An investigation is underway into the circumstances of the capsizing of a fishing boat off the coast of the Western Cape, in the vicinity of Rooi Els on Thursday afternoon and during which one fisherman died, three sustained minor injuries and one still missing, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed.
In a statement in Pretoria on Friday, SAMSA said the fatal incident reportedly involved an under 9 metre crayfish boat, with five men on board.
According to SAMSA, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was alerted to the incident at about 12.48pm and raced to the scene. However, on arrival at the site of the capsized crayfish boat, the rescue teams found at least one of the fishing crew had passed away, three others sustained minor injuries and one other missing.
The three survivors reached the shoreline safely.
“SAMSA has appointed a surveyor to investigate the incident. SAMSA will also involve a Welfare Officer for providing counselling to the survivors and families of all affected parties,” said the agency.
Meanwhile in a separate report on its website, the NSRI said it had been alerted to the incident by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) .
The NSRI then scrambled its Gordons Bay and Kleinmond sea rescue teams, who along with the Western Cape EMS rescue squad, the SA Police Services (SAPS), GB Med Sec ambulance services, Overberg Fire and Rescue Services and the EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter raced to the scene of the incident.
“On arrival on the scene it was confirmed that (five) 5 adult male fishermen, believed to all be from Mitchell’s Plain, were on a local crayfish boat that capsized in the surf just off-shore of Rooi Els. (Three) 3 of the fishermen had managed to reach the shoreline safely.
“A search commenced for (two) 2 fishermen who were missing and who were not accounted for. During the search one of the missing fishermen was located in the surf and he was recovered onto a sea rescue craft and sadly the fisherman, age 48, has been declared deceased. A Police Dive Unit responded and a dive search was conducted.
“Despite an extensive sea, air and shoreline search there remains no sign of the remaining one missing fisherman. Police divers are tasked to continue in an ongoing search operation for the missing fisherman. The casualty boat remains washed up in amongst rocks on the shoreline.
“The body of the deceased fisherman was brought to the NSRI Gordons Bay sea rescue station and the body of the man has been taken into the care of WC Government Health Forensic Pathology Services. Police have opened an inquest docket,” reported the NSIR.
With Covid-19 entry restrictions still on for crossborder travels, the world’s yachting community will find relief in the special dispensation by South Africa allowing them to call into the country’s ports.
That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Marine Notice No.50 published on the agency’ website on Monday.
The notice titled: “COVID-19: Humanitarian Relief Project to Support Stranded Yachts to enter South Africa during Lockdown Period” dated 4 November 2020 states that, the implementation of the new measures is in recognition that Covid-19 restrictions in the maritime sector, particularly seafaring, have had highly negative consequences for sailors worldwide.
“The issue of stranded yachts has become topical in the past months and it is a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic that had dire consequences for the ocean cruising community. This community utilizes a wide range of yachts and small pleasure craft to navigate their way across the oceans and who primarily sail the world’s oceans as a way of life.
‘As a response to Covid-19, many countries around the world closed their borders and making it extremely difficult for sailors to proceed with their traditional sailing voyage along the Indian Ocean The current weather patterns along the Indian Ocean (are) posing a huge risk to yachts and sailors.
With these and related issues in mind, says the notice: “The South African government is continuously reviewing its processes and procedures to identify challenges within the maritime sphere during the Covid-19 Pandemic. As such, the government has found that there is a need to address the challenges faced by the yachting industry.”
In terms of the new measures, according to SAMSA, “Sou1h A!ica will offer a safe corridor and humanitarian services to yachts stranded along the Indian Ocean from 09 November 2020 to 15 December 2020.
“Yachts falling within this category must only utilise Yacht Clubs wthin the port of Richards Bay, port of Durban (both Indian Ocean) and port of Cape Town (straddles both the Indian and Atlantic Ocean). All yachts will be eligible to receive all services including stores, provisions, refuelling, repairs, maintenance and disembarkation of foreign sailors.”
The SAMSA notice further gives operational procedures on how relevant applications and related matters will be handled by the various government departments and institutions in conjuction with sailing communities organisation, with emphasis that: “these operational procedures are only applicable to yachts that fall within the humanitarian scope as outlined.”
