The Department of Transport briefed the Portfolio Committee on a request that South Africa should now accede to Annex IV and Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78). Marpol had been adopted, under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisations, a United Nations specialist agency, to preserve the maritime environment through the complete elimination of pollution by oil and other harmful substances, as well as to minimise accidental discharge of such substances. South Africa had, in 1995, acceded to Marpol and four of its Annexes (dealing with prevention of pollution by oil, control of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk, and harmful substances carried in a packaged form, and control of pollution by garbage from ships). This was carried over into and enforced by South Africa’s Marine Pollution Prevention Act. However, this legislation did not cover the content of Annexes IV and VI, and should Parliament now agree to adopt these, the legislation would need to be amended.
Annex IV dealt with discharge of sewage into the sea, ships equipment and systems for the control of sewage discharge, the provision of facilities at ports terminals for the reception of sewage and requirements for survey and certification. Annex VI set limits on Sulphur Oxide and Nitrogen Oxide emission from ships’ exhausts systems, as well as designation of an Emission Control Area for these and other greenhouse gas emissions from ships. Signatories to the Convention were required to ensure that their own registered ships complied with technical standards, and must issue certificates of compliance to Annexes IV and VI. A signatory State must also ensure that other country’s ships entering its territorial waters complied with the regulatory requirements of the Convention, and ensure facilities at ports and terminals to meet those ships’ needs, for reception of sewage. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) was responsible for compliance, and agreed with the accession to the remaining Annexes, as did a number of other maritime stakeholders. The State Law Advisors were satisfied that there was nothing inconsistent with the Annexes, and it was noted that no additional financial or security burdens would be cast on South Africa, should it accede to them, as the responsibilities were already being covered by SAMSA and Transnet Ports Authority. It was important for South Africa to accede to these remaining Annexes as it was important to enact legislation to ensure proper dealings with sewage and air pollution of other trading partners’ ships.
Members asked the Department about the relationship between the existing legislation and the Annexes now presented, and asked if the Department had sufficient resources and capacity to monitor and enforce the legislations. They enquired what punitive sanctions could be imposed on non-compliant ships, and what the role of Transnet and SAMSA would be in relation to Annexes IV and VI. They asked for statistics on the number of ships detained or docked in South African ports, what the Department did in the case where ships might be damaged or abandoned. Members wanted clarity on the respective roles of the Department of Transport and Department of Environmental Affairs in relation to maritime pollution. They suggested that DoT needed to consult with municipalities in order to ensure compliance, and asked for a future briefing on Operation Phakisa. The Committee would recommend to the House that South Africa now accede also to Annexes IV and VI of the Marpol.
Chairperson’s Opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that the Department of Transport (DoT or the Department) would be briefing Members on both Annex IV and Annex VI to the International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from ships (MARPOL) 73/78, which were being tabled in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution. The marine sector was vital to the economy of South Africa, and marine legislation and treaties were thus essential, to deal with maritime security, safety and marine environment protection.
International Convention on prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL) 73/78: Annex IV and VI: Department of Transport briefing
Mr Mawethu Vilane, Acting Director-General, Department of Transport, introduced the delegation.
Ms Mpathiseng Ramaema, Chief Director:Policy and Legislation, Department of Transport, noted that the International Convention on prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL 73/78 or the Convention) was adopted under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisations, a United Nations specialised agency dealing with maritime security, safety and maritime environment protection. The objective was to preserve the maritime environment, through the complete elimination of pollution by oil and other harmful substances, as well as minimising the accidental discharge of such substances. South Africa acceded to Marpol 73/78 and to all annexes other than Annex IV and VI, which were now being presented to complete its accession to the full treaty and all annexes.
The Marpol Convention had six annexes, which were:
Annex I: Regulations for the prevention of pollution by oil
Annex II: Regulation for the control of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk
Annex III: Regulation for the prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried in a packaged form
Annex IV: Regulation for prevention of pollution by sewage from ships
Annex V: Regulation for the control of pollution by garbage from ships
Annex VI: Regulation from prevention of air pollution from ships
Ms Ramaema said that Annex IV defined “sewage” as drained and other wastes from any form of toilet and urinals, drainage from medical premises (dispensary or sick bay) via wash basins, wash tubes and scuppers located in such premises, drainage of spaces containing living animals, or other waste waters. It dealt with discharge of sewage into the sea, ships’ equipment and systems for the control of sewage discharge, the provision of facilities at port terminals for the reception of sewage and requirements for survey and certification.
It was estimated that large ships carrying 500 000 passengers could discharge about 100 000 litres of sewage a day. She mentioned that the environmental problems associated with sewage from ships included the introduction of nutrients causing algal blooms. This had a potential to reduce oxygen levels, which could pose a serious health risk to people who come into contact with polluted water during recreational and commercial activities.
Ms Ramaema then indicated that Annex VI set limits on Sulphur Oxide (SO) and Nitrogen Oxide (NO) emission from ships’ exhausts systems, also intended to prohibit deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances. Annex VI further allowed for an Emission Control Area to be designated for SO and NO and other type of greenhouse emissions from ships. It was important to note that Annex VI applied to all ships of 400 Gross Tonnage and above, and to all fixed and floating drifting rigs and other platforms.
