More than 100 participants and observers in South Africa and two neighbouring maritime countries, Namibia and Angola; at this year’s Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) training and live deployment exercise in Cape Town a week ago, left with unanimity in their view that the country’s state of readiness for oil and related pollution disasters is on the ready, notwithstanding notable gaps in terms of some necessary additional resources and equipment.
The Interim IMOrg arranged training in Cape Town, involving about 50 delegates on the IMS 100, 200 and 300 modules over three days, followed by two days live off and onshore mock oil spill incident management exercise involving an additional 50 people manning sea vessels, aircraft and onshore equipment; took place in Cape Town from Monday, (09 May 2022) to Friday, (13 May 2022).
It was the first exercise of its kind, in grand scale, since before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago, and drew the direct contribution of the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) and active participation of delegates from the two other members to the convention, Namibia and Angola.
The Interim IMOrg, under the Department of Transport, is South Africa’s joint Government and Industry preparedness forum for oil spills launched in 2017. Its membership is drawn broadly from across various sectors of society inclusive of State departments, private sector industries as well as non-governmental institutions. The current focus of the Interim IMOrg is on oil spills but in the future it will ramp up to an all hazard approach.
According to Captain Ravi Naicker, SAMSA Senior Manager and co-chair of the Interim IMOrg; the structure identifies primary roles of Government and industry contributing towards preparedness of the country with effective and efficient management of maritime incidents such as oil spills offshore.
Its specific objective involves the staging of joint emergency response drills to prepare the country for a variety of incidents and uses the Incident Management System (IMS) as its preferred response model “for effective and efficient use and deployment of the available resources, both human and equipment, for all types of incidents including marine pollution
In Cape Town a week ago, this blog spoke to some of the government, business and nongovernmental institutions represented at the event to establish their views during the IMS training as well on the last day of the live mock oil spillage management exercise to solicit their views on the real state of South Africa’s readiness for off shore oil spill disasters and related.
Among these were an official of Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) incorporating the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), South African Police Services (SAPS), Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), African Marine Solutions (AMSOL), Resolve Marine Group, SMIT Salvage, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), as well a representative from the Angolan government.
Notable among the views was tacit agreement on the usefulness of the exercise and the general enthusiasm and keen interest shown by all stakeholders, the advantages to be derived from a unified command, the enhanced greater understanding derived by each of the key role players, the usefulness of expansion of the training as well as exercise to include neighbouring countries, the need for regular periodic exercises as well as an evident lack of adequate resources to provide protection for the country’s entire 3200 kilometre coastline
For their full responses (averaging three (3) to six (6) minutes each), click on the videos below.
The Benguela Current Convention (BCC), contributors and financial sponsors of the IMOrg exercise also shared its viewpoint about the significance of both its direct involvement for the first time as well as its own objectives. In the video below, BCC Compliance Officer, Mr Xolela Wellem, gives an extensive background and programs of the BCC which make the case for the Atlantic Ocean coastline convention’s direct interest in the work of the IMOrg.
Capetonians in particular, and South Africans in general will be in for a spectacular live staging of an ocean ‘accidental’ oil spillage exercise off and near the port of Cape Town on Thursday and Friday this week.
The unusual exercise to involve aircraft, ocean going vessels, onshore vehicles and more than 100 personnel is, according to South Africa’s Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) part of an intensive multi-nationl exercise in ocean oil spillage incidents management training currently underway in the city of Cape Town since Monday, involving about 50 delegates from government, non government and private sector institutions in South Africa, Namibia and Angola.
According to IMOrg Project Manager, Captain Ravi Naicker, the sea exercise over the next two days, Thursday and Friday will be the final stage of the weeklong incident management training that began on Monday in Durbanville, with a desk-top classroom type engagement of the delegates on the globally acclaimed and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) approved Incident Management System (IMS) consisting of three modules; IMS 100, 200 and 300.
From a South African perspective, according to the IMOrg, the logic behind the initiative is fairly simple. Increased activity on the South African coastline of over 3900km (including the coastline around the Prince Edwards Islands) demands the country to be ready to attend to any emergency that might occur along its pristine coast.
Current estimates of shipping traffic in the three oceans around South Africa are that as many as 30 000 vessels sail through here annually, with many of the vessels laden with an excess of 30-million Dead-Weight-Tonnage of crude oil.