There were sighs and clear signs of relief on the faces of both a group of seafarers as well as the handful of family members as the SA Agulhas II – the country’s most advanced polar research vessel – berthed at Eastern Mole 1 at the port of Cape Town on Monday evening with the seafarers safely onboard.
It was the end of a +5 000 kilometer journey for the 60 seafarers on board – 47 of them South African – who narrowly escape injury two weeks ago some 2600 kilometers deep in the Atlantic Ocean, after their Balize-flagged fishing research vessel, the Geo Searcher, sank within a mile off the Gough Island after it reportedly struck underwater rocks, quickly took water and sank.
The hair raising incident, and during which two of the 62 sailors suffered minor injuries had, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), occured in the late afternoon of Thursday, 15 October 2020, while the group of seafarers was sailing in the vicinity of Gough Island.
When the vessel reportedly struck the underwater rocks and rapidly took water, the seafarers scrambled onto safety boats that helped them reach dry land.
SAMSA through its Sea Watch and Rescue linked Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town not only first picked up the frantic calls for help from the vessel’s crew after it got into difficulty that Thursday afternoon, but also co-ordinated the entire rescue mission – working hand in glove with various institutions and State departments including the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), owners of the SA Agulhas II.
With Captain Knowledge Mdlase as Master of the SA Agulhas II, a week ago the vessel was dispatched to the Gough Island to fetch the stranded seamen and after initially battling with choppy ocean winds, it succefully reached and fetched all the seafarers for on boarding onto the SA Agulhas II for the 2500 kilometer trip to Cape Town, which ended on Monday evening.
From a SAMSA perspective, the safe rescue and return of the 60 seafarers (two more others were dropped of at Tristan da Cuhna) marked the successful completion of South Africa’s most biggest sea rescue mission in over a decade.
This is according to the head of SAMSA’s MRCC in Cape Town, Mr Jared Blows. In a brief chat on Tuesday, the morning after the return of the SA Agulhas II from Gough Island, Mr Blows said constant alertness and closer cooperation with various others institutions was key to the success of the mission.
For his views (+3 minutes) click on the video below.
Meanwhile, Captain Bengu described the rescue mission as having been relatively smooth, this despite challenging weather conditions initially on their arrival near the Gough Island last week. It took the vessel the entire four days to get there.
According to Captain Bengu, the rescue mission started hurriedly during the evening of Thursday, 15 October when he and his SA Agulhas II crew had to drop off in Cape Town a group of passengers that were onboard returning from a research mission, and had to rush back towards Gough Island.
“The vessel departed at about 11pm on Thursday and sailed full speed – at about 16 knots per hour – towards Gough Island, which took us about four days.
“Unfortunately when we got to the island on 20 October, the weather was unfavourable to conduct any flight operations especially with regards flying seafarers onboard. We had to wait it throughout the evening until we decided to call off the operation for the day. The following day, as soon as there was a weather opening – a two hour gap in the weather – a very brave helicopter crew took a decision to fly even as the conditions were not so good. They managed to bring on board all 62 seafarers safely and unharmed,” said Captain Bengu.
He said in addition to rescuing the stranded seafarers, the SA Agulhas II crew also conducted an environmental inspection for oil spillage around the wreck of the sunken vessel, the Geo Searcher.
Later upon departure from the island, the SA Agulhas first headed for Tristan da Cunha where it dropped two of the 62 seafarers after which it headed for South Africa.
“On our arrival at Tristan da Cunha, the Tristanians were very generous and donated clothing and food for the rest of the survivors,’ he said.
For Captain Bengu’s full remarks, click on the video below (+-4minutes)
He also described the 62 rescued seafarers as “most grateful and with full appreciation of the hospitality they received.”
Regrettably, this blog could not convince any of the rescued seafarers on Monday evening to speak on record about their ordeal this past week. This notwithstanding, several seemed happy to have made it back home in good health and were full of praise for the SA Agulhas II crew.
UPDATE: GI WACAF Webinar on Africa oil spills contingency plans held on Wednesday (16 September 2020)
Port Elizabeth: 17 September 2020
South Africa’s state of readiness for oil spills at its oceans space remains a critical factor to the country’s effective management of its maritime and marine environment and remains a work in progress, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The position was outlined during Wednesday’s 3rd webinar hosted by the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Initiative (GI WACAF) involving 22 African countries that are member states of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and global private sector oil organisation, IPIECA founded grouping.
