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.
Oil spills in the world’s oceans remain a dreaded possibility at all times whether through human handling or natural disasters, and preparedness for such eventuality by both industry and governments in concert are the key prerequisites for successful prevention or effective, and efficient management of such spills when they occur.
It was for that reason that, according to Mr Brian Sullivan, executive director of IPIECA (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association), regional collaboration, cooperation and teamwork between and among countries with coastal access was absolutely critical to oil spills combating anywhere at seas across the world.
This, he told about 100 delegates from 22 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean on the last day of their four day conference in Cape Town on Thursday, under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) led Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern African (GI-WACAF) Project.
Mr Sullivan’s organisation, IPIECA, established in 1974 with the encouragement of the United Nations Environmental Program, and now with about 65 member companies and organisations, describes itself as ‘the global oil and gas industry association for advancing environmental and social performance..and convenes a significant portion of the oil and gas industry across the value chain, bringing together the expertise of oil and gas companies and associations to develop, share and promote good practice and knowledge.”
IPIECA further describes itself as the oil and gas industry’s ‘principal channel of engagement with the United Nations,’ a position it says enables its members to ‘support the energy transition and contribute to sustainable development.’
IPIECA member companies include BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, Shell, Woodside and dozens others.
GI-WACAF on the other hand, launched in 2006, is a regional organisation of 22 African countries on the south, central and north Atlantic Ocean east coast, and was established to promote and encourage close collaboration between governments and industry to enhance oil spills preparedness, response and cooperation.
The GI-WACAF member countries, among them South Africa, comprise countries among which are signatories to no less than three conventions, such as the Abuja and Benguela Current Conventions – and all of which collaboration and cooperation instruments aspire to similar goals as the GI-WACAF.
For all of last week, bar Friday, delegates from the 22 African countries spent considerable time, both in conference at a hotel in Newlands as well as at an oil spill management demonstration site at a lagoon near Cape Town, deliberating over a variety of issues all aimed at strengthening their national systems for preparedness and response in case of an oil spill anywhere in their region.
The intended outcome, according to the IMO and IPIECA, both which directed proceedings of the gathering, would be a further two year agreement on an action plan of defined activities in the period.
Split in two groups by language – French and English speaking country groups – during working groups sessions, such a list of actions proposed to form the two year agreement emerged on Thursday, and would be consolidated and shared among represented countries by the GI-WACAF secretariat in due course.
The issues ranged from legislation, cross boundary co-operation to shoreline waste management and quite a few others.
In closing remarks, Mr Sullivan applauded the participating countries’ demonstrated commitment to the GI-WACAF Project, describing it as encouraging that governments and industry in the region, showed willingness and determination to work closely together in preserving the oceans environment integrity through prevention and combating of oil pollution.
He further noted that the compulsory implementation of lower sulphur oil for ships fuel in January 2020 by the IMO would present its own challenges to shipping and oil industries in general, but expressed confidence that through the established and sustained healthy cooperation and collaboration between industry and governments, the challenges would be overcome.
Both IPIECA and the IMO, the latter through its deputy director, Ms Patricia Charlebois, also expressed gratitude to South Africa, precisely the Department of Transport and its agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for assistance with the conference.
For both Mr Sullivan and Ms Charlebos’s full closing remarks, Click on the respective videos below.
Meanwhile, in an effort to gain further insight into the IMO and IPIECA driven GI-WACAF Project – one of three across the globe – as well as glean an understanding of its significance to South Africa in particular, this blog charted to SAMSA’s key representative at the conference, Captain Ravi Naicker, For the interview, click on the video below and for his presentation to the conference, the next video.
Supplementary to the above, this blog further obtained a series of interviews with both IMO and various other delegates that attended. These will be uploaded as soon as processed.
Consultation and closer collaboration in the implementation of measures to prevent and combat oil pollution at the world’s oceans remains the key to success, delegates to an African regional conference of the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF), heard in Cape Town on Monday.
The advice was shared by industry chair of the GI-WACAF Project, Mr Rupert Bravery during the opening of the four-day conference, from Monday to Thursday, and during which a further two-year agreement on a regional action plan is hoped to be discussed and endorsed.
