An occassional sight of cruise-liners at South African ports during this Covid-19 lockdown period – a most trying time during which national regulations currently disallow domestic ports call – should not surprise anyone.
According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a statement this week, far from offering the usual jolly rides across the oceans to thousands of leisure and entertainment seeking passengers, the cruiseliners calling at the country’s ports are returning home crew members.
SAMSA in its statement on Tuesday, reported no less than eight such cruise-liners calling on the country’s ports all to disembark dozens of their South African crew members, as they do to their crew members of other countries across the world.
Among these vessels were the Crown Princess and Island Princess which, according to SAMSA, called at the port of Cape Town on 16 May 2020 with close on 4 000 crew members on board between them, and about 100 of which were South Africans.
“The Crown Princess arrived in South Africa with 2 139 crew members, of which 30 are South African. The Crown Princess is used by the owners to repatriate crews stranded aboard their vessels and is due to proceed to other international ports in order to disembark other crew members.
“The vessel disembarked SA crew and SA medical team while in Cape Town, who have been on-board the vessel for some time and required to be relieved by a fresh crew.
All South African Crew has disembarked and special permission was granted for a fresh medical team to embark to allow for the vessel to meet safe manning requirements before it can proceed to another port. The disembarked crew was subjected to the local Covid-19 regulations and will quarantine for 14 days before they can proceed to join their families. The vessel also took bunkers and supplies, before it sailed on 16 May 2020.
“The Island Princess also arrived in Cape Town on the 16 May 2020 with 1 416 crew, of which 62 are South African. The vessel will disembark the South African crew before leaving Cape Town,” reported SAMSA.
Other vessels reporting at the country’s ports during this period were confirmed as follows:
ROTTERDAM: 800 crew members; 12 South Africans. ETA port of Cape Town, 18 May 2020.
MS Le Bougainville: Purpose; to replenish stores and take bunkers. ETA port of Richards Bay; 19 May 2020.
ZUIDERDAM: Crew numbers TBC. ETA port of Cape Town, 20th May 2020.
VEENDAM: 626 crew members; 49 South Africans. ETA port of Cape Town; 23 May 2020
CARNIVAL DREAM: Crew members TBC. ETA port of Port Elizabeth; 25 May 2020.
CARNIVAL LIBERTY: 1601 crew mbembers, 4 south African. ETA port of Port Elizabeth; 25 May 2020.
CARNIVAL ECSTACY: Crew members TBC. ETA port of Port Elizabeth; 25 May 2020..
CARNIVAL CONQUEST: Cew members TBC. ETA port of Port Elizabeth; 25 May 2020.
CARNIVAL FASCINATION: Crew members tBC. ETA port of Durban; 27 May 2020.
The organisation said: “SAMSA continues to work with the department of Transport, other government departments and government agencies to ensure that all regulations relating Covid-19 are enforced and followed by the maritime industry.
“These regulations, among others prohibit cruise liner calls into any of the South African Ports, any crew changes, any disembarkations apart from returning South African citizens or permanent residents.”
A Panama-flagged bulk carrier, the Top Grace, that was detained in South Africa last month after it was found to have thrown overboard two stowaways off the KwaZulu-Natal coast has been released, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The release of the vessel in Richards Bay on Thursday occurred accompanied by a stern warning to shipping vessels traversing South Africa’s oceans waters that they will be subjected to the fullest might of the law whenever found to have transgressed the country’s maritime laws.
In a statement in Pretoria on Friday, SAMSA said the release of the Top Grace on Thursday in Richards Bay was made after a thorough investigation, including a criminal prosecution of the crew, was conducted successfully by relevant South African authorities into the incident of a throw away at sea of two men by the vessels’ crew on or about 23 March 2020.
At the time according to SAMSA, it was alleged that the two stowaways had boarded the vessel “Top Grace” while it was berthed at Maydon Wharf in Durban on Monday 23th March 2020. They had climbed up the mooring ropes and hid in the bulk carrier’s chain locker.
The two stowaways, both Tanzanians, reportedly claimed then that after being discovered hiding on the ship, after it had set sail, the vessels’ crew threw them overboard with a make-shift raft, life jackets and some bottles of water. They told authorities that they spent two days at sea before washing out at Zinkwazi beach on the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Subsequent to that incident at sea, the vessel berthed at the Richards Bay harbour and was detained.
On Friday, SAMSA said the crew had since settled the fines imposed on it by a Durban court of law after it was found guilty of a criminal offence relating to the stowaways. Following to this, SAMSA also conducted its own separate investigation into the vessel’s possible breach of Section 9 (3) of the Maritime Traffic Act.
“SAMSA detained the MV Top Grace from 17 April 2020 – 23 April 2020 in Richards Bay in order to conduct an investigation into circumstances surrounding two foreign stowaways being forced off the vessel approximately three (3) nautical miles off the coast of South Africa.
“After the successful conviction of the Master and Crew for attempted murder, who were released after payment of a fine, SAMSA was then able to proceed with its own investigation without compromising the SAPS criminal investigation.
