Post Covid-19 maritime economic development: low hanging fruit for the Eastern Cape.

Port Elizabeth: 14 September 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic that’s engulfed the world since about the end of 2019, killing as many as nine hundred thousand people so far and forcing periodic national lockdowns, may have had a truly devastating impact on the world’s economy – the world’s maritime economic sector that’s an essential lifeblood to world trade included – but it has also presented opportunities to refocus priority areas for economic development.

At least that was the dominant view of contributors and participants in a webinar organised by the Eastern Cape provincial government last Thursday. For South Africa’s maritime economic sector, and precisely that of the Eastern Cape – one of the country’s four coastal provinces with the second biggest claim to a coastline along the Indian Ocean – five specific areas of business investment opportunity are beckoning.

These include the fledgling ships bunkering services at Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth established only four years ago, coastal and marine tourism along the province’s largely pristine and underdeveloped Wild Coast coastal corridor, fishing and aquaculture, skills development and environmental protection.

Participants in the webinar, among them the acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Mr Sobantu Tilayi, and representatives of the Eastern Cape provincial government and associated entities including the Eastern Cape Socio Economic Consultative Council (ECSECC) and Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ERCDA), the Nelson Mandela University (NMU), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) etc, were agreed that these identified areas of maritime sector investment opportunity were also interlinked and therefore highly acquiescent to close alignment.

The webinar on Thursday, attended by about 50 people, was according to the provincial government, intended to probe its Covid-19 scuppered Oceans Economy Masterplan launched with much fanfare in March this year, for low hanging viable investment opportunities for pursuit almost immediately in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was because, the provincial government said: “COVID-19 has upended major sectors of the economy. The lockdown measures imposed on companies to enforce social distancing resulted in supply-side shocks for the economy. The closure of international borders disrupted the global value chains for critical industries such as maritime industry.

“These supply-side shocks induced the demand-side shocks, with most workers losing jobs and incomes. Unemployment across industries skyrocketed, resulting in a deep slump in the economy. Key sectors of the Oceans Economy were not left unscathed by the COVID-19 lockdown measures. With the evidence that the coronavirus is receding, and the country moving to Level 2 of the Risk-adjusted Strategy for Economic Activity, there’s an urgent need to jumpstart economic recovery of the critical sectors of the Oceans Economy in the Eastern Cape.

“The province has a compelling value proposition for investors in the Oceans Economy, and it is the opportune moment to act to leverage on this proposition. Towards this end, the Eastern Cape Operations Phakisa: Oceans Economy Secretariat is convening a one-day session to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the Oceans Economy, and to map a path towards Oceans Economy recovery. Key stakeholders are convening for a conversation to map a way forward for the Eastern Cape Oceans Economy Agenda during a period characterised as the “New Normal”.”

Areas of primary interest and focus for the Eastern Cape’s allotment of some 800km of a coastline in an ocean space incorporating a 1,5-million km2 of South Africa’s exclusive economic development zone, included marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas, aquaculture, marine tourism, small harbours and coastline development, research, technology, innovation; skills development and ocean governance.

Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting Chief Executive Officer: South African Maritime Safety Authority

In his contribution, Mr Tilayi (SAMSA) described the ship bunkering services development in Algoa Bay as one ideal opportunity for business investment, skills development and other socio-economic value exploitation.

Launched in 2016 as a ship refuelling station taking advantage of both the suitability of the Algoa Bay region, and the steadily increasing volumes of especially trade vessels traversing the country’s oceans waters, from Western Europe, the Americas through to Asia, according to Mr Tilayi, the service was already proving to be a potential key contributor to the country’s economy, even if still at a low base.

A critical economic aspect to its potential success were global geo political and economic driven issues affecting the East and Western countries whereby, from a trade costs management point of view, the southern African seas corridor was gaining preference from shipping companies ahead of the oft congested Suez Canal.

Currently operated by three (3) bunkering service providers, he said; “the subsector had already created as many as 260 jobs – more than double the number recorded at launch (117) in 2016, with various business opportunities developing subsidiary to the core services”.

In addition to oil-based fuels, with ship technology advancements gaining pace alongside alternative fuels development, the international vessels refuelling location in Algoa Bay could further expand its services to liquified natural gases thereby expanding diversity of services.

In addition, consistent with the country’s economic development imperatives, alongside jobs creation in general, it provided a critical platform to advance transformation of the country’s maritime economy through skilling of previously disadvantaged communities as well as development of small black businesses.

