Rights for thousands of fishermen a major turning point for Eastern Cape maritime sector

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Handing over historical fishing rights to 53 rural coastal communities of the Eastern Cape -province –  the single largest group ever, for the first time – were (Left) Ms Barbara Creecy, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, with (Right) Eastern Cape MEC for Rural Development & Agrarian Reform, Ms Nomakhosazana Meth in Mthatha on Friday (06 March 2020)

Pretoria: 10 March 2020

The awarding of fishing permits for the first time ever to more than 4 000 subsistence fishermen in the Eastern Cape at the weekend, along with the launch of the province’s ‘Oceans Economy Masterplan’ marked a major positive economic turning point for one of South Africa’s poorest regions.

This is according to both the province’s government in Bisho as well as national Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy during a function to both launch the province’s maritime economy development masterplan – the first of its kind focused expressly on the sector – as well as the handing over of fishing permits to 53 rural community fishing cooperatives in Mthatha on Friday.

The 53 cooperatives with a total membership of some 4361 members, are part of a group of 78 cooperatives recently formed in the province representing as many as 5335 artisanal rural community fishermen now accorded long term fishing rights spanning a 15 year period.

They join 174 other communities in the country’s three other coastal provinces – KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and the Northern Cape – who are now official beneficiaries of an amended legislation four years ago that formally recognised fishing needs and rights of subsistence fishing communities in the country’s  rural coastal areas.

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“Today is a special day in the history of the long, long struggle of traditional small fishermen and women. Today is the day we formally hand over 15 year fishing rights to over 4361 individuals organised into 53 cooperatives in the Oliver Tambo, Alfred Ndzo and Amatole Municipalities.

“This is the largest group of small fishermen and women to have ever been given rights anywhere in our country. Today is, indeed, a day to celebrate,” said Ms Creecy during the occasion.

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Ms Barbra Creecy. Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

According to Ms Creecy, this will benefit no less 14 000 members of rural communities members with a food resource, but also an opportunity for business. She added: “The rights being handed over today are free of charge. Coperatives are exempted from paying any fees for the next three seasons.”

In terms of the rights accorded, the rural community fishermen in the area will be allowed to harvest with immediate effect an assortment of fish species ranging from East Coast rock lobster, mussels, seaweed, hake to sardines and some other.

However, the harvesting of some of the allocated fish species will depend on the intended end-utilisation, between self consumption or commercial sales by the cooperatives. In addition, the newly righted rural community cooperatives, in terms of fish harvesting, will be assisted with as many as 20 fishing vessels, to be used interchangebly among them pending a formal promised allocation of commercial fishing rights in the 2021 fishing season.

Ahead of the fishing vessels allocation this year, as budding businesses, the cooperatives will also be assisted with business and financial management training and support through agencies under the Department of Small Business Development as well as the National Skills Fund.

Said Ms Creecy: “The Eastern Cape, as we all know, is blessed with over 800 kilometres of a coastline. Across the world, more and more nations recognise the role our oceans can play in combating poverty, unemployment and creating inclusive growth and jobs in parts of the world where land is overcrowded and degraded.

“Our country in one of many African countries to adopt an oceans economy strategy following the decision by the African Union in 2015 to launch the African Intergrated Maritime Strategy by declaring the following 10 years to 2025 ‘the decade of the African seas’.

“This strategy recognised that African nations rely on the ocean for trade, transport, energy, food, tourism, recreation, and many other goods and services. This means our oceans must be managed responsiblly and cooperatively for the benefit of all African countries.

“Here in OR Tambo, Alfred Ndzo and Amatole District municipalities, the oceans economy masterplan aims to assist our people to take advantage of this unique natural resource by developing infrastructure of both small harbours, promoting tourism by improving facilities include beach access, safety, recreational areas and nature reserves,” she said.

For Ms Creecy’s full remarks, click on the video below

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Ms Nomakhosazana Meth. Eastern Cape MEC for Rural Development & Agrarian Reform

Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape government, represented by MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Ms Nomakhosaza Meth, described both the handing over of the fishing rights to rural community artisanal fishermen and the launch of the province’s historical ‘Oceans Economy Masterplan’ as a culmination of efforts emanating from the country’s ‘Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy)’ initiative launched in 2014, as well as the provincial government in partnership with stakeholders’ efforts aimed at capitalising on the province’s coastal location, towards enhancement of the region’s economic development.