“The vessel was detained by SAMSA in terms of section 9(3) of the Marine Traffic Act for breaking innocent passage and causing prejudice to the peace, good order and / or security of the Republic. (Innocent passage is a concept in the law of the sea that allows for a vessel to pass through the territorial waters of another state, subject to certain conditions.)
“SAMSA appointed shipping lawyers from Bowmans to assist SAMSA’s surveyors with the investigation and to ensure a speedy conclusion. Under the Marine Traffic Act, SAMSA had seven (7) days following the detention within which to complete the investigation. A high tech investigation was conducted using sophisticated methods of data retrieval and analysis (including retrieval of deleted items) and a team of five (5) interpreters was employed to work around the clock to interpret Mandarin texts into English.
“Following a thorough assessment of the findings of the investigation SAMSA concluded that any further action against the vessel would not be warranted, save for the payment of a detention fine. The fine was paid on 23rd April and the detention of the vessel immediately lifted,” said SAMSA in a statement.
SAMSA further stated: “The investigation demonstrates that SAMSA will spare no resource in proper enforcement of its coastal state obligations and in the pursuit of its mandate of safety of life at sea, protection of the marine environment and promoting the Republic’s maritime interests. It is noted that in appropriate circumstances, vessels that commit crimes may be forfeited to the state in terms of certain legislation enforced by SAMSA.
“SAMSA would like to once again warn vessels sailing through South Africa’s territorial waters that any vessels found to have transgressed the national laws will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. SAMSA implores all vessels and ship operators to act responsibly during this period of uncertainty. Improper treatment of stowaways will not be tolerated in any circumstances.
Meanwhile, SAMSA further called on ships at the country oceans waters to not hesitate to call for assistance during this period of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“Should any vessel in South African waters experience difficulties of a humanitarian nature occasioned by Covid-19, this should be immediately reported to SAMSA, and SAMSA will endeavour to assist. The Covid-19 crisis is not an excuse to break the law. SAMSA will continue to assist and provide guidance to any vessel transiting South Africa’s territorial waters.”
With an increasing number of South Africans reportedly stranded at airports across the world, among these, South African seafarers mainly on board cruise liners, efforts are being made across various Government departments in the country to bring about effective action to their aid.
This is according to the Department of Transport (DoT) in a statement in Pretoria on Monday, expressing the department’s appreciation of the crucial role its agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is playing in the effort.
Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula on Monday said hundreds of South African seafarers caught up in the massive storm of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pademic while in service on cruiseliners across world, had been successfully assisted to return.
However, there were still as many as 130 others still abroad in countries such Brazil, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Ghana.
According to Mr Mbalula, various Government departments; notably DoT, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), Deparment of Health and SAMSA were closely working together to arrange the safe transfer of the seafarers back to the country.
This was in addition to SAMSA’s work, alongside Transnet’s National Ports Authority (TNPA), in the effective and efficient management of ship traffic along the country’s oceans, some of which sought urgent assistance at the country’s commercial ports for fuel and other supplies replenishments.
The DoT reported no less than 10 such cruiseliners, research vessels and related that had sought assistance at the country’s ports for replenishments since the closure of the country’s borders after the Government’s declaration of a State of National Disaster and introduction of a 35 day national lockdown in last month.
The stringent travel restriction measures imposed in South Africa and elsewhere led to a complete closure of all airports and the consequent grounding of passenger aircrafts globally in the wake of the outbreak and rampant spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic that had infected hundreds of thousands and killed tens of thousands in many countries .
One major cruise liners operator with a significant intake of South African seafarers, MSC Cruises announced shortly thereafter it had halted cruises globally for up to end of May 2020. A statement on its website read: “We at MSC Cruises have decided to further extend the halting of all our new cruise departures fleet-wide through to 29 May, in light of the continued extraordinary circumstances the world is facing in connection with the Covid-19 virus global health emergency.
“We have previously announced the temporary halting of all its ships globally through to 30 April. As governments across the globe have since further strengthened ashore public health and safety measures to protect local populations and contain the further spread of the virus, today’s decision by MSC Cruises to further extend this extraordinary measure aims to mirror and further support the effectiveness of such efforts.”
MSC Cruises further announced compensation packages for its South African seafares – “A voucher for the value of their current 2019/2020 cruise package, which they can redeem in the upcoming local cruise season in 2020/2021 Plus an on-board creditof $50 per cabin to be used on a cruise in the next local South African season 2020/2021″
On Monday, Minister Mbalula said he: “…wishes to commend the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for its continued work with Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Department of Health in implementing the lockdown regulations, as they pertain to the maritime sector.
“The regulations prohibit cruise liners from docking at any South African Port, changing crew or disembarking foreign nationals. The vessels are only permitted to replenish fuel, stores and provisions and disembark South African crew, returning South African citizens and permanent residents
“SAMSA, an entity of the Department of Transport, is also monitoring the repatriation of seafarers who are currently overseas and waiting for arrangements for their travel home to be finalised.
“To date there are currently about 130 crew members in Sao Paolo, London, Frankfurt, Italy and Ghana. The Seafarers are receiving assistance from their respective employers and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).
