Maritime sector Covid-19 restrictions under constant review as South Africa settles with 21 day lockdown

Pretoria: 28 March 2019

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.

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South Africa Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula

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.

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The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel owned and operated by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

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:

  1. No training of seafarers for short courses over the period, academic programmes may continue through ‘e-learning’ platforms
  2. No assessments for seafarer certification will be undertaken during this period.
  3. 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;

Certificate extension Application Form – FOP-524.8 – Extension of Certificate.pdf

 We have also provided guidance below;

Completing Extension Form Guide – Completing Extension Form guide.docx

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.

Enquiries should be directed to the Registrar of Seafarers at seafarers@samsa.org.za  or the Chief Examiner at exams@samsa.org.za

End.

 

SAMSA outlines measures to curb spread of Covid 19 by ships and crew at South Africa seas

Pretoria: 17 March 2020

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.

DSC_4428In 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:

  1. CORONAVIRUS PUBLIC HOTLINE: Tel. 08 000 29999
  2. MARITIME RESCUE COORDINATION CONTACT DETAILS (24 / 7 / 365): Tel: +27 (0) 21 938 3300 or mrcc.ct@samsa.org.za
  3. TRANSNET NATIONAL PORT AUTHORITY: Tel: +27 (0) 83 378 8877 or Tel: +27 (0) 83 306 1228
  4. SOUTH AFRICAN DESIGNATED COASTAL HOSPITALS

Western Cape          Tygerberg Hospital  Cape Town   +27(0) 21 938 4911

KwaZulu-Natal         Grey’s Hospital         Pietermaritzburg       +27(0) 33 897 3000

Eastern Cape           Livingstone Hospital   Port  Elizabeth       +27(0) 41 405 9111

Northern Cape          Kimberley Hospital  Kimberley      +27(0) 53 802 9111

Designated hospitals for managing Coronavirus –

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1u86kN7ZVxPBG-s5pzHc93b29fkpKGC16&usp=sharing

On publication, the two marine notices can be accessed from the SAMSA website by following this link:

http://www.samsa.org.za/Pages/default.aspx

 

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.

Cadets muster during safety drill onboard SAAGThe 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.

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MRCC Cape Town activates sea rescue after crew of a Netherlands ship fall sick off the east coast of South Africa

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(Photo Supplied) An image of the BOKA VANGAURD, a heavy lift vessel when unladen. On Tuesday 08 January 2020 five crew members were evacuated from the vessel and taken to a Durban (South Africa) hospital after they reportedly suffered methanol poisoning on board while sailing from China to Brazil. A sixth crew member had already died at the time of the evacuation.

Pretoria: 09 January 2020

Methanol poisoning is believed to be the cause of the death of one crew member and hospitalization of five others in Durban, South Africa, from a Netherlands ship that was sailing past the country early this week.

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) activated a rescue mission at about 7.51am on Tuesday after receiving a call for assistance from the Captain of the BOKA VANGUARD to help evacuate and seek urgent medical attention for five crew Brazilian crew members who had apparently fallen sick on board. An additional crewman had already died before MRCC was notified.

This occurred while the vessel – described as a heavy lift ship – was sailing on the Indian Ocean, approximately 276 kilometres East from the port city of Durban on its way from Qindao in China to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

On receiving the urgent call for assistance, MRCC said medical and evacuation support was activated involving the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the Western Cape Metro Emergency Medical Services, the South African Air Force as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in Durban.

At the time of rescue and evacuation of the vessel’s sick crew, all five were in a critical condition with the potential risk of death, said the MRCC. It was reported by the Captain that the methanol poisoning happened during the evening but he only got to know about it that morning.

Both the TNPA and SAAF readied aircraft for use in the evacuation. The Air Force’s resources were utilised as it could carry all five casualties at once, while the NSRI also launched a boat from Durban as an additional safety measure. The MRCC described the sea and weather conditions during the operation as calm with the wind at 13 km/h and with a swell at 1.7 metres

At the time of writing, it could not be established what condition the sick crew were in since hospitalization on Tuesday.

MRCC Cape Town expressed its appreciation for the support provided by the SASAR Signatory Agencies and the contribution to the successful medical evacuation.

