Called out to save lives at sea, SAMSA responds accordingly, as fate of foreign crew stranded in SA remain unclear

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A HELPING HAND:  A SAMSA official hands over food items and related material to six crew members of a stranded vessel that entered South African sea waters and anchored off the port of Cape Town without permission a month ago. The vessel believed to be of Asian origin has since been quarantined and detained at the port of Cape Town pending resolution of its law transgressions since entering the country’s waters illegally.

Pretoria: 08 January 2020

The fate of six stranded Asian sailors found in a desperate situation in a poorly conditioned vessel off the port of Cape Town recently may remain uncertain still, but their safety and general well-being going forward is ensured for time being, thanks to the timely intervention and assistance efforts of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

According to the agency, part of whose mandate is to ensure the safety of property and life at sea, the epic drama involving the six foreign sailors – two from Taiwan and four others from Mynmar, and some of whom now face possible legal sanction – apparently unfolded after SAMSA officials were alerted by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF) about a drifting, fuel-less and permit-less vessel spotted at sea, off the port of Cape Town on 02 December 2019.

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Four of the six member crew of the Yong Qing Fa No.666 currently believed to have been abandoned by their employer and who are currently residing on board the crippled vessel at the port of Cape Town after it was detained following its unauthorized entry and anchorage in SA waters, and a subsequent C188 inspection that found it not seaworthy. The six member crew of the vessel consists of four seafarers from Mynmar and two others from Taiwan.

Captain Pierre Schutz, a deputy Principal Officer at SAMSA’s western region Cape Town office, recounted this week about how the agency’s officers scrambled to the rescue of the foreign seafarers to ensure primarily their safety and general welfare while their sea sailing troubles including legal issues were being interrogated for a possible resolution.

The legal woes facing both the owners and crew of the now quarantined fishing vessel known as the Yong Qing Fa No.666 but whose flag state has yet to be determined, it emerged, include the vessel’s unauthorized entry into South African sea waters, the absence on board of necessary documentation including certificates of nationality, tonnage, drawing plans, crew list, Voyage Management System (VMS) transmitting, and an off Automatic Identification System (AIS).

On entering South African waters without permission and dropping anchor near Cape Town harbor without authorization on 30 November 2019 due to apparent desperation for bunkers, the six member crew on board reportedly also initially failed to communicate properly their plight with local authorities due to language difficulties, until the Taiwanese Fisheries agency in South Africa got involved, almost a week later.

pic 5In fact, on entering the country’s waters in the Atlantic Ocean and putting anchor near the Cape Town port, according to SAMSA, based on TNPA reports, the vessel’s crew did so without following any protocols and had maintained complete radio silence, something unusual and illegal.

It had since emerged that the six crew members and their poorly maintained vessel had were likely abandoned by the owner, with four of the crew members having not been paid their wages.

According to SAMSA on Wednesday this week, two of the stranded seafarers, from Taiwan, had since been charged with certain law transgressions (unspecified) and were due to reappear in a Cape Town magistrate’s court on 27 January 2020.

Reporting about the drama, Capt. Schutz says SAMSA got drawn initially to the plight of the crew of the vessel – and which had since been established to have been sailing from West Africa to Mauritius – after respective authorities including the TNPA, DEFF and others, all bound by relevant legislation and protocols, were initially reluctant and refused it entry into a South African port without standard procedures having been fully observed.

These included a 21 day offshore containment period to determine the vessel and crew health condition that it did not carry any communicable diseases such as – in this case – Ebola, as the vessel had reportedly sailed from a West African region where the deadly disease is reputably rife. 

He says 12 days after the drama ensued, with engagements ongoing among respective authorities, SAMSA appealed to the TNPA, DEFF and others to allow an inspection of the vessel and crew in order to facilitate provision of basic essentials to the crew, such as food and water. Crucially, this was also to ensure the safety of the vessel given its unauthorized anchorage which could prove hazardous to other sailing vessels in the vicinity if left unattended for too long.

By 13 December 2019, according to Capt. Schutz, the vessel was eventually allocated a berth in an isolated area at the port of Cape Town following to which nutrition was brought on board for the vessels’ crew while a variety of inspections were conducted.