As many as 100 delegates from about 22 west, central and southern African countries are attending the bi-annual conference, now in its 13th year, and led by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in collaboration with hosts, South Africa, via the Department of Transport’s Maritime Directorate as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
Countries represented include Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
This year’s banner of the 8th conference of the GI-WACAF in Cape Town, South Africa from Monday to Thursday (28-31 October 2019)
According to the IMO, the main objectives of the conference are to address the challenges of oil spill preparedness and response in the region, to review the progress achieved since the last regional conference, and to highlight the benefits of the GI WACAF Project.
“The event will also be used to agree on a two-year action plan (2020-2021) to strengthen oil spill preparedness and response in the region. In view of the risks that these pollution events represent for the marine environment, it is paramount to foster cooperation between the countries of the region so that they can respond to oil spills in an effective manner. Cooperation with the local oil industry, a key aspect of the project, is also strongly encouraged,” said the IMO.
It added that the success of the GI-WACAF Project depended heavily on the involvement of the countries themselves.
In his opening address on Monday, Mr Bravery expressed pride and delight in the achievements of the GI-WACAF Project over the last few years, saying that consultation and collaboration, along with adaptability in response to changing needs of individual countries in the group were the hallmark of the success being achieved. For his full remarks click on the video below.
In her welcoming remarks, Ms Patricia Charlebois, deputy director of the IMO highlighted a number of achievements that were being made in efforts to combat oil pollution globally. Among these was the issue of compensation for countries affected by oil pollution, improving cooperation and collaboration between industry and institutions such as the IMO, as well as an encouraging increase in the number of women now visible in country representations such as GI-WACAF conference in Cape Town. For her full remarks, Click on the video below:
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula; Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane said South Africa was delighted to be the host of the conference as it would help enhance its own learning and state of preparedness for oil spills prevention and combating at a time when oil and gas exploration in the country’s coastline was increasing and other economic activities such as bunkering were taking shape.
Ms Taoana-Mashiloane said South Africa had embarked on an initiative called Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) intended broadly to expand inclusive economic activity at three oceans, inclusive of oil and gas based industries, this in addition to managing increasing ships traffic utilising the southern African corridor for transportation of trade goods between the east and the west.
The expansion in oceans based economic activity was leading to clashes between business, government and environmental groups which she described as unnecessary.
This notwithstanding, the oceans based expanding economic activity required South Africa to be at the top of its game when it comes preparedness for oceans environmental protection. For her full remarks, click on the video below.
Following to her presentation, this blog chatted to Ms Toaona-Mashiloane for further clarity on some of the issues she raised, inclusive of South Africa’s preparations for the inaugural hosting of the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel Event in the coming year.
She described the country as excited and looking forward with great anticipation to hosting the IMO’s biggest annual event in Durban for the first time in October 2020. Click on the video below for her remarks.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which has worked closely with the IMO over the past few months in preparation for the 8th GI-WACAF conference in Cape Town, said in addition to contribution to discussions on the planned action plan to be adopted for the next two years, it would be taking advantage also of the several experts in oil pollution combating attending the gathering to milk them for their knowledge while they were still in the country.
SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller said South Africa had experienced a few oil spills and it was to its advantage to draw knowledge and experience from other countries in order to prepare itself effective strategies to prevent and manage oil spillages at sea. For his remarks click on the video below:
There will be more conference news updates on this block in the next couple of days. Among these will be SAMSA’s Captain Ravi Naicker on the role of the GI-WACAF Project and South Africa’s involvement in it, as well as his presentation to the conference on South Africa’s ‘wish list’ for assistance by member countries.
The blog will try to capture and present here the reports of Tuesday’s two working group’s discussions on legislation, shoreline response and waste management and trans-boundary co-operation.
South Africa’s leading role globally on development of safety and security measures for fishermen – inclusive of its pioneering role in the implementation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 188 two years ago – is proving a draw card for most other countries also keen on improving labour conditions for their workers in the fishing sector.
In Cape Town this week, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is hosting delegates from South East Asia countries to share knowledge and experiences accumulated in the development of safety and security for fishermen on board fishing vessels.
Also attending the South Africa (ILO) C188 Workshop for the South East Asian countries are local labour and bargaining council organisations in the fishing sector, as well as some of the major employers in the sector.
From South East Asia are officials from Thailand’s Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, the Thai Office of Maritime Security Affairs, Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Ministry of Manpower as well as those from the Philippines’ Bureau of Working Conditions.
