Battle against forced labour in fishing entering a sharp-edged phase in South Africa: SAMSA

SAMSA File Photo

Pretoria: 26 September 2022

South Africa’s fight against forced labour in the country’s fishing sector is entering an entirely new sharp-edged phase, featuring a broad front of several government departments, all with the goal of eliminating poor employment practices that denude fishermen of their basic right to dignity of employment.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on review of its performance to date with the implementation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Work-In-Fishing Convention, 2007 (C188) which South Africa ratified in 2013 and put into effect eight years later – in the process becoming the first country globally to implement the convention.

The news comes in the wake of a recent meeting and training session in Cape Town involving SAMSA, the ILO, several South African State departments and other agencies, as well as private sector law practitioners.

The meeting was to both evaluate the country’s progress and discuss challenges associated with the implementation of the C188 convention, as well as extend ILO training to both SAMSA surveyors and other State officials on identification of forced labour practices in the fishing sector.

An onboard fishing vessel C188 convention inspection being conducted by SAMSA surveyors on a foreign vessel in Cape Town. (SAMSA File Photo)

According to SAMSA this past week, now with an army of about a dozen fully trained surveyors on Port State Control and the ILO C188 convention’s Forced Labour Indicators, as well as a set of three new regulations about to be passed, to bring to full effect related domestic legislation, the fight is shaping up neatly for a broad sweep in the country’s commercial fishing sector to spot and eliminate poor labour practicies, but particularly forced labour.

In sharpening the edge of the weaponry in the battle against forced labour, SAMSA is being joined by several other State departments, among them the Department of Employment and Labour, the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment, Home Affairs (Immigration), the South African Revenue Services and other agencies.

The battle is focused on not only South African fishing vessels, as international vessels operating on South African waters will also be thoroughly scanned and inspected consistent with the ILO C188 convention and related international and domestic instruments.

For a full outline of the assessment of South Africa’s progress in the implementation of the ILO C188 convention and related matters, inclusive of the country’s pioneering role in assisting other countries in ratifying and implementing the convention, this blog conducted a brief interview (15 minutes max), with one of SAMSA’s lead ship surveyors with vast knowledge and experience on the subject, Mr Selywn Bailey.

To view and listen, click on the video below.

Meanwhile, in a different but related environment, a set of South Africa twin architects, both females; are set to make it to South Africa’s maritime history arsenal next month in Durban, where the General Secretary of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr Kitack Lim is scheduled to unveil a new statue the pair were selected earlier this year to draw and erect.

Twin architects of Sesana Studio (from Left), Ms Letlhogonolo and Tlhologelo Sesana

The statue is part of features to mark South Africa’s inaugural hosting of the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel Event (WMDPE) over four (4) days in Durban’s International Convention Centre, attended by hundreds of representatives of its 175 Member States, as well as those of the Association of African Maritime Administrators (AAMA), the latter which will also hold a one day conference a day ahead of the IMO event.

The two events take place in Durban from 11-14 October 2022.

Twin architects, Ms Letlhogonolo and Tlhologelo Sesana of Sesana Sesana Studio in Pretoria were formally appointed by the Department of Transport (DoT) in June this year to design as well as have erected their design of the statue which they have named ‘Ukuhlangana‘.

Their appointment was formally announced in June 2022 Gazette Notice 1133 of 2022 published on 04 June, and confirmed once more publicly, during the launch of the country’s Maritime Industry Development Task Force Network in Durban in August 2022.

To get a sense of what the twin architect were embarking upon, this blog caught with and chatted briefly with the pair.

Click on the video below to view and listen to them.

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Seafarers’ health onboard vessels under the spotlight at Africa sailors’ online conference this week

Pretoria: 20 September 2022

A global focus on seafarers’ health and welfare by the Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea programme turns its focus on Africa’s young and aspirant sailors during an online conference scheduled Wednesday, to be addressed by among others; Ms Zamachonco Chonco, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Ms Zamzachonco Chonco. SAMSA Acting CEO

During the day long conference, Ms Chonco will join the Sailors’ Society head of wellness, Johan Smith; the society’s CEO, Ms Sara Baade; maritime studies academic and former Head of Maritime Studies at the Cape Pensinsula University of Technology (CPUT), Capt. (Dr) Ed Snyders; Thomas Miller regional Loss Prevention Director, Mr Anuj Velankar; Wellness at Sea regional coordinator, Dr. Deepti Mankad; Spiritention safety and security Consultant, Mr Toon van der Sande; fishing group Oceana’s second Navigation Officer, Ms Sandisiwe Silindokuhle Binda and others.