He confirmed that a SAMSA inspection in terms of local and international legal instruments including the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) C188 – Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188) found the vessel to be not seaworthy and it was officially detained, while a DEFF inspection led to the arrest of the vessel’s skipper and his subsequent appearances in court.

cropped-samsa-master-logoAs of last week, according to Capt. Schutz, the vessel still had no power and it still had no local agent appointed to attend to its needs as required by law. Meanwhile Taiwanese authorities in South Africa were still not taking responsibility for a majority of the crew members on board the vessel while DEFF officials’ efforts to seek assistance from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) had proved fruitless so far.

Capt. Schutz says: “The SAMSA (Cape Town office) is liaising with DEFF in terms of the court appearance of two of the seafarers. It is also liaising with the local Apostleship of the Seas in terms of welfare and food. Currently also, SAMSA is supplying food while awaiting for the court appearance.”

Regarding the detention of the vessel, Capt. Schutz says its release will be conditional to the owners carrying out the repairs it is so advised to do and on completion, inform SAMSA.

“Once so advised, SAMSA would conduct another inspection, and if the vessel is found in good condition, the vessel would be released from detention. There is no time frame attached to this,” he says, save for a range of port charges it will incur, accruing to the TNPA, for its safekeeping at a South African port, and which could escalate depending on how long it takes to repair it.

Capt. Schutz says further that the vessels’ crew will be repatriated  once all matters related are finalized to the satisfaction of South African authorities.

“The responsibility however lies with the owners. There has been no final decision in this regard,” he says.

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Please note that this story has been updated to provide additional details and correct certain inaccuracies.

Women advancement in SA’s maritime sector on a giant historical leap: SAMSA

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South Africa’s first all female cadets and training officers team before sailing out in Cape Town on 27 December 2019 for a three months research and training sojourn into the Indian and Southern Oceans including Antarctica.

Cape Town: 30 December 2019

Women empowerment in South Africa’s maritime sector took on yet another relatively small but highly significant and historical step forward at the weekend in Cape Town after the country despatched an all women cadet and training officers’ team on a three months voyage to the southern seas.

The 22 women- two officers and 20 young female cadets sailed from the port of Cape Town on Friday night, headed for Mauritius where they will be joined in 10 days by a group of Indian scientists for their three months sojourn into the Indian Ocean and Antartica region.

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The 20 all female deck and engine cadets in full uniform on board the SA Agulhas a few hours before their historical training sojourn which will end in March 2020

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – owners and operators of the SA Agulhas, the country’s only dedicated cadet training vessel – and the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) – the country’s agency for cadet training – the latest of three such training opportunities for the country’s cadets out sea was partly made possible by the out hiring of the SA Agulhas ship to the Indian National Centre for Antarctic Ocean Research (ICAOR).

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The SA Agulhas at the port of Cape Town. Owned and operated by the SA Maritime Safety Authority, the ship is South Africa’s only dedicated national cadet training vessel.

Scientists from the ICAOR will be conducting research of the Indian and Southern Oceans waters over a period of two months through to the end of February 2020. During this period, the all female 18 deck and two engine cadets will receive extensive training and earn crucial sea time to advance them through their studies as future mariners.

SAMSA and SAIMI described the send off of an all female cadet team and all female training officers in Cape Town at the weekend  as the first ever such adventure, deliberately aimed at advancing gender parity in the maritime sector through focused advancement of woman.

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From Left: Mr Ian Calvert, executive head of SAMSA’s Marine Special Services with the master of the SA Agulhas, Captain Reagan Paul in Cape Town on Friday 27 December 2019

Two of the 20 cadets will likely qualify for the Officer of the Watch exam after earning sufficient sea time during this voyage. For several of the cadets, this voyage will be the first time away from home and will be their first ever training opportunity at sea.

SAMSA Acting CEO Mr Sobantu Tilayi emphasized the importance of this particular voyage; “It is important that we use every opportunity we get to open up the maritime industry to all and this voyage is proof that South Africa is on-board with the international drive to empower women and is committed to do away with the notion that the maritime industry is a male dominated industry” said Mr Tilayi.