“A large-scale oil spill could potentially have catastrophic consequences on the marine environment. There is also offshore Oil and Gas exploration and Bunkering activities, therefore South Africa needs to ensure that while it seeks economic stability and prosperity it also ensures the protection of its natural biodiversity.
“To this end South Africa has adopted international best practice in incident management and is proactively and continuously preparing to manage marine pollution incidents effectively, ensuring that the appropriate resources and stakeholders are mobilised quickly – and important and timeous decisions made,” said Capt. Naicker.
Among the IMOrg guiding tools with the exercise is the country’s National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP),
In Cape Town on Thursday and Friday however, for training participants as well as spectators, the weather may play ball for clear visibility of the full-scale oil spill response deployment exercise scheduled for the stretch pieces of waterspace in the sea corridor between Robben Island to the north and the port of Cape Town.
However, according to Captain Naresh Sewnath, Senior Manager Pilotage & VTS at Transnet’s Chief Harbour Masters Office in Cape Town, the ‘Cape Doctor’ – a nickname for periodic gusty winds that batter this part of the world – would be just as welcome, if only to present truly testing weather conditions for the IMOrg multinational training exercise at sea over the next two days.
Capt. Sewnath gave assurance that not only was the port of Cape Town fully supportive of the incident management exercise in the area for its worth, but also that it would seek to ensure that normal shipping in and near the always busy port would not be negatively affected.
In the video below, Capt. Sewnath briefly chatted to this blog about the IMOrg training exercise and his institution’s take of it, while on a brief visit to the training venue in Durbanville a day ago.
Meanwhile, the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) first time sponsors of the IMOrg’s periodic IMS training exercise, has described its involvement in the exercise as not only strategic in terms of its own objectives, but also essential to the extent that pollution of the oceans environment in its area of operation remains a constant serious threat to the the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME). In fact, according BCC South Africa National Projects Officer, Ms Tembisa Sineke, pollution is one of eight thematic areas in the BCC’s SAP.
“The reason for this is that marine pollution in the BCLME is increasing due to, among others, coastal zone urbanization, expanding shipping and offshore drilling and mining activities,” she said, adding that the three countries – South Africa, Namibia and Angola “are all involved in offshore petroleum exploration and production activities, whilst they also experience extensive maritime transport activities along their coasts. Furthermore, Namibia and South Africa are involved in offshore mining with vessels carrying significant quantities of oil.
“This ever-increasing use of the ocean space leads to increased risk of accidents that could result in marine pollution, especially from oil spills,” said.
For more on BCC’s viewpoint on the IMOrg training exercise and the necessity for its support, click on the video below:
Development of southern Africa’s maritime economic sector has no room for selfish, self-centred independent actors, and instead demands of all involved a sustained close collaboration in order to ensure not only the success of collective effort but also equity in shared benefits
This was the dominant theme of speakers in the maritime transport section of this year’s Southern Africa Transport Conference (SATC) inaugural virtual conference and exhibition that began on Monday (05 July) and ends at about lunchtime on Wednesday (07 July).
With South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula having officially marked the start of the conference with an address, among keynote speakers on the maritime transport theme during Monday’s session were South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, Mr Kholisile Mlambo of Mzansi Scuba Diving Academy, Mr Andrew Pike of Bownmans, Ms S Smith-Godfrey of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Michael Ekow Manuel of the World Maritime University and Mr C Mlambo.
With a presentation titled: Partners in building a maritime nation Ms Taoana-Mashiloane outlined SAMSA’s critical role as the country’s State agency mandated with among other things, advancing South Africa’s maritime interests and the centrality of meaningful partnerships between the agency and other role players in the public and private sectors but also crucially, establishing and sustaininng links with others in the sub-region, continent as well as international institutions.
In a prerecorded presentation lasting about 17 minutes, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane said while the world might currently be faced with socio-economic woes largely brought about by the outbreak of the Covid-19 against which many countries continue to battle, current global economic studies also continue to project the African region positively as among those with prospects of high economic performance, and central to which is oceans transport, and by extension the maritime ecoomic sector.
Poised to play a critical role, she said; was the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (ACFTA) which commits countries in the region to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods and to progressively liberalise trade in services as well as address a host of other non-tariff barriers.
