World oceans are drowning in plastic waste, the shipping industry is not the culprit: SAMSA

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Pretoria: 28 July 2017

The world’s oceans may be drowning fast in a mess of global plastic waste – estimated currently at some 275 million metric tons and in its wake, threatening all life on earth – but the shipping industry on which close on 90% of world trade depends, is not the culprit. Well, not quite.

That is because global shipping practices at sea are highly guarded through a number of international regulations, otherwise known as conventions, and closely monitored by member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) including South Africa, the latter through the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

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Captain Ravi Naicker, South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Centre for Sea Watch and Rescue national operations manager. Cape Town

This was revealed by SAMSA’s Centre for Sea Watch and Response (CSWR) during a mini conference hosted jointly by the SAMSA, United States Consulate, the International Ocean Institute and the V&A Waterfront held at the Two Oceans Acquarium at Cape Town’s Waterfront recently.

The mini conference occurred within a week of the wrap up of an even bigger oceans plastic waste gathering, the Africa Marine Waste Conference, held over five days in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape in early July, attended by about 250 delegates including a high contingent of scientists from Africa, the US, and Asia Pacific countries.

At the Cape Town event, keynote speakers included Dr Jenna Jambeck, an associate professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Georgia, United States, and director of the Center for Circular Materials Management at New Materials Institute; John Duncan of the World Wildlife Fund and Dr Anthony Ribbink, CE of Sustainable Seas Trust.

SAMSACSWR national operations manager, Captain Ravi Naicker, explained that global shipping involving millions of trade cargo vessels at sea daily – and therefore the most potential culprits for massive plastic and related waste pollution of the oceans – were actually not the culprits.

The revelation came against the backdrop of statistics showing that South Africa ranked No.11 in the world for waste management production and that the country alone was responsible for 12% of global plastic waste and about 2% of total mismanaged plastic waste, leading to between 0.9-0.25 megatons of it ending as marine plastic waste annually.

img_3102-722017With an estimated population of some 12.9-million people occupying the coastal line of South Africa, this amounted to about two kilograms of plastic waste per person per annum.

Globally, the world’s 192 countries situated along oceans and seas across the globe were said to generate as much as 2.5-billion metric tons of solid waste, of which 275-million metric tons was plastic waste and an estimated 8-million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste ended up in the seas in 2010, according to statistics by Dr Jenna Jambeck.

Just over 6-million metric tons of the global (coastal countries) mismanaged plastic waste dumped at seas was currently still floating freely at the surface of global oceans waters, in the process, placing all life both in the oceans as well as on land, at extremely high risk.

According to Dr Jambeck, one of the contributing factors to widespread distribution of plastic waste is that: “In use – (plastic) items that are designed to last forever are only used a short period of time. 40% of plastic production is for packaging – and there are packaging needs for essential foods and things, but I will argue that we should rethink our systems and designs to meet those needs”

a-2Captain Naicker said ocean going vessels globally in South Africa’s oceans space contributed very little to this as waste management on ships was highly regulated.

He said the Africa region alone had about 18 000 vessels traversing its waters annually, with just over 3 000 of these sailing through South Africa’s oceans space equivalent some 1.5-million square kilometers of an Economic Exclusive Zone, from the Atlantic, the Southern Ocean through to the Indian Ocean.

Yet, of 1469 vessels randomly stopped for inspection over a six year period between 2011 and 2017, only 2.5% were detained for violation of environmental management protocols at sea, and only about 0.1% were responsible for garbage and record keeping violations.

SAMSA is the country’s State agency tasked through legislation (the SAMSA Act 1998) with responsibility for ensuring safety of life and property at sea, the combating and prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships, and promoting South Africa’s maritime interests.

Guiding the agency’s activities with regards the first two objectives relating specifically to safety of life and property as well as sound integrity of the marine environment, were six (6) International Conventions for the Prevention of Pollution by Ships (MARPOL Annextures) pieces of legislation binding member port states of the IMO for strict implementation in their respective ocean spaces.

In addition all trade vessels registered (flagged) in countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to the legislation and associated regulations regardless of where they sail in the world.

“These clearly state that ships using South African waters have no right to pollute seas while sailing here and that we are entitled to take action against should they fail to observe the law.

“However, member states are also required to provide facilities that enable ships to dispose of waste they cannot manage responsibly on board the vessels.” said Capt Naicker.

For his full presentation (about nine [9] minutes) Click on the video.