For its part, from as early as the second week of March, SAMSA, the country’s Registrar of Seafarers, announced special measures it would implement to facilitate for fast-tracking the speedy assistance of South African seafarers reportedly stranded abroad in a public notice placed also on its website.
Meanwhile, in addition to the half a dozen or so cruise liners and other vessels the country has had to handle during the national lockdown, DoT revealed also a list of those that were managed for Covid-19 infection.
The DoT listed these as including:
AIDAmira – docked in Cape Town on 16 March following a COVID-19 scare involving six AIDAmira passengers and two MV Corona bulk carrier crew, all of whom tested negative for the Corona Virus.
Arcadia – docked in Durban on 26 March. After COVID-19 test results came out negative for 13 asymptomatic individuals on board, the vessel docked to refuel and restock provisions, as well as allow six South African crew members to disembark and return home.
The Queen Mary 2 – docked in Durban on 31 March and disembarked six South African crew members, all of whom tested negative from COVID-19.
MSC Orchestra – currently working with the Department of Health to trace passengers following confirmation of positive test results for two individuals who cruised on 28 February and 16 March.
DoT said one vessel, a South African fishing vessel had its crew also quarantined in Cape Town as per regulations.
“The fishing vessel the CODESA 1 berthed in the Port of Cape Town on 11 April 2020. The Master and crew are all South African. The vessel has been out at sea, did not visit any other country nor port, and provides an essential service, but has been subjected to the 14-days quarantine period on-board upon return as per current regulations,” it said.
Following to concerns and consultations between Government, industry and affected parties, the Department of Transport has announced relaxation of some of the strict restrictions on maritime sector activities, particularly around the country’s ports.
The revised measures aimed at alleviating pressure on particularly trade goods movement and handling as well as personnel such as ships crews were announced by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a new Marine Notice 21 issued in Ptetoria on Tuesday, as approved by the Department of Transport recently.
In particular, the Marine Notice addresses such issues as crew changes at the country’s commercial ports, revised regulations on the management of cargo vessels as well as the loading and off loading of cargo, all of which faced tough measures before, some of which included an outright ban.
According to SAMSA in the notice, these tough measures had come about as a result of the spread of the corona virus (Covid-19) pandemic globally following its outbreak in China in December 2019.
SAMSA states: “On 23 March 2020, the President of the Republic (of South Africa) declared a lockdown, effective from 23:59 on Thursday, 26 March 2020, for a period of 21 days, to stop the spread of the COVID-19 corona virus until 23:59 on Thursday, 16 April 2020.
“In compliance with the lockdown, the Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) has sent out numerous communications on how the ports will be operating during this period.”
Following the revision of the tough restrictions since put in place at the outset of the national lockdown, SAMSA confirmed the following were now effective:
All South African ports remain open for port operations
Cargo operations will continue in all ports
Stevedore operations will continue in all ports and
All types of cargo will be allowed to be loaded and off loaded (and not just essential cargo).
According to SAMSA: “The Department of Transport recognises that there have been numerous instructions distributed by various entities, causing confusion amongst various entities, service providers and shipping companies. The Department of Transport would therefore like to clarify all requirements during the lockdown period as follows.
SOUTH AFRICAN PORTS
All South African Commercial Ports will remain operational for Cargo Work. These are Cape Town, Saldanha,Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Port of Ngqura, East London, Durban, and Richards Bay.
Following on the initial announcement by the President, there have been changes such as the enablement of the mining companies to approach their regulator Ministry on an individual basis and seek authorisation to continue operations, albeit on a limited basis.
Government has now decided that in the interest of ensuring a functional supply chain across all ports, that all cargoes will be accepted for loading and off-loading. Where possible, essential goods should receive preferential treatment over non-essential goods.
Transnet will be in a position to communicate which of its operations will be reactivated with the relevant customers and logistics partners.
Transnet will reactivate certain of its operations, these would be at a reduced level and not full capacity. The reactivated operations will be dictated to by the applicable regulatory framework, national priorities and contribution to the health of the economy and Transnet’s ability to deploy its resources, having regard to people safety, which is of paramount importance.
Transnet’s current priorities, in addition to all the essential services previously communicated, are: .
The integrated container logistics system mainly around the Port of Durban and the link to the economic hub in Gauteng – ensuring that the complex system remains efficient to enable the movement of priority and essential containerized goods; this includes the movement of non-essential cargo to City Deep, only for purposes of decongesting the Port of Durban, .
The heavy haul rail and ports export system from the Northern Cape to the Port of Saldanha; and .
The domestic and export Coal and other GFB cargo through the Port of Richards Bay.
All other specific approvals granted by Government, which are dependent on the rest of the South African rail and ports system will be considered on a case by case basis, and our ability to respond responsibly will be communicated directly to customers making applications based on Government approvals granted.
Customers are to ensure thatall applications and evidence of approvals are submitted to the Transnet Customer Nerve Center via email at email@example.com
Commodity managers and key account executives normally dealing with each customer remains the primary point of contact and channel of communication with all our customers.
The provision of Transnet’s service is subject to customers and their cargo handlers/siding operators taking necessary measures to protect Transnet staff who interface with their operations.