Ms Sara Baade, CEO: Sailors’ Society

Held online, beginning at 08.30am through to 5pm; and with the theme: “Positive wellbeing for a rewarding seafaring career,” the Africa youth health-focused seaferarers’ conference – the second of its kind globally this year – is according to the Sailors’ Society, aimed at “key issues facing today’s seafarers and will help to prepare (them) for a long and fulfilling life at sea,” says Ms Baade in a statement.

“For more than 200 years, Sailors’ Society has been transforming the lives of seafarers and their families at home, in port and at sea through resources like the peer-to-peer groups, our port chaplaincy, crisis response network and work in seafaring communities,” she says.

Wednesday conference’s precise target are aspirant seafarers currently at maritime colleges, with subject emphasis on exploration of the “all important subject of wellbeing and mental health, helping prepare cadets for a long and fulfilling career at sea.”

Topics to be covered by the speakers through both speaking notes as well as interactive audience engagement include;

  • The importance of wellbeing and welfare to ensure a bright future in the maritime industry;
  • How the maritime landscape is changing: the role of technology in wellbeing and welfare;
  • Coping with the realities of life at sea; The psychology of conflict – being a seafarer in a time of war;
  • On board coping skills;
  • Bridging the gender gap and, advice on
  • How to get a job in a tough industry: tips from a manning agent

Organisers, the Sailors’ Society, founded in 1818 in England; describe the event as part of its global Wellness at Sea programme that forms part of its chaplaincy projects with representations in several countries, particularly port cities, in all continents.

In terms of the event’s arrnagement, students at participating African maritime colleges will participate for free.

To register, intending participants can log their interest at the following link address: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8839120635390159376

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South Africa’s budding maritime business chamber formation a vital intervention; industry sector players

Pretoria: 21 July 2022

Current ongoing efforts towards broadening involvement and engagement of business of all sizes in South Africa’s maritime economic sector through a representative national business chamber have received a nod from a number of keyrole players in the sector, among them diverse national institutions as well as industry sector principals.

This emerged this past week during a three (3) days strategy planning session of the budding Maritime Business Chamber (MBC) previously the Eastern Maritime Business Chamber – held at the St Francis Bay Conference Centre in the Eastern Cape province and attended or actively addressed in person or virtually by representatives of several national institutions and businesses across the private and public sectors, including financial institutions.

From the public sector, these included the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Maritime Centre of Excellence, and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitican Municipality (NMBM).

Financial institutions included the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and Absa Bank while private sector institutions included FishSA as well as individual company representatives, among them CEO of Algoa Bay based bunkering services firm, Heron Marine SA, Ms Kgomotso Selokane; and Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, group executive of Johannesburg based maritime sector consulting firm, Elekhom Global.

The event hosts, the MBC are an upsized version of a small business chamber that started off in Gqeberha (a.k.a Port Elizabeth) in Algoa Bay in 2019 as a small, micro and medium entreprises (SMME) organisation with express interest in involvement and engagement for business and other economic opportunities identification and exploration in the region’s maritime economic sector.

Maritime Business Chamber chairperson, Mr Unathi Sonti

According to MBC chairperson, Mr Unathi Sonti last Tuesday in St Francis Bay, through ongoing intense and expansive interaction with various stakeholders in South Africa’s maritime sector mostly across the four coastal provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape), a “clear gap” was identified for an institution of the nature operating at national level, in order to advance the interests of those people and businesses with direct interest but without any formal representation in the sector.

According to Mr Sonti, such business chamber with precise focus on the maritime sector was also vital in terms of the national interest of the country.

The feedback over the past two years culminated in last week’s three days’ strategy session workshop as a formal step towards formal expansion of the maritime business chamber countrywide, he explained. For his full views on the subject, click on the video below.

Mr Unathi Sonti, chairperson of Maritime Business Chamber chatting about the development of a national business chamber for the maritime sector in South Africa

Meanwhile, all the companies and institutions represented at the event at St Francis Bay on Monday to Wednesday last week, expressed a common agreement in terms of their full support of both the idea of a business maritime chamber, as well as the expanse of its reach, domestically and abroad.

