Fishing Industry Career-Building for School Leavers
Before July 2013 there was no such qualification as an Able Seamen (Fishing). The Fishing industry had to make use of the Able Seamen (Deck) qualification to meet Minimum Safe Manning levels. There was no need for Able Seamen on board your average fishing vessel as they only concentrated on fishing and traditionally fisherman did not do any maintenance.
Since then there has been a monumental shift in Industry needs where Able Seamen are now expected to step up and perform duties other duties than fishing.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) also had to take a very good look at the South African legislation, and align the SA Maritime industry regulations with the international standard. This process was started by adopting the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping latest convention (STCW 78 as amended in 2010 with the Manila amendments). This came from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), controlling Maritime legislation internationally. During the same period, we also adopted the latest Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) coming from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) ensuring that seafarers are treated fairly at sea and have all the rights and provisions as normal shore-working people. These two conventions created most of the maritime legislation, and especially our maritime training codes, to change and ensure that we are aligned internationally. Every ancillary course changed to incorporate the latest changes.
For South Africa to comply with these regulations, we are placed on the “White List” which is internationally recognised. If that our country complies with the international standard, and then our qualifications will be accepted internationally. This is huge for us as we have thousands of seafarers working aboard. The above changes were all good, but only dealt with foreign-going vessels over 500 GT and excluded fishing vessels.
The IMO adopted the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessels (STCW-F) and in 2013 they had enough signatories to the Convention to bring the new legislation for fishing vessels in force. Even though South Africa is not a signatory, they agreed to the new standard to ensure that our fishing fleet are also aligned to an international standard.
As we speak, there has also been ongoing pressure from the ILO to ensure that fishermen are treated fairly, and therefore SAMSA wrote ILO 188 which is the equivalent of the MLC for fishermen. We expect this to come into force soon.