2013 is Maritime Year: but shhh, its a secret!

Last week at the Maritime Trade Forum ahead of the BRICS Summit in Durban, I learned that the Minister of Transport had declared 2013, Maritime Year in South Africa. Riad Khan of the Port Regulator stated this quite clearly while welcoming delegates to these maritime discussions and I silently chastised myself for not knowing such an important development in the industry.

Wow – that’s a real milestone for the relationship between the maritime industry and the Department of Transport, which is more vocal in its directives aimed at land-based transport modes. I was buoyed by the announcement and felt sure that I would be able to find out what the Department was doing to promote this sector within the country and amongst our citizens.

Since learning this news last week I have asked a number of other members of the industry what they know about this development only to find that I was not the only one in the dark.

So I visited the Department’s website feeling sure I would see some sort of 2013 Maritime Year banner emblazoned across the screen. No. No banner.

So I looked under the press announcements, press releases and speeches. No. No such message there either.

So I took the link to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Department’s official maritime agency, to see if I could find more information there. No. No information there. And the same dismal non-message on the website belonging to the Port Regulator.

So I went back to the Department of Transport’s website to take a closer look at their maritime intentions because Minister Dikobe Ben Martins did make it clear in his speech at the Maritime Trade Forum that he was expecting high level engagement with the industry and that a coherent maritime strategy needed to be presented to him by July.

Surely such pronouncements would be borne out on their site? No. None of the speeches listed on the site relate to his public appearances in the maritime domain. It is as if he is embarrassed to admit engaging with us on some level; as if by admitting his engagement with the maritime industry, he is somehow ignoring the carnage on our road during peak holidays.

In fact if you click on MARITIME in the website menu bar – the persistent banner advert promoting road safety follows you there too.

In a last ditch effort to uncover their maritime mantra for 2013, I clicked on the link to their Facebook page. That provided no further assistance – especially as the last post on their page is dated June 2012. And most of the posts on the page relate to (yes you guessed it) road traffic.

So ladies and gentlemen of the maritime industry 2013 is Maritime Year, but please don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret.

Full diary: warning – event ahead!

The maritime industry seems to have suddenly woken up and started some vigourous planning for the next couple of weeks. While some events have been a long time in the offing – others seem to have simply sprung up on the calendar.

THE BOSBERAAD

Last week the National Department of Transport (NDoT) surprised maritime stakeholders with an invitation to a Maritime Bosberaad in Pretoria. Hosted jointly by the NDoT, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the Ports Regulator – it seems that the last minute invitation may have influenced the actual attendance register on the day.

It’s a pity really since the Minister of Transport was due to provide the keynote address. Sadly, with only a day’s notice, I did not make it up to Pretoria and will have to rely on the industry for some feedback. I would be especially interested to know what the ANC Youth League’s contribution amounted to.

CRUISING ALONG

Then the rather active and community-spirited maritime sectors in Durban took the initiative to host a Maritime Conference on the MSC Sinfonia. Featuring a rather modest price-tag of only R5000 (all inclusive), this certainly sounds as if a real effort was made to make it as inclusive as possible.

HEAD’S UP FOR THE HIGH SEAS

We’ve been watching the establishment of the Global Ocean Commission since its launch last month and were particularly interested to learn that, not only is Trevor Manuel a Co-chair of the Commission, but South Africa (Cape Town) is hosting their inaugural meeting.

Some follow-up revealed that they would be in Cape Town this week, but that media would not be accommodated at any sessions and nothing had been planned to include us. So – once again it was with surprise that an invitation to a press briefing landed in our inbox late yesterday requesting our presence at a briefing this morning.

The lack of availability of the local press eventually saw this moved to a later date – and one that will take into account the work undertaken during this week by the international heads scheduled to participate.

(Follow our tweets on this topic on @GreenMarineSA – we will use the #GlobalOcean)

BREAKING THE CONTACT FAST

Heavily criticised for not engaging enough with the top levels of the fishing industry, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, is scheduled to share breakfast with CEO’s from this sector tomorrow morning.

I will attend the press briefing DAFF has scheduled following this gathering to hear first hand how the relationship has been strengthened.

(Follow our tweets on this topic on @MaritimeSA – we will use the #DAFFFast)

CEMENTING THE MARITIME BRICS AGENDA

I must admit I have been waiting for a long time for the local South African maritime industry to start talking meaningfully around this topic and am pleased that the initiative has been taken to break-away from next week’s BRICS sessions in this regard.

With a full calendar and a host of public holidays to contend with, organisers elected to host this on a Sunday and I hope that the date does not deter too many stakeholders.

Once again the Minister of Transport, Ben Dikobe Martins, is on the schedule and panel discussions should provide for a lively platform if they are accurately populated.

(Follow our tweets on this topic on @MaritimeSA – we will use the #maritimeBRICS)

MEETING TO DISCUSS AFRICAN MARITIME ECONOMY

The African maritime agenda is key to most conferences and events this year and the Nautical Institute (Southern African Branch) is meeting in association with a number of other key local professional associations to discuss this.

So with an Easter breather between this event and the BRICS sessions; the maritime industry will reassemble in Cape Town to debate the challenges facing the African Maritime economy.

(Follow our tweets on this topic on @MaritimeSA – we will use the #NauticalInstituteSA)

R&R ON THE GOLF COURSE

After all these cerebral outings, however, some sectors of the maritime industry are blocking out a Friday to chase a little white ball around in Stellenbosch. We’ll be there to sponsor one of the holes, take a few photos and relax with you after a hectic couple of weeks.

(Follow our tweets on this topic on @MaritimeSA – we will use the #MaritimeGolfDay)

GET YOUR EVENT ON THE RADAR

So if you are planning anything else in the maritime industry – put it on our radar and we’ll make sure that it becomes more than just a blip

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:

http://www.maritimesa.co.za/MaritimeAwards/tabid/133/Default.aspx

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