In the next three videos below, this blog chatted to at least two of the representatives of five key public sector maritime focused institutions present; SAMSA’s Head for Corporate Affairs and Acting Chief Operations Officer, Mr Vusi September; and SAIMI’s Mr Malwande Nkalitshana.

Mr Vusi September, SAMSA Head for Corporate Affairs and acting Chief Operations Officer; sharing the agency viewpoint on its support for the formation of a national maritime business chamber.
Mr Malwande Nkalitshana of the South African Internaitonal Maritime Institute (SAIMI) also weighing on why a national maritime business chamber matters.

From a private sector business perspective, Ms Selokane, CEO of Heron Marine SA also shared her views.

Ms Kgomotso Selokane. CEO of bunkering services firm Heron Marine SA and patron of the Maritime Business Chamber also sharing her own perspective of the importance of such a structure within context of South Africa’s broad economy and people’s interests

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New Safe Manning Document fee held in abeyance due to outbreak of Covid-19, back in force: SAMSA

SAMSA File Photo

Pretoria: 07 June 2022

A new Safe Manning Document fee approved two years ago but withheld from implementation due to the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 is now back in force effective from August 2022, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has announced.

The announcement in the form a Marine Information Notice (07-22) was made by SAMSA in Pretoria on Thursday.

The Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations 2021 describes a Safe Manning Document as “….. a document that describes the minimum manning considered necessary to ensure that a ship is sufficiently and efficiently manned, and that is issued –
(a) in the case of a South African ship, by the Authority; and
(b) in the case of any other ship, by or under the Authority of that flag State;

The SAMSA announcement on the coming into effect of the new fees states: “Historically, a charge was payable for the issue of a Safe Manning Document. However, there was no charge for the Safe Manning Document if it was issued together with a Local General SafetyCertificate for the same vessel.

“The Determination of Charges which came into effect on 24ᵗʰ August 2020, made provision for fees to be payable for the issue of a Safe Manning Document. Due to the COVID Pandemic at that time; it was decided to waive this charge considering the financial implications.

“On the 23ʳᵈ of June 2022, South Africa ended all COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, SAMSA has decided to implement the charge to issue a Safe Manning Document effective from 1ˢᵗ August 2022, as required under Regulation 8(2) of the Determination of charges. Therefore, a charge of R 1117 will be payable for the issue of a Safe Manning Document; unless a Safe Manning Document is required under Regulation 8(8), which will attract a higher fee.

“If a new Determination of Charges is gazetted in the future, the charge for the issue of the Safe Manning Document will be determined as per that gazette,” says SAMSA.

The notice will be accessible from the SAMSA website from Thursday.

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UPDATE: Capsized fishing vessel salvaged and returning on tow to Cape Town

Photo Supplied

Pretoria: 30 June 2022

The recovery of a fishing vessel whose 12 member crew was rescued on Sunday this past weekend after it capsized while out at sea near Cape Point, continues, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

The rescued crew was safely returned to shore following to which a salvage operation to recover the vessel, named Restless Wave, was launched.

According to SAMSA, during the early hours of the morning on 26 June 2022 the pelagic fishing vessel Restless Wave capsized while located approximately four (4) Nautical Miles off the Cape of Good Hope.

Photo Supplied

There were 12 survivors recovered and they were landed safely in Hout Bay at 08h00 the same day. No injuries or fatalities were reported and the vessel owners working with salvors set out to recover the vessel and fishing gear.

On Thursday morning, SAMSA said the vessel was being towed to Cape Town Harbour and was expected to be in the Table Bay anchorage around noon. “SAMSA continues to monitor the operation,”said the agency in a statement

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A dozen fishermen rescued from vessel off Cape Coast: SAMSA

SAMSA FILE Photo

Pretoria: 27 June 2022

Twelve (12) fishermen were rescued off a damaged fishing vessel off the coast of Cape Town on Sunday, while attempts are underway to salvage the boat, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported.

In a statement in Pretoria on Sunday afternoon SAMSA said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating the capsizing of a fishing vessel resulting in the rescue of 12 fishermen.

“The 12 fishermen have been safely returned to shore following a rescue operation involving two Oceana vessels with coordination from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC). The fishing vessel, Restless Wave,  is still afloat off Cape Point and a Navigation warning has been issued to vessels around the area. A salvage operation is underway to recover the vessel.

More detail to follow onced obtained.