Linked to this would be development of a range of maritime skills, particularly those relevant to marine and maritime tourism, environmental protection and oceans governance.

To aid this process, Mr Tilayi said SAMSA had among steps taken so far, facilitated the establishment of a Maritime Industry LED Fund whose objectives include the strengthening of sea space environment protection through development of enhanced capacity to manage pollution incidents, support research and related matters, as well as funding maritime industry development, but particularly the entry and development of small black business as well as rural economy development.

This was taking place alongside initiatives to assist the development of rural coastal areas wherein four projects had been launched, involving a maritime youth development programme undertaken jointly with the Eastern Cape government, to equip rural youths with basic maritime skills as well as find them jobs. Mr Tilayi said the MYDP had to date placed in excess of 600 of these youth on international cruise ships around the world.

The other projects involved a coastal and marine tourism initiative undertaken jointly with the Eastern Cape Tourism Board and identified local authorities; a youth skills development initiative focus on boat building and refurbishing undertaken jointly with the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (now with the Moses Kotane Institute) and various others, as a well as a maritime heritage initiative undertaken jointly with the South African National Heritage Council and others.

According to Mr Tilayi, shipping companies in South Africa, among them Vuka Marine, were in the process of contributing to the initiatives with a training and crewing venture focussing on ratings and hospitality.

Meanwhile, according to the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA), one other major opportunity for immediate pursuit by the province was the development of its fishing and aquaculture industry.

The aim, according to ECRDA Chief Executive, Mr Ntlanganiso Dladla, was to take advantage of the increasing gap in global seafood demand and supply, wherein current projections indicated a supply-demand gap of between 29-40 tonnes per annum in South Africa and as much as 249-322 tonnes per annum in southern Africa which in global terms, he said, represents 2.53 metric tons or nine (9) percent of global demand stripping supply.

He outlined progress with development of a marine tilapia five phases project over 12 years in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal aimed at producing as much as 100 000 tonnes of fish species per annum by 2032.

According to Mr Dladla, the five phases development is projected to yield about 4736 direct jobs at fish farm and processing clusters – a thousand of these in its planned launch area of Mbhashe along the Eastern Cape ‘Wild Coast’ – and as many as 150 000 jobs for small scale farmers in the value chain across the region, with gross annual income of R3,4-billion against operations expenditure estimated at R1,24-billion.

Associated would be development of small-scale crop farmers producing soya, sunflower and maize, operating on half-hector plots totalling about 172000 with a potential crop value of between R134,7-million and R193,4-million per crop type by phase five of the project development.

Significantly, ownership of tilapia fish farms in the projects was being designed to assign up to 70% of ownership to workers, 30% of ownership in hatcheries and feed plants, and 38% share in fishing processing plants, thereby ensuring effective economic empowerment of affected rural coastal communities in both the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and possibly Mozambique.

Vital allies who voiced commitment in terms of various skills development for these and related projects, were the the Port Elizabeth based Nelson Mandela University and SAIMI along with other identified tertiary institutions in the region, the webinar was told.

End.

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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Fun, games and maritime awareness and education at Transnet’s port festival

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FUN PE PORT FESTIVAL: The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) owned dedicated national cadet training programme vessel, the SA Agulhas (in the background) alongside the fisheries monitoring vessel, the Ruth First during the Transnet National Ports Auhority (TNPA) port festival in Port Elizabeth at the weekend. The vessels formed part of a fleet of six for the festival, four others coming from the South African Navy.

Port Elizabeth: 03 December 2018

The weather did not quite play fairly over the two days of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) festival at the port of Port Elizabeth at the weekend, leading to curtailment of some of the activities.

But it was still great turnout by thousands of people that filled the port for fun and games whose theme centred on greater public awareness and education on maritime issues.

The TNPA port of Port Elizabeth’s 2018 port festival was, as usual, the first in a series reportedly planned for some of the country’s major ports over the next few weeks, including Richards Bay, with the aim being to facilitate greater engagement between the ports and the general public for enhanced understanding and knowledge of aspects that make up the country’s maritime economic sector activities.

DSC_8780.JPGThis year’s festival in Port Elizabth enjoyed support from a range of stakeholders including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which again featured its vessel, the SA Agulhas – a former research vessel that has been retuned for purposes of servicing the country’s national cadet training programme now under the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI).

