, IPIECA founded grouping.

For more info on the GI WACAF and Wednesday’s webinar background information, see the news story below.

To listen to South Africa’s full presentation at the webinar, which was made by SAMSA’s senior manager for Navigation, Security and Environment, Captain Ravi Naicker, please click on the image at the top of this article.

Please do note that the webinar’s entire presentation lasts about one (1) hour 30 minutes, and Captain Naicker’s presentation starts at about the half hour mark of the full webinar presentation, lasting about 20 minutes.

Port Elizabeth: 16 September 2020

Participants from 22 African (mostly maritime) countries including South Africa are to continue engagement on strategies for oil spills contingency planning during a day long webinar scheduled for Wednesday.

The list of invited country participants include Angola, Benin, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The Gambia and Togo.

The webinar is one in a series organised and managed by the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Initiative (GI WACAF) under the auspieces of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) jointly with cofounders, global oil and gas industry association IPIECA. It is the third since June 2020 after GI WACAF activities were momentarily canned due to the outbreak of the Covid-!9 pandemic in March 2020.

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

GI WACAF involves mainly African countries as launched by the IMO and IPIECA in pursuit of what the two organisations describe as “a shared desire to improve the level of preparedness and response to oil spills in the west, central and southern Africa region.”

GI WACAF states its mission as working “in close cooperation with relevant national authorities in 22 African countries, supporting them in strengthening their oil spill preparedness and response capabilities. By doing so, GI WACAF is contributing to a better protection of the marine and shoreline environment in the region.”

About the webinar on Wednesday acccording to GIWACAF: “This third live webinar of the series will be dedicated to oil spill contingency planning and will present the key aspects of contingency planning in preparedness and response to oil spills from different perspectives and viewpoints.

“For this webinar, we will enjoy the company of leading international experts from Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), the South African Maritime Safety Agency (SAMSA), and ExxonMobil Angola.”

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

Outcomes expected of the webinar include development of:

  • an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders involved in contingency planning (national authorities, oil and gas industry and other industries);
  • knowledge on the main tools used in contingency planning such as Oil Spill Contigency Plans and National Oil Spill Contingency Plans;
  • an understanding of concrete implications of the OPRC Convention; and
  • knowledge on the challenges and successes faced when planning for oil spills through case studies shared by the experts.
Captain Ravi Naicker. SAMSA Senior Manager for Navigation, Security and Environment

Confirmed among those scheduled to offer South Africa’s perspective on these matters is SAMSA’s senior manager for nativigation, security and environment, Captain Ravi Naicker.

Three other listed speakers are Mr Julien Favier, GI WACAF Project Manager and webinar host and facilitator; Mr Richard Tindell, a principal consultant at Oil Spill Response Limited a well as Ms Tania Augusto, a senior advisor at ExxonMobil Angola.

The webinar will be in two sessions, the first presented in French scheduled for 12 noon (11am London Time), with the next penned for 3pm (2pm London Time).

End

‘Every day is a Mandela Day’: SAMSA extends food relief to needy in North West

UPDATED: Wednesday 29 July 2020 [05.30pm]

On Wednesday, 29 July 2020 SAMSA delivered on its commitment to assist with food parcels those people identified as most in need in Maboloka village, in North West province as depicted in this short presentation.

Pretoria: 27 July 2020

Nelson Mandela Day 2020: SAMSA maintains its commitment to helping alleviate poverty among the needy. A North West community chosen for assistance

On 18 July every year since 2009, South Africans join the international community to celebrate Nelson Mandela Day, In South Africa by and large, people are encouraged to partake by devoting ’67 minutes’ of their time in offering assistance of one kind or another to those less privileged than themselves.

It is with that spirit that the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) once again – as it has done every year – joins the celebration by devoting some attention to those in need. According to a SAMSA statement in Pretoria this week, the targeted community this year is that of Maboloka village in North West province.

In keeping with the theme of Mandela Day 2020: “Each 1 Feeds 1” SAMSA says it has pledged part of its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) budget to bring relief to the community of Maboloka by donating food parcels to 150 families.