Over the next 18 years, the province’s plan, developed with the assistance of the Nelson Mandela University, hopes to create no less than 1.8-million jobs deriving from investment projects across nine (9) prioritised subsectors of the maritime economic sector.

Thesr include marine transport and manufacturing, tourism, offshoare oil and gas, tourism, construction, renewable energy, fisheries and acquaculture, communication, desalination and related business economic activities.

“This event marks an important milestone in the policy evolution of the Oceans Economy policy trajectory as a product of an enduring partnership driven by the Eastern Cape Government with tremendous support from the National Department of Forestry and Fisheries and the Nelson Mandela University.

“The combined celebrations to launch of the Eastern Cape Oceans Economy Master Plan and the presentation of 15 years long licenses to the small-scale fisheries sector is a major achievement in the local development  of the nascent  Oceans Economy, indicative of the progress made through aligning of policy to practical implementation of projects,” said the provincial government in a statement.

DSC_9046aAccording to the provincial government, the masterplan comprises four ‘centrepiece’ documents:

  1. a Baseline Study  offering “an analysis of the state of the oceans economy in the Eastern Cape and outline the rationale for the selection of catalytic projects.
  2. a  Research Agenda – intended to “enable decision-makers with reliable data updated information and empirical evidence to make informed decisions.”
  3. a Strategic Road Map  that “sets out the 20 year trajectory and implementation strategy of the Oceans Economy Catalytic Projects.”
  4. a Bid Book – “essentially for mobilizing resources and attracting investments for financing the catalytic portfolio and   funding Oceans Economy Projects.”

For more on this, click on the two videos below. (Please note that MEC Ms Meth’s remarks are entirely in the local language, isiXhosa).

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting CEO. SAMSA

The South African Maritime Safety (SAMSA) both applauded the development as well as pledged its ongoing support through standard services it offers in terms of its legislated mandate involving ensuring the safety of property and life at sea, guarding jealously against the degradation of the oceans natural environment through prevention of polution of the seas by ships, as well as promoting South Africa’s maritime interests.

SAMSA acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, among other things, formally announced the establishment recently of a SAMSA office in the Wild Coast town of Port St Johns.

He also reported on progress being achieved with the agency’s Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) which has already impacted that part of the country positively over the last three years through creation of hundreds of employment opportunities for local youth in the world’s cruiseliner business. He also spoke on the agency’s involvement in the country’s fishing vessels’ recapitalisation programme, as well as SAMSA’s rural communities maritime economic development programme which includes marine tourism development.

Fishermen’s welfare, be it in the commerical or hitherto informal subsistence sector. is primary to SAMSA’s objectives and goals and is recognised worldwide, hence South Africa became the world’s first country to both adopt and implement the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 188, in 2018.

As recently as five months ago, the country, an active member of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), hosted a week long workshop for five East Asian countries that needed assistance and guidance on the implementation of the ILO’s C188.

For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks, click on the video below.

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Eastern Cape may need review of its coastal land use practices for maritime sector development success: SAMSA

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Port St Johns: 27 August 2017

Land use practices along South Africa’s 3200 km coastline, but particularly the 800km coastline of the Eastern Cape Province and precisely the Wild Coast on the Indian Ocean, may have to be revisited if currently declared marine tourism plans will achieve the desired effect, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) urged this past week.

The call came from SAMSA Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi during a celebratory send-off event of some 97 youths due to be deployed on cruise tourism vessels worldwide from September 1, 2017.

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The 97 Eastern Cape youths selected for this year’s first intake of the Maritime Youth Development Programme (Eastern Cape) due to for deployment in permanent employment with MSC Cruise tourism vessels worldwide during their send-off celebratory event at Port St Johns on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape on Wednesday, 23 August 2017. They board their vessels from 01 September 2017.

The event on Wednesday (August 23) was held in Port St Johns on the Wild Coast, this year’s chosen venue for the World Maritime Day event in South Africa on September 28, 2017.

The send-off event of the 97 youths – almost double the original number of 50 targeted – was the culmination of a joint initiative- the Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) – driven by SAMSA together with the Eastern Cape government and Johannesburg based non-governmental organization Harambee, to not only equip local youth with maritime skills, but to also help them find  employment.