Addressing the approximately thirty three delegates during the start of the workshop on Monday, SAMSA acting CEO Sobantu Tilayi said the gathering was being held in response to a request from the ILO for South Africa to assist with hosting inspectors from Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines who are interested in seeing a port-state fishing/labour inspection regime in action.
The ILO had identified South Africa as a role model for the work it is doing to ensure that fishermen have decent conditions of work on board fishing vessels in compliance with the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No.188).
In fact, South Africa was the first country in the world to formally implement the C.188 two years ago, involving inspection of two fishing vessels – one domestic and the other, a Japanese flagged trawler.
South Africa had since detained one other vessel for violations of the C188.
“It is a great honour to be recognised for the work South Africa and SAMSA are doing to promote the working conditions of fishermen on fishing vessels,” said Mr Tilayi.
He said: “The South African Constitution holds that everyone has the right to fair labour practices and SAMSA, as the custodian of South Africa’s maritime interests, is committed to improving the working conditions of fishermen in South African territory.”
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks during the opening , Click on the videos below.
Responding to Mr Tilayi’s welcome note, International Labour Organisation (ILO) representative from Thailand, Ms Anymanee Tabitimsri said the South East Asian countries represented were grateful for the opportunity South Africa offered to share knowledge and experiences with implementation of the C188 as all three sought to strengthen the safety and security of the fishing sector labour in their respective countries.
She said Thailand was a pioneer in its own right in Asia in terms of its early endorsement of the ILO’s C188 and was keen to also share insights and experiences.
For her full remarks (4 minutes) Click on the video below:
The SAMSA led week-long workshop which will include visits to the ports of Cape Town, Saldanha and St Helena, has on the agenda:
South Africa’s implementation of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No.188) since its ratification in 2013.
South Africa’s Maritime Legislative framework and the institutional arrangements in the implementation of the ratified Work in Fishing Convention.
The amendments to the South Africa Merchant Shipping Act to cater for the Work in Fishing Convention.
The practical implementation of the Work in Fishing Convention with visits to different types of vessels.
Showcasing the implementation of the safety construction of fishing vessels (new builds).
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).
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.
The young crew of the Poland’s centennial independence celebration vessel, Dar Mlodziezy, making a three-day stop-over in South Africa this week, payed a moving tribute to former South African president and international statesman, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela at a brief ceremony held at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Thursday.
The site of the tribute was the small memory garden at the V&A Waterfront housing the statues of four of the country’s Nobel Peace laureates; Nelson R. Mandela, former Anglican Church Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu, former South African president Frederick W. de Klerk and the late ANC president, Chief Albert Luthuli.
It was a fitting tribute coinciding and consistent with Poland’s own 100th anniversary of the regaining of its own independence in 1918, and which is being marked spectacularly by the round-the-world trip the Dar Mlodziezy’s crew is currently on and which will involve touch-down in some 22 countries in four continents.
The crew of Dar Mlodziezy‘s of more than 100 is made up of a majority of maritime students from the as well as cadets.
They arrived in South Africa’s port of Cape Town on Wednesday morning and depart for their sailing trip on Friday afternoon, the next stop being Mauritius in about four days.
In the next video, the commander of Dar Mlodziezy, Captain Ireneusz Lewandowski explains the nature and context of the Polish’s oceans celebratory journey across the world.
After paying tribute to Mr Mandela, also whose centennial – along with former ANC struggle stalwart, Mam’ Albertina Sisulu – is also being celebrated in South Africa; the crew of the vessel hosted a cocktail function on board the Dar Mlodziezy at the V&A Waterfront on Thursday night, ahead of a trip to Robben Island early on Friday and from which they’d sail out of South African oceans waters.
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between South Africa and Poland in Cape Town on Wednesday marked a turning point in the development and enhancement of relations between the two countries and which will benefit both in the long term particularly with regards maritime sector issues.
This is according to South Africa’s Transport Department deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga and Poland’s Minister of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Mr Marek Gróbarczyk during the ceremony of the welcoming to South Africa of Poland’s centennial independence celebration’s vessel, Dar Młodzieży at the port of Cape Town.
The vessel with a crew of some 250 members on aboard including about 60 cadets, is on a round-the-world trip that began recently in Poland and shall continue until the end of March 2019, with stop-overs in as many as 22 ports around the world.