Mr Ian Calvert, executive head of SAMSA’s Marine Special Services, who was on hand to see off the all female training crew said: “Addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality is the responsibility of all South Africans. Further to this, gender parity in the workspace remains of great concern.

“Today, women signify two percent of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers with 94 percent of female seafarers working in the cruise ship industry. There can be no doubt this is a historically male dominated industry, subsequently there needs to be a concerted effort to help the industry move forward and support women to achieve a representation that is in keeping with 21st century expectations.”

According to Mr Calvert, the historical event send off at the weekend, was not just a uniquely South African initiative that was out of sink with the rest of the world, but a significant contribution to global efforts championed currently by international agencies such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Maritie Organisation (IMO).

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True to a call: (From Left) Ms Cher Klen and Ms Samantha Montes, the SA Agulhas training officers for the 2019-2020 historical all female cadet training voyage that began on Friday 27 December 2019

He said: “Through its Women in Maritime programme, under the slogan: “Training-Visibility-Recognition”,  the IMO has taken a strategic approach towards enhancing the contribution of women as key maritime stakeholders. In spite of this, the benefits of these and other initiatives still need to be fully felt in (South) Africa.

“For this particular voyage as a show of our continued commitment to the achievement of gender equality we have specifically dedicated it to the exposure of women in maritime,” said Mr Calvert

DSC_8091.JPGFurther, he said, the initiative was in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, the African Integrated Maritime Strategy, National Development Plan, Operation Phakisa as well as the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy.

“It is an attempt to address gender empowerment and inequalities specifically in South Africa, in the year that the IMO declared The World Maritime Day theme as “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”.

For Mr Calvert’s remarks on the topic, click on video below.

SA Agulhas Antarctica Voyage 2019: First All Female Training Venture

This blog also chatted with some of the youg female cadets as well as the master of the vessel on this voyage, Captain Reagan Paul, to gain their views and expectations of experience during the next three motnhs. The young cadets, Ms Lona Jiba (Eastern Cape), Ms Puleng Ramasodi and Thabango Ngobeni (both from Gauteng), and Ms Sinethemba Mdlalose (KwaZulu-Natal) were beyond themselves with joy at their first sea voyage and particularly on board the SA Agulhas on its journey to the ice mountains of the Antarctica region.

The blog also heard from one of the onboard training officers, Ms Samantha Montes who’s stated other interest during the voyage would be an observation of the implementation of the Polar Code.

For this and more click on the videos below.

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Another errand for SA Agulhas, another perfect opportunity for cadets practical training: SAMSA

DSC_8030Cape Town: 15 October 2018

At 3.15pm on Monday, the SA Agulhas sailed out of the port of Cape Town headed for the open oceans surrounding South Africa for a commercial errand, and on board her, a total of 48 cadets and ratings – the largest such number of seafarer trainees yet – on their way to two weeks of hands-on training in the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel.

The commercial errand according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), owners of the SA Agulhas, involves measurement of radio signal strengths along South Africa’s coast on behalf of telecommunications and cellular phone services entity, Telkom.

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Deck training officer, George Fatnev (standing back) with some of the trainees on board the SA Agulhas during departure at port of Cape Town for a two week ocean going trip on October 15, 2018

The two-week voyage along the west and east oceans of South Africa (the Atlantic and Indian oceans) is a partnership between SAMSA), Telkom and the Department of Transport.

The SA Agulhas, a South African ice-strengthened training ship and former polar research vessel since acquired by SAMSA for the country’s National Cadet Programme now run by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), will double duty to ensure that the 48 cadets and ratings on board acquire some of the experience at sea they need to complete their studies.

“Without time at sea the cadets cannot graduate and it is very hard for cadets to get berths on ships or boats, so this is an important maritime youth development  and employment initiative for both SAMSA, its partners in the maritime sector and the country,” says Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operations Officer of SAMSA.

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Cadet and ratings training officers on board the SA Agulhas (from Left) Cher Klein (senior training officer: deck), George Fatnev (deck training officer), Ncebo Msimang and Thabang Kudumane (engine training officers)

On board, they will be taken care of by four specialist deck and engine training officers comprising Cher Klein (senior training officer in charge), Ncebo Msimang and Thabang Kudumane and George Valerievich Fatnev (deck).

