Sunday, April 1, 2012


Feike is in possession of an Inter-Ministerial memorandum of understanding concluded between the Ministers of Fisheries and Defence. In terms of the MOU, which is just longer than a single page, the Navy "shall perform the shipping management functions of the Fisheries Department's fleet of vessels with effect from 1st April 2012. The shipping management function shall include, but not be limited to:-

(a) The crewing (manning) of the vessels;
(b) The technical management of these vessels (maintenance, repair and life cycle management);
(c) The provisioning of these vessels;
(d) The bunkering of these vessels;
(e) The operation of these vessels;
(f) The accounting of all aspects relating to these functions; and
(g) Safety and seaworthiness.
Furthermore, the MOU records that it will remain in place for a period of 12 months and that for it to become operative, the two Ministers shall sign a service level agreement within 14 days from the date of signature of the MOU. The SLA shall include amongst others, the roles and responsibilities of the Parties, the manner in which possible disputes shall be resolved and the duration of the SLA.

Accordingly, for the next 14 days at least, South African waters will be unprotected and all fisheries research cruises will be on hold. The MOU does not clarify the following:

(a) When will the vessels actually be registered as naval vessels and removed from the SAMSA register of vessels?

(b) How will civilian personnel be permitted to function on board these vessels? Will fishery control officers be permitted to operate on the patrol vessels?

(c) How will civilian based research be undertaken on the "naval" research vessels?

(d) Who is going to "teach" the new crew when identified and appointed to commandeer these vessels as there has not been any handover which ought to have taken three months?

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