The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed an incident of the sinking of an offshore Luxembourg registered tug 1200 nautical miles of Martinique Island on which a South African seafarer was reportedly on-board.
In a media statement issued on Tuesday, SAMSA said the sinking of the vessel took place 60 nautical miles South-South East from the eye of a Category 4 hurricane storm named Lorenzo.
“SAMSA has received information that the tug, the Bourbon Rhode, sank on the 26th of September and that 14 crew members were declared missing. It has since been established that three (3) crew members had been rescued, four (4) bodies have been recovered and seven (7) were still missing. A search and rescue effort by the Regional Operational Centre of Surveillance and Rescue (Cross) Antilles-Guyane and other parties for the missing crew was currently underway.
“SAMSA has made contact with the owners of the sunken tug and is on standby to offer any support to the family of the missing seafarer. SAMSA continue to monitor the search and rescue efforts and to release information as and when it becomes available,” the agency said.
The reduction and prevention of deaths of fishermen along South Africa’s coastal area is among key priorities of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and efforts towards this goal are beginning to pay off, thanks in part to strategic partnerships forged with like-minded institutions domestically and abroad.
One such partnership is that with the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) which has over the past year seen more than 1 000 small high tech vessel tracking devices acquired and distributed among particularly artisanal or subsistence fishermen across the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape provinces in order to enable them to quickly and seamlessly request for assistance whenever in trouble while out fishing at sea or on inland waterways.
The project known as ‘Project Oasis”, the first of its kind aimed subsistence fishermen, is being funded to the tune of R10-million by the UKSA and is operated by SAMSA. The UKSA is also working closely with the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in the distribution of the device.
A UKSA team of officials, senior director of UKSA’s Caribou Space programme, Mr Tim Hayward and UKSA’s International Partnership Programme Director,Ms Athene Gadsby, visited South Africa recently to meet in Cape Town with SAMSA and the NSRI as well as a community of fishermen in Lamberts’ Bay on the Atlantic Ocean coastline north west of Cape Town to conduct an assessment of the impact of the project so far.
It was UKSA’s first visit of the region since launch of the project.
Outlining UKSA’s involvement in the project, according to the officials, the South Africa project is among 33 other worldwide project (37 countries) funded through the agency’s International Partnership Programme’s UK£30-million annual funding for developmental projects.
They said the ‘Project Oasis’ focus was in the distribution of a satellite technology based identifying and tracking devices known as the ‘SAT-AIS em-Trak I100 identifier trackers’ for small boats (less than 10 meters long). The target group for distribution and utilization of the device were artisanal fishermen – most of whom were generally poor.
The aim, they said, was to support SAMSA’s efforts in reducing casualties among the country’s subsistence fishing communities and reduction in exorbitant expenses incurred during rescue efforts.
While statistics of casualties shared with the agency by SAMSA reflected a significant decline in the number of fishermen dying at sea over the past decade, they also showed that the most at risk category of people at sea were subsistence fishermen who generally did not have the safety and communication equipment necessary to summon assistance and be located quickly when needed. They are generally poor and with only small boats that were hard to locate when in difficulties.
Explaining the exact functionality of the fishing boat tracking and identifier units, the UKSA officials said the devices were designed to be tracked in near real time using a set of exactEarth’s constellation of polar and equatorial orbiting AIS satellites, thereby allowing SAMSA to gain an up-to-date location of the small boats with an up-to-date last known position.
The devices also provide an SOS button that transmits a distress signal when an incident has occurred thereby enabling rescuers access to accurate information about the location and situation of a small fishing vessel.
The device which has since evolved to include a locally manufactured solar powered one, at an estimated cost of about R5 000 per unit, is distributed to small vessel fishermen in South Africa for free.
In a three minutes video interview, Ms Gadsby spoke more on the project. Click below.
Meanwhile according to SAMSA’s head of the Sea and Rescue Centre in Cape Town, Captain Karl Otto who led a SAMSA team of officials in welcoming and meeting with the UKSA officials, revealed that the project had been beneficial not only to South Africa but also five other neighboring countries; Namibia, Mozambique, Kenya, Mauritius and the Comoros.
He acknowledged that the project was still at its infancy and was encountering challenges,d among which was resistance by some subsistence fishermen based on apparent suspicion that the tracking device was also being used to police their activity.
“The true and sole objective to is enhance their safety and in the process also reduce the huge costs involved during search and rescue. We’d rather rescue fast than spend more time search, and the devices addresses exactly that need,” said Captain Otto.