 

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Called out to save lives at sea, SAMSA responds accordingly, as fate of foreign crew stranded in SA remain unclear

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A HELPING HAND:  A SAMSA official hands over food items and related material to six crew members of a stranded vessel that entered South African sea waters and anchored off the port of Cape Town without permission a month ago. The vessel believed to be of Asian origin has since been quarantined and detained at the port of Cape Town pending resolution of its law transgressions since entering the country’s waters illegally.

Pretoria: 08 January 2020

The fate of six stranded Asian sailors found in a desperate situation in a poorly conditioned vessel off the port of Cape Town recently may remain uncertain still, but their safety and general well-being going forward is ensured for time being, thanks to the timely intervention and assistance efforts of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

According to the agency, part of whose mandate is to ensure the safety of property and life at sea, the epic drama involving the six foreign sailors – two from Taiwan and four others from Mynmar, and some of whom now face possible legal sanction – apparently unfolded after SAMSA officials were alerted by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF) about a drifting, fuel-less and permit-less vessel spotted at sea, off the port of Cape Town on 02 December 2019.

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Four of the six member crew of the Yong Qing Fa No.666 currently believed to have been abandoned by their employer and who are currently residing on board the crippled vessel at the port of Cape Town after it was detained following its unauthorized entry and anchorage in SA waters, and a subsequent C188 inspection that found it not seaworthy. The six member crew of the vessel consists of four seafarers from Mynmar and two others from Taiwan.

Captain Pierre Schutz, a deputy Principal Officer at SAMSA’s western region Cape Town office, recounted this week about how the agency’s officers scrambled to the rescue of the foreign seafarers to ensure primarily their safety and general welfare while their sea sailing troubles including legal issues were being interrogated for a possible resolution.

The legal woes facing both the owners and crew of the now quarantined fishing vessel known as the Yong Qing Fa No.666 but whose flag state has yet to be determined, it emerged, include the vessel’s unauthorized entry into South African sea waters, the absence on board of necessary documentation including certificates of nationality, tonnage, drawing plans, crew list, Voyage Management System (VMS) transmitting, and an off Automatic Identification System (AIS).

On entering South African waters without permission and dropping anchor near Cape Town harbor without authorization on 30 November 2019 due to apparent desperation for bunkers, the six member crew on board reportedly also initially failed to communicate properly their plight with local authorities due to language difficulties, until the Taiwanese Fisheries agency in South Africa got involved, almost a week later.

pic 5In fact, on entering the country’s waters in the Atlantic Ocean and putting anchor near the Cape Town port, according to SAMSA, based on TNPA reports, the vessel’s crew did so without following any protocols and had maintained complete radio silence, something unusual and illegal.

It had since emerged that the six crew members and their poorly maintained vessel had were likely abandoned by the owner, with four of the crew members having not been paid their wages.

According to SAMSA on Wednesday this week, two of the stranded seafarers, from Taiwan, had since been charged with certain law transgressions (unspecified) and were due to reappear in a Cape Town magistrate’s court on 27 January 2020.

Reporting about the drama, Capt. Schutz says SAMSA got drawn initially to the plight of the crew of the vessel – and which had since been established to have been sailing from West Africa to Mauritius – after respective authorities including the TNPA, DEFF and others, all bound by relevant legislation and protocols, were initially reluctant and refused it entry into a South African port without standard procedures having been fully observed.

These included a 21 day offshore containment period to determine the vessel and crew health condition that it did not carry any communicable diseases such as – in this case – Ebola, as the vessel had reportedly sailed from a West African region where the deadly disease is reputably rife. 

He says 12 days after the drama ensued, with engagements ongoing among respective authorities, SAMSA appealed to the TNPA, DEFF and others to allow an inspection of the vessel and crew in order to facilitate provision of basic essentials to the crew, such as food and water. Crucially, this was also to ensure the safety of the vessel given its unauthorized anchorage which could prove hazardous to other sailing vessels in the vicinity if left unattended for too long.

By 13 December 2019, according to Capt. Schutz, the vessel was eventually allocated a berth in an isolated area at the port of Cape Town following to which nutrition was brought on board for the vessels’ crew while a variety of inspections were conducted.

He confirmed that a SAMSA inspection in terms of local and international legal instruments including the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) C188 – Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188) found the vessel to be not seaworthy and it was officially detained, while a DEFF inspection led to the arrest of the vessel’s skipper and his subsequent appearances in court.

cropped-samsa-master-logoAs of last week, according to Capt. Schutz, the vessel still had no power and it still had no local agent appointed to attend to its needs as required by law. Meanwhile Taiwanese authorities in South Africa were still not taking responsibility for a majority of the crew members on board the vessel while DEFF officials’ efforts to seek assistance from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) had proved fruitless so far.

