South Africa’s trawling industry association emphasises the fishery is safe and closely regulated

MEDIA STATEMENT

In the wake of the MFV Lincoln tragedy, South Africa’s trawling industry association emphasises that the fishery is safe and closely regulated

The South African Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA), which represents the 52 trawler owners and operators active in the deep-sea trawl fishery for hake, expresses its sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the men who lost their lives last weekend as a result of the loss of the fishing trawler, MFV Lincoln.
The men were all employees of Viking Fishing, a SADSTIA member.

The MFV Lincoln was overcome by extremely heavy seas at approximately 18h00 on Sunday 27 September, while fishing offshore of Hermanus on the Cape south coast. Twelve men lost their lives in the accident. The bodies of nine men have been recovered and the bodies of three men are believed to be lost at sea.

SADSTIA has confirmed that the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has launched an inquiry into the accident. The inquiry is being conducted by two SAMSA surveyors, Pierre Schultz and Abe Thomas, who have already interviewed survivors of the accident, as well as those involved with the rescue of the Lincoln crew on Sunday night.

An inspection of the MFV Lincoln, which was towed back to Cape Town harbour on Tuesday, has also been conducted.

SADSTIA understands that a Marine Court of Enquiry is likely to follow SAMSA’s preliminary investigations.

SADSTIA strongly refutes several unfounded claims and suggestions that the skipper and crew of the MFV Lincoln may not have been not sufficiently trained or equipped. The safety of all vessels that operate in the deep-sea trawling industry is strictly regulated by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). Similarly, every sea-going employee in the industry is required to comply with SAMSA’s Safe Manning Regulations. This means mandatory safety familiarisation training for every employee who works on a deep-sea trawler. Safety familiarisation training teaches survival at sea, fire fighting at sea and first aid.

“The checks and balances are in place and each of our members allocates a considerable portion of their training budget towards ensuring that any employee who works at sea is well trained and well prepared for any accident that may occur,” said Johann Augustyn, SADSTIA Secretary.

According to Augustyn, all employees in the deep-sea and inshore trawl fisheries are accommodated by a unique labour relations framework that was established in 2001 in recognition of the fact that neither the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, nor the Merchant Shipping Act provide for the rights of fishers.

The Bargaining Council for the deep-sea and inshore trawl fisheries provides a forum for employers and trade unions to sit around the table every year and negotiate salaries and benefits for sea going employees. A set of negotiated Basic Conditions of Employment stipulates set hours of work, agreed rest periods and paid shore leave and annual holidays for sea-going employees.

“The deep-sea trawling industry is a sophisticated and highly capital intensive industry that operates in a competitive global market,” said Augustyn, “our members are responsible and committed employers. It is simply wrong to cast aspersions on the training and preparedness of the sea-going employees in our industry at a time like this.”

ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN DEEP SEA TRAWLING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
2 OCTOBER 2015

Loss of the MFV Lincoln

The executive committee and members of SADSTIA express their sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the men who lost their lives over the weekend as a result of the loss of the fishing trawler, MFV Lincoln.

The Lincoln was apparently swamped by very heavy seas 30 miles south of Hermanus at approximately 18h00 on Sunday evening 27 September 2015.

SADSTIA will lend its full support to the owners of the vessel, Viking Fishing, over the coming days and weeks.

 

SADSTIA secretary appointed to MSC Stakeholder Council

Secretary of SADSTIA, Dr Johann Augustyn, has been appointed to the Marine Stewardship Council’s 36-member Stakeholder Council.

The Stakeholder Council is an advisory body that provides the MSC with advice, recommendations and informed opinions on the certification body’s fishery and chain of custody standards and their implementation through the MSC programme. Its members reflect a broad range of geographies and spheres of interest and, as such, are able to offer diverse perspectives on the MSCs operations. It is also a formal channel through which all stakeholders − whether members of the Stakeholder Council or not − can provide their views to the MSC.

The Stakeholder Council is made up of two categories: a Commercial and Socio-economic category; and a Public Interest category. Dr Augustyn has been appointed to the Commercial and Socio-economic category.