To read more on Dr Jambeck’s work, Click Here, and Here

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Arrested Taiwanese fishing vessel released from South Africa

RELEASED: Taiwanese fishing vessel released by South African authorities on Tuesday after it was arrested earlier this month and on inspection by SAMSA, was found to have violated anti-pollution conventions governing management of vessels at sea.
RELEASED: Taiwanese fishing vessel released by South African authorities on Tuesday after it was arrested earlier this month and on inspection by SAMSA, was found to have violated anti-pollution conventions governing management of vessels at sea.

Cape Town:  27 September, 2016

A Taiwanese fishing vessel arrested and detained in South Africa earlier this month has been released, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed on Tuesday.

SAMSA said in Cape Town on Wednesday that the vessel was released after it settled admissions of contravention imposed on it relating to violations it was found to have committed while sailing in the country’s waters on the Indian Ocean.

It had been found non-compliant with International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, (MARPOL) as there was no record in the Oil Record Book of oily waste having been landed ashore or discharged through the oily water separator, a SAMSA statement said.

The arrest of the vessel known as the Chin Jen Wen on 09 September was conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)  after it was spotted through the department’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) apparently entering the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from Mossel Bay towards  Cape Town.

DAFF initially suspected that the vessel had not applied for permission to be in the area. Fisheries protection vessels including The Victoria Mxenge were then set successfully on its pursuit and arrest eventually culminating in its detention at the port of Cape Town.

While in detention under the Marine Living Resources Act, according to DAFF spokesman, Ms Bomikazi Molapo; the vessel would undergo a thorough inspection conducted by all relevant law enforcement stakeholders, including SAMSA – the country’s maritime safety authority.

SAMSA sought to ensure that it complied with all relevant international maritime conventions relevant to that type of vessel. SAMSA also used its jurisdiction as a Coastal State to ensure that the vessel was of no threat to the State from a safety and pollution perspective.

Ms Molapo said: “The Minister has undertaken to intensify the fight against any form of illegal fishing in our exclusive economic zone to ensure that our resources are utilized for the benefit of the country to reduce poverty and ensure food security for all. South African waters remain a sovereign jurisdiction and its marine living resources will be protected by the Department”.

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Arrested Taiwanese fishing trawler still in detention

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Pretoria: 12 September 2016

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is continuing with investigations of a Taiwanese fishing trawler nabbed off the southern part of the Indian Ocean and detained in Cape Town at the weekend on suspicion of illegal activity.

The arrest of the vessel known as the Chin Jen Wen; was conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) late last week after the trawler was spotted through the department’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) apparently entering the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from Mossel Bay towards  Cape Town.

According to DAFF, suspicion had been aroused as the vessel had not applied for permission to be in the area. Fisheries protection vessels including The Victoria Mxenge were then set successfully on its pursuit and arrest eventually culminating in its detention at the port of Cape Town.

While in detention under the Marine Living Resources Act, according to DAFF spokesman, Ms Bomikazi Molapo; the vessel would undergo a thorough inspection conducted by all relevant law enforcement stakeholders, including SAMSA – the country’s maritime safety authority.

The Taiwanese trawler is the latest to be arrested and detained by South African authorities in 2016 due to suspicion of illegal or unauthorized fishing activity on the country’s waters.

In a recent incident also off the Indian Ocean along the Eastern Cape coast, a set of Chinese fishing vessels were arrested on suspicion of illegal activity. While initially suspected of illegal fishing, owners were eventually fined for a variety of law transgressions relating to general management of the vessels.

In Pretoria on Thursday last week, Ms Molapo said: “The Minister has undertaken to intensify the fight against any form of illegal fishing in our exclusive economic zone to ensure that our resources are utilised for the benefit of the country to reduce poverty and ensure food security for all. South African waters remain a sovereign jurisdiction and its marine living resources will be protected by the Department,” she said.

In Cape Town at the weekend, the Taiwanese vessel was inspected by SAMSA to ensure that it complied with all relevant international maritime conventions relevant to that type of vessel. SAMSA also used its jurisdiction as a Coastal State to ensure that the vessel was of no threat to the State from a safety and pollution perspective.

The investigation established that the vessel was non-compliant with International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution (MARPOL) as there was no record in the Oil Record Book of oily waste having been landed ashore or discharged through the oily water separator. The vessel remains in detention pending finalization of the inspection on Tuesday.

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