Friday, July 20, 2018
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Close to eight thousand searches conducted for maritime law compliance

Operation Phakisa searches and inspectionsThe oceans economy component of Operation Phakisa intends using its enhanced and co-ordinated compliance and enforcement programme to up visibility in South Africa’s coastal zones in an effort to make “positive impacts” on illegal activities.

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, 7 842 searches were conducted and just on a thousand establishments visited to check compliance between April last year and this March. These operations saw goods worth over R40 million confiscated, fines totalling over R215 million issued and 43 coastal protection notices issued.

Department spokesman Albi Modise said in a statement: “The Oceans Economy: Initiative 5, which operates in the Marine Protection and Governance Delivery Unit, created a platform to achieve an integrated and co-ordinated approach in identifying non-compliance with, among others, South African maritime legislative and regulatory frameworks, as well as environmental legislation. It also provided a platform to identify and act against those responsible for illegal exploitation of resources in South Africa’s maritime zones. Initiative 5 focuses on joint proactive and reactive operations in the maritime environment with multiple roleplayers with different jurisdictions. NATJOINTS is utilised to execute operations”.

Government departments and agencies called on by NATJOINTS were the department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Mineral Resources, as well as SA Police Service, the State Security Agency and Crime Intelligence, SA Revenue Service, SANParks, Cape Nature, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency and Ndlambe local municipality. No mention is made of the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), the SA Navy, which has been tasked to assist with protection of maritime resources.

“Operation Phakisa highlights government’s commitment to enhancing the oceans or blue economy, enforcing maritime and marine legislation and stopping pillaging of marine resources by poachers and illegal foreign fishing vessels,” Modise said.

A tender has been awarded to Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) for three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) to boost the fleet’s patrol capabilities. Indications are the tender will take six years to complete and there has, to date, been no indication of when the first of the IPVs is expected to be taken into service.

Border security is a major consideration for the SANDF, especially the land and sea borders. The Department of Defence (DoD) in its 2018 Annual Performance Plan said the focus of the SA Navy continues to remain on the preparation of naval forces for operations in support of the Maritime Security Strategy (MSS). Naval operations involving patrols in the Mozambique Channel for the prevention of piracy-related activities “remains a National and Departmental priority”.

“The SADC Maritime Security Strategy will require continued capacity building in (regional) Maritime Domain Awareness to ensure a safe and secured SADC Maritime environment. The latter will be achieved through Joint International Military exercises and other forms of military cooperation with strategic partners such as the BRICS and SADC defence forces to cite but a few. The focus of the SADC MSS will remain on maritime crime prevention close to East Coast shores and highlights the requirement for the littoral states to be able to exercise control over their territorial waters and the role of the DOD in protecting the maritime resources in support of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as part of Operation Phakisa.

“Over the next three years, the South African Navy plans to conduct maritime border patrols and combat piracy in the Mozambique Channel. A suite of surface (frigates), sub-surface (submarines) and offshore patrol vessels will be deployed to keep the country’s maritime space safe and support the execution of the Southern African Development Community’s Maritime Security Strategy. The Department aims to maintain the number of hours at sea per year at 12 000 until the FY2018/19, after which they are expected to decrease to 10 000 to align performance with the available budget following the Cabinet-approved budget reduction of R1.6 billion in the Maritime Defence programme over the medium term. An amount of R1.5 billion is allocated over the medium term to implement the Maritime Security Strategy mainly in the Maritime Defence programme.”