‘UNCTAD expects the Global maritime trade growth to return to positive trajectory in 2021 by expanding by 4.8%. Sustainable shipping, decarbonisation and ship pollution control remain priorities in 2021 (and) it is forecasted that the Sub-Saharan Africa area intra trade will double by 2030 and this will elevate the huge significance of a maritime transport system
“Britain, China, United States, France and the European Union have all launched initiatives to strengthen bilateral trade and investment relationships with Africa,” she indicated. However, for any of these developments to yield meaningful outcomes, maritime sector stakeholders and roleplayers needed to forge close relations and sustainable partnerships., she said.
Pointing to SAMSA’s own initiatives in this regard among which is its representative role for the country at International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as involvement and collaboration with similar institutions both on the Atlantic and Indian seaboards, the African Union and related institutions, she said: “The ability to leverage partner resources, subject matter expertise and innovation is a competitive advantage of a great partnership. Otherwise, trying to go it alone and strive to outshine others and to get all credit is not anyone’s interest.
“The 2050 African Maritime Integrated Strategy (AIMS) seeks to provide a broad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of the African maritime domain for wealth creation. Alongside, the African Maritime Charter (AMC) declares, articulates and advocates the implementation of harmonised maritime transport policies capable of promoting sustained growth and development of African Merchant Fleets as well as promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the maritime administrations of States Parties and their respective operational organizations in the field of maritime and inland waterways transport and port activities.
“In addition it seeks to also promote the funding, undertaking of research studies by national institutions that encourage the promotion and development of cooperation in maritime and inland waterways transport and port operations among States Parties and regions.
Domestically, according to Ms Toana-Mashiloane, South Africa’s positive response had included the launch of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) followed by the promulgation of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy both to widen the scope for partnerships across sectors of the economy inclusive of identification of business investment opportunities, she added.
“As part of development efforts, we continue to engage and explore strategic partnership with the different industry players including local municipalities with the purpose of creating economic opportunities for local communities,”she said.
For her full presentation at the SATC Conference and Exhibition 2021, click on the video below.
Ubuntu – we are human only through the humanity of others
The theme was taken further by Sweden based World Maritime University representative, Dr Michael Ekow Manuel who described the subject of necessary partnership and collaborations in the sector as among the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Talking to a presentation themed: Fostering a partnership mindset; Governance and education; Dr Manuel said among targets of the UNSDGs was the enhancement of Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, “complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries. Further, the target encompassed efforts to “encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnership.
From a governance perspective, optimising key factors, he said; included “ethical behaviour, a problem-centric approach, stakeholder equity and voice, leadership with partnership skills, evaluation criteria, learning procress and ageements.” With regards education, Dr Manuel said it had to play a transformative role “in which people are engaged in a new way of seeing, thinking, learning and working….a new set of skils such as envisioning, critical thinking and reflection, dialogue and negotiation, collaboration and building partnerships.”
Quoting former South African President, the late Mr Nelson Mandela; Dr Manuel reflected that: “In Africa there is a concept known as ubuntu – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others, that if we are to accomplish anything in this world it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others.”
South Africa no longer the only sheriff in town
That notwithstanding, according to Bowmans’ head of ports, transport and logistics Mr Andrew Pike, it helped little in fostering strong partnerships and collaborations if some of the players in the southern African region failed to pull their weight, indicating further that South Africa, despite its numerous maritime related advantages, was nevertherless on the verge of fairing poorly compared with its oceans bordered peers and flanking countries both to the east, namely Mozambique, as well as to the west, notably Namibia.
South Africa’s competitiveness with its ports infrastructure and performance was noticeably waning, he said, citing a World Bank’s recent report that ranked the country lowest at 347 out of 351 countries world wide – and in fact, the lowest ranking of all African countries.
Closest home, Mr Pike said even with the outbreak of Covid-19 which hugely affected sea transport negatively right across the board, statistics indicated that Mozambique outperformed South Africa in terms of trade ships port calls, even increasing its tally from 1 927 in 2018 and 2 145 in 2019 to 2 019 in 2020. This was in contrast to South Africa suffering a drop in trade ships port calls from 8 510 in 2018 and 8 856 in 2019 to 7 836 in 2020.
A similar picture was gradually emerging on the Atlantic seaboard where Namibia was making strides both in terms of infrastruture investment as well as competitive performance to the benefit of the southern African region previously almost entirely dependent on South African ports.
According to Mr Pike, partnerships and collaboration were all good but all involved had to pull their weight. He intimated that South Africa would do herself a lot of good, and humble herself by realising that the country was “not the only sheriff in town.”