Another notable supporter at this weekend’s festival was the South African Navy which provided four of its vessels including two frigades, as well as the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries whose fisheries monitoring vessel, the Ruth First, participated – adding to the great fun many festival revelers, many among them young children, enjoyed.

 

Also  present was the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), the Nelson Mandela University and several others.

However, strong winds particularly on Saturday, the first of the two days of the event, proved a major challenge as it forced some of the water sports lined up for the weekend to be suspended – well until Sunday, after the strong winds subsided in the early part of the day.

 

 

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Waning piracy threat in African oceans no reason for relaxation: IMO Durban workshop hears

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Delegates from 25 countries that are signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) three day workshop beginning Monday and ending on Wednesday (12-14 November 2018) in Durban

Durban: 13 November 2018

The virtual elimination of piracy along eastern oceans of the African continent over the last few years – thanks to a concerted highly collaborative international effort – is no reason for the continent to relax.

Other serious crimes involving and affecting international shipping and impacting global trade remain a constant threat and present danger, delegates to a three day International Maritime Organization (IMO) workshop in Durban, South Africa heard on Monday.

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Mr William Azuh. IMO Head, Africa Section. Technical Cooperation Division in Durban on Monday

Mr William Azuh, head of the Africa section of the IMO’s technical cooperation division, told dozens of delegates from countries many of which are signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) that while collaborating actions to deter piracy had largely been successful: “Make no mistake about this, the pirates are not done yet.”

Mr Azuh was speaking during the first of a scheduled three day IMO workshop for countries in Africa that are members of the IMO’s anti-piracy Djibouti Code of Conduct and its revised version, the ‘Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017’.

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), hosts of the workshop along with the Department of Transport (DoT), the DCoC is a regional counter piracy programme with the main objective of repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Aden and West Indian Ocean regions.

However, the revised version – the ‘Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017’ – has since expanded the scope of the DCoC to include all acts of criminality in the maritime environment, including illicit maritime activities such as human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

According to the IMO, the Jeddah Amendment “recognizes the important role of the “blue economy” including shipping, seafaring, fisheries and tourism in supporting sustainable economic growth, food security, employment, prosperity and stability.

DSC_4792.JPG“But it expresses deep concern about crimes of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity, including fisheries crime, in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Such acts present grave dangers to the safety and security of persons and ships at sea and to the protection of the marine environment.

Crucially, says the IMO; “The Jeddah Amendment calls on the signatory States to cooperate to the fullest possible extent to repress transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and other illegal activities at sea”.

“This will include information sharing; interdicting ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in such crimes; ensuring that any persons committing or intending to commit such illicit activity are apprehended and prosecuted; and facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers involved as victims.”

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MAPPING GLOBAL MARINE DOMAIN AWARENESS: (From Left: Mr Kirija Micheni, Mr Jon Huggins (both IMO DCoC Workshop moderators) and Mr Sobantu Tilayi, COO of SAMSA listening attentively during discussions at the IMO DCOC three day workshop that began on Monday in Durban

The three day workshop in Durban that began Monday morning is the first of its kind for the Africa region aimed at finding agreement and drawing up action plans for establishment of national and regional maritime information sharing centres for improved maritime domain awareness.

Maritime domain awareness (MDA) is described as constituting three aspects; situational awareness, threat awareness and response awareness. For effectiveness to the benefit of a wider community, MDA needs to exist at national (country), regional (continental) and international level.

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Mr Lavani Said (Left) of the Comores and Mr Abebe Tefera Tebeje of Ethiopia (Right front) at the IMO DCoC Three Day Workshop in Durban.

In Durban on Monday, Mr Azuh said the vastness of the global maritime domain was such that no region or country in Africa or elsewhere was totally safe and crucially, no region of the world could act alone in efforts to combat crimes at sea that impact global shipping and trade.

“Without the understanding and effective management of the maritime sphere, we all labour in vain,” he said, adding that maintaining the success achieved to date against piracy in a sustainable manner, was dependent on meticulous implementation of IMO guidance and best management practices.

For Mr Azuh’s full remarks click on video  below.

Mr Azuh’s remarks were shared by Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operations Officer of SAMSA who on behalf of the South African government under the auspices of the Department of Transport, welcomed the delegates to the country.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi (Left), COO of SAMSA with Mr William Azuh, IMO Head, Africa Section. Technical Cooperation Division at the IMO DCoC Workshop  over three days in Durban that began on Monday

Mr Tilayi said it was significant that South Africa was hosting the event relevant to its role in both regional and international maritime matters and precisely those include ensuring safety of people and property at sea.

