SAMSA/ABSA lend hand to country’s push back against Covid-19 pandemic rampage

Announces poverty alleviation initiative for marginalised rural coastal subsistence fishermen.

Pretoria: 13 October 2020

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed plans to launch a corporate social investment and sustainability initiative in October aimed at alleviating reportedly increasing poverty among some marginalised communities within the country’s maritime sector.

Funded to a tune of R3-million co-sponsored jointly by one of South Africa’s biggest commercial banks, Absa, and supported by skills development services provider, the Moses Kotane Institute; the SAMSA CSI&S conceived and driven initiative will, according to the authority, target largely marginalised subsistence fishermen in three coastal provinces; KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.

“The collaboration which will be delivered in two phases will see both SAMSA and Absa committing R3- million to the project,” said SAMSA in a statement.

“The first phase which will be launching today and will comprise of the provision of immediate to near-term essential food support to communities in Mbizana and Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape and communities of Kwa-Xolo, Gamalahle, Ndizimakwhe, Umzumbe and Umdoni in the province of Kwazulu-Natal. Communities in the Northern Cape will be announced as soon as the interactions with the identified municipality are concluded.

“The second phase of the collaboration will see unemployed or retrenched local small-scale fishers and other fishing workersreceiving pre-sea training, skippers training and entrepreneurship training,” the statement read.

Absa, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed financial institution, is one of Africa’s largest diversified financial services groups with a presence in 12 countries across the continent, also with representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria, as well as insurance operations in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, employing approximately 42 000 people.

Moses Kotane Institute on the other hand, is a KwaZulu-Natal (La Mercy, Durban) based higher education institution founded in 2007 and owned by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, with evolving focus now precisely on research and development, innovation and technology, as well as maritime and economics.

The poverty alleviation initiative jointly pursued by the parties, says SAMSA, is a much needed and sort-after intervention in the maritime economic sector.

According to SAMSA: “The spectre of the novel coronavirus (Covid-10) pandemic both in South Africa and globally continues to hog the news media headlines worldwide for its unprecedented devastating effect socially and economically.

“So far in South Africa, about 693 000 people have been infected and close on 17 000 have died since the outbreak of the virus in China in December 2019 and its spread to South Africa since March 2020. But equally devastating has been the effect the rapid spread of the virus has had on the economy, with scores of businesses all across the board having had to close down or drastically down-scale operations, leading to more than 2-million people now left without jobs in the second quarter of this financial year.

“At the same time, within the maritime economic sector, at the periphery of this ongoing economic devastation are subsistence fishermen across South African provinces, who irked a living through daily toil of fishing for home consumption and negligible sales, and whose lives have since turned for the worst, as are now facing dire poverty largely due in part to the necessary yet unfortunate interruption in economic activity brought by the declaration of a State of Disaster that saw a national Lockdown at five (5) levels imposed by Government since March 2020.”

SAMSA said with South Africa faced by the dire situation, national Government appealed to all able and willing South Africans to contribute towards alleviation of this big poverty challenge.

“Against the backdrop, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has responded by putting together a Corporate Social Investment (CSI) and Sustainability driven project to directly alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on rural subsistence fishermen in the three provinces of the Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Northern Cape with basic necessities, including capacitating them with requisite tools to sustain themselves and their communities going into the future.

“The project, undertaken in collaboration with ABSA and Moses Kotane Institute (MKA) rolls out from 19 October 2020 and should conclude in the first week of December 2020.”

Of the collaboration with Absa and MKI: “SAMSA and Absa are also pleased to have the Moses Kotane Institute (MKI) this collaboration. The MKI comes on board as a delivery partner, particularly on the training side of the intervention. MKI is an internationally recognised research, innovation and maritime institution driving economic development in KwaZulu-Natal.

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UK Space Agency-SAMSA partnership ups the ante against fishermen deaths in SA.

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Pretoria: 02 October 2019

The reduction and prevention of deaths of fishermen along South Africa’s coastal area is among key priorities of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and efforts towards this goal are beginning to pay off, thanks in part to strategic partnerships forged with like-minded institutions domestically and abroad.

One such partnership is that with the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) which has over the past year seen more than 1 000 small high tech vessel tracking devices acquired and distributed among particularly artisanal or subsistence fishermen across the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape provinces in order to enable them to quickly and seamlessly request for assistance whenever in trouble while out fishing at sea or on inland waterways.