The four officers will seek to ensure that the youths while on board for the next five weeks (two in the open ocean), receive and absorb as much required practical training as is possible.

Ms Klein and Mr Fatnev explains their plans and anticipation in the video below.

According to SAMSA, the SA Agulhas is due to return from its 2 850 nautical mile coastal voyage on 30 October 2018.

 

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Poland’s Dar Mlodziezy crew pay tribute to Nelson Mandela in Cape Town

DSC_6767.JPGCape Town: 17 August 2018

The young crew of the Poland’s centennial independence celebration vessel, Dar Mlodziezy, making a three-day stop-over in South Africa this week, payed a moving tribute to former South African president and international statesman, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela at a brief ceremony held at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Thursday.

The site of the tribute was the small memory garden at the V&A Waterfront housing the statues of four of the country’s Nobel Peace laureates; Nelson R. Mandela, former Anglican Church Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu, former South African president Frederick W. de Klerk and the late ANC president, Chief Albert Luthuli.

DSC_6771It was a fitting tribute coinciding and consistent with Poland’s own 100th anniversary of the regaining of its own independence in 1918, and which is being marked spectacularly by the round-the-world trip the Dar Mlodziezy’s crew is currently on and which will involve touch-down in some 22 countries in four continents.

The crew of Dar Mlodziezy‘s of more than 100 is made up of a majority of maritime students from the as well as cadets.

DSC_6778.JPGThey arrived in South Africa’s port of Cape Town on Wednesday morning and depart for their sailing trip on Friday afternoon, the next stop being Mauritius in about four days.

In the next video, the commander of Dar Mlodziezy, Captain Ireneusz Lewandowski explains the nature and context of the Polish’s oceans celebratory journey across the world.

After paying tribute to Mr Mandela, also whose centennial – along with former ANC struggle stalwart, Mam’ Albertina Sisulu – is also being celebrated in South Africa; the crew of the vessel hosted a cocktail function on board the Dar Mlodziezy at the V&A Waterfront on Thursday night, ahead of a trip to Robben Island early on Friday and from which they’d sail out of South African oceans waters.

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Fire on Korean fishing vessel at port of Cape Town under control: port services uninterrupted

Pretoria: Sunday, 19 February 2017

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Korean fishing vessel, the No.101 GEUMJEONG listing to port as firefighters continued to battle a blaze on board in Cape Town on Sunday.

Port authorities at the port of Cape Town, working closely with the city’s firefighting services team, have managed to keep under control a raging fire that broke out on board a Korea fishing vessel, the No.101 Geumjeong on Saturday morning, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported Sunday.

sam_3528“The fire is under control, but has spread to the back (aft) of the vessel. The City of Cape Town Fire Services are rendering boundary cooling from the quay side and a TNPA tug from the waterside. The vessel is still listing to port and is trimmed by the stern, limiting firefighting capabilities on board,” said SAMSA acting Principal Officer for Cape Town, Captain Antoinette Keller.

According to Capt. Keller, the incident also has had no impact on shipping and posed no pollution risk currently even as pollution equipment was kept on standby should deployment become necessary.

Heavy smoke could be seen from a quite a distance in Cape Town yesterday after a fishing vessel docked at a repair quay caught alight in the early hour of Saturday.
Heavy smoke could be seen from a quite a distance in Cape Town yesterday after a fishing vessel docked at a repair quay caught alight in the early hours  of Saturday.

Capt. Keller said local authorities were alerted to the fire on board the No.101 Geumjeong at about 1.20am Saturday, prompting the City of Cape Town Fire Department to race to the scene – a repair quay at the port of Cape Town – where they were joined by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) crews.

“There is no reported loss of life and all individuals are accounted for. Currently there is no personnel on board and the fire is being addressed via boundary cooling for safety reasons, both from shore side and sea side. The vessels in the immediate vicinity have been safely moved to alternate berths,” she said.

According to Capt. Keller, an investigation will be conducted by SAMSA into the cause of the fire as soon as it has been put out.