In a 22 minutes in-video chat at his office shortly after the meeting with the UKSA officials, Captain Otto explained fully about the project: Click Here;
Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula is among a host of senior government, parastatals and maritime sector officials due to descend in Colombia this weekend for this year’s International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) General Council parallel event – the biggest gathering of the United Nations’ agency’s Member States on an annual basis.
The World Maritime Day Parallel Event 2019 will be held in Cartagena, Colombia, from Sunday to Wednesday (15-17 September 2019).
According to the IMO, the World Maritime Day Parallel Event is hosted in a different country each year, providing “a platform that brings together important actors and stakeholders in the maritime community to discuss matters of mutual concern.”
The IMO says the event’s theme for this year is “Empowering Women” with focus on issues affecting maritime women that are relevant to the wider maritime community.
In South Africa, part of the reason for the country’s delegation’s attendance of the IMO event is because next year, South Africa will for the first time be the host of the conference – a development this blog wrote extensively about when the IMO made the decision fours year ago. Click on the link below for that story
Meanwhile, according to Mr Mbalula’s office on Wednesday, the Minister met with Colombia’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mr Carlos Andres Barahona Nino on Tuesday as part preparation of his visit to the south American country in a few day’s time.
According to a statement, during the meeting with Mr Nino, Mr Mbalula “highlighted the endless possibilities for job creation in the country’s maritime sector.”
The statement quoted him as saying: “As a country we can not ignore the plethora of prospects in maritime. We must strive to transform this industry and unlock the economic opportunities which lie dormant in the sector. Working with the over 170 IMO Member States, our goals will be attained.
The statement also noted that recently Mr Mbalula led a delegation to the IMO where South Africa deposited an instrument of accession to the Hazardous and Noxious Substances Protocol of 2010, and during which visit the Minister also facilitated the signing of the Multilateral Search and Rescue Agreement by Angola.
Among officials accompanying Mr Mbalula will be senior officials of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) who, the agency confirmed on Thursday, will use the opportunity to discuss and on agreement, sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the Mutual Recognition of Seafarers with their Columbian counterparts.
Where possible, this blog will strive to carry and share whatever news information flows from the event.
Delegates to a five day conference of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU) Port State Control Committee in Cape Town wrapped up their deliberations on Friday with renewed firm commitments to strengthening co-operation among them in the implementation and maintenance of measures to tighten safety and security of the ocean they share in the region.
The IOMOU which began with only six member States back in 1998 and now boasts no less than 20 members of the countries in the Indian Ocean rim, with more – the latest being Qatar- due to join in, has become a force to be reckoned with in maritime safety and security, according to chairperson, Ms Beatrice Nyamoita.
Countries now already in the fold of the IOMOU include the host of this year’s 22nd meeting of PSC, South Africa, Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Eritrea, France (La Reunion), India, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen.
The IOMOU on Port State Control has its main function the establishment and maintenance of a harmonised system of port State Controls as envisaged in various instruments under the directive of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and similar such institutions.
The port State control system, according to the IOMOU ‘aims to verify whether foreign flagged vessels calling at a port of a State comply with applicable international maritime conventions.’
Key issues discussed at this year’s annual meeting in Cape Town included the organisation’s new inspection and detention regime, this against the backdrop of challenges particularly with regards human and financial resources.
This blog charted to outgoing IOMOU Secretary, Mr Dilip Mohretra, both about his pending retirement after 20 years of service to the maritime sector and eight years as secretary to the organisation, as well as the successes and challenges facing the India Ocean rim countries.
He expressed appreciation for the trust vested in him and confidence in the resolve of the IOMOU to pursue with vigour its programmes to promote and ensure safety of shipping and ocean’s environmental integrity in its region. There were challenges still to be confronted but particularly in terms of increasing the number of skilled port State control officers across the region, as had been tremendous success particularly with ensuring more countries commit to work together.
Although due to retire officially as secretary of the IOMOU, he felt, he said, energetic enough still to transfer back all the skills he’d acquired and continue to share his knowledge and experience.
For the 20 minutes chat, please click on the video below.
In closing remarks on Friday, South Africa’s Department of Transport expressed appreciation for the IOMOU’s choice of South Africa for the week long meeting as well as a venue for its celebration of its 20th anniversary.