End

Maritime world’s eyes on seafarers globally this weekend for celebration in recognition of their immense role in oceans transportation!

Pretoria: 24 June 2022

Once more, the world’s maritime sector will have its eyes squarely on seafarers globally this weekend to celebrate them in recognition of their incredible role in sea trade transport and related 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

June 25 is the officially appointed Day of the Seafarer celebrated annually each year since its establishment just over a decade ago by a resolution of a Conference of Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, held in Manila, Philippines, in June 2010.

It has since been followed by the establishment of the International Day for Women in Maritime, celebrated on 18 May for the first time this year.

Twelve years on, the Day of the Seafarers however, remains the most important annual calendar event to date for many maritime countries that are Member States of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which leads it by coordinating and deciding the theme for each of the June 25 annual events.

According to the IMO, “The Day of the Seafarer provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the world’s 1.5 million seafarers (risen to 1,89-million by 2015 in 74 000 merchant vessels) for the unique and all-too-often overlooked contribution to the well-being of the general public, and we would like to do it using as many social media networks as possible.

“The Day of the Seafarer is also an opportunity to educate the public about issues facing the modern-day seafarer – issues such as piracy. But, most importantly, it is the occasion for us, the world, to say ‘Thank you, seafarers.’

This year’s theme picked by the IMO is: “Your voyage – then and now, share your journey” with its choice and significance explained thus: “Every seafarer’s journey is different, but they all face similar challenges.

“For 2022, the campaign of the Day of the Seafarers, with the theme ‘Your voyage – then and now share your journey’, look at seafarer voyages, what it includes and how has it evolved over time and what remains at the heart of seafarers’ reality. This campaign gives seafarers a chance to share what resonates with them currently, whether it’s the crew change crisis being unresolved or the future of technology.”

With June 25 falling on a Saturday this year, South Africa, one 175 Member States of the IMO; will celebrate the day on Monday, 27 June 2022 with the ceremony marked simultaneously at the same time in three coastal cities; Cape Town, Gqeberha (a.k.a Port Elizabeth) and Durban, the latter city being where the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula or his deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga is currently earmarked to deliver the main address.

The live staging of the event next Monday will mark the first time in two years that the Day of Seafarers is celebrated in the traditional ‘town hall’ setting since being disrupted and forced to online platforms by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

This passing week, the country’s maritime sector joined the pre-event activity attaching to this year’s theme, with several companies and entities calling on South Africa’s seafarers to share their career journey stories, notable among these being SAMSA, the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Amsol and others and using their social media platforms to publicly share the stories.

While no official word had come forth from either the DoT or SAMSA about Monday’s event prior to publication of this article, nevertheless this blog understands that the Durban leg of it will feature a discussion session involving Government, its agencies as well representatives of the maritime sector inclusive of educational institutions as well as seafarers, all focusing precisely on seafarers’ experiences and anticipations.

A preliminary draft list of likely participants in the session includes Dr Langa Dlamini, Executive Manager: Economics and Statistical Services at the Durban based Moses Kotane Institute, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, Manager: OHS & Maritime Welfare at SAMSA; Mr Nkosinathi Manqele, HoD for Maritime Studies Department, Durban University of Technology; Mr Ross Volk, Managing Director of MSC Cruises, South Africa; Mr Durand Naidoo,  Chief Executive Officer: Linsen Nambi; Ms Pinky Zungu, Deputy Harbour Master, Durban (TNPA), Captain Thobela Gqabu, SAMSA Regional Manager: Eastern Region, and a set of yet to be confirmed seafarers’ representative.

Anticipated topics for exploration through discussion include; Government’s role and commitment to South African seafarers, and individual institutional perspectives one the subject from the Maritime Regulator (SAMSA – the Registrar of Seafarers and Custodian of Seafarer Welfare), Maritime Education, Training and Research, Employers of Seafarers and perspectives of Seafarers themselves inclusive of their gender-specific related experiences and future expectations.

Also in the preliminary list of speakers on the day, in addition to the Minister or his Deputy, are KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Ms Peggy Nkonyeni or DoT Chief Director: Maritime Policy and Legislation Mr Dumisani Ntuli, Mr Bheka Zulu who is both a SAMSA and Moses Kotane Institute Board Member, Ms Zamachonco Chonco, SAMSA Acting CEO; Dr Thandeka Ellenson CEO of the Moses Kotane Institute and Mr William Azuh Head: Africa Section, Subdivision for Maritime Development, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO.