AAMA is the coordinating body for the Maritime Administrations in Africa established in terms of the African Maritime Transport Charter (AMTC), while WOMESA is an association of women established under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) with the aim of enabling women to train in maritime and thereby acquire the high levels of competence that the maritime industry demands.
The two bodies reached an agreement during a meeting in Ethiopia in early 2016 to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will facilitate among other things; joint undertakings or close collaboration in a number of activities and initiatives aimed at strengthening the role and impact of women participation in the continent’s maritime economic sector development.
Representing AAMA on the agreement were Mr Benard Bobison-Opoku, AAMA Secretariat and Legal Counsel at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and Mr Collins Makhado, Executive Head of Centre for Industry Development also at SAMSA, representing the Chairperson of AAMA, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele; while Mrs Veronica Maina, Head of WOMESA Secretariat represented the women’s association.
The MoU, soon to be formally ratified; will enjoin the parties to among other things;
Promote general cooperation in the implementation of the broader African maritime development agenda as envisaged in the AMTC, 2050 AIM Strategy (AIM Strategy) and SADC Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology;
Promote the development of skills on maritime safety, security and preservation of marine environment, under IMO, ILO and other international, continental and regional instruments;
Reciprocate access to each other’s conference platforms and avail opportunities for business to business networking and the participation of its industry constituencies. These include the transformation platforms focusing on African women in maritime, African maritime youth development, enterprise development and job creation, etc.;
Explore current mechanisms/instruments for the provision of financial support to WOMESA local Chapters seeking to engage on potential investments in the maritime sector;
Facilitate access to and availing of experts and contributors to each other’s platforms for strategic conversations; and
Provide financial and non-financial support for the realisation of the objectives of initiatives and programmes as outlined.
The agreement on the MoU was reached between the two bodies during WOMESA’s 7th Annual Conference/ Training, Annual General Meeting and Governing Council Meeting held from 22 to 26 February 2016 at the Adulala Resort & Spa at Debrezeit Babogaya, Ethiopia.
According to a recent WOMESA report on the conference, members of the association came from across 14 countries of the Eastern and Southern Africa region, participated at the event.
The countries included the Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania.
Issues dealt with during the gathering included:
The democratic debate on the grey shades of Maritime Women Leadership
Young women as the new driving force behind maritime and the integrated transport system
Building Africa’s blue economy: Setting common agenda at the regional level
The impact of The Impact of Increasing Vessels Size and Alliance on Port Operations
The role of emotional intelligence in career progression
Impact of gender stereotypes on advancement leadership by women.
WOMESA also conducted an elective conference that saw Mauritian, Mrs. Meenaksi Bhirugnath Bhookhun as chairman of its Governing Council and Tanzanian, Mrs. Hiacinter Burchard Rwechungura as her deputy.
The rest of the council is made up of Mrs Fatma Yusuf (Kenya) as Secretary
Ms. Liyuwork Amare Shiferaw (Ethiopia) as Treasurer, Ms Karine Rassool (Seychelles as Marketing & Communication Officer, Mrs Catherine Wairi (Kenya) and honorary member, and Mrs. Tamanda Kalilombe (Malawi) as Council Member, while Mrs Nancy Karigithu (Kenya) and Mrs Nomita Seebaluck (Mauritius) were also roped in as ‘co-opted’ Council members
Working alongside Mrs Maina as WOMESA’s Secretariat is Mrs.Rosemary Oile as the association’s Programme Director.
The Chinese fishing vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186 captured and arrested by South African authorities last weekend after being found to have conducted itself illegally, is to remain in South African custody until all fines imposed on its owners have been settled, alternatively, a court case is instituted, goes on trial and concluded.
This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which on Wednesday (18 May 2016) announced to have found that the vessel had contravened environmental laws governing the country’s territorial waters.
In the statement, SAMSA said its investigation had established that documentation of the vessel was in order. However, it had been found to have violated the country’s environmental laws governing the oceans. SAMSA confirmed that: “the fishing vessel was detained today and two Admission of Contraventions were issued to the master and owner of the vessel.
“The detention and fines were issued because of an unauthorised pump and flexible pipes from the engine room bilges directly over the side and that no Oil Record Book was available on board the vessel.
“This is a direct violation of our marine pollution legislation. The vessel will only be released once the two non-conformities has been rectified and detention fee paid.