‘In South Africa’s pursuit of a safer and cleaner shipping, the Acting Deputy Director General of the Maritime branch of the Department of Transport wishes to thank all attending committee members for their patronage and successful deliberations during the 22nd IOMOU meeting held from 19-23 Auogust 2019 in Cape Town South Africa
“Members can be assured of South Africa and its Department of Transport’s continued support and commitment in compliance to international commitments in ensuring our collective efforts in the jurisdiction of our ocean’s governance, port State control and safety and security,’ said the department in a statement.
It further reiterated the country’s support of Captain Thobela Gqabu (a South African Maritime Safety Authority [SAMSA] principal officer for the Southern Region based in East London), on his role as IOMOU vice chairman.
“May we also convey our best wishes to the outgoing secretary, Mr Dilip Mehrotra and welcome the incoming secretary,’ said DoT.
Meanwhile, this blog also took time out to chat with Captain Gqabu to gain insight into how South Africa’s involvement with both the IOMOU its Atlantic Ocean counterpart in the west, the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding, contribute to South Africa’s maritime interests.
He expressed the view that South Africa’s involvement and contribution is both in its own interest as well as the global community. For the 11 minutes chat, please click on the video below:
South Africa has been called upon to step up and increase its regional support of Indian Ocean rim countries in order to improve the general standard and level of control measures in place to maintain safety and security of the regions’ oceans.
The call has been issued by the chairperson of the 20-member States Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU), Ms Beatrice Nyamoita in an interview on the sidelines of the organisation’s Port State Control Committee meeting currently taking place in Cape Town over five days since Monday this week.
IOMOU member States represented include Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Eritrea, France (La Reunion), India, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen.
Also present are delegates from other observer States and organisation with similar status as the IOMOU.
The IOMOU on Port State Control has its main functionthe establishment and maintenance of a harmonised system of port State Controls as envisaged in various instruments under the directive of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and similar such institutions.
The port State control system, according to the IOMOU ‘aims to verify whether foreign flagged vessels calling at a port of a State comply with applicable international maritime conventions.’
There are no less than 12 of such IMO and related institutions’ conventions and protocols that inform the IOMOU’s port State control activities across the region.
In Cape Town on Tuesday, Ms Nyamoita said while the IOMOU block had made several achievements over the past two decades to both enrol as many Indian Ocean countries into the fold of the IOMOU, and to harmonise adoption of instruments for group of countries activities in promoting and maintaining safety and security of the region’s ocean area by preventing entry of substandard vessels into the region’s sea waters, sufficient capacity remained the major challenge.
She said because of the nature of the training programme required for inspection officers in member States, particularly the long duration and costs involved, many of the countries were unable to develop an adequate number of personnel sufficiently skilled to carry out necessary vessel inspections and surveys.
‘We have managed to ensure the development of standard procedures across the region intended to harmonise and establish uniformity of activity aimed at enhancing safety and securing of people and ships in our our respective ocean spaces. However, the greatest challenge currently facing IOMOU member States with regards port State control is capacity,” she said.
“Most of the member States cannot afford to train enough people. The training takes too long and governments budgets do not give priority to training people for port State control.
She said currently, the IOMOU relied on support from other MOU organisations across the world, but this was just not enough for development of a cadre of skilled officials required by countries in the region in order to meet their obligations.
Ms Nyamoita said South Africa on the other hand, however, had certain advantages that would be beneficial to the organisation, such as vast experience in maritime matters, as well possessing infrastructure in terms of its relatively higher number of ports in which to conduct vessel inspection. The vast ports infrastructure could be beneficial to IOMOU country’s skills development, she said.
“I’d like to encourage the government of South Africa to endeavour to train the port State control officers and to effectively take control of port State control activities in the region.
“We request that South Africa actually support… because we know that the country has more experience in the region…to undertake the training of port State control officers for countries in the region that are unable to do so themselves. In so doing, this will greatly assist in harmonising the training and activities in the region,” she said.
For Ms Nyamoita’s full interview (9.18 minutes) click on the video below:
Meanwhile, IOMOU Secretary, Mr Dilip Mehrotra presented his organisational report to the meeting on Monday. His presentation (about 20 minutes) is captured in the video below.
The IOMOU five-days meeting’s agenda this week is looking at a whole range of issues among which is an analysis of CIC on MARPOL Annex VI as well as development of guidelines for MARPOL Annex IV and Annex V for inclusion into the region’s port State control manual; port state inspections carried out by the maritime authorities, short term training programmes and a lot more other issues including the organisation’s online information management system.
