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Fishing Patrols Could Resume Later this Month

05 April 2013

SOUTH AFRICA - Deep-sea fishing patrols by the fisheries branch are expected to resume later this month, following the signing of an agreement with a local shipyard to carry out urgent repairs on its vessels.

The agreement between the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ fisheries branch and Damen Shipyards follows the expiry of the year-long operating memorandum of understanding between the fisheries branch and the SA Navy.

Damen Shipyards has been tasked with getting the Sarah Baartman offshore fisheries patrol and the Africana fisheries research vessels operational so that they can return to sea.

Greta Apelgren-Narkedien, the department’s deputy director general of fisheries management, said the contract to Damen Shipyards was awarded in accordance with Section 16A, 6.4 of the Public Financial Management Act and the National Treasury Practice, Note 8 of 2007/6 paragraph 3.4.4, which reads that “in urgent or emergency cases or in case of sole supplier”.

Ms Apelgren-Narkedien said the five-year tender for the maintenance of the vessels would still go out, adding that the process was likely to be concluded in July.

She said the department had opted to go with Damen Shipyards as they had manufactured five of the six vessels – with the Africana, which is over 30 years old, being the sole ship that was not built by the local shipyard.

Ms Apelgren-Narkedien said the department plans to have the Africana, which is 50 per cent ready – operational by next month.

Deep-sea patrols could start later this month, as three of the patrol vessels – Ruth First, Victoria Mxenge and Ellen Kuzwayo – were 80 per cent ready, she said.

However, should the work on the Africana not be completed in time, the department’s fall back plan is to contract Fish SA to carry this task out on behalf of the department.

Keith Govender, the department’s deputy director of fisheries patrol vessels, said the agreement would run for six months and cost between R4.5 million and R5 million in repairs.

Govender said the department had during the year paid the SA Navy in all R23 million for repairs and short trips that the vessels had taken during the time they were operated by the navy.

Damon Shipyards’ repair and service manager Gary Atkins said the vessels are not damaged, but have not yet been maintained for some time, which has resulted in them losing their annual seaworthy certification or class.

TheFishSite News Desk

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