Blue economy boosted as sea institute docks in Bay
Launch coincided with the International Day of the Seafarer
Port Elizabeth’s maritime sector received a boost yesterday when the South African International Maritime Institute opened its new national headquarters, based at Nelson Mandela University’s Ocean Sciences campus.
The institute operates under a government mandate to assist in growing the “blue economy ” by facilitating maritime skills development through relationships between industry stakeholders and education and training institutions countrywide.
The launch coincided with the International Day of the Seafarer, which was also marked yesterday.
“This is another milestone for us in terms of our progress and we’re very privileged to be located in Port Elizabeth,” the institute’s spokeswoman, Sam Venter said.
“The Eastern Cape is a maritime province and Port Elizabeth is the only city with two commercial ports, so really the opportunity is there for the city to benefit from having a national institute focused on maritime skills development.
“We ’re already looking at projects that will benefit the Bay, such as supporting training and development through the sea scouts and through boating organisations.
“The city can benefit by having access to an organisation on its doorstep that is here for youth and skills development in the maritime sector.”
Venter said South Africa had 3,000km of coastline and vast territorial waters which provided good economic and employment opportunities.
“Our role is to look at ways of bringing on new training or designing new programmes or enhancing existing programmes to make sure we are producing the skilled people who can help the maritime industry to grow,” Venter said.
Dignitaries at the opening were guided through the institute’s role in the city and the global maritime sector.That includes everything from aquaculture and fisheries to coastal and marine tourism, shipping and off-shore oil and gas exploration.
“We are thrilled to be operating from our first permanent ‘home port’,” the institute’s chief executive, Professor Malek Pourzanjani, said.
“But this is just the beginning for us, with our eventual aim being to have a presence in all South Africa’s coastal cities.
“There is already a satellite office at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town, with a Durban branch in the pipeline.
“This planned expansion will position us well to ensure that we continue to play a vital role in South Africa’s oceans economy,” he said.
The institute also showed its support for Mission to Seafare, an organisation which assists seafarers in distress.
“This is an extremely worthy global organisation,” Pourzanjani said.
“On our behalf, seafarers face many dangers, including piracy, which may mean that their ship does not safely reach port.
“The mission, through its Angels of Mercy centres in cities such as Port Elizabeth, Durban and Cape Town, helps seafarers to stay in touch with their families while on these long, sometimes dangerous, trips and also ensures the safety and wellbeing of seafarers who face abandonment and homesickness.”