Access denied: flirting with the maritime economy?

There’s a general movement that is gaining traction in the maritime sectors that aims to boost the industry’s contribution to job creation and the GDP. The Blue Economy is on everyone’s lips and national, regional, continental and even international strategies are being developed to see our oceans contribute meaningfully to our human desire to produce and prosper.

With so much attention it should, therefore, not be surprising to see a whole new set of eyes flirting with the possibility of developing a long term relationship with the ocean sector. It’s time to give them a dance ticket and allow them onto the dance floor.

At the South African Maritime Industry Conference (SAMIC) organised some three years ago by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), there were people from every sector and plenty who saw themselves as merely standing on the side line hoping for an opportunity to show their moves.

Paul Maclons, Managing Director of Smit Amandla Marine, was unequivocal in his statement during one of the panel discussions at the conference: that the solution for a full and inclusive dance floor was not in promoting the practice of cutting in on existing dancers – but rather on extending the party and mixing it up from the DJ’s box. Well, okay Paul did not mention anything about dancing or DJ’s, but his message was clear – we need to expand the industry to accommodate newcomers.

The truth is though that the industry is expanding and there are more opportunities, but equally the economic reality of a capital-intensive international industry is seeing more consolidation and joint ventures as existing companies seek relationships with other established partners that can offer them the opportunity to extend their own dance cards.

Does that mean that there is no opportunity for newcomers? Are they destined always to be wallflowers?

The quick answer to that has to be NO! There are some newcomers to the industry aiming to show off their signature moves on the dance floor. Our job is not to stop mid beat and point or jeer. Our job is to make sure that there is space for them even if their rhythm is a little different to ours. Our job is to learn a little from the new beat.

This year’s SAMSA Maritime Industry Awards aims to recognise the new dancers on our floor. If you’ve recently launched or know of a company that has launched into our space – please take the time to nominate. It takes courage to start something in any industry and especially into one so entrusted to the “old guard”.  


What is a Maritime Maestro?

Maritime Maestros have salt in their veins. They are committed to the industry in a way that goes beyond the scope of a 9 to 5 job description. They give passionately and devote their energies to develop the future of the industry as a whole. They lead the industry and often pioneer new paths – they are Maritime Maestros.

Two years ago we recognised Okke Grapow as a Maritime Maestro at the 2012/13 SAMSA Maritime Industry Awards. He was living out his maritime family heritage that had been passed down to him from his father and subsequently onto his own children. His dedication to offer himself beyond the confines of a 9 to 5 servant to the industry certainly benefitted the development of the South African maritime industry – and today he continues to inspire others.

This year we are once again appealing to the industry to get out of their comfort zones and to start to recognise the impact that their peers, colleagues and even competitors are making in the industry. Nominations are open for the 2014/15 SAMSA Maritime Industry Awards. Read more about the various categories and start nominating today!


Maritime Newsmaker of the Year 2013

Last night we hosted our annual function to thank clients for their valuable support as well as to present the Maritime Newsmaker of the Year Award. The award aims to recognise individuals, companies or organisations that have garnered media attention that depicts the maritime industry in a positive way. It recognises those who have successfully showcased the industry to a wider mass audience – and in so doing have positively marketed the industry as a potential employer or career opportunity to a new generation.

Last year something happened that took me by surprise. Suddenly the world and the media became fascinated with the maritime skills and expertise of a South African who had been hand-picked to lead one of the most publicised wreck removal projects of recent years.

Locally and internationally he suddenly became a maritime celebrity as he showcased not only his own knowledge and expertise, but assembled a team of South African individuals and companies to lift the Costa Concordia under the watchful eye of the world.

Television and print media flocked to the sight of the wreck and Nick Sloane and his team must have generated more airtime and print space for the significant talent that we have than any marketing campaign could have dreamed of doing. Notwithstanding the tragedy of the shipwreck; the ensuing story of maritime ingenuity is a good one to tell.

My hope is that many of our youth would have been awoken to the wide variety of potential careers that are open to them in the industry. Careers that are demanding but immensely rewarding.