For more info on the GI WACAF and Wednesday’s webinar background information, see the news story below.
To listen to South Africa’s full presentation at the webinar, which was made by SAMSA’s senior manager for Navigation, Security and Environment, Captain Ravi Naicker, please click on the image at the top of this article.
Please do note that the webinar’s entire presentation lasts about one (1) hour 30 minutes, and Captain Naicker’s presentation starts at about the half hour mark of the full webinar presentation, lasting about 20 minutes.
Port Elizabeth: 16 September 2020
Participants from 22 African (mostly maritime) countries including South Africa are to continue engagement on strategies for oil spills contingency planning during a day long webinar scheduled for Wednesday.
The list of invited country participants include Angola, Benin, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The Gambia and Togo.
The webinar is one in a series organised and managed by the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Initiative (GI WACAF) under the auspieces of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) jointly with cofounders, global oil and gas industry association IPIECA. It is the third since June 2020 after GI WACAF activities were momentarily canned due to the outbreak of the Covid-!9 pandemic in March 2020.
GI WACAF involves mainly African countries as launched by the IMO and IPIECA in pursuit of what the two organisations describe as “a shared desire to improve the level of preparedness and response to oil spills in the west, central and southern Africa region.”
GI WACAF states its mission as working “in close cooperation with relevant national authorities in 22 African countries, supporting them in strengthening their oil spill preparedness and response capabilities. By doing so, GI WACAF is contributing to a better protection of the marine and shoreline environment in the region.”
About the webinar on Wednesday acccording to GIWACAF: “This third live webinar of the series will be dedicated to oil spill contingency planning and will present the key aspects of contingency planning in preparedness and response to oil spills from different perspectives and viewpoints.
“For this webinar, we will enjoy the company of leading international experts from Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), the South African Maritime Safety Agency (SAMSA), and ExxonMobil Angola.”
Outcomes expected of the webinar include development of:
an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders involved in contingency planning (national authorities, oil and gas industry and other industries);
knowledge on the main tools used in contingency planning such as Oil Spill Contigency Plans and National Oil Spill Contingency Plans;
knowledge on the challenges and successes faced when planning for oil spills through case studies shared by the experts.
Confirmed among those scheduled to offer South Africa’s perspective on these matters is SAMSA’s senior manager for nativigation, security and environment, Captain Ravi Naicker.
Three other listed speakers are Mr Julien Favier, GI WACAF Project Manager and webinar host and facilitator; Mr Richard Tindell, a principal consultant at Oil Spill Response Limited a well as Ms Tania Augusto, a senior advisor at ExxonMobil Angola.
The webinar will be in two sessions, the first presented in French scheduled for 12 noon (11am London Time), with the next penned for 3pm (2pm London Time).
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.
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.
Nelson Mandela Day 2020: SAMSA maintains its commitment to helping alleviate poverty among the needy. A North West community chosen for assistance
On 18 July every year since 2009, South Africans join the international community to celebrate Nelson Mandela Day, In South Africa by and large, people are encouraged to partake by devoting ’67 minutes’ of their time in offering assistance of one kind or another to those less privileged than themselves.
It is with that spirit that the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) once again – as it has done every year – joins the celebration by devoting some attention to those in need. According to a SAMSA statement in Pretoria this week, the targeted community this year is that of Maboloka village in North West province.
In keeping with the theme of Mandela Day 2020: “Each 1 Feeds 1” SAMSA says it has pledged part of its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) budget to bring relief to the community of Maboloka by donating food parcels to 150 families.
Maboloka is a rural village under the jurisdiction of Madibeng Municipality in the North West province, one of the country’s five inland provinces, with a population of approximately 160 000. Most of the families survive on social grants, with a high rate of youth unemployment.
The food parcels will be distributed to the community on Wednesday, 29 July 2020. In the endeavour and gesture of goodwill, SAMSA has partnered with a locally based Non-Government Organisation (NGO), The Youth for Survival; to assist with the distribution of the food parcels.
The Youth for Survival is a registered NGO headquartered in Pretoria and with a satellite office in the Maboloka village. According to SAMSA, the NGO has in the past participated in poverty alleviation projects. On Wednesday, it will assist in delivering the food parcels to families in the area identified as most in need.