All port personnel (both Transnet, private stevedoring and any other category of employees) must have access to hygiene services, e.g. sanitation, soap and water which each employer shall cause to be provided together with standard operating procedures to ensure the highest hygiene practices.
This therefore means strict adherence to health and safety protocols will not be compromised. Customers must provide Transnet with the Business Continuity Plans (BCP) and update Transnet daily on the status of their employees.
Masters are to ensure that where possible the following standards are adhered to by the ship’s officers and ratings:
Social Distancing maintained (between 1-2 meters between persons) .
Crew to follow hand hygiene protocols i.e. regular washing of hands (20 seconds or more) .
Personal Protective Equipment to be utilised i.e. Face Masks, Gloves, Boiler Suites, Disposable Boiler Suits (where possible), Safety Boots, Hard Hats, Safety Glasses .
Any medical condition that develops during the ports stay are to be reported to Port Health immediately, focusing specifically on the following symptoms:
Consistent Fever (>38.5°C)
Difficulty in Breathing (severe cases)
If any crew member displays these symptoms, they are to be immediately isolated until advised otherwise by Port Health. Failure to comply may result in unduly delays to vessels in port or prevent cargo operations from continuing.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MARITIME NATIONAL JOINT OPERATIONS COMMITTEE (MNJOC) FOR THE COORDINATION OF THE MARITIME SECTOR DURING THE COVID 19 DISASTER MANAGEMENT
The Department of Transport has established a Maritime National Joint Operations Committee in order to coordinate the maritime sector for the period of the COVID 19 Disaster Management.
The MNJOC is linked to the National Command Council and comprises the following entities; Department of Transport, Transnet National Ports Authority, SAMSA and Ports Regulator
All queries related to the maritime sector during this period can be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Certain tough restrictions imposed on every aspect of life in South Africa on the basis of the country’s recent declaration of a state of National Disaster, as well as a three weeks population lockdown that began on midnight Thursday (March 26), as a response to the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, are constantly receiving reviewal, according to the Department of Transport.
For the maritime sector, one such strict restriction is that related to the entry and exit of seafarers and associated personnel at any of the country’s ports, which are virtually closed to all international trade cargo except that deemed to be essential supplies.
In terms of the new special rules, vessels dropping anchor at or near any of the country’s ports are not allowed disembarkment of seafarers and therefore not permitted to change crews, even if the seafarers are South African.
However, in a statement in Pretoria on Friday, Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula said that specific restriction was urgently being reviewed, this coming in the wake of an incident in Durban, where a crew of six (6) South African seafarers on a cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2 (erroneously named as the Queen Elizabeth 2), were disallowed disembarkment, according to the lockdown rules.
“These South Africans want to disembark and return home. However, our regulations do not allow crew changes at any of our ports, even if these are South Africans. The Queen Mary 2 is waiting for clearance to enter the port in order to refuel and take provisions. This is a matter we are urgently considering,’ said Mr Mbalula in Pretoria on Friday.
The confirmation of the reviewal came as South Africa ended its first of 21 days of a national lockdown in terms of a declared State of Natonal Disaster in line with a global scramble to ward off or limit the grossly negative impacts of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic now in its fourth month since its outbreak in China in December 2019.
As of Friday, the start of the national lockdown, South Africa recorded a rising figure of just over 1000 people found infected by the virus as well as confirmation of the death of the first person due to the pandemic.
The Health Ministry in a report on Friday gave a breakdown of the nature and extent of infection, stating that of the total 1170 people so far found to be positive of the Covid-19 virus, those hospitalised (both public and private) included 55 patients in intensive care units and three (3) in ventilations while 31 had recovered.
Of those infected, a total 4407 of those with whom they had been in contact had been identified and of these, 3465 successfully traced for their locations. The ministry also raised alarm that: “There is an increase in the rate of internal transmissions. Patients without a history of travelling abroad have been detected in many provinces.” – a situation giving justification to a clampdown n the movement of people between provinces and districts during the 21 day nationwide lockdown in order to prevent further infections.
Meanwhile, with regards the fate of seafarers, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), announced a raft of measures aimed at assisting the country’s seafarers.
The statement said:
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Republic of South Africa announced measures to combat the spread of the disease by declaring a State of Disaster and putting the country on lockdown effective midnight on 26 March 2020.
“The results of such lockdown is that all businesses are required to close doors except for those offering essential services. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and its stakeholders have been affected by the lockdown as a result only with essential services being rendered. As such, the services for seafarers which are rendered directly by SAMSA and/or its clients/stakeholders may not be delivered during the lockdown, viz:
No training of seafarers for short courses over the period, academic programmes may continue through ‘e-learning’ platforms
No assessments for seafarer certification will be undertaken during this period.
No eye sights test will be undertaken during the period.
The results of this is that seafarers whose certificates expire during this period are not able to attend re-fresher training whilst some are unable to sign-off their vessels. SAMSA has granted a general extension to all certificates expiring during the National State of Disaster as set out in the Marine Notice.
For this purpose, the production of the said Marine Notice shall be sufficient for Seafarers working on vessels trading within the South African Ports.
Seafarers working on foreign vessels may be required to produce specific individual documents expressing the extension of the certificate. To this end, seafarers and the employers may obtain such extension by completing the application forms below.