Ms Ramaema stated that Annexure VI consisted of a set of requirements for survey and issuance of International Air Pollution Certificate and regulations regarding:
- Ozone depleting substances from regulating plants’ and fire fighting equipment
- Nitrogen Oxide from diesel engines
- Sulphur Oxides from diesel engine
- Volatile organic compound emissions from cargo tankers of oil tankers
- Shipboard Incantations
Currently, in South Africa, the discharge of sewage from commercial vessels was one of a few areas related to shipping where there were no enforceable international standards. South Africa’s Marine Pollution Prevention Act regulated marine pollution, under the auspices of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). Obligations that would be imposed by the Convention included references to flag state, coastal state and administration. “Flag state” referred to the country where a ship was registered, which then bore the responsibility for certifying the ship’s compliance with Marpol standards. A coastal state such as South Africa which had been a signatory to the Convention was responsible for enacting domestic legislation to implement the Convention, and effectively pledged to comply with the Convention, Annexes and related laws of other nations. It was the responsibility of SAMSA to undertake surveys, when conducting Port State Control, and to request a certificate of compliance.
Ms Ramaema summarised that the main responsibilities of South Africa as a signatory to the Convention included:
- ensuring that its vessels complied with the technical standards set by MARPOL 73/78
- ensuring that periodic survey and inspections of vessels were carried out
- issuing certificates of compliance to annex IV and VI.
She further explained that each participating state’s government had to require that ships entering the waters of its jurisdiction, which would include visiting ships as well as its own ships, must, while in those waters, comply with the regulatory requirements of the Convention. Signatories undertook to ensure provision of facilities at ports and terminals, adequate to meet the needs of ships using these ports, for the reception of sewerage, without causing delay to ships.
SAMSA, the South African Petroleum Industry (SAPI), Association of Ships Agents Brokers of South Africa (ASABOSA), Transnet Ports Authority (TPA) and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) all supported the accession of South Africa to Annex IV and VI. The Chief State Law Advisers from Department of International Relations and Cooperation, and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, had scrutinised the Annexes and had confirmed that Annexes IV and VI were consistent with the domestic and international laws.
Ms Ramaema noted that the accession to these Annexes would not impose any additional financial burden on the State. After Parliament had approved accession to the Annexes, the State would deposit the instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of IMO. There were no security implications to approving the Annexes.
In relation to implementation, she noted that the survey of ships was already a function carried out by SAMSA. The Transnet Ports Authority was responsible for ensuring adequate reception facilities and carrying out periodic surveys.
She finally noted that this request was being placed before Parliament in terms of sections 231(2) of the Constitution, and Parliament’s approval for accession to the Annexes was thus requested.
Mr Vilane added that the Department of Transport also approved submission of the Marpol Annexure IV and VI for tabling in Parliament, and recommended that they be approved.
Mr Sipho Mbatha, Head: Maritime Legislation, SAMSA, stated that during the apartheid years, South Africa had been excluded from participating at international level. After 1995, South Africa adopted and ratified a number of conventions. MARPOL (with the exclusion of Annexes IV and VI) was adopted, to protect South Africa’s marine and coastal areas. The Constitution of South Africa clearly stated that international conventions could not be enforced domestically, unless translated to national legislation. The Marpol Annexes already adopted had been incorporated into legislation from 1996. The reason why South Africa should now acceded to Annex IV was that other countries with whom it was now trading had sewage on board, and there was a risk should they offload sewage to a country that lacked adequate legislation and facilities to deal with it. Annexure VI, as already indicated, set the limits on SO and NO. South Africa planned to enforce laws that would prohibit air pollution from all the ships.
Mr G Radebe (ANC) agreed that it was important for South Africa to curb air and water pollution. He asked about the relationships between the existing legislation, and the current Annexes and sought clarification on linkages between them.
Mr Radebe asked the Department to elaborate on why it was claimed that there were no security implications from the Convention. He asked also what procedure the Department of Transport would follow for any ships found to have contravened the environmental laws. He asked whether the Department had enough resources and capacity to monitor and evaluate Marpol.
Mr Radebe also urged the Department to protect South African marine waters against syndicated piracy, as this was likely to impact on both the economy and employment.
Mr Vilane responded that any security implications related to enforcing compliance and monitoring and evaluating the legislation. On the question of existing laws, he said that there were laws that dealt with pollution in the marine environment, but they were complementary to the Annexes now presented. SAMSA was the agent of the Department that dealt extensively with the issues of pollution and safety in the maritime space. He admitted that the Department still lacked the capacity to adequately monitor and evaluate the legislations. The DOT was the only Department that dealt with the issue of spillage in the maritime environment, and had already asked SAMSA to assist in monitoring and evaluation of pollution.
Ms E Masehela (ANC) wanted to know whether there would be any additional financial implications in the future, arising from the Annexes.
Mr Vilane responded that currently there were no additional financial implications, because the Department ensured that available funding was utilised adequately to enforce the legislation. However, as the Department improved its efforts and tried to introduce new technology, there was a possibility of additional financial implications.
