Calls for SA coastguard fall on deaf ears

One of South Africa’s leading maritime authorities has called on government to establish a coastguard, saying failure to do so could lead to huge losses in the country’s fishing industry.

Addressing Parliament’s public service select committee, SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) CEO Sipho Msikinya said appeals for such a maritime force appeared to be falling on deaf ears.

”I recognise that resources are finite, but if we as South Africa say we want to become major players in international maritime activities, to increase our economy, I think we have to put thought… towards putting together a coastguard.

”Whether it is integrated with the navy, or it is stand alone… we don’t mind what the structural arrangements are,” he said.

There was a time when the navy had carried out reconnaissance for Samsa, and helped with search and rescue missions, but budgetary cuts had caused this assistance to be ”reduced and curtailed”.

”This is not in the best interests of South Africa.

”There are activities taking place in our waters… which are impacting negatively on our economy, particularly on the fishing side.

”Now we pride ourselves in terms of our fishing stock, but if we can?t see what is happening, if we can’t guard those places, we’re going to lose all this investment that we’re putting into maintaining our fishing stocks,” he said.

Samsa had long been saying the country needed a coastguard.

”But we don’t seem to have ears that this message is falling on; we are pleading with yourselves to take this further,” Msikinya said. – Sapa

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Richard Davies
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