This blog will carry more news information about some of these issues as and when such information is shared. Also lined up are two interviews with the IOMOU Secretary, Mr Dilip Mehrotra who is due to retire, as well as Captain Thobile Gqapu of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
Indian Ocean rim countries, among them being South Africa, are maintaining their resolve to collaborate even closer in strengthening oceans safety and security in the areas of their jurisdiction, it emerged in Cape Town on Monday.
Just over two dozen delegates from about 20 countries of the Indian Ocean rim region are gathered in the city for the 22nd Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU) Port State Control Committee five-day meeting that began on Monday and ends on Friday.
Represented countries include Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Eritrea, France (La Reunion), India, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Susan, Tanzania, Yemen and South Africa.
Also in the delegation are observers the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as officials from countries with similar memorandum of understanding on oceans governance and safety and security.
Led by its chairperson, Ms Beatrice Nyamoita and secretary, Mr Dilip Mehrotra, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) hosted IOMOU Port State Control Committee gathering in Cape Town is also an occasion to mark its 20th founding anniversary, and whose inauguration meeting was also held in South Africa in 1998.
In welcoming the delegates to the country on Monday, SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi said South Africa was highly honoured to have been selected as the host of the IOMOU on its 20th anniversary, describing the gesture as indicative of the trust and greater cooperation that had been the hallmark of the strong relationship that’s developed among countries of the Indian Ocean rim.
Mr Tilayi noted that the IOMOU had not only begun with only a handful of members who have now risen to 20, but also that it had shown firm leadership in ensuring the safe and secure utilisation of the Indian Ocean region ocean waters by vessels fit for the purpose, thereby also enhancing the safety of seafarers globally.
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks (about 10 minutes) click on the video below.
Meanwhile, in a separate interview (7 minutes), Mr Tilayi explained the role of the IOMOU relative to South Africa’s interests and necessary global collaboration for effective ocean’s governance. For his views, click on the video below.
In her opening remarks, IOMOU chairperson, Ms Nyamoita expressed both delight at the progress being achieved by the organisation in terms of its efforts in ensuring safety of the region’s oceans to both ship owners and operators, seafarers, as well as the safeguarding of the ocean’s environmental integrity.
However, according to Ms Nyamoita, a lot more work still needed to be done especially in terms of placement of officers by member States who were fully skilled and trained in the monitoring of the region’s ocean space. She also urged for more countries to cooperate in the implementation of instruments contributing to both collaboration and effective oceans governance in the region.
For her full remarks, Click on video below.
The IOMOU Port State Control Committee meeting this week will also see the delegates visiting places of attraction in the city of Cape Town, including Robben Island.
Ongoing coverage of the proceedings of the meeting will be made on this blog through to Friday.
Angola’s formal ratification of a Multilateral Search and Rescue Agreement (MSRA) with South Africa recently has finally brought into fruition a 12 years old effort to establish formal cooperation on sea search and rescue operations in Southern Africa among six countries considered vital to the success of the operations in the sub region.
Angola, represented by its ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr. Rui J. Carneiro Mangueira, formally signed the agreement in London during a meeting with South Africa’s Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula while attending to an International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council gathering on 22 July.
Also attending was the Acting Chief Executive officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Mr Sobantu Tilayi.
The objectives of the Agreement are to ensure co-operation between signatories (South Africa, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola) by pulling together resource and infrastructure in improving maritime search and rescue in the region.
South Africa signed the Agreement in 2007 in Cape Town, and Angola was the last outstanding of the five other required signatories since then.
The sub regional agreement arrangement among these countries stemmed from a 2000 IMO Florence Conference on Search and Rescue and Global Maritime Distress and Safety System that sought to establish regional maritime SAR arrangements in Africa and invited all African coastal States to agree to the establishment of sub-regional RCCs.
The Africa region would be arranged into five sub regional areas with Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centres (MRCCs).
At that conference, South Africa was identified as one of the five countries to host a regional Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) and in 2007, the IMO formally assigned South Africa’s MRCC in Cape Town under the control of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) as the sub region’s centre with six sub centres cooperating on the basis of multilateral agreements located in the Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and now Angola.
The Africa region’s other MRCCs with a total 26 sub-centres, are located in Mombasa (Kenya: 2006), Lagos (Nigeria: 2008), Monrovia (Liberia: 2009) and Buoznika (Morocco: 2011), covering all African countries bordering the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, from Morocco to Somalia, anti-clockwise, as well as the nearby Atlantic and Indian Ocean Island States.
According to the IMO, the centres are intended to work co-operatively to provide search and rescue coverage in what had previously been identified as one of the world’s oceans region suffering most from a lack of adequate SAR and GMDSS infrastructure.