Capt. Schutz says: “The SAMSA (Cape Town office) is liaising with DEFF in terms of the court appearance of two of the seafarers. It is also liaising with the local Apostleship of the Seas in terms of welfare and food. Currently also, SAMSA is supplying food while awaiting for the court appearance.”

Regarding the detention of the vessel, Capt. Schutz says its release will be conditional to the owners carrying out the repairs it is so advised to do and on completion, inform SAMSA.

“Once so advised, SAMSA would conduct another inspection, and if the vessel is found in good condition, the vessel would be released from detention. There is no time frame attached to this,” he says, save for a range of port charges it will incur, accruing to the TNPA, for its safekeeping at a South African port, and which could escalate depending on how long it takes to repair it.

Capt. Schutz says further that the vessels’ crew will be repatriated  once all matters related are finalized to the satisfaction of South African authorities.

“The responsibility however lies with the owners. There has been no final decision in this regard,” he says.

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Please note that this story has been updated to provide additional details and correct certain inaccuracies.

SA govt to inject R5/R8-billion in country’s sea search and rescue capabilities: DoT

IMG_8510Pretoria: 17 December 2019

South Africa’s maritime risk management capabilities, precisely in oceans search and rescue as well as oil pollution, are to receive a major financial injection of up to R8-billion, the Department of Transport has announced.

Confirmation of the planned financial injection was made by Mr Mthunzi Madiya, Chief Director of Maritime at the Department of Transport, while addressing a maritime  sector stakeholders dinner hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Durban on Thursday evening.

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Mr Mthunzi Madiya. Chief Director: Maritime. Department of Transport

Mr Madiya said the funding by Government was in response to identified weaknesses in the country’s risk management capabilities, many of which were raised during a maritime sector stakeholders workshop held also in Durban in early 2019.

According to Mr Madiya, the funding will be made available through a Maritime Development Fund.  He said a technical committee would be set-up next month (January 2020) to look at funding models.

“The Department of Transport has realised that as a country, we lack the sea rescue and oil pollution control capabilities in the waters. This affects aviation as well as the maritime sector. So, the DG (director general) is spearheading this process whereby we need to look at certain legislation that can be amended so we can be able to find the funding model  that will be sustainable that will enable us to build the capacity and capability of this country when it comes to search and rescue, as well as pollution control,” said Mr Madiya.

He added: “We have realised that we are under resourced. The situation is that we have only one pollution tug…based in the Western Cape (and) if something happens on the eastern side of the country such as the Eastern Cape, we don’t have the capability to respond in time,” he said.

For Mr Madiya’s full remarks on the matter, click on the video below

 

South Africa to host SADC Search and Rescue Conference next February

DSC_7533.JPGNews of the intended funding injection towards the country’s maritime risk management capabilities last Thursday evening came as confirmation was also made of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states’ five day conference in South Africa next February.

Its aim, the statement said, would be to evaluate and determining the entire region’s state of readiness for maritime and aviation risk mitigation and effective management.

According to the Department of Transport, 17 SADC member countries will gather for the conference in Durban from February 17 through February 21.

Organised jointly with the International Maritime Rescue Federation, (IMRF) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), according to the Department of Transport,  the main purpose of the conference will be “to sensitise decision-makers and SAR experts of the need to establish and maintain SAR systems within the Southern African region as well as to explore tangible and innovative ways to improve cooperation in the provision of these services within the region.

“The objectives of the conference are, among other things; to establish co-operative means and develop strategies to enhance SAR capacity and capability within the region.

“The conference will be held under the theme “Embracing Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (AMSAR) Services: first and foremost as a Government and secondly as an Industry Social Responsibility, ” it said.

DSC_7616.JPGThe department said the conference would further “consider and endorse the draft Terms of Reference (TORs) of the SADC SAR Working Group (WG) with a view to request the 23rd session of the SADC Civil Aviation Committee to approve the draft TORs and formally constitute the WG.”