Mr M De Freitas (DA) also wanted to ascertain whether South Africa had pre-existing laws that dealt specifically with the issues of maritime air and water pollution. He also asked about the role of Transnet in relation to Annex IV and VI.
Mr Mbatha responded that the accession to Marpol had compelled Transnet to provide the facilities to curb the problem of pollution and the discharge of sewage into the sea. The Marine Pollution Prevention Act was existing legislation that regulated marine pollution. However, the provisions of this legislation only catered for what was covered in Annexes I, II, III and V. If South Africa were to accede also to Annexes IV and VI, it would then need to amend its legislation.
Mr M Sibande (ANC) urged the Department, in future, to make all presentations available to Members well in advance of the meeting, to enable Members to familiarise themselves with the content. He further commented that the lack of page numbering made it difficult to reference the points during discussion.
Mr Vilane agreed that the Department would ensure that the presentation was available to the Members in advance, in future, and correct the issue of numbering.
Mr Sibande wanted to know whether the Department was aware of the amount of water consumed by nuclear power stations like Koeberg. He asked what punitive measures were enforced on the ships that were found contravening Marpol. He was concerned that the Department seemed to try to implement legislation without ensuring that there was adequate capacity and resources to monitor and evaluate progress. He asked what procedure the Department would follow for abandoned ships in South African waters, as were likely to discharge oil and damage the ecosystem.
Mr Sibande also wanted more details of any existing legislation on, and cautioned that it was necessary to deal carefully with piracy, as this was likely to impact on trade and the economy of South Africa.
Mr Vilane responded that the Department did not have figures about the amount of water consumed by nuclear power station like Koeberg, as this was the terrain of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). The DoT was still struggling to enforce legislation. He added that the Department was working together with the South African Navy and the Defence Force to ensure the identification and tracking of potential risks in the maritime sector. It was also working in partnerships to try to curb syndicated piracy, as this was indeed impacting on trade relationships, although he also hastened to add that it was not within the responsibility of the DoT to enforce policies and legislations to counteract piracy. The Department consulted the flag state in any cases where a ship registered in that country was found contravening the International Convention. SAMSA had legislative power to detain a ship for questioning.
Ms Ramaema also added that any pollution that took place outside of ocean areas was the responsibility of the DEA, not DoT.
Mr Mbatha added that it was important to differentiate between preventing and combating pollution in the maritime sector. The DoT was responsible for the prevention of pollution from ships, while the DEA was mostly responsible for combating pollution that did occur in the ocean.
Mr Sibande said that the DoT was responsible for the garbage in the ocean that had been discharged by the ships.
Mr Vilane responded that the DoT wanted to ensure that ships did not discharge nuclear waste or garbage in the ocean. For this reason, the roles of DoT and DEA sometimes did overlap and that was where the preventative and combating aspects came into play.
Mr Mbatha added that the Department was responsible for compliance with all the Annexes, including IV and VI. However, the DoT did not have cleaning mechanisms to actually remove waste discharged in the ocean.
Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) asked whether the Department had any statistics on the number of vessels that had been prevented from entering South Africa. He also suggested that the Department needed to consult the municipalities to ensure compliance with this legislation. He wanted to know whether the Department had any budget to assist people in the case where a ship might be abandoned. He also suggested that Committee Members needed to do a site visit to witness the process of monitoring and evaluation of ships.
Mr Vilane agreed that the Members needed to do a site visit to observe the monitoring of ships. He also responded that the DoT did assist people that may have been on abandoned vessels, and was responsible to “pull out” ships that had the potential to pollute. The Department was engaging with municipalities, and there was constant coordination to prevent marine exploitation and pollution.
Mr Mbatha added that responsibility for those on ships lay with the ship owners, but in many cases once there had been an incident, the ship owner would not be contactable, in which case the DoT had to play a role. The DoT tried to ensure that in the first instance any ship pilots would be competent and experienced, to avoid negligence and accidents.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) also asked about the responsibility of ship owners, and the degree of compliance with the legislation, and with the international Convention. He asked about capacity in South Africa to detain ships and asked for numbers of those that were detained. He said he was not aware that South Africa had such a high volume of traffic in the ocean, and this was a matter of environmental concern.
Mr Vilane responded that it was the responsibility of the flag state to ensure compliance and monitoring of ships. If ships were detained, they were docked, but he did not have the figures with him of those that had been detained. The DoT needed to coordinate with other departments to ensure control of the volume of shipping in the ocean.
Ms Phumelela Ngema, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, noted that the presentation by the Department had been thorough and attempted to provide a background on the four annexes that were already approved and were being implemented. Now the Committee had been given this information, it needed to make a recommendation to the House whether South Africa should now also accede to Annexes IV and VI, and that would give binding effect to the whole Convention.
Ms S Xego-Sovita (ANC) indicated that she was not aware that large ships had such great potential to discharge up to 100 000 litres of sewage per day. She said the Department needed to provide detailed information on the programme Operation Phakisa, in the future meetings.
Members proposed, seconded, and agreed a motion to recommend the accession to the Annexes IV and VI.
The meeting was adjourned
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