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