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PLOTTING SUBSISTENCE FISHERMEN SAFETY: United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) officials (seated Centre and Right), Ms Athene Gadsby, and Mr Tim Hayward during their first visit to South Africa in July 2019 to meet with SAMSA’s team of fishermen safety officials based in Cape Town led by Captain Karl Otto (third from Left), as well as officials of the NSIR (last two on the right) for an assessment of Project Oasis, aimed at curbing the deaths of fishermen by enhancing their safety through a satellite based tracking and identifying device now being distributed for free to subsistence fishermen across South Africa’s coastal areas.

The project known as ‘Project Oasis”, the first of its kind aimed subsistence fishermen, is being funded to the tune of R10-million by the UKSA and is operated by SAMSA. The UKSA is also working closely with the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in the distribution of the device.

A UKSA team of officials, senior director of UKSA’s Caribou Space programme, Mr Tim Hayward and UKSA’s International Partnership Programme Director, Ms Athene Gadsby, visited South Africa recently to meet in Cape Town with SAMSA and the NSRI as well as a community of fishermen in Lamberts’ Bay on the Atlantic Ocean coastline north west of Cape Town to conduct an assessment of the impact of the project so far.

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It was UKSA’s first visit of the region since launch of the project.

Outlining UKSA’s involvement in the project, according to the officials, the South Africa project is among 33 other worldwide project (37 countries) funded through the agency’s International Partnership Programme’s UK£30-million annual funding for developmental projects.

They said the ‘Project Oasis’ focus was in the distribution of a satellite technology based identifying and tracking devices known as the ‘SAT-AIS em-Trak I100 identifier trackers’ for small boats (less than 10 meters long). The target group for distribution and utilization of the device were artisanal fishermen – most of whom were generally poor.

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CONDUCTING PROJECT OASIS ASSESSMENT: (From Left) Ms Athene Gadsby, UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme Manager and Mr Tim Hayward, UK Space Agency’s Caribou Space senior manager during a meeting with SAMSA in Cape Town.

The aim, they said, was to support SAMSA’s efforts in reducing casualties among the country’s subsistence fishing communities and reduction in exorbitant expenses incurred during rescue efforts.

While statistics of casualties shared with the agency by SAMSA reflected a significant decline in the number of fishermen dying at sea over the past decade, they also showed that the most at risk category of people at sea were subsistence fishermen who generally did not have the safety and communication equipment necessary to summon assistance and be located quickly when needed. They are generally poor and with only small boats that were hard to locate when in difficulties.

Explaining the exact functionality of the fishing boat tracking and identifier units, the UKSA officials said the devices were designed to be tracked in near real time using a set of exactEarth’s constellation of polar and equatorial orbiting AIS satellites, thereby allowing SAMSA to gain an up-to-date location of the small boats with an up-to-date last known position.

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The devices also provide an SOS button that transmits a distress signal when an incident has occurred thereby enabling rescuers access to accurate information about the location and situation of a small fishing vessel.

The device which has since evolved to include a locally manufactured solar powered one, at an estimated cost of about R5 000 per unit, is distributed to small vessel fishermen in South Africa for free.

In a three minutes video interview, Ms Gadsby spoke more on the project. Click below.

Meanwhile according to SAMSA’s head of the Sea and Rescue Centre in Cape Town, Captain Karl Otto who led a SAMSA team of officials in welcoming and meeting with the UKSA officials, revealed that the project had been beneficial not only to South Africa but also five other neighboring countries; Namibia, Mozambique, Kenya, Mauritius and the Comoros.

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Captain Karl Otto. Head: SAMSA Centre for Sea Search and Rescue.

He acknowledged that the project was still at its infancy and was encountering challenges,d among which was resistance by some subsistence fishermen based on apparent suspicion that the tracking device was also being used to police their activity.

“The true and sole objective to is enhance their safety and in the process also reduce the huge costs involved during search and rescue. We’d rather rescue fast than spend more time search, and the devices addresses exactly that need,” said Captain Otto.

In a 22 minutes in-video chat at his office shortly after the meeting with the UKSA officials, Captain Otto explained fully about the project: Click Here;

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