The centres’ sharing of information would also play an important role in the fight against piracy, kidnapping and ransom demands on the high seas – something, which IMO and the whole maritime community, had pledged to tackle with renewed vigour over the past decade.
Closer collaboration and speedy reaction by parties involved in the oil spillage at sea near the port of Ngqurha in Port Elizabeth two weekends ago contributed immensely in ensuring that damage to the surrounding ocean environment, including wildlife, was minimised.
That is an assessment flowing from reports by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)’s in its engagement with several organisations and institutions in the public and private sectors in Port Elizabeth during the management of the incident over the last two weeks, since about 200-400 litres of oil accidentally spilled over into the sea while a foreign cargo vessel was being refuelled.
The oil spillage reportedly occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning (06 July 2019) while the Liberia flagged cargo vessel known as the MV CHRYSANTHI S (IMO No. 952 7441) was being refuelled.
Still ongoing investigations into the incident seemed to indicate that the oil spillage occurred on board the vessel after one of the fuel tank valves was not properly closed, leading to vast amounts of fuel accidentally spilling out onto both the vessel as well as at sea. At the time, the vessel had been with about 1300 metric tons of fuel.
According to SAMSA, the vessel’s crew of 20 seafarers – all of whom remained safe – led by its Captain immediately summoned for assistance, which was duly activated, to contain the spread of the oil in the sea. The shore based oil response team was activated to extract the oil from the sea.
SAMSA said as much as 360 litres of the fuel was eventually extracted from the waters. However, the oil had spread significantly on the ocean to impact wildlife, but particularly sea birds and penguins and about which 114 were rescued and cleaned of oil. The wildlife verified as affected as of Tuesday this week (16 July 2019) included African penguins, Cape cormorants, Cape gannets as well as about half a dozen African penguin eggs.
However, periodic assessments of the sea and coastline, involving aerial and boat inspections had indicated that the coastline had not been affected by the oil spill
According to SAMSA, the cargo vessel involved in the oil spill remained in detention for a period while an investigation was being conducted, and bunkering services were initially suspended, and later partially lifted to daytime only by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).
SAMSA said the vessel owners, Golden Flower Navigation Incorporated had through its various agencies, including insurers, since accepted liability for the oil spillage and made the necessary undertakings in compliance with relevant South African laws and regulations as well international conventions related to incidents of the nature, after which the detention of the vessel was lifted and it was allowed to continue with its international journey on Friday (12 July 2019).
SAMSA, South Africa’s agency under the Department of Transport solely mandated with responsibility for prevention of pollution of the seas by ships, said success of the management of the oil spill – a great threat to sea pollution – arose out of close collaboration and teamwork by all the entities involved.
These included the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), TNPA (port managers next to which the oil spill occurred), the bunkering services company involved in the ship refuelling operation, SA Marine Fuels; private sector oil spillage management services company, Extreme Projects; wildlife and environmental groupings, SANPARKS, SANCCOB, and others including the affected vessel’s crew and vessel owners and its agents.
According to SAMSA, a joint operations committee involving various stakeholders greatly assisted in steering management of the oil spill containment and extraction, rescue and clean-up of affected wildlife, regular inspections of the affected oceans environment for traces of oil spread, as well as settlement of costs responsibilities related to damage suffered and operations activated.
A further meeting of the JOC is scheduled for Port Elizabeth later on Wednesday.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) says an investigation is underway to establish the cause of the oil spillage incident during a bunkering service off the port of Ngqhura near Port Elizabeth on Saturday morning,
This follows confirmed reports of an oil spillage at sea while a trade vessel was being refuelled. It was reported that as much 200-400 litters of fuel spilt into the ocean. However, the bunkering services company involved, SA Marine Fuels, soon activated an oil spillage control exercise to contain its spread on water.
A Department of Environmental, Forestry and Fisheries’ statement on Saturday said the vessel involved was the Liberia flag carrying trade ship known as the MV Chrysanthi S. The department said it had been “notified of an oil spill that took place in Algoa Bay in the early hours of Saturday. The incident took place at approximately 04h40 (in the) morning during offshore bunkering operations in Anchorage 1 of the Port of Nqura.
“It was reported that approximately 200 to 400 litters of fuel from the receiving vessel MV Chrysanthi S, flag state Liberia, was spilled into the sea as a result of overflow during the fuel transfer. SA Marine Fuels proceeded to dispatch a commercial oil spill response service provider to mitigate and contain the spread of the spill.
