South Africa participates in global 30 Days at Sea Operation

14 November 2018


South Africa has for the first time participated in a global marine crime law enforcement operation, 30 Days at Sea, that led to 359 ship inspections undertaken in South African ports and coastal waters, and a host of environmental violations being detected and necessary action taken.

Globally led by Interpol and coordinated by its global network of 122 national coordinators, 30 Days at Sea involved environmental, fisheries, maritime and border agencies, national police, customs, and port authorities. 

The month-long (1-31 October) operation locally led by Operation Phakisa: Ocean Economy’s Compliance and Enforcement Initiative 5 led to:

  •  49 detections of environmental violations which will be addressed through enforcement notices;
  •  10 cases of serious environmental non-compliances which will be dealt with through criminal investigations and;
  •  27 vessels were identified for focussed MARPOL inspections with a gross tonnage of 1 250 214 tons.

These inspections led to many remedial measures being undertaken in order to evade the risk of pollution at sea.  The largest of these ships measured 333m in length. This operation was the first of its kind ever to be undertaken in South Africa.  There were also a number of incidents that were reported through the Interpol network in order for flag states to take the necessary enforcement interventions. 

In addition to the above, the following were the immediate results can be reported:

  •  In excess of 5 000 tonnes of waste was removed from the marine environment.;
  •  Revenue that would have been lost to the state will be recovered by SARS by following up on certain violations that were detected throughout the operation;
  •  Several unlawfully built structures within coastal public property which were detected during the operation will be addressed through enforcement notices;
  •  Three cases dealing with serious discharges of sewage and potentially harmful pollutants exceeding the maximum threshold of three companies’ coastal discharge permits are currently being addressed and
  •  One ship illegally discharging sewage into coastal waters will be attended through criminal proceedings,

This compliance and enforcement response to pollution within the marine environment was aligned to Interpol’s global enforcement operation, which attracted the participation of over 50 countries and is the first INTERPOL-led global law-enforcement operation targeting, particularly illegal discharges from vessels and illegal dumping at sea.

The focus areas of the operation were concentrated in the Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Western Cape Provinces and the activities included container inspections, offshore bunkering, offshore dumping sites, Marine Protected Areas, Aquaculture facilities and MARPOL Annexure transgressions as key focus areas.

South Africa’s participation in the 30 Days at Sea Operation demonstrates the commitment of the South African government to combat marine environmental crimes and emphasises the integrated approach to border management.

Link to INTERPOL statement:

South Africans are encouraged to continue reporting all environmental crimes to the Environmental Crime hotline details below:

0800 205 005 /

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Zolile Nqayi
Cell: 082 898 6483/