He said ever evolving advances in communication technology were among tools that needed to brought into the fray towards strengthening safety and security of shipping and South Africa has quite a contribution to make in this regard. He enumerated the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth as among research institutions in the country that were making a significant contribution.

For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks, Click on the video below:

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Mr Timothy Walker. Senior Researcher, Peace Operations and Peacebuilding at the Institute of Security Studies. Pretoria.

The issue of maritime sector shipping safety and security was a concern not only of countries with direct access to the oceans, according to Mr Timothy Walker, senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria.

Speaking on “Making Safer Seas for Africa” said piracy at sea and armed robbery of ships had a direct and immediate impact on global trade which involved all countries of the world.

But also, he said, inland waters across countries in Africa were not excluded as there vast areas of these waters that were used for shipping and therefore remained attractive to criminals.

For the reason, cooperation to improve security of the marine domain was of equal economic benefit to everyone hence the need for awareness needed to be fully inclusive of interested and affected parties.

Mr Walker’s full remarks:

Meanwhile, after a full first day of deliberations, workshop coordinator, Mr Jon Huggins expressed satisfaction with both the intensity and focus of the deliberations, expressing hope that by day three on Wednesday, there would be clarity on a plan of action forward.

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

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Norway ups financial support against illegal fishing and plastic waste in Africa. Nelson Mandela University rakes in R1-million more

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SEALING COLLABORATION: (From Left) Mr Derek Hanekom, South Africa’s Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Iselin Nybø, Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, and Dr Anthony Ribbink, CEO of Sustainable Seas Trust and member of the African Marine Waste Network during the signing of cooperation agreement in Port Elizabeth on Monday, 29 October 2018.

Port Elizabeth: 01 November 2018

The development of a cadre of knowledgeable personnel with high expertise in the management of illegal fishing in South Africa and in the rest of the continent has been given a further boost with the allocation of an additional financial support of about R1-million by the Norwegian government.

The additional funding confirmed earlier this week will go to the Nelson Mandela University (NMU)’s Fisheries Law Enforcement Academy (a.k.a FISHFORCE) established in 2016.

The academy was set up at the NMU through a R50-million financial support, over five years, by Norway with the goal of establishing a core of graduates with knowledge and expertise in the management of illegal fishing as well as contribute to development of effective strategies.

On Monday, Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Iselin Nybø in the company of South Africa’s Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom; visited the NMU for the signing of a bilateral agreement cognizant of the additional R1-million funding.

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Mr Alf Yngve Friiso, Counsel: Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa

Ahead of the signing ceremony, during the launch of an African Youth Waste Network early on Monday, Mr Alf Yngve Frisso, Counselor of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa said the additional funding would go towards training of port security officers – a category of key personnel that was not covered in the initial funding bilateral agreement with the NMU.

“These people work 24 hours a day at the ports and a lot of them do not have training in identifying fish species and different types of fishing crimes. The additional funding will go to the NMU FishForce Academy in order to increase and enhance these officials level of knowledge and expertise.” he said.

The beneficiaries of the Norwegian government support would not be limited to South Africans only, but would include other African countries, he said.

For more on this, click on the video below.

Norway commits additional R2.8-million to fight against plastic pollution

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Ms Iselin Nybø, Norwegian Minister of Research & Higher Education

Meanwhile, Ms Nybø (38), on her first visit to South Africa, said collaboration between Norway and South Africa on strategic interventions in oceans management and related endeavors remained important to her government.

Addressing guests attending the launch of the youth network, Ms Nybø said she her government was impressed by both the initiative to rope in youth in the war against plastic waste pollution, as it was by the research, education and training undertaken by the Nelson Mandela University.

On plastic pollution, she said given realistic prospects that there would be more plastic at sea than fish in the near future, and that Africa would become the most polluted area of the world and a major contributor to plastic waste pollution, Norway’s government commitment to efforts to eliminate plastic waste pollution would be demonstrated through a direct investment of some 1.6-million Norwegian krone (R2.8-million) over the next three years.

To listen to Ms Nybø’s full remarks (about 08.20 minutes), please click on the video below.

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2035 the target date to rid Africa of plastic waste filling the oceans!