South Africa was the second stop over on Wednesday, where the vessel will remain at the port of Cape Town in a jetty adjacent the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront at the foot of Table Mountain until Friday.
On arrival in Cape Town late morning on Wednesday to sounds of the South African Navy’s brass band at Cape Town harbour’s cruise terminal, crew and passengers of Dar Młodzieży were formally welcomed on South African soil by Ms Chikunga on behalf of the South African government, along with Mr Gróbarczyk, Poland’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mr Andrzej Kanthak and other senior government officials including South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi.
Thereafter, the Polish maritime students and cadets who were joined by their South African counterparts from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) for a combined group of about 200, were later treated to a braai on board South Africa’s only dedicated cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas.
In-between the events, Ms Chikunga and Mr Gróbarczyk signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the basis of which, they said, the two countries would endeavor to enhance co-operation and joint pursuit of socio economic development initiatives but especially in relation to the maritime economic sector.
Areas of likely immediate focus would include ship repairs and maritime education and training, said Ms Chikunga, while Mr Gróbarczyk felt it also an opportune time for the two countries to enhance relations ahead of South Africa’s hosting of an International Maritime Organization (IMO) conference in the country in 2020.
In the video clips below, Ms Chikunga (clip 1 lasting 3 minutes) and Mr Gróbarczyk each explains the genesis of the development and the respective country’s hopes to strengthen relations.
Meanwhile, also in remarks welcoming the group of Polish and South African maritime students and cadets on board the SA Agulhas late Wednesday afternoon, Mr Tilayi described it as important the establishment of sound relations with countries such as Poland which would benefit South Africa’s emergent pursuit of redevelopment of its own maritime economic sector.
For his full remarks, click on the video below.
On Friday, the group will be taken on a tour of Robben Island before the centennial independence celebration vessel set sail yet again, this time for Madagascar.
Safety on board South Africa’s fishing industry sea going vessels is among key operations aspects of the sector that can never be left to chance, delegates to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) hosted ‘Fishing Safety Indaba‘ held in Cape Town heard on Wednesday.
According to SAMSA in statement ahead of the event Wednesday, held at the Lagoon Beach Hotel in Milnerton, the Fishing Safety Indaba is a part of a series of engagements by SAMSA with its core stakeholders.
Wednesday’s event – the 6th in the series – was hosted by SAMSA’s dedicated Centre for Fishing and whose aim according to the agency, is “to promote the updated fishing safety legislative, technical, operational and financial issues and engage the fishing industry on development issues and growing the blue economy.”
Ms Nondumiso Mfenyana, a Manager in the SAMSA Centre for Fishing, said the Cape Town Indaba was a continuation of a SAMSA’s aim to engage with all sectors of the fishing industry to mainly address issues such as safe fishing.
“The fishing industry is SAMSA’s largest commercial customer, a major employer and contributes both to export earnings and to the GDP of the country. It is important that we ensure regular sittings of this nature in order to keep the industry abreast of developments thereof,” said Ms Mfenyana.
The SAMSA Centre for Fishing is also the secretariat of the National Fishing Forum (NFF) which was established in 2011.
The NFF was initiated to create a platform for stakeholders to share knowledge on common areas of interest, improve collaborations and decision making to avoiding duplication. The forum’s mission is to grow, develop and ensure a competitive South African Fishing industry.
Provisional members were nominated to partake in the steering committee, which was later endorsed as a fully fledges forum at the South African Maritime Industry Conference (SAMIC 2012). In turn, the forum has achieved some of its objectives; although still have some challenges that include the funding of its action plan.
The seafarers career in South Africa is bound for a major shakeup in the coming months involving three major aspects: a re-look at the status of their qualifications for proper positioning, an overhaul of the process of their intake into the career path, as well as expansion of employment opportunities – the latter expected to involve the establishment of a South African fleet of vessels to do port to port shipments.
The policy shifts by government, driven by the Department of Transport in collaboration with the maritime sector and various others, emerged during observation of the international Day of the Seafarer held in Cape Town on Monday – one of three similar events held also in Port Elizabeth and Durban.
It was the first time for South Africa to observe the annual seafarers’ event at three locations simultaneously on the same day at three venues – the other two being Durban and Port Elizabeth.