SAMSA Acting Chief Executive Officer Mr Sobantu Tilayi says the distribution of food parcels to the Maboloka community this year, is part of a broader project by SAMSA and its partners scheduled for rollout soon.
With this year’s celebration of the Nelson Mandela Day occurring under a dark cloud of a rampant Covid-19 pandemic across the world, and which is ravaging economies in an unprecedented scale due to necessary country lockdowns, the need among those less priviledged has become even greater.
“In the coming weeks we will announce a project that will see SAMSA partnering with institutions in both the private and the public sectors in interventions in fishing communities. We have decided to dedicate resources into long term and sustainable projects that will ensure effective poverty alleviation in vulnerable fishing communities particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic”, said Mr Tilayi.
Mr Tilayi further said that SAMSA’s involvement with the Maboloka community was indicative of SAMSA’s commitment to ensuring inclusive beneficiation of inland communities in the country’s vast maritime resources.
Saturday, 25 July 2020 marks the 6th year since African countries, both maritime and inland, agreed to declaration of the day as an occasion to focus the continent’s attention at its endowment with and legacy of millions of acres of ocean space and on the basis of which its general global economic activity depends.
It was at the 22nd Summit of the African Union in 2015, that the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, declared the period of 2015 to 2025 as the “Decade of African Seas and Oceans”, and specifically highlighted that each year on 25 July. the continent shall celebrate the day as the African Day of Seas and Oceans.”‘
This, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Pretoria this week, was done “in order to foster wealth creation from Africa’s seas and oceans by urging African States to develop a sustainable thriving blue economy in a secure and environmentally sustainable manner.
Facts to the logic of the reasoning include a recognition and acknowledgement that, with growth in global trade involving African countries, around 80 percent of international goods are transported on ocean going vessels and over ninety percent of Africa’s imports and exports are conducted by sea.
“In the past four decades the volume of global seaborne trade has increased more than four times over. Ninety percent of the world’s trade and two-thirds of energy supplies are carried by sea- demonstrating the deep sense of how the oceans and seas are interlinked and how action in one sea may have direct or indirect consequences to other seas. Protecting the ocean thus becomes everyone’s business and a joint and concerted effort by the African continent to ensure the protection of her seas and oceans becomes paramount.
Crucially for Africa however, is the need for ease of access to the oceans by all of the continent’s countries, this to ensure free flow of inter regional and international trade. According to SAMSA, the 2050 AIM-Strategy, all African Union (AU) Member States are “landly connected” to the seas and oceans.
SAMSA states: “The celebration of the African Day of the Seas and Oceans is one of the recommendations found in the African Integrated Maritime Strategy, commonly known as The AIMS 2050 Strategy. The AIMS 2050 strategy broadly provides a framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of Seas and Oceans in the African continent.
“The implementation of the strategy will also assist with:
Establishing a Combined Exclusive Maritime Zone for Africa (CEMZA);
Enhancing wealth creation through building our countries’ maritime-centric capacity and capability;
Ensuring security and safety in the African Maritime Domain;
Minimizing environmental damage;
Preventing hostile and criminal acts at sea, and prosecute offenders if necessary;
Protecting the populations, Africa’s Maritime Domain (AMD) heritage and infrastructure in the African Maritime Domain;
Promoting and protecting the interests of African shippers;
Enhancing Africa’s competitiveness in international trade;
Improving and facilitating intra-African trade as well as transit transport in landly connected countries;
The building blocks of Africa’s maritime sector development however, come against the backdrop, and are cognizant of a number of challenges currently facing the continent’s oceans spaces in the Mediterranean Sea up north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Southern Seas and the Indian Ocean to the east.
The identified challenges broadly include that; with 46 percent of Africans living below the poverty line, fish makes a vital contribution to the food and nutritional security of over 200 million African and provides income for over 10 million people.
In addition, marine and coastal ecosystems play a significant role in mitigating the impact of climate change. Yet in Africa, the marine and coastal systems are the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change in the world, – this attributed to a low adaptive capacity of the continent.
Added to the pressure facing Africa’s oceans are the negative effects of marine pollution due to human wastefulness as reflecting in the massive dumping of large volumes of plastics in the continent’s ocean waters, leading to irreparable and devastating damage to marine life.
In equal measure, maritime security is cited as posing a multidimensional threat to global security in general, and has major effects on issues of food, energy and economic security.