DSC_4245.JPGPort Elizabeth: 01 November 2018

Seventeen years from now, Africa must be rid of the menace of plastic waste infesting particularly the oceans surrounding it, that is the ambitious target the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) is setting itself in the global war against plastic waste.

That is according to its lead member, the Port Elizabeth based non governmental organization, Sustainable Seas Trust, which this week launched an initiative called the Africa Youth Waste Network to rope in the continent’s youth in the battle against mounting plastic pollution all across Africa.

DSC_8067.JPGThe youth initiative is part of a broader campaign by the SST and AYWN that is financially backed by the Norwegian government and which has already seen the establishment of an African Marine Waste Academy in Nelson Mandela Bay earlier this year.

Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Isebin Nybo together with South Africa’s Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom were among high profile guests in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday for the launch of the youth initiative.

Other guests included local government officials as well as academics from both the Nelson Mandela University as well as Norway’s University of Bergen.

Some scholarly ongoing research findings shared at the event depicted a dire picture of the highly negative impacts of plastic waste, particularly that which enters the African continent’s oceans.

Among the findings was that not only was plastic waste reaching the oceans now at unsustainable levels, but also that certain fish species were already feeding on it and in the process, posing a real and immediate high risk to both human and other creatures lives that feed on fish.

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Dr Anthony Ribbink. CEO: Sustainable Seas Trust

According to (SST) CEO, Dr Anthony Ribbink, time for talking about the pending disaster was over and target dates had to be set for defined action to show results, hence the group has set 2035 as the year on which Africa will be rid of plastic waste and resultant pollution.

Central to the strategy for cleaning up and eventually eliminating plastic waste will be the engagement of particularly youth across the continent through the newly set up network, combining it with ongoing academic research, but also a development of economic opportunities to both manage and get rid of plastic waste.

Key role players will include municipalities across towns and cities of the continent.

According to Dr Ribbink, the first target African city for the major clean up campaign will be Nelson Mandela Bay whose deadline for reaching a zero plastic waste status has been set even more tighter, as 2021.

“We want to make sure that Nelson Mandela Bay becomes the first city in Africa to reach zero plastic waste by 2021 and the local municipal government has committed to the target.”

He also announced that the African Marine Waste Network with 42 members countries across the continent will hold its second conference in April 2020 and during which concrete plans for the rest of the continent will be shared.

In the video below, Dr Ribbink explains the thinking.

Meanwhile,  Ms Alexie Kalenga, coordinator of the AYWN explained the rationale behind the active engagement of especially young people in the Africa war against plastic waste.

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Ms Alexie Kalenga. African Youth Waste Network

She said recent population statistics indicated two critical aspects about Africa’s population: that young people aged between 16 and 25 years hold (225-million as at 2015) constituted about 60% of the continent’s population and about 19% of the world’s population and were therefore the largest majority by far.

But crucially, this figure was projected to almost double to 456-million by 2055, thereby reflecting a rapidly growing population, with huge implications for waste generation and management as, she said, waste accumulation had been proved to be a function of population size.

She said the network was intended to be an active platform for collaboration, resource and knowledge sharing among young people across countries.

“It’s a youth driven initiative that aims at zero pollution and clean seas by 2035.

In the video below, Ms Kalenga shares more detail.

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Ridding South Africa of plastic waste, the next frontier war; declares acting Minister of Environmental Affairs

20180603_134053Port Elizabeth 31 October 2018

Cleaning up and ridding South Africa of particularly plastic waste that eventually lands up at the country’s oceans to the disastrous peril of sea life, is going to be the next big war to be waged intensely by Government in collaboration with society, says Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom

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Mr Derek Hannekom. Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs addressing guests during the launch of the African Youth Waste Network in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday, 29 October 2018

Mr Hanekom confirmed this while attending the launch of an initiative to rope in and actively involve African youth in the war against plastic waste, as well as the signing of yet another collaboration agreement between the Norwegian government and the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth on Monday.

Both the launch of the African Youth Waste Network by the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) as well as the collaborative agreement signed between the Norwegian government and the Nelson Mandela University on Monday to strengthen and expand education and training related to ocean’s management, are seen as key components to strengthening South Africa’s Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative to rejuvenate and grow the country’s maritime economic sector.

SST is Port Elizabeth based South African non governmental organization that is part of  the African Marine Waste Network launched in South Africa in 2017 with 42 member countries across the African continent.