Meanwhile in Port Elizabeth, where a cargo vessel had to make an emergency docking earlier in the week after it also caught on fire while sailing towards the Cape Peninsula, mopping up operations continued following to successful evacuation and dousing out of the fire.

Liberia flagged cargo vessel, APL Austria resting uneasily at the port of Ngqrurha near Port Elizabeth yesterday as a mop up phase began after rescue operations succeeded in putting out a raging fire on board the vessel since Sunday afternoon.
Liberia flagged cargo vessel, APL Austria resting uneasily at the port of Ngqrurha near Port Elizabeth yesterday as a mop up phase began after rescue operations succeeded in putting out a raging fire on board the vessel since Sunday afternoon.

“Mop-up operations and discharge of damaged containers are in progress, and causalty/incident investigation is in progress,” confirmed Captain Daron Burgess.

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Vessels fires put out; investigation into their cause to follow

The MFV Verano, a Russia registered, South Korea owned fishing trawler that caught alight on Wednesday last week a the port of Cape Town has since had the fired put out.  An investigation into the cause of the fire is expected to commence as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
The MFV Verano, a Russia registered, South Korea owned fishing trawler that caught alight on Wednesday last week a the port of Cape Town has since had the fired put out. An investigation into the cause of the fire is expected to commence as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.

Pretoria: 10 November 2016

A fire that consumed a Russia registered fishing trawler, the MFV Verano at the port of Cape Town for seven straight days has finally been put out, a joint operations team tasked with battling the blaze has confirmed.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) also confirmed that another flareup on the bridge of a vessel, the Da Yuan Yu, also docked at the port was also dealt with quickly and successfully on Wednesday afternoon. The cause of the fire on the second vessel had also not yet been established.

Meanwhile, a joint task team tasked with fire onboard the Verano which began last week Wednesday, reported that it had finally subdued the flames at about 6pm on Tuesday.

“All boundary cooling activities are discontinued, though fire services have been placed on standby for any emergencies.The vessel is still listing to starboard but remains stable. The appointed Salvors have fully mobilized on site. Daily operational meetings with Salvors continue. The cause of the incident remains undetermined at this stage. The port continues to operate as per normal, with the incident having no further impact on operations,” the statement said.

SAMSA had earlier said an investigation into the cause of the fire on the MFV Verano would get underway as soon as conditions allow.

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Russian registered fishing trawler in stable condition, with port operations back to normal at Cape Town Harbour – SAMSA in conjunction with TNPA reports.

Latest Update: 4.pm Tuesday, 08 November 2016

The MFV Verano, a Russian registered fishing trawler that caught fire at the port of Cape Town last Wednesday is still burning, and although listing, it remains stable. Its crew was reportedly safely evacuated.
The MFV Verano, a Russian registered fishing trawler that caught fire at the port of Cape Town last Wednesday is still burning, and although listing, it remains stable. Its crew was reportedly safely evacuated.

The  MFV “Verano”, a fishing trawler berthed at quay 703  at the port of Cape Town and which has been on fire since Wednesday last week,  is reported to have cooled down substantially, and that even though she is listing to starboard, she remains in a stable condition.

Shortly after the fire broke out,  five crew members on board were safely evacuated with no injury or loss of life and a Primary Joint Operations Centre involving the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) was established with a mobile incident command on site on a 24 hour basis.

Heavy plumes of smoke, believed to be coming from burning plastic packaging material and polystyrene stored in a fish hold within the vessel, covered the area as firefighters from the Cape Town Firefighting Department joined forces with tugs to try and extinguish the blaze.

A fishing vessel adjacent to the burning vessel had to be shifted to another area in the port and the Transnet temporarily shut down the container terminal operations.

The following day, Thursday the fire at the front of the vessel as well as the accommodation section had been contained but remained burning aft of the vessel due to the plastic packaging material onboard.

Plans were discussed to debunker the fuel onboard.

On Friday the fire was still emanating in number 2 fish hold and in the paint store located in the forecastle. This prompted plans to pump water out from the hull and open hatches to apply high expansion foam into the vessel.

