Pretoria: 03 August 2022
With the recent repeal of Covid-19 regulations in South Africa, the validity and revalidation administration of South African seafarers’ certificates will revert back to normal under terms as given in the Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations 2021, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has announced.
This development, according to SAMSA in a Marine Notice Information 09 of 2022 (MN 09 22), comes in the wake of the repeal of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak State of Disaster Regulations by government in April 2022. According to SAMSA, the reversion to normal regulations shall apply to all classes and types of seafarers’ certificates, inclusive of education and training institutions.
However, this will exclude fishing and boating certificates, this due to what SAMSA describes as “ongoing technical delays.”
In the Maritime Information Notice published on Wednesday, for all other categories of certificates, SAMSA states: “Following the 2020 outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of disaster regulations was repealed on 4th April 2022. The requirement for extension of certificates in terms of COVID are therefore no longer applicable.”
Precisely on the validity and revalidation of certificates classified under the STCW and Port Operations, says SAMSA: “All certificates of competency and certificates of proficiency for seagoing vessels (other than fishing vessels) and port operations vessels shall be revalidated as required by the Regulations using the appropriate forms.
“Persons working on port operations by virtue of holding certificates issued under the Examination Regulations for Certificate of Competency as Marine Motorman, 1993 shall ensure that they have revalidated their certificates and such are endorsed accordingly,” says SAMSA.
Furthermore, all extentions of validity of certificates previously granted under the State of Disaster Regulations (excluding fishing and boating certificates) are now also discontinued, with the online system for extensions disabled for these.
The same changes will apply to certificates issued by SAMSA accredited training institutions. SAMSA says: “The provision… …..applies to all course completion certificates issued in accordance with the Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations, 2021, by institutions accredited by SAMSA. SAMSA accredited institutions may (also) not issue extension of course completion certificates.”
The changes are equally applicable to medical certificates, with SAMSA saying: “Validity of all Medical and Eyesight certificates shall be in accordance with the certificate.”
Regarding the exemption of fishing and boating certificates, SAMSA says the status quo shall remain until further notice.
Against the backdrop, fishing Certificates of Competency issued under the 1993 Regulations (Fishermen and Marine Motormen) remain valid for service until 30 June 2023. That notwithstanding, fishers able to revalidate their certificate are encouraged to do so at the earliest possible time.
In this regard, says SAMSA: “Fishers who hold the old format certificates issued under the 1993 Regulations may apply for conversions (using a form appended to the new Marine Information Notice), and that….only fully issued certificates may be converted. Where a candidate produces the old TV5/1061 form as proof of qualification – the PO (Principal Officer) shall cause an investigation into the veracity of the same and reasons why the certificate has not been issued before the same may be converted.”
On the validity of Small Vessel Interim Certificate of Competency, SAMSA says it continues to battle delays with issuance of National Small Vessel Certificate of Competency (skipper’s licences) certificates due to conditons related to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak since about 15 December 2019.
For the reason, says SAMSA: “The Small Vessel Interim Certificates of Competence (that are) valid for a period of six (6) months, issued by SAMSA and external participants in the National Small Vessel Examination Regime are extended until 31 July 2023.”
However, SAMSA warns that boating owners or operators that intend using expired interims need to keep a copy of the newly released Marine Information Notice “as proof that the certificates as mentioned before has been extended when confronted by enforcement officers, gatekeepers, or officials at launching sites.”