 

The Eastern Cape ranks high on unemployment especially among youth, with the rate for particularly the Port St Johns area of the O.R Tambo District Municipality estimated at as much as 89%.

The group of 97, the first intake this year, will be taken on board cruise tourism vessels operated by MSC Cruises worldwide. It will be the first group under the MYDP programme in the Eastern Cape, but second nationally since launch of the initiative a year ago, with Gauteng Province.

Incidentally, the event in Port St Johns on Wednesday took place only days after national Parliament announced the formal approval of the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) Marine and Tourism Implementation Plan and among whose initial targets over the next five years will be the tourism area of Port St Johns, along with East London and Port Elizabeth.

The announcement was made on Friday, August 18 by Tourism Minister, Ms Tokozile Xasa.

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Part of the Eastern Cape’s 800km long coastline, with Port St Johns on the Wild Coast showing a the top.

The Eastern Cape has the second longest coastline – some 800km of the country’s 3200km coastline – after the Western Cape, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and in fourth place, the Northern Cape.

In her announcement, Ms Xasa described the Marine and Coastal Tourism Implementation Plan’s vision as encompassing an envisaged development and growth of “a world class and sustainable coastal and marine tourism destination that leverages South Africa’s competitive advantage in nature, culture, and heritage.”

 

This according to Ms Xasa was against the backdrop of projections that the coastal and marine tourism sector will contribute about R21.4-billion to the GDP and create about 116 000 direct jobs by 2026, in the process, helping alleviate poverty, inequality and unemployment, while contributing to sustainable livelihoods and development.

“These estimates,” she said: “are conservative as they are growing off a low 2015 base of R 11.9-billion direct contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 64 400 direct jobs.”

Ms Xasa said the Coastal and Marine Tourism Plan would be implemented in a nodal or cluster approach that would “prioritise destinations rather than individual tourism projects or products.”

The identified nodes/clusters in the first phase of five (5) years) would focus primarily on the country’s four coastal provinces, she said.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. COO: South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

In Port St Johns on Wednesday, Mr Tilayi described the development as a major boost for areas such as those on the Wild Coast, inclusive of Port St Johns.

However, this had implications for land use practices in the areas, Mr Tilayi told both the Eastern Cape Premier, Mr Phumulo Masaulle and AmaMpondo King, His Royal Highness; Ndamase Ndamase both of whom graced the send-off event with their presence.

According to Mr Tilayi, the initiatives would go a long way in helping development of maritime sector related socio-economic activities in the areas identified and would require direct participation by local communities.

He pointed out, however, that land use practices along particularly the Wild Coast area would need focus and possible review, in order to enable wholesome and mutual benefit for all inhabitants.

 

Mr Tilayi did not enumerate particular problematic land use practices, save to indicate that SAMSA would soon engage with the local traditional leadership as well as the provincial government on the issues.

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Ms Lindelwa Kolobile. Port St Johns mayor

However, Port St Johns mayor, Ms Lindelwa Kolobile laid bare some of the challenges facing land use practices in the area. In her brief speech, Ms Kolobile said there was an increasing trend of unauthorized land occupation by residents and made an impassioned plea to both the Eastern Cape government as well as King Ndamase to intervene. To listen to her remarks, Click Here

About the departing local youth due for employment on MSC Cruise ships worldwide from September 2017, Mr Tilayi urged them and their parents to fully support the efforts being made in the area to alleviate both unemployment and associated high poverty levels.

To the youths – about 50 of the 97 from Port St Johns – he said their responsibility was not only to themselves but also their country which they had to represent well.

The youth also needed to recognize, he said; that their performance at work in the months and years ahead would reflect on the caliber of South African youth and where positive, increase the chances of more youths being employed on cruise ships and related opportunities in the maritime sector.

IMG_7051“You have to bear in mind that you, South Africans, are not only competing for work on cruise liners among yourselves, but are competing with several countries all over the world. If you conduct yourselves badly you will be fired, that is guaranteed.

“But remember this that, should you misbehave and lose the jobs due to poor behavior, you will have not only wasted your own opportunity, but will have also jeopardized chances for your fellow South Africans as well.

“So go out there, and makes us all proud,” he said, congratulating them for having secured jobs in the maritime sector.

For Mr Tilayi’s full address on video, Click Here.