All extension requests shall be made using the form below;
Users are requested to download the form from the link above and not to share with other persons to prevent missing out on changes that will produce negative results or return incorrect information. The system requires that all fields be completed correctly to ensure that the correct information is distributed.
The South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) has set out guidelines on how management of sea going vessels falling within its scope of activities shall be dealt with, following the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid19), and which partly suspends some of its activities, such as ship surveys for a limited period of time.
The publication of two Marine Notices due for release this week, follows fresh on the pronouncement by the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula on Monday this week on steps the maritime safety agency will embark upon. That in turn came in the wake of South Africa President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa announcing on Sunday a National Disaster declaration aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid19 virus now rampant in just about every country in the world, from its outbreak in China last December.
The first of the new Marine Notices announces the temporal suspension of ship surveys, audits or inspection from this week until 30 March 2020. “As of 16 March 2020, all statutory surveys, audits and inspections will be suspended for a period of 14 days.”
The second notice; “serves to inform vessels, Masters, crew, passengers, ship agents, Stevedores, surveyors, Ship managers, Ship owners and all other stakeholders with additional information in order to manage any suspected outbreak of Covid-19 onboard a vessel in the best possible way.”
In the former notice (temporal suspension of certain services) SAMSA states in part that: “Recognizing that, due to the outbreak of the COvid-19, the industry is facing challenges in meeting statutory requirements stipulated in the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC 2006) and other relevant IMO Conventions, SAMSA has decided to provide guidance for dealing with the circumstances for example, extending seafarer periods of service onboard vessels, delaying periods for surveys, inspections and audits in a pragmatic and harmonized approach.
The agency then urges affected parties to read carefully the Marine Notice in order to ensure a clear understanding of its contents and how to enlist help when necessary.
In justification of the termporary suspection of services, SAMSA states: “SAMSA surveyors frequently travel to smaller fishing communities where there are no proper medical facilities in the area, other than a local clinic. SAMSA surveyors may therefore inadvertently spread the coronavirus to a local fishing community when visiting.
“Vessels operating from these communities, whose safety certificates expire before 15 April 2020, may request an extension on their safety certificates for up to 60 days, subject to change.
“In cases where Local General Safety Certificates (LGSC) are already expired, a re-issue of an LGSC will be considered on a case by case basis provided that the previous LGSC has not been expired for more than 60 days. To this end, payment for re-issue will need to be made.”
The Marine Notice then expands on the set of other services affected and provides guidance on how affected parties shall solicit and receive medical and related services under given sets of conditions and circumstances.
In the other Marine Notice, SAMSA provides extensive detail of measures currently being undertaken in South Africa to prevent the spread of the killer CoVid19 and arrangements, inclusive of contact details, to be utilised by affected parties in the maritime sector.
These also include recommended preventive measures against the spread of the virus within South African borders.
Key contact numbers being offered to affected stakeholders are follows:
Meanwhile, the outbreak of the Covid19 virus and its ferocious, insatiable and unstoppable appetite to infect large numbers of people globally at an alarming rate has put paid to South Africa maritime sector’s celebration of the return of the country’s sole cadet training and research vessel, the SA Agulhas, from its historic sojourn through the Indian and Southern Oceans, including Antarctic this week.
Make history of the SA Agulhas’ journey to the ocean region this time around, and which began on its departure on 27 December 2019 from Cape Town, was part of its all female crew of 22 cadets and two female training officers – the first of its kind ever to undertake the journey, along with a group of Indian scientists periodical studying that part of the world.
The SA Agulhas’ historic all female cadet crew and training officers was scheduled to be celebrated during a now cancelled event scheduled for East London, one of South Africa’s major coastal cities on the Indian Ocean, on Friday 20 March 2020.
Now with strict restrictions on people’s gatherings and precisely their close contact in groups, as well as other considerations related to current efforts aimed at prevention of the spread of the Covid19 virus, the reception will no longer take place, confirmed SAMSA in Pretoria this week.
The awarding of fishing permits for the first time ever to more than 4 000 subsistence fishermen in the Eastern Cape at the weekend, along with the launch of the province’s ‘Oceans Economy Masterplan’ marked a major positive economic turning point for one of South Africa’s poorest regions.
This is according to both the province’s government in Bisho as well as national Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy during a function to both launch the province’s maritime economy development masterplan – the first of its kind focused expressly on the sector – as well as the handing over of fishing permits to 53 rural community fishing cooperatives in Mthatha on Friday.
The 53 cooperatives with a total membership of some 4361 members, are part of a group of 78 cooperatives recently formed in the province representing as many as 5335 artisanal rural community fishermen now accorded long term fishing rights spanning a 15 year period.
They join 174 other communities in the country’s three other coastal provinces – KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and the Northern Cape – who are now official beneficiaries of an amended legislation four years ago that formally recognised fishing needs and rights of subsistence fishing communities in the country’s rural coastal areas.
“Today is a special day in the history of the long, long struggle of traditional small fishermen and women. Today is the day we formally hand over 15 year fishing rights to over 4361 individuals organised into 53 cooperatives in the Oliver Tambo, Alfred Ndzo and Amatole Municipalities.
