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Ports & Ships Maritime News

18 August 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002


Click on headline to go direct to story – use the BACK key to return


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©Crown copyright, 2015. MOD News Licence 14082015A


If ever there was an illustration of the awesome power projected by the Royal Navy's helicopters, this image is it. The Lynx helicopter from 815 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, lit up the night sky with her decoy flares as part of an exercise in the Indian Ocean.

The helicopter is on a nine month deployment to the Gulf with HMS Richmond, a Portsmouth based Type 23 frigate which is silhouetted in the background.

Decoy flares, or Infra Red Counter Measures, attract heat seeking missiles, drawing them away from the helicopter's engines and onto a much hotter target.

HMS Richmond's primary tasking in the Indian Ocean has been as part of Combined Maritime Forces Combined Task Force 150. Their mission is to promote maritime security in order to counter terrorist activity and other illegal activities.

Sub Lieutenant Emily Witcher, one of the ship's officers of the watch, said: "We can carry out counter narcotics smuggling one day, and immediately switch to anti submarine warfare training the next. This demonstrates the flexibility that a Type 23 frigate provides." ©Crown copyright, 2015. MOD News Licence 14082015A

Paul Ridgway

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Gansbaai harbours (6) 

Gansbaai, earmarked for rehabilitation and upgrading under Operation Phakisa

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has announced the rehabilitation, upgrading and redevelopment of some small harbours, as well as the identification and proclamation of new harbours and their integration with national coastal projects. He said the process has begun in order to unlock the economic potential of coastline in terms of Operation Phakisa.

"We have identified Gansbaai, Saldanha Bay, Struisbaai, Gordons Bay and Lamberts Bay for rehabilitation and development.

"A roadmap has also been developed for the proclamation of new harbours in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal," said the President.

He said the finalisation of the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Development Amendment Bill, which is currently in the Parliamentary process, is designed to also assist government to accelerate offshore oil and gas exploration.

He also said the aspiration of the offshore oil and gas exploration focus group of the Oceans Phakisa is the drilling of 30 exploration wells in ten years.

"This would produce 370,000 barrels of oil and gas per day. If this is achieved, it would mean the creation of up to 130,000 jobs, with an annual contribution to the GDP of US$2.2 billion, while reducing the dependence on oil and gas imports during the production phase," said President Zuma.

He said some projects have already commenced, and that a total of R9.2 billion is to be spent to develop Saldanha Bay as an oil and gas hub. He said the phased gas pipeline routes have also been defined.

"Environmental authorisation has been approved for the Burgan Fuel Storage facility in the port of Cape Town. This is an investment of approximately R660 million and construction will commence by the end of August 2015," he said.

The South African aquaculture industry is still emerging and thus the production levels currently remain low, the President said.

He said the team working on the aquaculture sector focus area believe that when interventions to grow the sector are implemented successfully, aquaculture projects will grow the sector's size from approximately R700 million today, to almost R3 billion by 2019.

However, President Zuma said the industry faces constraints such as the lack of infrastructure including access to roads and electricity. He said it also faces challenges such as the prolonged finalisation of leases and the limited tenure of the leases.

The sector also faces difficulties with obtaining Environmental Impact Assessment Authorisations as well as funding for aquaculture projects and access to markets.

"All of these constraints are being addressed," he said. : SAnews.gov.za

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by Robert Pabst arr CT from Marion 6 May 2014 47
SA Agulhas II returns from her Antarctic expedition in May 2014. Picture is by Robert Pabst

The Antarctic research ship SA Agulhas II has returned from a successful winter research expedition, the Department of Environmental Affairs said this week.

In collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the CSIR, the research voyage which left Cape Town in July, saw researchers gathering physical‚ biological and chemical oceanographic data.

This was the first high resolution experiment to span a full seasonal cycle in the Southern Ocean using a combination of a ship (the SA Agulhas II), robotics platforms such as buoyancy gliders, wave gliders and bio optics floats as well as high resolution models and satellite observations, the department said.

"The first high resolution measurements in winter, which reveal the characteristics of phytoplankton primary productivity and carbon draw down, were taken as well as Isotopic measurements that investigate the role of the Southern Ocean in driving past glacial and interglacial climate cycles."

Other research highlights included the bio-optical characterisation of the winter phytoplankton community towards new and improved remote sensing ocean colour algorithms, as well as the measurements that fill the gaps in the ocean atmosphere CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) flux record.

The expedition also saw successful collections of trace metal Fe (Iron) concentrations to resolve the seasonal supply and demand mechanism of the phytoplankton community in winter.

"This was the second winter survey ever conducted on density and distribution of Southern Ocean pelagic bird species."