For more coverage of the event in videos, please visit the Features Page

97 Eastern Cape youths due for send-off on cruise ships around the world.

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Port St Johns: 22 August 2017

A joint initiative between government, private sector companies and non-governmental organizations to not only skill but create job opportunities in the maritime economic sector will pay off for 97 Eastern Cape youths this week, when they are officially sent off to join tourism cruise vessels sailing across the world.

The 97 youths out of a total 128 that recently completed specialized training in basic marine skills under the Maritime Youth Development Programe (Eastern Cape) over the last two months, are to join MSC Cruises vessels in different parts of the globe.

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The Umzimvubi River Month adjacent to which Port St Johns is situated.

A ceremony to wish them well in their new venture into the maritime world is to be held on Wednesday in Port St Johns, an Eastern Cape town on the spectacular Wild Coast region of the Indian Ocean, midway between East London and Durban.

The joint partners in the MYDP Eastern Cape initiative include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, and Harambee.

More than half the youths due for send-off on Wednesday – some for their first jobs ever – are from the O.R Tambo District Municipality, and precisely Port St Johns; an area that is targeted this current year for a series of maritime sector related projects, primarily by SAMSA, for both maritime awareness and associated youth skills development and local community social upliftment.

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Port St Johns ‘2nd Beach’ the most popular among domestic and foreign tourists and the venue of Wednesday’s youth for cruise ships send-off event.

But perhaps crucially, the SAMSA inspired and driven MYDP’s impact in the O.R Tambo District Municipality occurs against the backdrop of a Government announcement last week that Port St Johns has been declared one of six nodes in the country to be targeted for an Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) marine and coastal development programme over the next five years.

 

In a statement last week, Department of Tourism Minister, Ms Tokozile Xasa said following to Cabinet approval earlier this month, the Coastal and Marine Tourism Plan would be implemented in a nodal or cluster approach that would prioritize destinations rather than individual tourism projects or products.

She said the identified nodes/clusters in the first phase of up to five (5) years) would involve five geographic areas encompassing (Node 1) Durban and surrounds and (Node 2) Umkhanyakude District including Umhlabuyalingana and surrounds – all in the KwaZulu-Natal province; (Node 3) Port St Johns to Coffee Bay and (Node 4)  East London, Port Elizabeth and surrounds – in the Eastern Cape province; (Node 5) Cape Town and surrounds  in the Western Cape province and finally, (Node 6) West Coast and surrounds in the Northern Cape province.

Meanwhile, regarding Wednesday’s event in Port St Johns, according to SAMSA on Tuesday, the successful placement of the 97 youths on cruise vessels worldwide beginning September 2017, is a major achievement as it exceeds an original target of 50 youths originally planned for the first send-off.

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Mr Sizwe Nkukwana. SAMSA Programme Manager for Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy Initiatives (Marine Transport and Manufacturing Delivery Unit)

“We are pleased that the EC project has been a resounding success. We completed the entire preparation process at the end of last week with MSC interviewing the final 128 candidates that successfully completed the training program.

“MSC Cruises has agreed to place 97 candidates in this year’s intake that starts from 1 September. This number far exceeds he initially agreed target of 50, which was our SLA with the client, Office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape. This means we exceeded our target by 80% or we had an 180% achievement,” said SAMSA Programme Manager for Operation Phakisa initiatives (Marine Transport and Manufacturing Delivery Unit), Mr Sizwe Nkukwana.

Mr Nkukwana along with some senior SAMSA management headed by Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mr Sobantu Tilayi will join Eastern Cape Premier, Hon. Phumulo Masaulle – MPL, Eastern Cape provincial government officials, local traditional leadership, officials of the O.R Tambo District Municipality at the send-off ceremony tomorrow, which will characterized by a colourful display of AmaMpondo cultural activities including dance.

‘’The time to work with young people, to alter positively their future prospects and fortunes is now. As an entry point it is good that these young people are getting this kind of exposure and opportunity, to actually work on cruise liners to gain that international outlook and experience.

“It is also important that we do not position to only take up the lower layers level jobs in the sector, but we must move to empower these young people to go on to captain these ships, to be the engineers and ports officials and so, in essence, we must strive to penetrate all sectors including scarce skills in the maritime space’’, says Premier Masualle.

The event to be held at Port St Johns 2nd Beach – notorious for some spectacular shark attacks these last few years – will be beamed live on SABC radio and television (MorningLive as well as on Umhlobo Wenene, Trufm and local radio stations).

