In a significant development for the South African fishing industry, Oceana’s specialised horse mackerel fishing vessel, the MFV Desert Diamond, has been re-registered to sail under the South African flag.

In 2003 the Oceana Group invested R77 million in the purchase and refurbishment of Desert Diamond, a state-of-the-art midwater trawl and factory vessel. At 7765 GRT and 121 metres in length, Desert Diamond was built in Stralsund, Germany in 1990 originally for the Soviet Union distant water fisheries, and sailed under the Panama flag.

“An essential element in introducing a foreign flagged, South African-owned vessel to the mid-water horse mackerel fishery was the South African flagging of the vessel, and a skills transfer programme aimed at South Africanising the industry,” said Blue Continent MD Gregg Vincent. “A phased approach was implemented whereby South African citizens would be employed and trained for various positions on the vessel so that by 2010 only certain key positions would continue to be held by Russian crew.”

South African Flagging

The South African flagging of Desert Diamond is the culmination of a four-year process requiring dedication and commitment from the onshore team and the crew at sea. The flagging was scheduled for the bi-annual dry-docking and maintenance period in May 2006.

“This required a further spend of R6,7 million on the refit, maintenance and renovation of Desert Diamond,” says Vincent. “In addition R2,1 million was spent in preparation for the South African flagging.”

The vessel was dry docked for three weeks in the Cape Town Harbour and the extensive process of complying with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and international regulations and certification was completed in 45 days. On 16 June 2006 the vessel was deleted from the Panama Registration.

Read further on Oceana’s South Africanisation Programme in the news archive and in the sustainability section of our website.