As per tradition, a recorded video message about this year’s event theme by IMO Secretary General Mr Kitack Lim will also be shared.

Monday’s event in all three cities is currently scheduled to begin at 9am through to 2pm

As usual, this blog will attempt to capture such visuals of any of the events as shall be possible during the day.

End

South Africa’s stevedores back in business, applauds resumption of supportive SAMSA periodic safety meetings and workshops!

Cape Town: 20 June 2022

Stevedoring business at South Africa’s coastal areas, mainly the country’s commercial ports, has warmly welcomed the resumption of periodic safety meetings and workshops conducted for their businesses by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).  The gatherings bring together the stevedoring companies, Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) and Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).

This emerged strongly at the third and biggest of these meetings conducted so far this year by SAMSA at the TNPA House at the port of Cape Town a week ago – these being the first in quarterly series since being interrupted by the outbreak of the Covid-10 pandemic in South Africa in February 2020.

The meetings are primarily for safety issues. However, the practitioners in the subsector feel comfortable to bring industry development related issues to the forum.

SAMSA manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Maritime Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe leading a stevedore business safety meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday, 16 June 2022

According to SAMSA manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Maritime Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, the stevedoring business meetings, now in their 12th year; are held among the main stakeholders with a view to periodically share both general information of good business practices in that specific maritime economy subsector, developments relating to applicable legislation governing both the conduct of stevedoring business, as well as matters concerning the maintenance of good health and safety standards.

Stevedoring essentially involves the loading and off-loading of goods from cargo vessels, as break bulk and containers as well as the conduct of business related thereto.

Generally, says Mr Rantsoabe, as many as 30 registered and licensed companies are responsible for stevedoring at the country’s ports: – from Richards Bay and Durban in the east, East London, Ngqurha, Port Elizabeth in the south, and Cape Town and Saldanha Bay in the west coastline.

In terms of applicable legislation, from a SAMSA perspective, the National Merchant Shipping Act, 1951 is primary; providing for codes of practices and regulations that govern matters of occupational health and safety and cargo handling on board vessels.

It is on the basis of this legislation and codes and regulations that SAMSA also conducts regular inspections as well as audits in the subsector at the country’s ports and stevedore premises, this deriving from its legislated mandate for ensuring the safety of life and property at sea.

Representatives of stevedore businesses at the ports of Cape Town and Saldanha gathered in Cape Town for this year’s first SAMSA stevedore safety meeting.

In Cape Town on Wednesday last week, no less than 14 of these companies were represented at the first Stevedoring Safety Meeting since 2020 and the enthusiasm in the meeting room was palpable.

This was particularly apt given what was described by many as a most torrid time the stevedoring business in the country encountered during the major national lockdowns brought about by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research findings shared by SAMSA at the Cape Town meeting indicated that while the majority (about 95%) of the stevedoring businesses were sparred the spate of Covid-10 pandemic deaths among their employees, however; close on half incurred either a ‘bit more’ or a ‘lot more’ business running costs compared with the pre-pandemic outbreak period.

It also emerged that during the periodically disrupted operations, stevedores were not provided with adequate Personal Protective Equipment, in addition to other associated challenges that included a lack of occupational safety inspections before the beginning of shifts, lack of supervision in instances where foremen and supervisors were not found on board vessels, signallers working without signalling equipment or found not in their correct positions during cargo operations.

However, with Covid-19 pandemic restrictions having slowly been lifted nationally over the past year, and goods shipment worldwide beginning to pick again, the stevedoring business is now almost fully back at work.

At the conclusion of the Cape Town Stevedore Business Safety Meeting, this blog spoke to Mr Whaleed Diedericks, a business owner of Pebblehouse Stevedoring at the port of Cape Town, to solicit his views on the significance and importance of these SAMSA conducted stevedore subsector meetings and workshops. To view, click on the 6 minutes video below.

Mr Whaleed Diedericks, a stevedore business owner at the port of Cape Town sharing his perspective of SAMSA Stevedore Safety Meetings now back on track after a two year absence due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020

Meanwhile, Mr Rantsoabe also took time to outline broadly the developments in the stevedore business from a SAMSA perspective, explaining why the meetings and workshops are pivotal to the success, sustainability as well as growth and expansion of this maritime economy business subsector: To view, click on the video below:

A brief interview with Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, SAMSA Manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Maritime Welfare, outlining briefly the significance and importance of the country’s stevedore business focused periodic safety meetings and workshops resumed in 2021 after a break of two years due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

End.