The ceremony in three stages; a media session, a maritime exhibition and formal send-off, begins at 7am in the morning through to 2pm in the afternoon.

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Port St Johns thrilled by SAMSA driven maritime youth development programme

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Pretoria: 24 July 2017

Port St Johns, a small coastal town along the Indian Ocean in the Eastern Cape, almost midway between the port cities of Durban and East London, is beyond itself with excitement over a series of programmes intended to equip local youth with maritime related skills and possible creation of badly needed jobs.

The multi-stream maritime related skills development programme also involving a degree of corporate social investment, is driven by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) along with partners including the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Harambee, as well as the Eastern Cape provincial and local municipalities.

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Port St Johns Tourism office block

The basic maritime skills development initiatives relate to coastal marine tourism in two streams; cruise tourism under a Maritime Youth Development Programme, and a Coastal and Marine Tourism and Youth Leadership path involving youth training in sea diving, life guarding, and related skills.

Training under the programmes began in early July involving an initial group of 50 youths in the cruise tourism stream, and about 35 youths in the Coastal and Marine and Youth Leadership stream.

The cruise tourism youth skills development stream, formally launched by SAMSA together with the Eastern Cape Government and Harambee in East London on 14 July, anticipates the placement of the youths on cruise vessels around the world by as early as September 2017, after which a second and third batches of youths will also undergo training.

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A group of Port St Johns youths sitting for an initial written exam as part of an assessment for inclusion in the basic maritime skills development programme

The other stream involving the 35 youths and involving the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, is also already underway with training, with completion also earmarked for August 2017.

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Some of the 35 Port St Johns youths who passed their first written exam to qualify for inclusion in the initial phase of the training programme

Alongside these youths skills development initiatives in marine and maritime related basic skills, is an assessment process of various tourism facilities in the area, inclusive of accommodation and hiking trails for possible assistance in promotion in tourism markets.

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Officials of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Port St Johns Tourism and the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board during a meeting in the town ahead of the start of the youth training initiative

The initiatives come also against the backdrop of Port St Johns, located in an area of some 1,291 km²  that falls under the O.R Tambo district municipalities, having been earmarked as the host for this year’s country celebrations of the World Maritime Day in the last week of September.

IMG_6188When once formally confirmed as host, this little town along the Eastern Cape’s 800km coastline – the second longest of the country’s four provinces bordering the oceans – and known more for its picturesque landscape through which the Umzimvubu River meets the sea, as well as pristine beaches and hiking trails that are a constant hit with domestic and foreign tourists alike, it will be the first time that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) driven annual event is held at a coastal town outside of South Africa’s major commercial port cities.

The staging of the World Maritime Day in Port St Johns in September according to the town’s mayor Ms Lindelwa Rolobile, may also just be the catalyst needed to draw more attention to the area’s potential for bigger contribution to the country’s maritime economic development currently pursued under the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative.  

IMG_6655The town quietly harbours hope for development of a small fishing industry launchpad. There are claims that it had been promised.

However, Ms Rolobile believes that in addition to tourism – in a coastal area also known worldwide for some spectacular shipwrecks over the years, including the sea cruise vessel; the Oceanos – Port St Johns can also be a hub for small to medium sea craft manufacturing.

An elated Ms Rolobile has described the much needed focus in the area by SAMSA as exciting and a long needed intervention particularly with regards youths skilling and possible creation of much needed jobs in an area of the country where youth unemployment is extremely high.

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Ms Lindelwa Rolobile. Mayor of Port St Johns

Speaking during the launch of the MYDP strand of the programme in East London recently, Ms Rolobile praised SAMSA for living up to a ‘promise’ it had made to the town back in 2012.

She also applauded the partnerships the organization has established with various other players in pursuit of realization of the socio-economic enhancement initiatives.

To listen to her remarks, Click Here.

Meanwhile, one of the youths from Port St Johns involved in the marine and maritime basic skills development programme, Mr Siphamandla Masikode, committed to making the best of the opportunities that were emerging for youths in his hometown.

Involved in the cruise tourism skills development stream under the Maritime Youth Development Programme, Mr Masikode said he considered himself lucky to have made it into the first group of 150 youths and hoped he would make it also in the first 50 who started formal training a week ago.

To listen to his remarks, Click Here.

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