According to SAMSA, in the past decade, Africa has found itself as the epicentre of international maritime insecurity, with such issues as piracy and armed robbery at sea off the east and west coast of Africa alike, causing major human and financial damage.
In parallel, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, toxic waste dumping and human, weapons and narcotics trafficking are an additional burden to Africa’s maritime security.
“Thus for Africa,” says SAMSA: “the sustainable management of coastal and marine environments and resources is of utmost priority. The promotion of sustainable use of marine and coastal resources in Africa will significantly enhance food security, ensure constant economic growth and improve the quality of lives of the people in the coastal communities.”
On the marking Saturday of the Africa Day of the Seas and Oceans, the agency said: “South Africa will observe the 6th African Day of the Seas and Oceans along with other maritime nations and administrations around Africa on the 25th July 2020.
“On this special day SAMSA as the regulating authority of maritime affairs in South Africa encourages South African’s to support the nation’s Blue Economy Agenda which highlights the impact of oceans on our country and the various ways in which the ocean contributes to the country and its economy.
“The nation is encouraged to also note the developments in the maritime sector and take advantage of the opportunities unveiled in the maritime sector such research activities, Maritime Education Training (MET), maritime careers, investment opportunities, commercial shipping business, technology and port development to name but a few.
“Through active participation in such a continental activity South Africa will continue to grow its maritime sector through the Blue Economy agenda and continue to boost opportunities for wealth creation and generation in the country,” says SAMSA.
A cargo vessel whose anchor ‘fouled’ while at anchorage off the port of Cape Town will remain under close watch for any potential difficulties it may encounter as strong winds accompanying yet another blistering south Atlantic Ocean deriving cold front continue to batter the area.
In a statement in Pretoria on Monday, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed that it was currently monitoring the container ship, MV JPO Libra, in Table Bay, Cape Town.
According to SAMSA, the 41,000-ton Liberia registered carrier arrived in Cape Town from West Africa late June 2020.
“The JPOLibra is a container ship built in 2005 (15 years old) and currently sailing under the flag of Liberia. The vessel‘s anchor fouled and cannot be safely unfouled until the weather subsides. The Cape is currently being battered by a severe storm.
“The vessel is not in any danger and is not dragging anchor and its engines are on immediate standby, ready for use. SAMSA will continue to monitor the situation and will dispatch the SA Amandla tug should the need arise,” said SAMSA.
An appeal by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)on Member States to find ways to facilitate greater ease of operation for global shipping amid the strife to effectively manage the spectre of the Covid-19 pandemic has found a kind ear in South Africa.
Among such steps taken by South Africa is the immediate extension of the expiration of seafarers certificates by no less than six months from June 2020 to 31 December 2020, or such other period as may be necessary and allowed, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The arrangement is similarly applicable to vessels whose certificates are due to expire during to the lockdown, granted an extension of up to three (months) provided an application is made well in advance.
According to SAMSA, the concessions are contained in a correspondence submitted by Government to the IMO a week ago, outling the measures South Africa is taking to ease the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown regulations implemented since March 2020 in the country, and varinglyper time period worldwide, with major negative impacts on global shipping operations.
The newly introduced measures, outlined in even greater detail in circulars including an accompanying Marine Notice 34 of 2020 published last Thursday, 02 July 2020 are, according to SAMSA, in response to a recent call by the IMO on Member States to ease up on lockdown regulations to enable less interruption on global shipping.
The IMO call, with the full backing of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), found even greater expression during the global marking of the international Day of the Seafarer 2020, in South Africa and across the world on 25 June 2020.
“Shipping is truly a global industry and we need Governments to provide a global solution,” the ITF was qouted as saying.
According Mr Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary, as reported by the IMO, the workers organisation received emails from hundreds of seafarers daily, expressing their concern about contracts being extended under duress, amid fears that this would impact their ability to perform safe operations, thereby putting themselves at risk as well as the global supply chain and potentially the environment.
In also calling for ‘leadership and action’, the ICS reportedly said ‘during the COVID-19 pandemic, ships, which fundamentally depend on seafarers, have continued to carry essential goods across the globe.’
Mr Guy Platten, Secretary-General of ICS reportedly said that ‘the number of stranded seafarers [was] currently 400,000, with 200,000 needing to leave ships and a similar number needing to replace them.’