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Pupils from Port Elizabeth’s Inkqubela Primary School who were part of youths from a few schools attending the launch of the African Youth Waste Network at the Nelson Mandela University on Monday, 29 October 2018. The four, from their school’s environmental club also performed at the event.

The launch of the African Youth Waste Network (AYWN) on Monday is part of a comprehensive Norway government sponsored program by the African Marine Waste Network, led by SST, to actively fight the scourge of marine plastic waste across the continent.

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Mr Mongameli Bobani, Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay (seated, Front Left) was among high profile guests attending the launch of the African Youth Waste Network in Port Elizabeth

Mr Hanekom, as acting Minister of Environmental Affairs following to the passing of away of Ms Edna Molewa recently, is currently responsible for the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative launched for years ago.

However, as also Minister of Tourism, effective waste management in the country is a major interest in his portfolio.

Mr Hanekom, in the company of Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Iselin Nybo among others, applauded the launch of the youth network initiative on Monday and expressed appreciation of the Norwegian government’s continued support of both the youth initiative as well as the Nelson Mandela University’s education and training campaigns.

He said South Africa, like most others countries in the world, faced a mammoth task of managing effectively the scourge particularly plastic waste in the country in order to curb and eventually prevent its negative impacts on both the environment as well as people’s health.

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Dr Karl Klingsheim, Counselor of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa (seated front centre) was among guests attending the launch of the African Youth Waste Network. Norway is the major sponsor of a comprehensive programme that includes the youth initiative.

With over 50% of all plastic in the country being in the form of single use packaging, Mr Hanekom acknowledged that South Africa had lost momentum in the fight against plastic waste after the initial introduction of levies on consumer plastic bags years ago.

Now, he said, the forward strategy currently under consideration through policy would encompass three components; curbing plastic generation at source, implementing effective ways of plastic usage, and developing meaningful ways of managing plastic waste.

Mr Hanekom said the first component – dealing with plastic at source – would ‘without doubt’ draw the ire of plastic producers who would argue strongly against job losses.  However, he said this would not be an unusual argument, as had also been experienced in debates about strategies on renewable energies.

“Chemical weapons are a no-no! Chemicals weapons are not allowed and the whole world is against their production. There is no arguing that, well, we got to continue producing chemical weapons otherwise we are going to lose jobs. It does not work that way.

“You’ve got to bite the bullet at some point, and understand the gravity of what you are dealing with, and say if we can’t continue doing this, whichever angle you approach it from…..that somewhere, we have to take some tough measures.

“You will always lose jobs when you migrate from one sector to another. It is happening with coal mining.”

DSC_8121.JPGCrucially, he said, something needed to be done in South Africa to rid the country of mountains of plastic waste now entrapping and eliminating life in the oceans and increasingly threatening people’s lives.

The second component would require actively bringing about public awareness as well as engagement, while the third component would aim at eventually eliminating plastic waste through innovative economic schemes.

Mr Hanekom said: “In the next few weeks, as part of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) we will be launching a national clean up campaign. It will be a big national effort about awareness and about people being actively involved, from the President, Ministers, Premiers and MECs, MPs and all public representatives.

“When this campaign is formally launched by the President, what is going to be expected of all us public representatives at all levels, is to go out there, dirty our hands and clean up the country at the same encouraging communities to actively participate.” he said.

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Nelson Mandela Bay welcomes launch of Africa youth initiative against plastic waste in its backyard

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Port Elizabeth: 31 October 2018

The selection of and launch in Port Elizabeth this week of a continent wide initiative roping in youth into the global war against marine plastic waste has been warmly welcomed by the coastal metropolitan area’s government.

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Ms Yolsa Padi. Member of the Mayoral Council for Public Health. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality (Port Elizabeth)

“The launch of this green programme and network is very good news for the city, ‘ said Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality (NMBM) Member of the Mayoral Council for Public Health, Ms Yolisa Padi in welcoming the launch of the African Youth Waste Network at the city’s university, the Nelson Mandela University on Monday.

“As our visitors will know, Nelson Mandela Bay has potential as a major tourist destination and a nature lover’s paradise. We are becoming increasingly aware of  our vast marine resources and the need to manage these responsibly, as well as of the economic and other benefits attached to an oceans economy.

“In all this, the cleanliness and attractiveness of our city and environment is vital, not only for the health and safety of our residents, but also because we are keen to build our reputation as a major tourist city and a preferred holiday destination.