“This incident is currently considered a Tier 1 level incident which does not require intervention from the national authorities as local resources are sufficient. The department will provide assistance if the incident escalates and requires it.”
The department further said weather conditions in the Algoa Bay area on Saturday were hindering operations, which include wildlife assessments.
“However, the situation has been reported to be managed and under control. The oil is not expected to reach the coast and currently moving in an offshore direction. Transnet National Ports Authority, South African National Parks (SANParks), the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and other environmental bodies have been notified and are monitoring the situation along with our department.
” A contingency plan is in place for the Diaz Zone (Algoa Bay) and the Department will activate it should it be determined that oil is likely to wash ashore.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, SAMSA said it had become fully aware of the incident and that an investigation was being rolled out to establish its cause.
The agency in a statement said: “SAMSA with other authorities will conduct a comprehensive investigation of the incident. An inspection will be conducted tomorrow (Monday) to check if the beach and islands are not affected.”
SAMSA noted however at the time of its statement on Sunday, that monitoring of the oil had indicated that there were no oil traces on the water in the areas yet.
In its earlier statement, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries said it was responsible for matters relating to the combating of oil pollution at sea under Section 52(1) of the South African Maritime Safety Authority Act.
The department said: “Specific arrangements and tactics for responding to incidents are contained in a suite of local oil spill contingency plans managed by the department.
The department further added than an Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg), consisting of various stakeholders including the department, had been established through Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy to address South Africa’s oil spill response capability in the marine environment.
“The IMOrg hosted an oil spill exercise in November 2018 testing the response capability in Algoa Bay and is also keeping a close watch of the incident circumstances and status,” said the department.
As South Africa joined the rest of the maritime world to mark and celebrate the international Day of the Seafarer as guided by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and organised locally by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) jointly with the Department of Transport (DoT), seafarer’s general welfare was on the menu and there were few surprises about the issues raised or discussed.
After all, the IMO suggested theme for 2019 was #IamOnBoard – with Gender Equality.
South Africa’s marking of the annual event this year took the same format as in 2018, with three of the country’s coastal cities, Cape Town (Western Cape), Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape) and Durban (KwaZulu-Natal) hosting simultaneously the event. The idea according to the Department of Transport, is to ensure that as many of South Africa’s seafarers – some based in these cities – participate in the celebrations as well as ensuing discussions.
Indeed, speakers lined up to lead discussions totaled about five people in each of the venues – all selected according to either or both their involvement as well as experience in seafaring or such other field of engagement directly related to or impacts seafaring. Emphasis was placed active seafarers – seagoing or not – employers, as well as education and training providers or professionals.
This blog covered the Cape Town leg of the event and this is where, among a range of issues raised for discussion concerning gender equality and empowerment of particularly women, the question about drug use by seafarers – and precisely the adequacy and appropriateness of rules and regulations governing its management arose.
Ms Thembela Taboshe, one of the first three of South Africa’s black African women seafarers to obtain a Master Mariner qualification in the past fives years and now currently serving as a SHEQ Executive for Blue Continental Products at fishing group Oceana, wanted to know what the allowable limit of narcotic drugs could a sailor have on his or her system to be deemed safe or unsafe at work.
She said the question was arising against the backdrop of law reform developments in the country concerning the use of especially dagga or “weed” and which now deemed it no longer illegal for people to use the narcotic drug in the privacy of their own homes.
The law reform was well and good, she said, but it raised a few questions regarding implications of the free, legal use of the narcotic drug.
“This is a matter I’d like to raise and speak with SAMSA and DoT about. We need to actually come up with legislation about how people find out…..what is the allowable limit….what is not. How do we know that a person who is on the 10th day after having taken weed is actually capable of doing the job?” said Ms Taboshe.
She contextualized the matter as one concerning and with implications for seafarers in general and therefore relevant in terms of gender equality, but also women empowerment. (Ms Taboshe’s full remarks – average 6 minutes – along with those of the other participants are shared on the Day of the Seafarer‘s page)
The issue climbed quickly into the DoT and SAMSA list of issues requiring address over the next while and a report back to sailors prior to, or on Wednesday, 25 June 2020 and perhaps soon thereafter.
The DoT’s representative at the Cape Town event, Acting Deputy Director-General, Maritime Transport, Mr Dumisani Ntuli committed the department to do exactly that.
As indicated the drug usage issue by seafarers was among several that led to a robust debate in Cape Town. For a comprehensive multimedia report on these discussions, click here or on this blog’s main menu, click on the Day of the Seafarer‘s page at the top left of the bar.