Pieter van Dalen, Shadow Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has blasted Fisheries Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, in this press release:
Tina Joemat-Pettersson must break the silence over the looming ecological disaster as a result of the recent oil spill along the Knysna coastline.
This week, a cargo ship, the Kiani Satu ran aground [in Knysna] carrying 330 tons of heavy oil and 15 000 tons of rice. I have been reliably informed that 70 tons of that oil has already spilled into the water, and is drifting further into the ocean. Discussions are underway for the rice to be thrown overboard.
Minister Joemat-Petterson’s department is responsible for managing South Africa’s six environmental protection vessels, which are to be used when the safety of the country’s coastline is compromised, such as with, oil spills. These are the only vessels in South Africa with a mechanism to prevent oil from drifting further into ocean during an oil spill.
These six vessels are currently sitting in dry dock in Cape Town Harbour and Simon’s Town Naval Base due to a failure by the Fisheries Department to properly manage them. They therefore cannot be used in containing and cleaning up of the oil spill.
SAMSA officials have indicated to me that although they are doing their level best to contain and clean the oil spill while trying to salvage the vessel on the Knysna coastline, because they cannot use the Fisheries [Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries] environmental protection vessels, their work is made that much more difficult. They are unable to prevent the oil from drifting further into the ocean.
Minister Joemat-Pettersson must now break her silence and explain, how, in absence of the environmental protection vessels, she will prevent an ecological disaster.