The launch of the African Youth Waste Network in the region was, however, consistent with global marine and maritime related recent developments targeting the city, inclusive of the first continental African Marine Waste Conference held in the city in July 2017, followed earlier this year by the launch of the African Marine Waste Academy (AMWA) under the aegis of the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) now currently with 42 members across Africa and reportedly growing.

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The initiatives, spearheaded by Port Elizabeth nongovernmental organization, the Sustainable Seas Trust and a founder member of the AMWN are financially sponsored by the Norwegian government which early in 2018 confirmed the awarding of about a R1-million to the programme over a 12 months period.

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Ms Iselin Nybø. Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education during a visit to Port Elizabeth, South Africa on 29 October 2018

A Norwegian government delegation led by Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ms Iselin Nybø, was among prominent guests at the function on Monday.

In her brief address, Ms Padi who accompanied the city’s Mayor, Mr Mongameli Bobani, described it as Port Elizabeth’s concern “the alarming news daily of the rate of destruction of the natural environment of our planet and its oceans. Current and future governments have no option but to increasingly focus on environmental protection and find better solutions to the issue of waste management,” she said.

In response however, she said the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for its part, was “engaged in a number of cleaning and waste management initiatives to address this.”

“The going is slow but some of our initiatives are starting to show results and to be of benefit to our communities.

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Mr Mongameli Bobani, Mayor of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality (Standing, Right) greeting among others, Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mr Derek Hanekom (seated, Left) during the launch of the African Youth Waste Network in Port Elizabeth on Monday.

“The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality fully supports the launch of the African Youth Waste Network. We know the time to do something is now and it is very right and fitting that the energy, enthusiasm and innovative idea of the youth will be harnessed in the process,” said Ms Padi.

 

For more on the launch of the AYWN, click on the links below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

African youth set for formal direct role in war against marine plastic pollution: African Marine Waste Network

DSC_4166 (2)Pretoria: 27 October 2018

Engaging Africa’s young people as crusaders in the global war against the menace of oceans and inland waterways plastic pollution takes on a whole new stride forward in South Africa with the launch of the continent’s first African Youth Waste Network (AYWN) in Port Elizabeth on Monday

The launch of the initiative at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) north campus from 9am on Monday is a culmination of a partnership involving local non governmental organization, Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) and the Norwegian government, marked earlier in 2018 with the set up in Port Elizabeth of an African Marine Waste Academy.

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IN PARTNERSHIP:  (Left) Dr Anthony Ribbink, Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST: South Africa)  and  Norwegian Ambassador to South Africa Ms Trine Skymoen exchanging documents and shaking hands on an agreement through which Norway  is funding  a first of its kind initiative to combat marine waste in Africa based in Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape Province.

According to the SST, South Africa’s lead partner of the Africa Marine Waste Network with 42 member countries,  the youth network “will enable the youth of Africa to communicate and inspire one another and engage with young people everywhere as well as influence adults, especially leaders.”

 

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Mr Derek Hanekom. Minister of Tourism

As an indication of the high significance of the launch of the AYWN initiative, billed guests include senior South African and Norwegian government officials, among them South Africa’s Minister of Tourism and acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Derek Hanekom, his Norwegian counterpart responsible for the Ministry of Research and Higher Education, Ms Iselin Nybø, Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa councillor, Dr Karl Klingsheim, academics from the Nelson Mandela University and Norway’s University of Bergen.

Also attending will be Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality, Mr Mongameli Bobani.

Minister Hanekom is billed to share the South African government’s viewpoint on both the scourge of plastic pollution as well as its endorsement of the engagement of young people in the global initiative, while Minister Nybø will share experiences and best practices in thwarting plastic pollution particularly from the marine environment from Norway’s perspective.

For more information on the SST/AMWN and Norwegian government initiatives in the South Africa based war against particularly marine plastic waste, click on the set of stories below.

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Global initiative against plastic waste at Africa’s oceans takes shape in Port Elizabeth

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The Swartkops River mouth in Port Elizabeth, South Africa that cuts across the city to the Indian Ocean and which is to be a major focus of the African Marine Waste Network campaign against oceans plastic waste pollution prevention strategy in the next five years.

Cape Town: 06 May 2018

An ambitious global initiative to turn decisively the tide against massive volumes of plastics waste entering the world’s oceans around the African continent is formally taking shape in South Africa under the aegis of the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) based in Port Elizabeth.

The network was established in South Africa in 2016 with the support of government and high education institutions, and boasts no less than 42 member countries in the Africa region.