But I guess the day I happened to pick up a GQ magazine at a guesthouse to find Nick Sloane staring back at me, was the day I really realised he had helped capture media attention for maritime news that extended beyond the normal tragic story of a shipwreck to give people a real glimpse into the salvage, diving, engineering and pollution prevention sectors that seldom get a media nod of approval.

Unfortunately Nick was still on site at the wreck and remains focused on the job at hand – and so could not join us last night to receive the award. He did, however, send this message:

“I am extremely humbled to be named such a figure and would like to accept this on behalf of all South Africans involved in the offshore and salvage industry. I believe that our seamanship and work ethics are starting to be appreciated on a global basis. I would also like to thank my wife Sandra and three children for allowing me to follow my passion. From all 330 team members on the Costa Concordia at this time thank you for thinking of us in this way. I hope that we refloat mid July and that I can get home by August.” -: NICK SLOANE

CSI Maritime

CSI, which incidentally has nothing to do with investigating crime scenes, has become an integral part of doing business and many maritime companies have well-entrenched strategies for identifying as well as supporting social upliftment. From education to supporting orphans or places of refuge and even environmental projects – there are no shortages of Corporate Social Investment initiatives requiring funding.

Massive corporates usually get the applause for their CSI strategies, but both big and small businesses are identifying worthwhile causes and investing money, time and skills in helping others.

Recently, however, the topic has become fodder for anecdotal dinner conversation as outraged people comment on intended legislation aimed at weighting incentives for companies participating in welfare-related projects. The general consensus seems to be that companies will be forced to abandon many of the causes they currently support as they chase incentives provided by supporting projects with 100 percent Black beneficiaries because anything else “just wont count”.

For me it’s a bit of a bizarre argument. To say that putting your hand out to help “just wont count” is wholly ridiculous. That the entire motivation for helping a cause should be attached to financial or tax incentives somewhat taints the intention. And let’s be fair – the weighting of incentives does not remove all tax breaks; but rather puts emphasis on projects that the government feels will perhaps impact positively on addressing their prioritised goals such as unemployment.

I acknowledge that, based on our own priorities to address different injustices, it may seem unfair to some to weight these tax incentives, but if you want to support a cause and really feel passionate about it – get on and support it because it will definitely “count” to those who benefit.

We, together with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), aim to recognise companies within the maritime fold at this year’s Maritime Industry Awards who give credence to the ethos of Corporate Social Investment. The award category aims to recognise a company’s commitment reaching outside of their corporate structures to lend a hand. Special emphasis will be placed on the company’s ability to involve their own staff members and instill a sense of charity that goes beyond handing over big cheques and issuing press releases.

The SAMSA Maritime Industry Awards, to be held in Cape Town on the 20 April 2013, are open to companies or organisations with a majority South African shareholding or with proven investment in the South African industry that includes an operating office; employment of South African citizens as well as investment in training and infrastructure. Individuals can also be nominated in any of the nine categories.

For more information about the SAMSA Maritime Industry Awards or to nominate a company or individual, please follow the link below:

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What is a Maritime Maestro?

Since I started knocking about in the maritime industry some 17 years ago I have come across a few very extraordinary people. Sadly some of these have passed on, but fortunately a number still remain in the industry and continue to inspire us. They are passionate about all things maritime and unashamedly promote aspects of the industry outside of the typical nine-to-five window many of us allocate for work. They demand exacting standards from themselves and inspire others to notch up achievements they did not believe were possible.

These people are largely unrecognised, but this year’s SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) Maritime Industry Awards seeks to shine the spotlight on them and give them their due at an awards dinner scheduled for 20 April 2013 at the Look Out in Cape Town.

I know of a number of Maritime Maestros that deserve this recognition and hope that many of us in the industry will take the time to nominate these inspiring individuals. It’s an easy process, but needs to be done by the end of this month so do not delay.

For more information on the SAMSA Maritime Industry Awards and the nomination process, please follow the link below:

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