Low-sulphur ship fuel local legislation to miss 01 January target date

Meanwhile, the maritime sector stakeholders’s gathering in Durban last Thursday also heard that South Africa, contrary to an earlier pronouncement by the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, will not have in place an enabling legislation for the regulation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s new low sulphur regime effective on 01 January 2020.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting CEO: SAMSA

The confirmation was made by Mr Sobantu Tilayi, acting Chief Executive Officer of SAMSA. However, he said, the country would still be able to ensure that vessels traversing the region’s three ocean’s waters would be monitored appropriately as required in terms of the IMO’s Marpol  Convention Annexture VI, and in terms of which lower sulphur content for ships fuel becomes mandatory.

Precisely, in terms of the IMO,  the new sulphur limit in ships fuel is 0.50% from 01 January 2020.  Revised regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships under the MARPOL (Annex VI) were adopted in October 2008 and ratified by more than 65 countries including South Africa.

In terms of this, all sizes of ships sailing on the world’s oceans will need to use fuel oil that meets the 0.50% limit from 1 January 2020. The 0.50% sulphur limit extends to carriage of bunker fuel with sulphur content of more than 0.50% for vessels not fitted with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGSC). The carriage ban will come into effect on 1 March 2020.

DSC_7646.JPGIn Durban on Thursday evening, Mr Tilayi also announced that South Africa would allow scrubbing (vessels fitted with EGSC) until such time that ongoing studies of its efficacy had become conclusive.

For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks on this and various other maritime sector development issues, among them; reasons for the lacklustre development of the country’s ship registry, improved South Africa relations both in Africa and internationally, as well immediate to medium term future prospects of the country’s maritime sector,  click on the video below.

At the SAMSA stakeholders’ function in Durban on Thursday evening, this blog also chatted randomly with leaders in the sector and specifically women in maritime for both their company’s highlights of 2019 as well as progress being achieved in the general advancement of women in the sector.

Video interviews of their views will be shared on this platform soon.

 

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Oil pollution combating strategies at African seas under focus in Cape Town: IMO

DSC_6221.JPGCape Town: 29 October 2019

Consultation and closer collaboration in the implementation of measures to prevent and combat oil pollution at the world’s oceans remains the key to success, delegates to an African regional conference of the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF), heard in Cape Town on Monday.

 The advice was shared by industry chair of the GI-WACAF Project, Mr Rupert Bravery during the opening of the four-day conference, from Monday to Thursday, and during which a further two-year agreement on a regional action plan is hoped to be discussed and endorsed.

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Delegates from 22 African countries attending the 8th Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Project conference currently underway in Cape Town. The conference started on Monday and ends on Thursday (28-31 October 2019).

As many as 100 delegates from about 22 west, central and southern African countries are attending the bi-annual conference, now in its 13th year, and led by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in collaboration with hosts, South Africa, via the Department of Transport’s Maritime Directorate as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

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

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This year’s banner of the 8th conference of the GI-WACAF in Cape Town, South Africa from Monday to Thursday (28-31 October 2019)

According to the IMO, the main objectives of the conference are to address the challenges of oil spill preparedness and response in the region, to review the progress achieved since the last regional conference, and to highlight the benefits of the GI WACAF Project.

“The event will also be used to agree on a two-year action plan (2020-2021) to strengthen oil spill preparedness and response in the region. In view of the risks that these pollution events represent for the marine environment, it is paramount to foster cooperation between the countries of the region so that they can respond to oil spills in an effective manner. Cooperation with the local oil industry, a key aspect of the project, is also strongly encouraged,” said the IMO.

It added that the success of the GI-WACAF Project depended heavily on the involvement of the countries themselves.

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Mr Rupert Bravery, Industry Chair: GI-WACAF Project

In his opening address on Monday, Mr Bravery expressed pride and delight in the achievements of the GI-WACAF Project over the last few years, saying that consultation and collaboration, along with adaptability in response to changing needs of individual countries in the group were the hallmark of the success being achieved. For his full remarks click on the video below.

In her welcoming remarks, Ms Patricia Charlebois, deputy director of the IMO highlighted a number of achievements that were being made in efforts to combat oil pollution globally. Among these was the issue of compensation for countries affected by oil pollution, improving cooperation and collaboration between industry and institutions such as the IMO, as well as an encouraging increase in the number of women now visible in country representations such as GI-WACAF conference in Cape Town. For her full remarks, Click on the video below:

Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula; Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane said South Africa was delighted to be the host of the conference as it would help enhance its own learning and state of preparedness for oil spills prevention and combating at a time when oil and gas exploration in the country’s coastline was increasing and other economic activities such as bunkering were taking shape.