A year ago, it held its first African Marine Waste Conference in the country.

This year, boosted by new funding from the Norwegian government totaling just over a million rand a month ago, the AMWN has not only already established a scientific plastic waste academy launched in Port Elizabeth a week ago, but is also embarking on a three pronged strategy this month involving scientific research of plastic waste, the  launch of a community outreach campaign involving both business and communities, as well establishment of an Africa Youth Network intended to engage particularly young people in an education campaign continent-wide against marine plastic waste and oceans pollution.

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Norway ambassador to South Africa HE Trine Skymoen (centre with white top) with Africa Marine Waste Network director and CEO of Sustainable Seas Trust, Dr Anthony Ribbink (fourth from Left) and staff members of the SST in Port Elizabeth, South Africa recently.

According to the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) a leading partner of the AMWN initiative based in Port Elizabeth, the youth network “will enable the youth of Africa to communicate and inspire one another and engage with young people everywhere as well as influence adults, especially leaders.”

The formal launch of the Africa Youth Network is scheduled for June 2018 to also mark World Oceans Day on 08 June.

This latter initiative will be preceded by a number of activities among which will be a ‘plastic industries’ workshop in Port Elizabeth on 10 May 2018. The aim according to SST in a statement, is to extract information that will be used to develop an Education Resource Book for sharing among among schools and similar education institutions throughout the African continent.

“Issues of plastics in the environment and human health are relatively new and have not yet entered education systems as they should have, so the need to build capacity in Africa is an imperative we aim to meet.

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Dr Anthony Ribbink. African Marine Waste Network director and CEO of Sustainable Seas Trust

“There is no existing curriculum on plastics in African schools or governments. Thus we will be developing curricula and educational output in the form of an Education Resource Book. The Resource Book will be all encompassing of plastics, from A to Z, from raw materials to final product and after use processes. This will include the roles of producers, distributors, retailers, consumers and municipalities.

“We will develop the book in an all-inclusive manner, where we have planned workshops with the plastic industry and education and curriculum experts to help guide us. We shall host the initial workshops in May to promote sharing of ideas and collaboration between different organizations.

“The first will be on plastics industries, where our plan is to gather as much information as we can about the plastics industry. Thereafter we shall host a teacher’s workshop, inviting teachers and education stakeholders from across South Africa and Africa,” said the SST in a statement this past week.

The AMWN marine plastic waste initiative in the Nelson Mandela Bay region (Port Elizabeth) – a city settled to the east of South Africa on the southern part of the Indian Ocean and fast developing into a significant shipping services hub – will also involve the clean up of a major river estuary cutting across the city to the Indian Ocean.

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On the banks of the Swartkops River estuary, a waste bin depicting the apparent poverty of plastic waste collection methods of the local municipality which evidently leads to plastic waste ending up in the river waters and later into the Indian Ocean to the east of Port Elizabeth

The major plastic waste clean up campaign of the Swartkops River estuary is scheduled to start in Spring, from 15 September 2018.

The idea, according to AMWN, is to establish the region as a centre of excellence through ensuring that it is pristine clean of marine plastic waste in five years, thereby demonstrating the viability and importance of the Africa marine plastic waste reduction initiative.

“By 2021, we (the Nelson Mandela Bay region) can be the cleanest in Africa, the most active, best informed communities,” says the AWMN.

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British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr John Wade-Smith (Third from Left) with (From Left) Nelson Mandela University deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Leitch, Sustainable Seas Trust CEO and Africa Marine Waste Network director Dr Anthony Ribbink, and Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa official Dr Karl Klingsheim

Meanwhile, the British government has heaped praise on both the initiative and the supportive roles played by both the Norwegian government as well as the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, the latter which has taken the lead in oceans studies inclusive of scientific research into environmental management of the oceans surrounding the southern tip of the African continent; the Indian Ocean to the east, the Southern Oceans to the Antarctica region as well as the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

Speaking during the formal launch of the AMWN Academy in Port Elizabeth a week ago, British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr John Wade-Smith said the combination of scientific research, community engagement and business opportunities development was a strategy that provided opportunity for all members of society to engage.

He had particular praise for the Nelson Mandela University for its involvement in the AMWN initiatives. He also shared insights into how Britain was contributing to the global campaign against plastic waste polluting the world’s oceans.

For Dr Wade-Smith’s full remarks, click on the video below.

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