Participants at all three events included government and its agencies including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), higher education and training institutions, industry representatives as well as seafarers, among others.
In Cape Town, Department of Transport acting Chief Director General for Maritime, Mr Dumisani Ntuli said a policy revision was currently underway to shakeup the country’s maritime sector but specifically shipping, with a view to facilitating the establishment of a domestic fleet of vessels to take over port-to-port shipping transport.
Primarily, this was to ensure greater participation of South Africa in the shipping sector involving its own people, but equally important, to create a stable and expanded opportunity for ongoing, sustainable development of a professional cadre of South African seafarers immersed in an own culture.
However, Mr Ntuli also acknowledged an urgent need currently to both address the issue of already qualified seafarers and whose qualifications as well as related experience do not enjoy recognition by the country’s education system in terms of the South African Qualifications Authority.
He said a task team involving appropriate representations from relevant stakeholders would be set up to fast-track the process.
In tandem, the quality of young people entering the profession would also require a re-evaluation as it was being established that some, if not a significant number of people pursuing seafaring for a career were either ill-prepared or simply not suitable for the type of work.
Currently, it emerged, there was a high drop out rate of maritime sector education students by especially cadets, once they get employed fully at sea.
According to Mr Ntuli, the main goal of all the initiatives was to ensure a stable career path for seafarers and that they are absorbed into the shipping transport industry and remain employed for their working lifetime.
With regards the observation of the Day of the Seafarer annually, he said the new format involving the staging of the event in cities across the country’s coastline would remain the feature, primarily to ensure engagement of all stakeholders for a continuous dialogue on matters affecting the sector.
For a detailed presentation of Mr Ntuli’s remarks on this and related matters, Click on the video below.
A full round up of the various participants’ contributions to the discussion at the Cape Town event on Monday will follow soon.
Among the key participants were Ms Leone Louw, a lecturer in maritime studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mr Rob Whitehead, president of the Society of Master Mariners South Africa, Mr Leon Mouton of the Safety Training Group, Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority, as well industry and seafarer representatives.
Miss Lelethu Ntuzula. A Deck Cadet
Mr Sanele Hlongwane. Ratings Trainee
Meanwhile, dozens of young and aspirant seafarers attending the event were all enthusiastic about the prospects of their careers given the increasing attention that was now being given to their well-being going into the future.
Among these were Ms Lelethu Ntuzula and Mr Sanele Hlongwane, both in their 20’s – one a deck cadet and the other currently undergoing the first ratings training of its kind on board the SA Agulhas – an initiative of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) together with the TETA, that began three weeks ago in Port Elizabeth.
To hear their views, click on the video below.
Still in Cape Town, about two kilometers or so from the Cape Sun venue of the Cape Town leg of the Day of the Seafarers observation, at the Cape Town harbour, dozens of seafarers, young and old, on board the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel, the St Agulhas, had a cake and a braai, to mark the day, and fun was had by all.
Seafarers on board SAMSA owned national cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas taking time out to enjoy Day of the Seafarer 2018
In the other two coastal cities where the event was held, similar sentiment and merriment emerged.
Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA reiterated the authority’s openness to seafarers and informed those gathered that the overall wellbeing of seafarers was their priority.
Seafarers had to prepare themselves for the challenges associated with working in a diverse and multi-cultural environment, he said.
Some seafarers gathered in Durban asserted that one of the challenges they faced at sea was being perceived as ill-disciplined when they raised labour-related issues with their superiors on-board.
Mr Tilayi said: “It is important for our seafarers to understand that it is the Merchant Shipping Act, rather than the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which governs the labour rights of seafarers.”
He encouraged seafarers to view the maritime industry in its global context, and consider the norms and standards established in the companies in which they worked.
“We encourage all our seafarers to understand the complexities of the industry they serve,” Mr Tilayi said.
In summary the DoT and SAMSA said the maritime industry had the potential to address the high unemployment rate, and a plan of action was necessary to include the following interventions:
Adopt South African models and knowledge to solve the country’s unemployment rate.
Develop and own a South African shipping fleet for economic growth.
Develop a seafarers’ culture and create employment opportunities for qualified South African seafarers.
Develop a career path plan.
Build the fishing industry to accommodate SA seafarers.
Strengthen the capacity of the SA Agulhas to use it as a training vessel for South African seafarers.
Integrate technological advancements in the industry.