“We still have to wait to see if the master and owner will accept and pay the Admission of Contraventions or prefer to go to court, in which case we will have to lay charges at the police station and allow the law to takes its course,” said SAMSA in a statement.
The organisation further said that the country’s ports authority, the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and other relevant authorities had been notified of the detention.
DAFF briefed on findings
Earlier on Wednesday, SAMSA officials also met and briefed the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga of their findings and determination following a visit and on board investigation of the vessel by the organisation’s surveyors on Monday afternoon.
The SAMSA findings and fines will be in addition to a set of others fines imposed on the vessel by other South African authorities including DAFF and SARS.
This followed the capture and arrest of the Chinese fishing vessel with nine crew on board on Friday last week off the coast of the Eastern Cape and berthed at the port of Cape Town.
It and several similar vessels believed to be from the same company, en route to the DR Congo were sought to be rounded up by DAFF officials for inspection following reports of suspicious behaviour, but refused.
According to DAFF, the vessels were initially rounded up and ordered to obey officials, but soon scattered and disappeared, except for the one that was eventually captured and arrested.
A DAFF spokesman, Ms Bomikazi Molapo said: “The crew claimed to have been travelling to the Democratic Republic of Congo where they claim they were going to fish and claim to have the necessary permits to do so. We have also established that this fleet of nine vessels is related and belong to the same company.”
Shortly after its berthing at the Cape Town harbour on Saturday, according to DAFF, rummaging was conducted on the captured vessel involving the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African Revenue Services (SARS) as well as the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
Ms Molapo said while the early investigators found no fish on board the vessel, it had however violated the country’s Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) in that the fishing vessel entered the country’s EEZ without the authority of a valid permit.
“The vessel also contravened Section 56 (2) in that (the) Master or crew member of the fishing vessel in question, did not immediately comply with lawful instruction as given by a fishery control officer and also did not facilitate the safe boarding, entry and inspection of the fishing vessel,” she said.
Due to these violations, DAFF issued a seizure notice that will involve the vessel, its gear and equipment, stores as well as cargo.
In terms of this, the vessel will not be allowed to leave the port of Cape Town or relocate to any other berthing space within the port, unless authorized to do so by DAFF.
According to DAFF, SARS had also fined the vessel R8 000 for tobacco and cigarette related charges. SAPS was also following up and investigating a case involving the keeping of dogs in the vessel.
Centre for Sea Watch and Response had kept an eye on the vessels
Meanwhile, it has since dawned that the SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch and Response (CSWR) had actually tracked a number of the vessels as soon as they were within South Africa’s territorial waters on 07 May 2016 and according to its report, the Chinese fishing vessels had left China at the end of March 2016 destined for the Congo in West Africa.
The Centre said it had tracking AIS data for only six of vessels, indicating that carriage of AIS transponders for fishing vessels was a “flag State” requirement and that not all fishing vessels carried these devices.
This notwithstanding, the Centre said it had noted that the 10 vessels were detected by MRCC Mauritius and their National Coast Guard (NCG) aircraft was launched to interrogate (them). Their identities were established as Lu Huang Yuan Yu 185, 187, 197 and 199 and these were heading towards Congo.
Six others, the Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186, 188,189,195, 198, and Xu Huo 9618 were bound for Port Louis, and arrived on 28 April before departing on 01 May after bunkering at outer anchorage.
The Centre said: “The vessels entered SA waters on 07 May; passing through territorial waters off Richards Bay about 19h00 on 08 May, and Durban on 09 May; then Port Elizabeth on 10 May and rounded Cape Agulhas on 11 May, and off Cape Town about 14h00 on 12 May heading toward Saldanha Bay area. This is a distance of about 880 miles in about 91 hours which equates to an average speed of 9,6 knots.
According to the Centre, the track data of the six vessels indicate that they entered the SA coast near Richards Bay and stayed within the territorial zone all the way and passed Cape Town in keeping with their response to the Mauritian Authority of heading to the Congo.
The Centre said following the attempted roundup of the fishing vessels for inspection by the DAFF’s coast guard vessel, the FPV Victoria Mxenge, about 25 miles SW of Saldanha, the vessels dispersed and eventually continued heading northward towards Namibian waters.
SAMSA said that Namibian authorities had since been informed about the alleged incidents in South African waters.
The latest tracks show eight of the 10 vessels off Angola, outside of their EEZ.