Bunkering back in business in Algoa Bay as oil spill clean-up comes to an end: SAMSA

Bunkering services back in business in Algoa Bay, announces oil spill incident management authorities (SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 14 June 2022

The clean up of an oil spill recently in Algoa Bay on South Africa’s eastern (Indian Ocean) seaboard has formally been concluded, with bunkering services (ship-to-ship fuel transfers) back in business, authorities responsible for the incident management – among them being the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – announced in Pretoria on Monday.

“The oil spill clean-up in Algoa Bay has concluded and the incident has been closed and response and monitoring will return to normal status,” read a statement issued jointly by SAMSA, the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE) and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

This came almost a week after the lifting of a suspension imposed on bunkering services in the ocean space area following to an incident of an oil spill between two vessels belonging to the same bunkering services company while transferring oil between them on Monday, 23 May 2022.

According to the oil spill incident management authorities, the cause of the oil spill is still being investigated.

Meanwhile, they said: “The conclusion (of the clean-up) follows days of monitoring of the St Croix Island group by the SANPARKS rangers following an oil spill on Monday, 23 May 2022. The last monitoring exercise was done on Thursday, 09 June 2022 and there were no oiled birds reported. The beaches that form part of the Addo Marine Reserve have also been inspected with no reports of oil or oiled wildlife.

“Both vessels have been cleaned and returned to service. A debrief has been concluded with the responders to assess how the response can be improved in the future. An investigation into the course of the spillage is ongoing by the Authorities.”

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Oil spill incident vessels separated as mop up continues in Algoa Bay

Photo supplied

Pretoria: 27 May 2022

Two oil tankers involved in an oil spill incident at Algoa Bay on South Africa’s eastern seaboard near Ngqurha have been finally separated, a few days after accidentally spilling oil at sea what conducting a ship-to-ship transfer about midday on Monday this week.

Incident management authorities, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) said in a joint statement on Thursday afternoon that the cause of the oil spill was still under investigation.

Photo supplied

Initially, the two vessels were kept side-to-side since the incident, in order to contain the spillage in their location, said the authorities. Now, with much of the oil around them collected from the waters, the authorities released the smaller tanker to sail back to the port of Port Elizabeth while the bigger one remained anchored offshore awaiting a berth at the port.

SAMSA, DFFE and Transnet said on Thursday: ” The investigation into the cause of the oil spill on Monday in Algoa Bay is continuing. The clean-up and recovery of the spilled oil continued this morning (Thursday 26 May), (with) the recovery teams also continu(ing) with the aerial surveillance, using a drone and oil recovery boats.

“The two (2) vessels involved were separated yesterday (25 May 2022) and the smaller vessel MT Lefkas has berthed at the port of Port Elizabeth and all the oiled equipment has been removed from the water thus posing no pollution threat to the port and its operations. The motor tanker Umnenga II is not able to enter port yet due to the unavailability of a suitable berth,” said.

According to the authorities, “None of the oil has reached the beaches. Most of the oil was cleaned and there is no oil sheen visible on the waters.

They further indicated that boat patrols by SANParks “revealed no oil near the Algoa Bay Islands and no oiled birds were spotted.”

That nowithstanding, they urged members of the public to report oiled birds and wildlife to SANPARKS or SANCCOB Gqeberha at Cape Recife Nature Reserve on 063 942 4702, “but not to approach or try to capture the affected wildlife. Rangers will continue to monitor the Islands for oiled birds retuning from their feeding grounds in Algoa Bay.”

Meanwhile, their surveillance of the coastal areas as well as the ocean adjacent the oil spill incident was continuing.

“A fixed wing aircraft with the state-of-the-art oil sensing equipment has been charted from Cape Town to conduct a full search for any oil over the entire Algoa Bay area. The aircraft will use high-definition cameras and oil detection systems to complete a full aerial surveillance of the Algoa Bay area.

“If there is any oil spotted the aircraft will also complete live oil spill modelling to determine the direction of oil, however the authorities are optimistic that most of the oil has been recovered and only the vessel hull cleaning needs to be completed. The Environmental Protection Vessel , the Sarah Baartman is on standby in Algoa Bay to assist with the clean-up operations,” they said.

They further confirmed that bunkering operations remain suspended.

End