In response to the IMO call, South Africa last week acknowledged and submitted that: “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the maritime value chain, including the ability of Maritime Administrations and the recognised organisations to deliver services necessary for statutory certification of seafarers and vessels. Furthermore, the issues about manning of ships, crew changes and search and rescue services are receiving necessary attention.
Immediate new measures South Africa confirmed to have introduced relate both to seafarers certification with respect to validity of seafarers certificates, medical and eyesight certificates and safe manning of ships; as well as ships certificates and surveys.
With respect to seafarers certification, the country states: “SAMSA has considered the predicament many seafarers and their employers are finding themselves in and have (sic) granted an extension until 31 December 2020 to any certificate that expires during the national lockdown and/or shortly thereafter.
“The masters, seafarers and employers must produce a letter for extension of their Certificates – http://www.samsa.org.za/Pages/Marine-Notices.aspx Where appropriate, seafarers and/or employers may apply to SAMSA for the issuance with a specific letter to each seafarers in accordance with the applicable Marine Notice.”
On medical and eyesight certificates SAMSA grants that: “Medical Certificates for seafarers shall remain valid as issued. Under the measurers in place to combat COVID-19, medical practitioners will still be operating and seafarers will be allowed to visit the medical practitioner (doctor) for medical examination.
“Seafarers whose medical certificates expires whilst onboard a ship may continue to serve on that ship for three (3) months from the expiration date in accordance with STCW Regulation I/9.”
In respect of safe manning of ships SAMSA instructs that: “Ship operators must inform SAMSA regarding any challenges with seafarers holding foreign CoC with regards to revalidation and obtaining an endorsement to their CoC.
“SAMSA will not issue an endorsement to a foreign COC unless such certificate is still valid, except where there is a policy from that administration regarding the same.”
Regarding vessels certificates and surveys, SAMSA advises that: “Vessels which are subject to International Conventions (and) whose statutory certification are due for renewal, and there is difficulty with the attendance by a surveyor, may apply for extension of certificates by up to three (3) months. Such application shall be made within reasonable time to ensure continued compliance with all statutory requirements.”
The fledgling offshore ships bunkering services established four years ago in Algoa Bay may be beginning to live up to its economic promise, as business opportunities expand to new business entrants, some hitherto with little if any experience in shipping or any related maritime business sector services.
Lacking most in such area of business operations are largely black South Africans whose exposure to, and participation in maritime sector businesses is decidedly limited.
This is so even as South Africa is essentially a maritime country with direct access to three oceans stretching over a 3,200 kilometres coastline bordering a 1.5-million km2 of an ocean water space designated as its Exclusive Economic Zone: – from the Atlantic Ocean in the west, through the Southern Ocean, and to the Indian Ocean in the east.
As such, when black folk make a decisive break into the sector, as has recently a young black budding business entrepreneur from Port Elizabeth, the promise of the country’s maritime economic sector redevelopment and expansion positively contributing to South Africa’s broad economic development through inclusion and wealth redistribution to all, finds realisation.
South Africa’s offshore bunkering services on the Indian Ocean near the city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province was officially sanctioned and set up in 2016, launched successively with two highly experienced major oil ship transfer services suppliers; first the Greece based operator, Minerva Bunkering (formerly Aegean Marine Petroleum, and thereafter, SA Marine Fuels – the latter an all local black women founded company, now part owned by Hong Kong based global oil products group, Orxy Energies.
By end 2019, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), no less than 100 ships on average per month annually had docked near the ocean city since, for bunkering and related services and in the process, fuelling the injection of hundreds of millions of rands into the local economy.
For a while however, associated shipping business services in the new offshore bunkering services subsector remained confined to a few chandlers’ hands – two, according to SAMSA – all of which were long serving and highly experienced maritime sector white owned and managed businesses.
Five years on in early 2020, a local young black man from a Port Elizabeth township, New Brighton, Mr Hintsa, Carlos Mpe broke ground by becoming the first black Small, Micro and Medium Enterprise (SMME) category business owner to gain entry in the provision of maritime sector business services to visiting ships in Algoa Bay.
Mr Mpe who, by his own admission, until very recently, had never before been on a boat at sea in his young life this despite having been born and grew up in a Port Elizabeth township only less than three kilometers from the Indian Ocean, made the breakthough by establishing a small services firm, called Mthi Wembotyi Projects in 2017, and acquiring a year later, a 16-meters long steel boat to render off-port-limits (OPL) ship services to vessels visiting the area.
