National Marine Month: Oceana Group prioritises sea safety

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Oceana Group, South Africa’s largest fishing company, is playing a key role in ensuring that maritime safety for seafarers, coastal communities and harbour areas is prioritised by committing more than R1 million over the next five years to the National Sea Rescue Institution (NSRI). October marks National Marine month, a national annual event that creates awareness on the marine and coastal environment.

“We are long-standing partners of the NSRI and have donated close to R900 000 since 2013. Through this contribution, we recognise the important work that the organisation does in ensuring that maritime safety, as well as education and training around safety and our ocean, is available,” says Zodwa Velleman, Oceana Group Executive: Regulatory and Corporate Affairs.

Velleman says that the Group’s financial support will assist the NSRI, which is a non-profit organisation reliant on donations and sponsorships, to carry out its administrative functions in all its 41 stations across the country and cover the ongoing expense of its head office operations. This partnership also helps the NSRI to set strategy and shape its business, as well as administer the many projects they run to reduce drowning in South Africa. The NSRI rescues over one thousand people from drowning each year, with rescue operations targeted at the maritime and fishing sectors.

“For the fishing industry, maritime safety is critical, especially as fishermen face tough and unpredictable conditions at sea. Falling overboard remains one of the biggest risks and is one that is too often fatal. With good safety training, proper safety equipment, and other precautions, drowning is a risk that can be minimised,” says Velleman.

Furthermore, drowning is a serious and neglected public health threat, annually claiming the lives of 360 000 people globally, making it the world’s third leading cause of unintentional injury mortality – according to a 2017 report by the World Health Organisation. In South Africa, drowning mortality was reported to be the fifth leading cause of unintentional death, with an average of 1541 drownings a year – according to research conducted by experts at UCT, CPUT and Lifesaving South Africa.

“We have been able to save more than 17 000 lives and teach water safety to over 2,5 million children since 2001 with the help of long-term partners such as Oceana Group. Without their assistance as a Platinum Partner, playing a leading role in sea rescue and drowning prevention would have been difficult,” says Dr Cleeve Robertson, CEO of the NSRI.

“Our long-standing contribution to improving the socio-economic conditions of the coastal communities in which we operate is an important aspect of our commitment to converting global fishing resources into shared value,” explains Velleman.