The Department of Transport has set up an Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) whose aim is to respond to cases of major marine pollution. This is the first step by the South African maritime sector to control marine pollution.
One of the IMOrg’s main goals will be to create a standardised approach to managing oil spills across the entire South African coastline. The IMOrg comprises experts and professionals from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), National Disaster Management Centre, Petroleum Agency South Africa, Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Mineral Resources.
Marine pollution and rescue response
The IMOrg’s primary responsibility is to manage and respond to oil spillages and gas leakages off South Africa’s coast. It will also be permitted to respond to stranded sea vessels and distressed seafarers on South African waters.
This bolsters the existing sea-rescue infrastructure, adding response vessels to the fleet of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and the South African navy. According to the NSRI 2017 statistics, 1050 sea rescues took place, involving 1227 seafarers and 21 animals.
IMOrg will grow and develop over time
The IMOrg has already adopted the Incident Management System (IMS) as the chosen model for response to marine pollution, such as oil spills, in particular. The IMS is endorsed by the International Maritime Organisation, of which South Africa is a member.
The Department of Transport is planning to construct a legislative framework that will support the growth of the IMOrg, as well as to aid the development of the shipping and fuel sectors. Should an oil spill occur in South African waters, the government will be ready to respond swiftly and strategically to the crisis.
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