Global celebrations of the Day of the Seafarer on 25 June 2023 – falling on Sunday this year – shifts its focus somewhat from welfare-centric matters towards one key environmental issue of general concern in the maritime sector: sea oil pollution and current as well as future mitigating measures against it.
According to the Department of Transport (DoT), lead organisers of South Africa’s marking of the annual International Maritime Organisation (IMO) event, to be hosted in coastal cities; Durban Gqeberha and Cape Town on Tuesday, 27 June 2027; the theme for this year’s celebrations, as endorsed by IMO is: Marpol at 50 – Our Commitment goes on.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which jointly with the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) will co-host the event in Durban and Gqeberha, respectively, says the theme spotlights the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which covers prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
“It also reflects the IMO’s long history of protecting the environment from the impact of shipping via a robust regulatory framework, whilst emphasizing its ongoing commitment to this important work.
“The theme is also linked to pursuing the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which include affordable and clean energy (SDG 7); industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG 9); climate action and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources (SDGs 13 and 14); and the importance of partnerships and implementation to achieve these goals (SDG 17),” says SAMSA.
Hosted simultaneously at the coastal cities, with SAMSA in Durban, SAIMI in Gqeberha, and the DoT in Cape Town on Tuesday, the day’s proceedings will, in addition to a key address by the Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga; involve panel presentations and engagements focussing on what the public and private sectors, education institutions and related in South Africa, are doing jointly or individuals as groups, to contribute to the realisation of goals of the IMO Marpol Convention, as consistent also with the UN’s sustainable development goals.
The event, to which seafarers will fully participate and contribute, is scheduled to start at 08h30 and end at 15h00 in all three cities.
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.