Sea tragedy: DA requests urgent audit of rescue vessels

Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters
Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters
The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday said it would write to the Minister of Transport‚ Dipuo Peters‚ to request that her office investigate a sea accident that claimed the lives of nine fishermen on Sunday.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) confirmed on Monday afternoon in a statement that four fishing vessels were still engaged in an ongoing search operation for three missing fishermen after their trawler was reported to be taking on water in heavy sea swells.

"Two I& J fishing vessels and two Viking Fishing Company fishing vessels are searching the area 20 nautical miles South of Hangklip in a search operation coordinated by (MRCC) Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre‚" NSRI said.

The NSRI said‚  "nine fishermen survived‚ nine fishermen were deceased‚ and three fishermen remain missing".

The stricken trawler "is under tow‚ by a sister ship‚ and efforts are being made to bring her to the Port of Table Bay".

The distress call from the 42m trawler that was received at just after 6pm on Sunday said the 21crew onboard had abandoned ship.

DA MP Chris Hunsinger said the "DA extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives…"

He said the official opposition would request that Peters’ office "investigate this accident and that swift action be taken in order to prevent any such incidents in the future".

Last month‚ in a report to the Portfolio Committee on Transport‚ NSRI CEO‚ Cleeve Robertson‚ expressed concern at the fact that "our rescue capacity do not meet the operational and minimum standards required to assist in emergency situations".

Hunsinger said‚ "This unfortunate incident follows a warning‚ earlier this month‚ from the DA to minister Peters on 2 September‚ in a declaration delivered in Parliament on the Consideration of the Request for Approval of the International Convention on Standards of Training‚ Certification and Watch-keeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel.

"In that declaration‚ ahead of South Africa’s decision to participate in this convention‚ I expressed the urgent need to improve our rescue capacity and warned that‚ with more than 12‚000 vessels cruising our coast‚ it is shocking to learn that we currently only have one land-on licensed pilot in South Africa.

"The DA will now demand a swift reaction and the immediate appointment of a rescue and emergency support audit to be conducted before the end of 2015‚ following this latest incident."