Maboloka is a rural village under the jurisdiction of Madibeng Municipality in the North West province, one of the country’s five inland provinces, with a population of approximately 160 000. Most of the families survive on social grants, with a high rate of youth unemployment.

The food parcels will be distributed to the community on Wednesday, 29 July 2020. In the endeavour and gesture of goodwill, SAMSA has partnered with a locally based Non-Government Organisation (NGO), The Youth for Survival; to assist with the distribution of the food parcels.

The Youth for Survival is a registered NGO headquartered in Pretoria and with a satellite office in the Maboloka village. According to SAMSA, the NGO has in the past participated in poverty alleviation projects.  On Wednesday, it will assist in delivering the food parcels to families in the area identified as most in need.

SAMSA Acting Chief Executive Officer Mr Sobantu Tilayi says the distribution of food parcels to the Maboloka community this year, is part of a broader project by SAMSA and its partners scheduled for rollout soon.

With this year’s celebration of the Nelson Mandela Day occurring under a dark cloud of a rampant Covid-19 pandemic across the world, and which is ravaging economies in an unprecedented scale due to necessary country lockdowns, the need among those less priviledged has become even greater.

“In the coming weeks we will announce a project that will see SAMSA partnering with institutions in both the private and the public sectors in interventions in fishing communities. We have decided to dedicate resources into long term and sustainable projects that will ensure effective poverty alleviation in vulnerable fishing communities particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic”, said Mr Tilayi.

Mr Tilayi further said that SAMSA’s involvement with the Maboloka community was indicative of SAMSA’s commitment to ensuring inclusive beneficiation of inland communities in the country’s vast maritime resources.

End.

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

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

Pretoria: 25 July 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAMSA File Photo

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

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

“The implementation of the strategy will also assist with:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAMSA File Photo

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

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

End.

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

Photo, courtersy of Vessel Finder

Pretoria: 22 July 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: (SAMSA File)

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

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

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

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

End.

Container ship under probe after losing cargo at sea in Algoa Bay during stormy weather: SAMSA

The MSC Palak container vessel. (Photo: Courtersy of Vessel Finder)

Pretoria: 16 July 2020

An investigation is underway into the loss of as many as 23 containers from a cargo vessel after the shipment apparently fell overboard during a stormy weather in Algoa Bay near the city of Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, earlier this week.

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the containers were onboard the MSC Palak, a four year old Portugal flagged container vessel with a TEU capacity of approximately 9411 containers that got caught up in heavy weather and swell seas while sailing in the Algoa Bay region of the Indian Ocean on Monday.

In a statement on Thursday, SAMSA said: “The container vessel “MSC Palak” sailed out Port of Ngqura at 12:00 on the 13th of July 2020 due to high winds and anchored in Number 2 anchorage to ride out the heavy weather. On the 13th and 14th of July 2020 a severe storm passed the South African coast, causing heavy weather in Algoa Bay.  The swell height measured in Algoa Bay was approximately 3.5m.

“At 23:37 on the 14th of July 2020 of a report was received from Port Control that the MSC Palak had lost containers overboard while at anchor.

“An initial assessment was that six (6) containers had fallen over board and that they had sunk, however at first light on the 15th, the vessel confirmed that in fact 23 containers were lost overboard.

“A fishing vessel reported at 08:00 on the 15th of July 2020, that they found containers drifting approximately seven (7) nautical miles south of where the containers were lost. SAMSA was informed  that no dangerous cargo was lost overboard.

“The Port of Ngqura was closed for vessel traffic due to risk that some containers may have sunk in the approach channel, becoming a danger to navigation. SAMSA is working with the vessel owner to ensure that all containers are salvaged.

“An aerial surveillance flight was arranged by the owners to locate any drifting containers that may pose a hazard to shipping. SAMSA requests the public to remain vigilant and report any containers sighted to SAMSA.”

End

South Africa eases tight grip of Covid-19 pandemic related regulations on global shipping and seafarers.