“This is the largest group of small fishermen and women to have ever been given rights anywhere in our country. Today is, indeed, a day to celebrate,” said Ms Creecy during the occasion.
According to Ms Creecy, this will benefit no less 14 000 members of rural communities members with a food resource, but also an opportunity for business. She added: “The rights being handed over today are free of charge. Coperatives are exempted from paying any fees for the next three seasons.”
In terms of the rights accorded, the rural community fishermen in the area will be allowed to harvest with immediate effect an assortment of fish species ranging from East Coast rock lobster, mussels, seaweed, hake to sardines and some other.
However, the harvesting of some of the allocated fish species will depend on the intended end-utilisation, between self consumption or commercial sales by the cooperatives. In addition, the newly righted rural community cooperatives, in terms of fish harvesting, will be assisted with as many as 20 fishing vessels, to be used interchangebly among them pending a formal promised allocation of commercial fishing rights in the 2021 fishing season.
Ahead of the fishing vessels allocation this year, as budding businesses, the cooperatives will also be assisted with business and financial management training and support through agencies under the Department of Small Business Development as well as the National Skills Fund.
Said Ms Creecy: “The Eastern Cape, as we all know, is blessed with over 800 kilometres of a coastline. Across the world, more and more nations recognise the role our oceans can play in combating poverty, unemployment and creating inclusive growth and jobs in parts of the world where land is overcrowded and degraded.
“Our country in one of many African countries to adopt an oceans economy strategy following the decision by the African Union in 2015 to launch the African Intergrated Maritime Strategy by declaring the following 10 years to 2025 ‘the decade of the African seas’.
“This strategy recognised that African nations rely on the ocean for trade, transport, energy, food, tourism, recreation, and many other goods and services. This means our oceans must be managed responsiblly and cooperatively for the benefit of all African countries.
“Here in OR Tambo, Alfred Ndzo and Amatole District municipalities, the oceans economy masterplan aims to assist our people to take advantage of this unique natural resource by developing infrastructure of both small harbours, promoting tourism by improving facilities include beach access, safety, recreational areas and nature reserves,” she said.
For Ms Creecy’s full remarks, click on the video below
Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape government, represented by MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Ms Nomakhosaza Meth, described both the handing over of the fishing rights to rural community artisanal fishermen and the launch of the province’s historical ‘Oceans Economy Masterplan’ as a culmination of efforts emanating from the country’s ‘Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy)’ initiative launched in 2014, as well as the provincial government in partnership with stakeholders’ efforts aimed at capitalising on the province’s coastal location, towards enhancement of the region’s economic development.
Over the next 18 years, the province’s plan, developed with the assistance of the Nelson Mandela University, hopes to create no less than 1.8-million jobs deriving from investment projects across nine (9) prioritised subsectors of the maritime economic sector.
Thesr include marine transport and manufacturing, tourism, offshoare oil and gas, tourism, construction, renewable energy, fisheries and acquaculture, communication, desalination and related business economic activities.
“This event marks an important milestone in the policy evolution of the Oceans Economy policy trajectory as a product of an enduring partnership driven by the Eastern Cape Government with tremendous support from the National Department of Forestry and Fisheries and the Nelson Mandela University.
“The combined celebrations to launch of the Eastern Cape Oceans Economy Master Plan and the presentation of 15 years long licenses to the small-scale fisheries sector is a major achievement in the local development of the nascent Oceans Economy, indicative of the progress made through aligning of policy to practical implementation of projects,” said the provincial government in a statement.
According to the provincial government, the masterplan comprises four ‘centrepiece’ documents:
a Baseline Study offering “an analysis of the state of the oceans economy in the Eastern Cape and outline the rationale for the selection of catalytic projects.
a Research Agenda – intended to “enable decision-makers with reliable data updated information and empirical evidence to make informed decisions.”
a Strategic Road Map that “sets out the 20 year trajectory and implementation strategy of the Oceans Economy Catalytic Projects.”
a Bid Book – “essentially for mobilizing resources and attracting investments for financing the catalytic portfolio and funding Oceans Economy Projects.”
For more on this, click on the two videos below. (Please note that MEC Ms Meth’s remarks are entirely in the local language, isiXhosa).
The South African Maritime Safety (SAMSA) both applauded the development as well as pledged its ongoing support through standard services it offers in terms of its legislated mandate involving ensuring the safety of property and life at sea, guarding jealously against the degradation of the oceans natural environment through prevention of polution of the seas by ships, as well as promoting South Africa’s maritime interests.
SAMSA acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, among other things, formally announced the establishment recently of a SAMSA office in the Wild Coast town of Port St Johns.
He also reported on progress being achieved with the agency’s Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) which has already impacted that part of the country positively over the last three years through creation of hundreds of employment opportunities for local youth in the world’s cruiseliner business. He also spoke on the agency’s involvement in the country’s fishing vessels’ recapitalisation programme, as well as SAMSA’s rural communities maritime economic development programme which includes marine tourism development.
Fishermen’s welfare, be it in the commerical or hitherto informal subsistence sector. is primary to SAMSA’s objectives and goals and is recognised worldwide, hence South Africa became the world’s first country to both adopt and implement the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 188, in 2018.