South Africa plays a fundamental role in Southern Ocean research because of its proximity to Antarctica.

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Ghana Cape Coast 

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Ghana's Cape Coast fishermen. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

This article is by Joan Nimarkoh in Accra and Billie Adwoa McTernan in Prampram
Read the original article in TheAfricaReport.com

The Ghanaian government has been unable to stop foreign trawlers from pillaging or local fishermen from using unsustainable methods to increase their catch, despite EU pressure

Ghana's poor protection of its fishing resources is hurting small scale fishermen and is causing disputes with the country's major trade partners.

Law no dey [there is no law]

While the government has stepped up its efforts since the European Union (EU) awarded a 'yellow card' warning for its failure to fight illegal fishing in 2013, it has not been able to stop practices that pollute the environment and decimate fish populations.

The problem is not limited to Ghana, and the Gulf of Guinea is renowned for widespread flouting of fishing laws. According to the Africa Progress Panel think tank, around US$1.3bn is lost each year in West Africa to illegal fishing.

Some 50km east of Accra is Prampram, a fishing community where most of the men have at some stage in their lives been engaged in fishing.

Jacob Tetteh Ayin has been fishing for 22 years and has seen how the practice has changed: "Since 2000, the fishing business has been like anybody does what he or she wants to do."

Many small-scale fishermen have seen their trade devastated by the arrival of industrial vessels. Nii Kai Okaishie III has been Jamestown's chief fisherman for two years. There are more than 600 fishermen in the community, which is one of the oldest areas of Accra. "These big, big trawlers are supposed to fish deep, but sometimes they come down and come and fish where these people [canoe fishermen] fish," he tells The Africa Report.

Livelihoods ruined
When this happens, trawlers can destroy canoes and rip nets apart. The cost of canoes starts at 30,000 cedi ($9,100), with the net and motor costing another 10,000 cedi. When small-scale fishermen return to their boats after a trawler has passed, they can find their livelihoods ruined and are unable to trace the culprits.

Competition is leading to a race to the bottom. Chief fisherman Okaishie says: "They [canoe fishermen] are trying to compete with the big trawlers. Take the cost of the premix fuel for example. You might buy 30 gallons, and one gallon is 7.10 cedi. Fishermen can be going to sea a week without a catch. Sometimes they borrow the money before buying the fuel."

Caught under mountains of debt and needing to fish ever greater quantities to keep up, many engage in illegal fishing. "They put a generator bulb into the sea from their small boat and lower it," explains Okaishie. "When they spark the generator, all the fish around that area will come to where the light is. They leave one person to lift the light slowly and the fish follow."

James Agbla, who has been fishing for 32 years in Prampram, says: "With the lighting system, fish that would normally be in the sea for three months will be caught in two days." Others use carbide or the pesticide DDT to daze the fish and make them easier to catch.

Alberto Martin of the Environmental Justice Foundation explains that these practices undermine fish stocks by hitting juvenile populations. Targeting those young fish is creating a crisis. "In response, the government is developing a monitor, control and surveillance system to combat illegal fishing, but it is critical that this approach has an adequate investment of financial and human resources," Martin argues.

Knock on effects
The knock on effects of unsustainable fishing practices are damaging livelihoods across Ghana. Hundreds of coastal communities depend on the fishing trade as their main source of income.

Fish is a key contributor to food security, as two thirds of Ghana's consumers eat fish as the only source of animal protein. A continued decline in fish stocks and growing consumption mean that Ghana depends on imports to meet 40 percent of its national demand.

A weak legal framework to enforce fisheries legislation and limited capacity to monitor and patrol have undermined Ghana's fisheries sector. The combination of strong demand and a loose regulatory framework has attracted foreign industrial vessels that can make considerable profits from the fishing black market.

Government efforts have centred on intelligence and surveillance of illegal activities. The government established the fisheries enforcement unit within the fisheries ministry in response to the 2013 EU warning.

The unit's staff are drawn from the navy, marine police, the fisheries ministry and the Bureau of National Investigation. They total 55 people seconded from their respective institutions. Despite their limited number, the unit is supposed to patrol a coastline of more than 500km and cover a maritime area of 228,000km2.

James Azamesu, a public relations officer at the fisheries ministry, argues that the government has made considerable progress since 2013: "I would say that we are over 80 percent there. A big step was the establishment of the fisheries enforcement unit, and ensuring collaboration across the major security agencies was an important development."

People on the ground see things differently. In Prampram, fisherman Tetteh complains about the difficulty in dealing with fishermen who illegally use lights to attract fish. He got involved in a brawl with a group and took them to the police station, but the offenders were never charged. Instead, Tetteh and his crew were held. Agbla, a fellow fisherman, complains: "Law no dey [there is no law]."