Prior to his appointment as secretary of SADSTIA, Dr Augustyn worked at a senior level in the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). He is a marine scientist by profession and his long career in fisheries management stands him in good stead to make a unique contribution to the stakeholder body.

“I am looking forward to interacting with people all over the world, who are also committed to working with the MSC to encourage the sustainable management of global fisheries,” said Dr Augustyn who will attend his first Stakeholder Council meeting in Madrid, Spain, early next year.

As the secretary of SADSTIA, Dr Augustyn played a key role in the recent re-certification of the South African trawl fishery for hake by the Marine Stewardship Council, the world’s leading certification and eco-labelling program for sustainable wild-caught seafood. In May, the 51 trawler owners and operators who are SADSTIA’s members, received word that the MSC had approved a further five-year certification for the fishery which has been certified by the MSC since 2004. The latest certification comes after a rigorous 12-month re-assessment process during which an independent certification agency scrutinised every aspect of the fishery’s management and once again found it to comply with the MSC’s main principles.

Dr Augustyn will serve on the Stakeholder Council of the MSC for a period of three years.

SADSTIA gets MSC vote of confidence

The 51 trawler owners and operators in South Africa’s Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA) yesterday received word that the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has approved a further five-year certification for the deep-sea trawl fishery.

Read the MSC public certification report here: https://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/south-atlantic-indian-ocean/south-africa-hake-trawl-fishery/south-african-hake-second-reassessment-documents/20150526_PCR_HAK108.pdf

This is the third time the fishery has secured certification from the MSC, the world’s leading certification and eco-labelling program for sustainable wild-caught seafood. In 2004 it became the first hake fishery in the world to be judged by the MSC as “sustainable and well managed”; after the initial five-year certification period came to an end in 2009, the fishery was re-assessed and re-certified for a five-year period in 2010. The latest certification comes after a rigorous 12-month re-assessment process during which an independent certification agency scrutinised every aspect of the fishery’s management and once again found it to comply with the MSC’s main principles. These are:

• a fishery is conducted in such a way that it does not lead to over fishing or a decrease in the stock;
• fishing operations do not impact on the health of the marine ecosystem;
• fishing is managed and regulated in a responsible way.

“The certification is an important achievement for the deep-sea fishery and very good news for South Africa,” said Dr Johann Augustyn, secretary of SADSTIA.

“Recent economic studies have shown that securing the health of the deep-sea fishery has prevented the loss of up to 12 000 jobs within the fishing industry and growing demand (particularly in northern Europe) for certified sustainable seafood products has resulted in the expansion of export markets worth US$197 million (R2.24 billion).”

According to Tim Reddell, chairman of SADSTIA and a director of Viking Fishing, one of the advantages of holding MSC certification is that it has made trawler owners and operators more aware of the ways in which their vessels and operations interact with the environment.

“It has focused our attention on ensuring that we achieve the criteria of sustainable utilisation of the resource,” says Reddell.
Since the initial MSC certification in 2004, improved fishing practices have resulted in major environmental achievements. For instance:

• Trawl grounds have been “ring fenced” so as to prevent damage to lightly trawled areas and protect natural refuges for hake. Trawling outside the ring fenced zone requires an environmental impact assessment.
• There has been a 99% reduction in the number of albatrosses that are accidentally injured and sometimes killed by trawl gear.
• Bycatch (species other than hake that are caught in trawl nets, including kingklip and monk) is better managed than ever before.
• The industry is funding and supporting a ground-breaking, long-term research project that will examine the impacts of trawling on the marine environment. The research is being conducted in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the University of Cape Town and the South African Environmental Observation Network.

South Africa’s deep-sea trawl fishery is the only fishery in Africa to have achieved accreditation from the MSC. It is one of approximately 250 fisheries around the world that have been certified by the MSC. Together, MSC-certified fisheries currently catch about nine million metric tonnes of seafood annually – close to 10% of the total harvest from wild capture fisheries.