As recently as five months ago, the country, an active member of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), hosted a week long workshop for five East Asian countries that needed assistance and guidance on the implementation of the ILO’s C188.
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks, click on the video below.
The staging later this year of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) World Maritime Day Parallel event in South Africa presents both the country and the African continent a major opportunity to not only showcase own advances in maritime sector developments, but also a business case to enhance economic ties.
This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) during a presentation to stakeholders of a report on the state of South Africa’s maritime sector in Cape Town this past week.
The SAMSA Stakeholders Dinner, held this year at the Cape Town Waterfront is an event staged annually on the eve of the country’s State of the Nation address by the country’s President in Parliament. In addition to the Department of Transport, attendees include some of the country’s leading figures across several subsectors of the maritime economic sector.
On Wednesday evening in Cape Town, SAMSA acting CEO Mr Sobantu Tilayi said the historic inaugural staging of the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel event from 27-29 October 2020, in Durban – involving no less than 170 IMO Member States – would appropriately draw the world’s attention to the country, thereby presenting it an excellent opportunity to showcase its own advances in the maritime economic sector.
However, with the Association of African Maritime Administrators (AAMA) also staging its annual conference in the country also during the same period, the events presents an opportunity for the continent to strengthen and enhance cooperation on joint programmes to build and widen economic opportunities in the maritime sector.
Mr Tilayi said one such aspect of emerging closer cooperation and collaboration among African countries was an agreement being worked in AAMA to align general regulatory processes, as well as harmonise standards for maritime sector education and training programmes.
Mr Tilayi also highlighted progress being achieved domestically to unlock bottlenecks that inhibit the expansion of the South African maritime economic sector as well as efficient and effective regulation.
These challeges included the thorny issue of taxation affecting shipping, delays in passage of crucial legislation to enable implementation of IMO’s regulatory instruments, creeping high costs in cargo shipments due to the introduction in January 2020 of the low sluphur fuel regime and others.
Mr Tilayi thanked the country’s maritime sector roleplayers and interested parties for their continued support of SAMSA and the Department of Transport, describing the established close relationship as vital to success with programmes to advance the country’s maritime economic sector.
The country’s Ports Regulator, Mr Mahesh Fakir also weighed in, sharing highlights of progress being achievined to enhance the performance of South Africa’s commercial ports.
For their full remarks, click on the videos below.
Also as captured in the video below, Captain Nick Sloane, a director of Resolve Marine Group expressed appreciation of the regular feedback by SAMSA to maritime economic sector roleplayers.
Global efforts to first restrict and then contain a worldwide rapid spread of the coronavirus (2019-nCov) currently causing havoc in China, where it originated, are now fully impacting shipping, with several countries including South Africa reportedly having implemented health measures that restrict the movement of seafarers whose ships have been to China recently.
According to shipping group, Wilhelmsen, “due to coronavirus, many ports have implemented safety measures for vessels coming from countries with confirmed cases of 2019-nCov, especially from China.”
This comes amid news that crew – as well as passengers – aboard some ships that have been to China are among a growing list of victims; the latest of these being a cruise ship, the Diamond Princess reportedly with more than 3 000 people onboard and some 130 of which have since been found to be infected.
The Wilhelmsen report, (citing a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, said 16 countries where the virus was confirmed include China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, United States of America, Canada, France, Germany and United Arab Emirates.
The report said: “Most often used safety measures involve quarantine stations, temperature screenings Maritime declarations of Health send (sic) by the Master of a vessel prior to its arrival, Free Pratique confirmations, identifying high risk vessels – which are vessels coming from China or other countries where coronavirus have been confirmed ad necessary for Port Health clearances among others.”
In a separate report currently tracking country ports responses across the globe – including a live map with regular updates – Wilhelmsen mentioned South Africa as among countries now with certain restrictions to movements of vessels originating from China.
The report states that South Africa currently has two restrictions; (1): ‘vessels whose previous port of call was China and (2): “crew changes etc for Chinese seafarers or those who embarked in China.”
In South Africa, on 30 January 2020 the National Department of Health issued a document named: “Standard Operating Procedures for Preparedness, Detection and Response to a Coronavirus (2019-NCOV) Outbreak in South Africa.”
The Health Department’s document states that while as at 29 January 2020 there had been no reported cases of the coronavirus in the country, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) would closely monitor the situation “and will test patients that satisfy the criteria for suspected cases, bearing in mind that it is influenza season in the northern hemisphere and the expected respiratory tract infections are common.”
On restrictions and containment management of risk at the country’s ports of entry, including shipping ports, the Health Department says Port Health Service ‘is the first line of defence to protect citizens of South Africa and visitors against the health risks associated with border movement of people, conveyances, baggage, cargo shipments and other imported consignments.
“It is thus vital for all points of entry to be on the alert and (be) prepared to respond to possible importation of a communicable disease, whether intentional or unintentional.”
To this end, the document offers a set of ‘standard operating procedures’ (that) “detail measures that must be implemented by port health officials in preventing and responding to a suspected case of EVD.”
