The national lockdown period imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the marine industry and rendered some activities less effective.
This came out of discussions by role players in the maritime industry during the commemoration of World Oceans Day.
The day was celebrated via an online platform on Saturday under the theme ‘The Impact of Covid-19 on the Namibian Maritime Sector’.
World Oceans Day is celebrated globally on 8 June annually.
The event was organised by the association of women managers in the maritime sector in eastern and southern Africa (Womesa).
According to Leena Kagola, Womesa’s chairperson, ocean management is no longer effective due to the crisis the world finds itself in.
This, she said, has resulted in the hindrance to the control and mitigating factors needed to ensure the impact of human activities on the marine coastal environment is minimised.
” … with regards to all surveys and other activities that were supposed to have been done, there has been a challenge to make sure it is affected,” said Kagola.
Fisheries biologist Victoria Erasmus said the lockdown has created a data hole in the fisheries’ long-term database, because no samples were received from fishing companies and the oceans during this period.
“These few months’ databases will have gaps, because we did not research particular species. It’s lost data,” she said.
Erasmus said as a result of the break in the ministry’s work, there is a backlog of unanalysed data.
“The data, which needed to be analysed, was piling up and culminated into a stock assessment for a particular species. It’s not data you can capture at home, and the laptops are not connected to the database. You can only do it when you are at the office,” Ersamus said.
Ministry staff will now have to work at the speed of lightning to capture the data before the end of the assessment year.
With the closure of training and education institutions coupled with border closures, the marine industry will be operating with seafarers with expired competency and proficiency certificates.
These certificates are issued under the international convention of the standards of training, certification, and watchkeeping for seafarers, and are valid for five years from the date of issue through the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa).
The South African body has granted an extension until 30 September for any certificate that may expire during the national lockdown and/or shortly thereafter.
“The extension doesn’t guarantee competency,” Kagola said.
She advised seafarers to keep up with information through online platforms.
Should the global lockdown continue, the Namibia drydock and ship repair company will have fewer clients for vessel repair services.
The company’s acting chief executive officer Heritha Muyoba says international clients make up 80% of their operations, who are also linked to the oil and gas industry.
“Most customers work in the oil and gas industry.
“When the oil price went down, there was no capability for potential clients to pay for docking fees or to pay for vessel repair services, which means instead of bringing their vessels for repairs they have laid up their vessels at sea,” Muyoba said.
Womesa chairperson said while the pandemic has caused serious disruptions, there are massive opportunities to accelerate and adopt new ways of doing things.