Corruption allegations
Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, a programme manager for the non governmental organisation Friends of the Nation, points to corruption as a force that weakens regulations.

"[There is] political interference with enforcement. Some politicians have vessels themselves. Some fishermen are funding political parties," he adds.

Yamoah reports that the number of small sardines, a local staple, are dropping. Fishing communities like Prampram report regular declines in their catch, and the government admits it does not have the capacity to produce thorough statistics on the legal and illegal fish trade.

Local communities also complain that the government is biased against them and unwilling to hold the operators of foreign trawlers to account. A naval officer based in Takoradi, the capital of the Western Region, verified claims that foreign trawlers simply buy their way out of prosecution.

The officer, who requested anonymity, says: "There is a lot of frustration after carrying out the hard work to bring foreign vessels to dock and arresting the crew, that the majority of these ships are back out to sea after paying undisclosed out-of-court settlements. The high fines are hardly ever ordered by the courts."

The fisheries ministry strongly denies the claims but acknowledges that the judiciary is a weak link. Without matching effective law enforcement with a stronger and better funded regulator, Ghana risks killing the fish that lays the golden roe. : The Africa Report

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MARINEDATASOLUTIONSaugust2015 Steve Nell Awards Phot
MDS managing director Steve Nell with his awards

Navigating to the top : Marine Data Solutions’ MD recognised as an African leader in ICT excellence

Managing Director of Marine Data Solutions, Steve Nell, was recognised as one of Africa’s most influential business leaders at the Titans – Building Nations breakfast held recently. The awards are aimed at celebrating the achievements of men and women who are advancing African economies and communities. Nell was the South African winner in the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) category, as well as regional SADC winner for 2015.

"To have the title Titan – Building Nations bestowed on me is an incredible honour. It is also an indication of the maturity of our ICT sector in this country, and that our maritime surveillance systems and software are aligned with the best in the world," says Nell.

Marine Data Solutions, part of the Norwegian technology company the Kongsberg Group, has been servicing the requirements of the African maritime industry and ports authorities since 2004. The company, with a nationwide footprint and based in Cape Town, specialises in vessel traffic management and information systems (VTMIS) and coastal surveillance systems, among other maritime software solutions.

"High-performance coastal surveillance systems are critical in the early detection of major issues such as piracy, oil spillages and possible collisions at sea. The management of port traffic also enables us to identify the causes of delays, to manage risk and to ensure the safe and efficient movement of vessels in and out of port," says Nell. "The efficient operation of our harbours and ports and the safeguarding of our coastline plays a vital role in supporting industries such as our import/export, trade and offshore oil and gas industries which are critical to building the economy."

Under the auspices of CEO Global, the Titans – Building the Nations awards was the first of eight events to take place in various parts of Africa. As both a country and regional winner, Nell has qualified to attend the final event on 21 October 2015, along with other regional winners from a number of industry sectors who will all be recognised for their role in nation building through industry excellence.

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Unctad Port au Prince 

TrainForTrade participants. Implementation of UNCTAD/TrainForTrade’s course in Modern Port Management in Haiti represents an important step in the reconstruction and modernisation of Haiti’s ports, one of the main pillars of the country’s economy. Picture: UNCTAD

As reconstruction of the port at Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti, proceeds after a devastating earthquake in 2010, UNCTAD's TrainForTrade programme is offering training to Haitian instructors so that they can in turn train up port officials, it was reported from UNCTAD in Geneva on 3 August.

Experts from UNCTAD/TrainForTrade travelled to Haiti from 8 to 15 July to meet with port officials from Haiti's national port authority, the Autorite portuaire nationale (APN), and train the first batch of Haitian instructors in TrainForTrade methodology and pedagogic skills. The coaching workshop provided participants with the necessary skills and tools to launch the first training cycle of a Port Training Programme in Port au Prince later in 2015.

The implementation of UNCTAD/TrainForTrade’s course in Modern Port Management in Haiti represents an important step in the reconstruction and modernisation of Haiti's ports, one of the main pillars of the Haitian economy, after a magnitude 7.0 MMS earthquake hit the island in January 2010 destroying buildings and infrastructure, and killing several thousand people. The port at Port au Prince was severely damaged and is currently being rebuilt.

At an opening ceremony in Port au Prince on 8 July, Director General of APN Alix Celestin said he was delighted to receive the UNCTAD experts in Haiti and underlined the importance of professional training for the port. Following his remarks, the course in Modern Port Management was presented to an audience composed of high-level representatives from Haiti's port community.