Screening measures include:
“Port Health officials must monitor all arriving conveyances from the affected countries and increase surveillance measures
“Upon arrival of the conveyance, Port Health officials must collect and verify the health documentation and interview the crew members/operators to determine if there is any sick passenger on board.
“In addition to the routine interview of crew members/operators, Port Health officials must ask crew members questions specific to signs and symptoms of 2019-nCov.
“If the Port Health official is certain that there are no sick passengers on board and all health requirements have been met, the passengers may be allowed to disembark.
“All arriving passengers must be channelled through thermal processes.
“Travelers found to have elevated temperature must be escorted to the Port Health clinic where available, for further examination and must be interviewed to determine their travel history
“Where Port Health clinic is not available, Port Health must interview the traveller with elevated temperature to determine their travel history, record the details of the traveller and if required, transfer the traveller to the nearest health facility. Finally,
“Travellers presenting with any of one these symptoms; fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain and have travelled to the affected countries must be isolated and arrangements made to transportation of the traveller to the nearest designated health facility.
In the case of known and reported cases by vessels themselves, the procedure involves the following:
“From an incoming vessel, a patient or others passengers (must) inform Captains/ and the crew must move the suspected patent to an isolated area, and the Captain must report illness to the harbour
“The Captain or vessel Clearing Agent must inform Port Health Officers
“The Port Health officers must contact emergency Medical Services and the designated hospital for patient referral, as well as notify the provincial and/or district CDC
“The Port Health officer must facilitate assessment of a passenger(s) and contact the vessel prior to their departure from the habour
“CDC coordinator must monitor contacts utilising information provided by the port health
“If close contacts develop signs and symptoms, they must be referred to designated health facility
Where cleaning and/or disinfection is required, the Port Health office must inform cleaning/handling company and monitor the process.
Health centres designated as “hospitals for managing 2019-nCov cases” in South Africa’s coastal provinces include the Greys Hospital (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal), Livingstone Hospital (Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape), Tygerberg Hospital (Cape Town, Western Cape) and Kimberley Hospital (Kimberley, Northern Cape).
Tracking down a set of stimulus packages earlier announced by government, and the revival of an inter-ministerial committee focused on South Africa’s maritime economic sector are among key issues to be pursued in the short term, according to Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Thembi Siweya.
This, she pronounced on at the end of a whistle-stop visit to the Eastern Cape this past week along with Public Enterprises Deputy Minister, Mr Phumulo Masualle, to make an assessment of impacts as well as identify gaps in economic and investment programmes under the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative launched in the area.
In their company were senior officials of the Eastern Cape government, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Nelson Mandela Bay local government officials, leaders of business, and others.
The projects visited included the fledgling bunkering services recently established off-shore in the precinct of the port of Port Elizabeth, the planned relocation of a fuel tank farm and a manganese ore dump currently settled at the port of Port Elizabeth, as well as energy generation investment projects currently underway at the Coega Industrial Development adjacent the Ngqurha deep water, also near Port Elizabeth,
The Deputy Ministers also utilised the opportunity of their visit to meet leaders of business in the maritime economic sector with direct and indirect interest in the operations, as well as aspiring and established small businessmen.
The visit took place amid varied concerns involving, on the one hand, groups of environmentalists in the area worried about the possible highly negative impacts of the new bunkering services to the environment, while on the other hand, small business fears of being overlooked for business opportunities now arising from the bunkering services.
Reporting on their observations after visiting the projects on Wednesday morning, Ms Siweya described the developments as showing good progress while acknowledging the challenges faced by some both in terms of concerns of possible environmental threats as well as difficulties faced by investors and business in general in the sector.
Matters of express concern raised, she said, revolved around poverty of legislation governing the new bunkering services, but also shipping especially terms of tax legislation, and the apparent absence of financial support and incentives to encourage investment in the sector. In addition, constant interaction between government, business and civil society to ensure proper alignment was crucial to success, she said.
Ms Siweya said the country’s maritime economic was among sectors identified under the National Development Plan (2030) as key to economic development and expansion and deliberate focus on it was necessary.
To this end, an inter-ministerial committee established in 2015 and which had since become dysfunctional would be revived, In addition, she said, it had become clear that there was a need for financial support of businesses in the sector in the form of a maritime fund.
In this regard, she said: “In 2018, the President spoke about a stimulus package, and there were departments that received stimulus packages. We are going to follow up on that to establish how far they are… what has been done with the funding.”
For Ms Siweya’s full remarks on this and various other matters, click on the video below.
Meanwhile, at the imbizo attended by no less 150 people at a venue located adjacent the Coega Development Zone, leaders of business in the maritime sector as well as aspirant business people wasted little time expressing their displeasure on numerous challenges which they face and towards which they felt government was failing them.
For a full perspective on the proceedings, invest time on the following video. It is about an hour long but goes a long way in depicting the exchanges as they happened.
Key highlights include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi (video: 55th minute) revealing for the first time in public, the enmvisaged establishment of a dedicated fund in the Nelson Mandela Bay to both fund expenses towards environmental preservation (in the case of an oil spill from bunkering services) as well as support small and medium businesses operating in the sector.