Ships and installations on South African oceans warned: ‘report discharge of harmful substances or face a criminal charge’ – SAMSA

Pretoria: 11 December 2020

Seafarers sailing their ships or manning installations across South Africa’s vast three oceans at the tip of the African continent could face fines of up to R25 000, six months in jail or both, should they fail to inform local authorities of such discharges as soon as it is practically possible.

That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a Marine Notice (No.55 of 2020) due out this week.

Acting in terms of the Marine Pollution (Control and Civil Liability) Act 6 of 1981, SAMSA said on Friday that should any harmful substance be discharged from a ship, tanker or offshore installation, the involved parties are legally obliged to immediately report the incident to local authorities. These include SAMSA and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.

The required report, according to SAMSA also involves any damage to a vessel, a tanker or installation from which a discharge of harmful substances onto the ocean may occur, this regardless of whether such discharge has not actually occured.

A stricken vessel being towed into a port after suffering damage while trarvessing South African oceans. (SAMSA File Photo)

The MN No.55 states in part: “…When any harmful substance has been discharged from a ship, tanker or offshore installation the master of such ship, tanker or offshore installation, or any member of the crew of such ship or tanker or of the staff employed in connection with such offshore installation, designated by such master, shall forthwith by the quickest means of communication available report the fact that such discharge has taken place to the principal officer at the port in the Republic nearest to where such ship, tanker or offshore installation is.

“If, while it is within the prohibited area (E.E.Z [Exclusive Economic Zone]), a ship or a tanker sustains any damage, whether to its hull, equipment or machinery, which causes, or creates the likelihood of a discharge of any harmful substance from such ship or tanker, or having sustained such damage, enters the prohibited area in such damaged condition, the master of such ship or tanker, or any member of its crew designated by the master, shall forthwith by the quickest means of communication available report to the principal officer at the port in the Republic nearest to where such ship or tanker then is the fact that such damage was sustained, the nature and location on the ship or tanker of the damage, the position at sea where the damage was sustained, the name of the ship or tanker, its port of registry, its official number, its position, its course and, if in the Republic, its destination, the quantity and type of harmful substances on board and, in the case of a tanker to which the provisions of section 13 apply, the particulars contained in the certificate.”

Bunkering services on the Indian Ocean near Port Elizabeth (SAMSA File Photo)

On reporting, the MN No.55 indicates that: “SAMSA, DEFF (Department of Environmental, Forestry and Fisheries) and African Marine Solutions (Pty) Ltd AMSOL (the managers of the standby tug “SA Amandla”) are all concerned with the prevention, containment and cleaning up of oil spills at sea. These organizations should be informed as soon as possible whenever there is an oil spill or a threat of an oil spill. SANNCOB (The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) is dedicated to seabird rehabilitation. SANPARKS (South African National Parks) is the body responsible for managing South Africa’s National Park to develop, expand, manage and promote a system of sustainable National Parks.”

Contact details of all the relevant authorities and contributors to combating of pollution, inclusive of SAMSA regional offices from Port Nolloth on the Atlantic Ocean to Richards Bay near the border of Mozambique on the Indian Ocean, are given in the notice.

In terms of penalties where failure to report occurs, MN No.55 states: “If the master of a ship or a tanker fails to comply with the provisions…. such master shall be guilty of an offence. Any person convicted of an offence …. shall be liable to a fine not exceeding R25 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment..”

According to SAMSA on Friday, the marine notice will be on the Department of Transport agency’s website shortly.

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

ships at sea.jpg

Pretoria: 28 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End.