The agency made these remarks responding to an IMO MSC’s circular to Member States stating the committee’s intention to remove from its White list "all countries that were not compliant with requirements of the 1978 STCW Convention as amended".

The IMO’s 1978 STCW Convention stipulates standards of training, certification and watch-keeping for seafarers.

In February, the IMO issued a circular expressing its intention to remove from its register all countries that were non complaint with the convention, along with a list reflecting that as many as 87 countries – including South Africa – would be affected.

The circular simply stated the intention but provided no set date for implementation of the action, SAMSA noted.

Implementation of the 1978 STCW Convention, as amended, is on the agenda of the IMO's Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 6), currently being held in London, specifically with reference to the list of compliant STCW Parties (Whitelist) and its review.

In a statement in Pretoria on Thursday, SAMSA acting CEO, Mr. Sobantu Tilayi confirmed that the agency was extremely concerned by the development announced by the IMO in February, as it had major implications for the country’s maritime sector. However, he noted:

Even as we have a serious situation in our hands, and should never have found ourselves in this position, I am confident that we will act with speed and do so correctly to ensure that the intended action by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee is not finalized to South Africa’s disadvantage.

The planned response action plan involves three broad activities; the securing of IMO assistance with compilation of the report required in terms of the convention, the hastening of a SAMSA process setting in place a relevant quality management system, and constant engagement with stakeholders.

In the video below, Mr Tilayi speaks at length about the entire saga but also about what SAMSA is already doing to prevent South Africa from being formally delisted possibly later in 2019.