According to Mr Mpe during an interview, his interest in the maritime sector business services was sparked by the gradual sprawl of big ships of all shapes now regularly putting anchor in the ocean off the coast of Port Elizabeth, mostly for crew changes and bunkering services.
” I was actually jogging down the Brighton Beach one day and saw all these ships that were floating lazily on the ocean and began to wonder what it was they doing there.
“From then on I began researching and soon found out that they are here for bunkering and related services, and I became interested in getting involved,” said Mr Mpe during an interview in Port Elizabeth.
Having put his few ducks in a row, including acquiring the OPL boat from a local boat builder, his first real break into actually delivering services came early in 2020 after a local chandler, Vrontado Marine Services, headed by operations manager, James Bilsbury acquired his services.
Mr Mpe had come knocking at his services company’s front door, brokering business and according to Mr Bilsbury, on assessment during a meeting, they were satisfied with his offering.
“We are a ship chandling company which means we supply foreign vessels with provisions, technical, and other stores they might require. These stores sometimes need to be delivered to vessels at anchorage in our bay.
“Carlos called us one day and made an appointment to come and see us about doing some launches together (to deliver our stores at anchorage). He came to the meeting and introduced himself and his company to us.
“We explained in the meeting what we required of him before we can do business together. He met our demands and we have since done two deliveries to vessels at anchorage area using the launch boat called Crest.
“We have done the vessel MAASGRACHT on 28 May, carrying 2.6 tons in seven (7) bulk bags. Then we have done the MANDARIN vessel on the 31 May carrying four (4) tons in 10 bulk bags,” confirmed Mr Bilsbury.
Next for Mr Mpe was a deal with Heron Marine, a bunkering services company contracted to fuel four huge cruise vessels owned by Carnival which were passing the city on their way around the world to disembark thousands of seafarers caught up in the impacts of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the four Carnival cruise ships, the Carnival Dream, required to take bunkers offshore while seat anchorage and this required more services than would ordinarily be the case with onshore refuelling at a port.
Mr Mpe’s role was to help shift to place, in between the cruise ship and the refuelling tanker, a massive barge with fenders, as well as lineup other protection equipment necessary for a safe transfer of oil from one vessel to the other.
“It was quite an exciting thing to do, getting that barge and all other equipment in place for the bunkering service, ” said Mr Mpe.
His engagement by Heron Marine however, was in keeping with the company’s commitment to create and provide business opportunities to emerging small businesses, but especially those from the black SMME sector, according to Heron Marine CEO, Ms Kgomotso Selokane.
“In our commitment to our license requirements, we use local suppliers as much as possible. In this operation specifically we procured the services of a drone operator to take footage of the entire operation.
“However, the pinnacle of our excitement was how we committed ourselves, as an entity, to SAMSA’s SMME Development requirement, as our mooring boat was provided by a local 100% Black Owned SMME,” she said in reference to Mr Mpe’s small firm’s engagement in the special operation.
Mr Mpe says the going has been tough but also rewarding so far, and he looks forward to making more inroads into the sector. However, this be hastened by direct investment into growing the business – something he hopes the business investment sector will be kind to.
“I want to grow this business and become a big business operator,” he said.
Meanwhile, SAMSA has applauded the development of the creation of opportunities for the entrance also of small black business operators in the country’s sole offshore bunkering services sector in the Eastern Cape.
According to SAMSA, a roleplayer and contributor to the implementation of the country’s Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative lauched in 2014, bunkering in Algoa Bay plays a crucial role for the effective economic benefit of the local economy in Port Elizabeth (PE), Eastern Cape. It has become an imperative for the local economy and the expansion of maritime sectors in PE.
SAMSA senior manager for the agency’s Southern Region (Mossel Bay to Port St Johns), Ms Bongiwe Stofile described it as an exciting development.
“This is a great achievement for us and the industry , as such we would like to celebrate it. It hasn’t been an easy process to instil a transformative mind-set in the industry and hence the recognition of first movers.” she said.
It is a view Ms Stofile also shared directly with the two companies that have so far contracted Mr Mpe’s small firm, Mthi Wembotyi Projects.