The following day was marked by information sessions for mid and senior level managers from APN at a training centre at the port. The UNCTAD team also had the opportunity to visit the port and the construction site. The last three days of the needs analysis mission were dedicated to coaching thirteen senior port managers, four of whom were women.

This session focused on best practices in adult learning and provided hands on training on how to deliver the Port Training Programme. Among the future instructors were two representatives from the Port of Cotonou, Benin, who shared their perspectives. This marks the beginning of more South:South exchanges to come within the framework of the programme.

After the participants of the first training cycle have completed the eight module course (240 hours of training), they will write a case study that is later presented to an international jury composed of representatives of the Port Training Programme's member ports.

With the accession of Haiti this year, the French speaking network of the Programme counts nine member countries: Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroun, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Senegal and Togo. With Haitian instructors trained to deliver the course in Modern Port Management locally, APN will finalise the list of participants for their first training cycle and prepare for the delivery of Module 1 in October.

Paul Ridgway

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Celebrating 15 years in Durban and South Africa are, from left, Ivan Naik, MD of PIL South Africa, Seowyong Chuah (Africa Trade Manager), Chintat Yeo (South Africa Regional Office) and Louis McGregor Langley (Operations Director, SA)

This year has been a special one for PIL South Africa (Pacific International Lines). On 1 August it was exactly 15 years since Singapore based PIL commenced its services in South Africa.

Back then in 2000 it began with a fortnightly sailing calling Durban and Cape Town en route to West Africa from South East Asia and the Far East.

Since that date it has been a success story, with PIL continually adding additional services and increased port coverage into Africa where PIL has remained a stable carrier to and from South Africa offering various opportunities to importers and exporters.

In this time PIL has not only grown its South African services but has grown into the world's 15th biggest container line.

Currently, PIL has two services each week in and out of South Africa to the Far East. It has one service ex the Indian sub continent, the Middle East to South Africa and West Africa, returning to India via Durban, and a weekly service from the Far East to South Africa and West Africa, covering the Angola, Congo region.

PIL also has a weekly service from the Far East to Cape Town and West Africa.

Together with these frequencies, PIL has increased its involvement in the multi purpose sector and currently deploys 12 ships carrying breakbulk and project type cargoes from China to Africa and back. As a result of these services, PIL vessels are available for bulk cargoes to be carried back to China.

Speaking on behalf of PIL South Africa, managing director Ivan Naik said that PIL is grateful to its customers, suppliers and staff for their loyal support over the years.

PIL South Africa took time at their recent celebrations to highlight PIL's commitment to South Africa with its latest investment, the opening of the new head office in Umhlanga Ridge in Durban.

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Picture of Sena Railway rehabilitation by Jason Quessouji

According to Elias Xai Xai, the executive director of the Sena Line Reconstruction Brigade (BRLS), the rehabiltation programme aimed at increasing the Sena Railway capacity from 6.5 million tons to 30 million tons per year is now 75 percent complete.

In a report published in the Maputo Portuguese language newspaper Noticias, he said the line would be completed by the end of this year.

Work on the reconstruction of a civil war damaged railway began in some years ago but the original contractors from India were taken off the project. BRLS has been involved sicne 2013 on upgrading the line's capacity along the 575 kilomteres between the port of Beira and the coal mining town of Moatize in Tete Province.

This rehabilitation programme includes the Nhamitanga to Marromeu branch line which handles mainly sugar and passengers.

On 245km of the already completed sections the line is already allowing the movement of 100 wagons trains with six locomotive lashups, which primarily transport coal, as against a previous capacity of 42 wagons and two locomotives. The 163 million Euro project, which is in the hands of contractors Mota-Engil and Edvisa (Visabeira Group), includes the reinforcement of railway bridges to withstand increased loads and the smoothing of curves with a radius to a minimum of 300 metres.

The head of BRLS said that the rehabilitation of the line has already substantially reduced the incidence of derailments, although ballast theft continues to be a problem.

Ultimately, the route should support a daily average of between 21 and 25 trains and, to cope with this high demand, CFM (Mozambique's railway company) has recently bought 20 Drezina inspection and maintenance units in order to respond swiftly to problems.

Xai Xai added that BRLS was also involved simultaneously with refurbishing the 31 railway stations along the route, with an emphasis on the Savane, Mwanza, Inhaminga, Nhamitanga, Caia, Sena, Doa and Cambulatsisse stations. They are also currently building a new railway station at Cateme. The next step he said would involve improving accommodation for staff and passengers at the railway stations. : Noticias

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SPIKE IMG 2447 480

The Maltese flagged, Norwegian owned crude oil tanker SPIKE (115,897-dwt, built 2010) arriving in Durban Harbour earlier this month, bound for a berth at 102 on Pier 1. Picture is by Ken Malcolm


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