Seabed experiment continues as scientist journey on Ellen Khuzwayo

A groundbreaking initiative to better understand the impacts that trawling may have on the seabed entered an important second phase this week when the research vessel, Ellen Khuzwayo, left Cape Town for a week-long survey of the trawl grounds known as Karbonkel.

Karbonkel is situated on the continental shelf, offshore of Port Nolloth and three “trawl lanes” on these grounds have been closed to trawlers for a period of one year.

The multidisciplinary team of scientists and electronics technicians on board the Ellen Khuzwayo will gather images and samples of the seabed using a submersible camera and a benthic grab. They want to determine whether the closure of the trawl grounds has had a visible impact.

“We will be surveying life on the seafloor to see how the lanes that have been closed to trawling are responding to the lack of disturbance,” explained Professor Colin Attwood, chief scientist on the voyage.

“We would expect macrofauna to establish themselves in these lanes, but we have no idea how long that will take.”

Macrofauna are small marine mammals, including snails, worms, clams and other thumbnail-sized creatures that live and feed in the sediments on the sea floor. Macrofauna were collected and analysed in exactly the same trawl lanes last year, but the difference is that the lanes had been recently trawled. The scientists on board Ellen Khuzwayo are eager to see whether there is a difference in the number and type of species photographed and collected now that the lanes have been closed to trawling.

A five-year collaboration

Their work represents a unique five-year collaboration between SADSTIA, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the University of Cape Town and the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON). The goal of the collaboration is to obtain a scientific understanding of the environmental impact of hake trawling in South Africa.

Dr Johann Augustyn, secretary of SADSTIA, explained the rationale behind the experiment: “As an industry, we are concerned about our footprint,” he said, referring to the impact of fishing activities.

“In South Africa, hake trawling occurs almost entirely on soft, muddy, sandy or gravelly sediments and even though the size and weight of trawl gear is strictly regulated, we want to understand the impacts that trawling has on the ecosystem, and the time it takes for the seabed to recover after it has been trawled.”

SADSTIA is currently engaged in a rigorous process to renew its certification with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). South Africa’s deep-sea and inshore trawl fisheries were certified by the MSC as “sustainable and well managed” in 2004 and again in 2010; if the current assessment is favourable, MSC certification will be extended to 2019. Since 2004, the MSC has stipulated that SADSTIA should assess and mitigate the impacts that trawlilng has on the seabed and the organisms that live there. SADSTIA has gone to great lengths to meet this and other conditions of MSC certification and the five-year seabed recovery experiment forms part of this effort.

SADSTIA’s involvement

Not only have SADSTIA’s members agreed to close part of an important trawl ground, they have also arranged for two senior technicians to participate in this year’s survey. They are Driaan Pretorius, engineering manager with Viking Fishing, and Jean van der Merwe, fleet electronics manager with Sea Harvest.

“We’re quite excited about the experiment,” said Russell Hall, Sea Harvest’s trawling division manager.

“Jean has been involved right from the start of the experiment when we started looking at areas where we could test the trawl recovery process, so he has all the background, and we think his expertise in electronics will be very helpful to the project.”

Driaan Pretorius assisted the scientific team in 2014 and is contributing his time and expertise again this year.

Also on the scientific team this year is Dr Kerry Sink, the head of the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI) Marine Programme, and a long-time advocate for a system of offshore marine protected areas (MPAs). Dr Sink is excited by the fact that the team will deploy the submersible camera on Child’s Bank, a seamount located adjacent to the Karbonkel trawl grounds.

“Child’s Bank has been identified as a focus area for offshore protection, but on this survey we will see it for the very first time,” she said. The Ski-Monkey submersible camera has been modified to allow it to collect images from Child’s Bank without damaging the hard corals and benthic species that are known to occur there.

Offshore MPAs are entrenched in the Phakisa programme – government’s initiative to unlock the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans – and SADSTIA has worked with scientists and conservationists since 2006 to identify the most suitable areas for an offshore MPA.