Over the weekend the fire situation continued to be at a moderate condition and to secure the area, an oil boom was deployed around the vessel to prevent any pollution that could occur. By this time, Transnet Port Terminals Container Terminal was back to full operational.

On Monday this week the joint operations team reported further improvement in the situation with the vessel now substantially cooled down. It reported the vessel as still listing to starboard but  in a stable condition.

Early Tuesday  smoke still bellowed from the number one fish hold while boundary cooling continued on either side of the vessel.

In a statement during the day, it was announced that an assessment has been undertaken by a TNPA appointed Marine Surveyor and P&I surveyor while the vessel owners had also appointed Salvors, to help extinguish the fire, de-water and make the vessel safe.

Meanwhile, records indicate that the MFV “Verano”, a Russia registered but South Korean owned vessel, has been stationed at the port of Cape Town since October 2013 after it had reported for cargo discharge, thereafter berthed for repairs before uplifting bunkers after which it docked at quay 703 – its current position.

SAMSA is maintaining a close eye on the process and will conduct an investigation when once it is safe to do so.

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Report Updated: 3.20pm Thursday.

UP IN SMOKE: A Russian registered vessel on fire at the Cape Town harbour on Tuesday.
UP IN SMOKE: A Russian registered vessel on fire at the Cape Town harbour on Tuesday.

Cape Town: 02 November 2016

Efforts by firefighters to put out a fire engulfing a Russia flag bearing vessel docked at the Cape Town harbour continued into late afternoon on Wednesday.

According to the website, sea-web.com; the 41 year old vessel, known as a ‘factory stern trawler’ type, is owned and operated by Insung Corporation of South Korea.

The cause of the fire which broke out on the vessel named Verano, at about noon on Wednesday, was still unknown, according to the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Samsa’s Western Region acting Regional Manager, Captain Gustav Louw confirmed

  • that a surveyor had been dispatched to do some preliminary inspection soon after the fire broke out on the vessel.
  • Full investigation would take place only after the fire was put out.
  • He also confirmed that crew of the vessel had successful escaped the fire on the vessel.
  • At 17h00 the Cape Town Fire Department and TNPA tugs were still on the scene trying to extinguished the fire.

IN PICTURES:

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UP IN SMOKE: A Russian registered vessel on fire at the Cape Town harbour on Tuesday.

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Fate of arrested Chinese vessel in Cape Town to be determined soon

Pretoria: 16 May 2016

An image of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186. Courtesy of Independent Online
An image of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186 arrested by South African authorities off the Eastern Cape coast at the weekend now berthed at the Cape Town harbour. (Image courtesy of Independent Online

The fate of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186, currently docked in Cape Town after being successfully chased and captured by South African authorities off the Eastern Cape coast at the weekend will soon be fully determined by the extent to which it violated both the country’s laws and international conventions.

The vessel is one of several – about nine – possibly from the same company believed to have entered and operated in South African waters illegally about a week ago.

On Monday (May 16) the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed that it had begun investigations of the vessel relating to its conduct in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Captains Karl Otto and Gustav Louw confirmed that SAMSA surveyors boarded the vessel on Monday afternoon and their findings would be shared as soon as they were available.

According to SAMSA, the investigation is looking precisely into the vessel’s seaworthiness inclusive of its condition, its operation certificates as well as those of the crew, the vessel’s manning conditions, as well as its general conduct in South African waters involving its radio availability and responsiveness to South African authorities.

A SAMSA team set out early Monday to investigate the vessel and to make a determination of its overall condition and conduct.

The SAMSA ship surveyors team’s findings will add to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) investigations and findings at the weekend shortly after the cornering and arrest of the vessel in Cape Town.

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 Services (SAPS), the South African Revenue Services (SARS) as well as the Department of Home Affairs.

“There was a total of nine crew members on board,” said DAFF’s spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo, also confirming that no fish was found onboard the vessel.

She 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.”

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.

Meanwhile, Ms Molapo confirmed that an alert had been issued to neighboring countries, Namibia and Mozambique to be on the look for the rest of the vessels that have since disappeared. “DAFF has notified and registered an intention to get all the nine vessels red flagged with regional fisheries management organizations,” she said.
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