Pretoria: 07 July 2020

An appeal by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on Member States to find ways to facilitate greater ease of operation for global shipping amid the strife to effectively manage the spectre of the Covid-19 pandemic has found a kind ear in South Africa.

Among such steps taken by South Africa is the immediate extension of the expiration of seafarers certificates by no less than six months from June 2020 to 31 December 2020, or such other period as may be necessary and allowed, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

The arrangement is similarly applicable to vessels whose certificates are due to expire during to the lockdown, granted an extension of up to three (months) provided an application is made well in advance.

SAMSA File Photo

According to SAMSA, the concessions are contained in a correspondence submitted by Government to the IMO a week ago, outling the measures South Africa is taking to ease the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown regulations implemented since March 2020 in the country, and varinglyper time period worldwide, with major negative impacts on global shipping operations.

The newly introduced measures, outlined in even greater detail in circulars including an accompanying Marine Notice 34 of 2020 published last Thursday, 02 July 2020 are, according to SAMSA, in response to a recent call by the IMO on Member States to ease up on lockdown regulations to enable less interruption on global shipping.

The IMO call, with the full backing of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), found even greater expression during the global marking of the international Day of the Seafarer 2020, in South Africa and across the world on 25 June 2020.

“Shipping is truly a global industry and we need Governments to provide a global solution,” the ITF was qouted as saying.

According Mr Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary, as reported by the IMO, the workers organisation received emails from hundreds of seafarers daily, expressing their concern about contracts being extended under duress, amid fears that this would impact their ability to perform safe operations, thereby putting themselves at risk as well as the global supply chain and potentially the environment.   

In also calling for ‘leadership and action’, the ICS reportedly said ‘during the COVID-19 pandemic, ships, which fundamentally depend on seafarers, have continued to carry essential goods across the globe.’

Mr Guy Platten, Secretary-General of ICS reportedly said that ‘the number of stranded seafarers [was] currently 400,000, with 200,000 needing to leave ships and a similar number needing to replace them.’

In response to the IMO call, South Africa last week acknowledged and submitted that: “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the maritime value chain, including the ability of Maritime Administrations and the recognised organisations to deliver services necessary for statutory certification of seafarers and vessels. Furthermore, the issues about manning of ships, crew changes and search and rescue services are receiving necessary attention.

Immediate new measures South Africa confirmed to have introduced relate both to seafarers certification with respect to validity of seafarers certificates, medical and eyesight certificates and safe manning of ships; as well as ships certificates and surveys.

With respect to seafarers certification, the country states: “SAMSA has considered the predicament many seafarers and their employers are finding themselves in and have (sic) granted an extension until 31 December 2020 to any certificate that expires during the national lockdown and/or shortly thereafter.

“The masters, seafarers and employers must produce a letter for extension of their Certificates – http://www.samsa.org.za/Pages/Marine-Notices.aspx
Where appropriate, seafarers and/or employers may apply to SAMSA for the issuance with a specific letter to each seafarers in accordance with the applicable Marine Notice.”

On medical and eyesight certificates SAMSA grants that: “Medical Certificates for seafarers shall remain valid as issued. Under the measurers in place to combat COVID-19, medical practitioners will still be operating and seafarers will be allowed to visit the medical practitioner (doctor) for medical examination.

“Seafarers whose medical certificates expires whilst onboard a ship may continue to serve on that ship for three (3) months from the expiration date in accordance with STCW Regulation I/9.”

In respect of safe manning of ships SAMSA instructs that: “Ship operators must inform SAMSA regarding any challenges with seafarers holding foreign CoC with regards to revalidation and obtaining an endorsement to their CoC.

“SAMSA will not issue an endorsement to a foreign COC unless such certificate is still valid, except where there is a policy from that administration regarding the same.”

Regarding vessels certificates and surveys, SAMSA advises that: “Vessels which are subject to International Conventions (and) whose statutory certification are due for renewal, and there is difficulty with the attendance by a surveyor, may apply for extension of certificates by up to three (3) months. Such application shall be made within reasonable time to ensure continued compliance with all statutory requirements.”

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