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Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane. Director Maritime Industry; Department of Transport

Ms Taoana-Mashiloane said South Africa had embarked on an initiative called Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) intended broadly to expand inclusive economic activity at three oceans, inclusive of oil and gas based industries, this in addition to managing increasing ships traffic utilising the southern African corridor for transportation of trade goods between the east and the west.

The expansion in oceans based economic activity was leading to clashes between business, government and environmental groups which she described as unnecessary.

This notwithstanding, the oceans based expanding economic activity  required South Africa to be at the top of its game when it comes preparedness for oceans environmental protection. For her full remarks, click on the video below.

Following to her presentation, this blog chatted to Ms Toaona-Mashiloane for further clarity on some of the issues she raised, inclusive of South Africa’s preparations for the inaugural hosting of the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel Event in the coming year.

She described the country as excited and looking forward with great anticipation to hosting the IMO’s biggest annual event in Durban for the first time in October 2020.  Click on the video below for her remarks.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which has worked closely with the IMO over the past few months in preparation for the 8th GI-WACAF conference  in Cape Town, said in addition to contribution to discussions on the planned action plan to be adopted for the next two years, it would be taking advantage also of the several experts in oil pollution combating attending the gathering to milk them for their knowledge while they were still in the country.

SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller said South Africa had experienced a few oil spills and it was to its advantage to draw knowledge and experience from other countries in order to prepare itself effective strategies to prevent and manage oil spillages at sea. For his remarks click on the video below:

There will be more conference news updates on this block in the next couple of days.  Among these will be SAMSA’s Captain Ravi Naicker on the role of the GI-WACAF Project and South Africa’s involvement in it, as well as his presentation to the conference on South Africa’s ‘wish list’ for assistance by member countries.

The blog will try to capture and present here the reports of Tuesday’s two working group’s discussions on legislation, shoreline response and waste management and trans-boundary co-operation.

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South African seafarer reported missing in the Caribbean Sea, search ongoing: SAMSA

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08 October 2019

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.

End.

UK Space Agency-SAMSA partnership ups the ante against fishermen deaths in SA.

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Pretoria: 02 October 2019

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.

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PLOTTING SUBSISTENCE FISHERMEN SAFETY: United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) officials (seated Centre and Right), Ms Athene Gadsby, and Mr Tim Hayward during their first visit to South Africa in July 2019 to meet with SAMSA’s team of fishermen safety officials based in Cape Town led by Captain Karl Otto (third from Left), as well as officials of the NSIR (last two on the right) for an assessment of Project Oasis, aimed at curbing the deaths of fishermen by enhancing their safety through a satellite based tracking and identifying device now being distributed for free to subsistence fishermen across South Africa’s coastal areas.

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.

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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.

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CONDUCTING PROJECT OASIS ASSESSMENT: (From Left) Ms Athene Gadsby, UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme Manager and Mr Tim Hayward, UK Space Agency’s Caribou Space senior manager during a meeting with SAMSA in Cape Town.

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.

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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.

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Captain Karl Otto. Head: SAMSA Centre for Sea Search and Rescue.

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;

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With only months to go, South Africa steps up its prep for its host debut of the IMO’s General Council conference 2020.

DSC_3914.jpg12 September 2019

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).

18_12_11_imo_wmd_womenmaritime_logo_languages-english-2019.jpgAccording 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

https://blog.samsa.org.za/2015/12/08/south-africa-to-host-imo-assembly-in-2020/

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DONE DEAL!: South Africa’s Minister of Transport (Left) shaking hands with Angolan Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr Rui J. Carneiro Mangueira, during Angola’s signing of a Multilateral Search and Rescue Agreement with South Africa in London recently

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.

SAMSA Master LogoAmong 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.

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Indian Ocean rim countries wrap up conference in South Africa on a high note: IOMOU

DSC_304126 August 2019

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.’

DSC_2913Key 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.

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Mr Dilip Mehrotra, outgoing Secretary of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU) in Cape Town, South Africa between 19-23 August 2019

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.

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Captain Thobela Gqabu, a South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA Principal Officer for the Southern Region (East London) and South Africa’s representative to the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IMOU”) Port State Control Committee

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:

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