South Africa

Spill Notification Point

Marine and Aquatic Pollution Control
Department of Environment Affairs & Tourism (DEAT)
Private Bag X2
Roggebaai 8012
Cape Town 

Tel: +27-21 4023911 or +27-21 4023338/42/44 or Emergency Mobile: +27-82 5576612


Executive Manager Operations
South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)
Private Bag X7025

Tel: +27-21402 8991

Contact may also be made with the nearest SAMSA Officer:

Cape Town Marine Survey Office

Tel: +27-21 4216170/9

Fax: +27-21 419 0730

Durban Casualty Response & Maritime Pollution Prevention Control Centre

Tel: +27-31 3071501-4

Fax: +27-31 306 4983

Mossel Bay Marine Survey Office

Tel: +27-44 690 4201

Fax: +27-44 691 1206

East London Marine Survey Office

Tel: +27-43 722 4120

Fax: +27-43 722 2264

Port Elizabeth Marine Survey Office

Tel: +27-41 5850051/3

Fax: +27-41 582 1213

Port Nolloth Marine Survey Office

Tel: +27-27 851 8340

Fax: +27-27 851 8629

Pretoria Office

Tel: +27-12 342 3049

Fax: +27-12 342 3160

Richards Bay Marine Survey Office

Tel: +27-35 788 0068

Fax: +27-12 342 3160

Saldanha Bay Marine Survey Office

Tel: +27-22 714 1612

Fax: +27-22 714 3635

Competent National Authority

Details as for the Department of Environment Affairs & Tourism above.

Response Arrangements

Oil pollution prevention and response is divided between the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT) and the National Department of Transport (NDOT). Within the NDOT, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is responsible for the supervision of salvage, oil trans-shipments and lightering operations while the oil is still aboard the vessel, together with any negotiations with owners and insurers. The DEAT is responsible for measures undertaken once oil has been released to sea, namely shoreline protection and clean-up, and at-sea response, including the operation of dedicated oil response vessels and aircraft and dispersant spraying operations.

The national contingency plan is currently under revision and extension to include spills of chemicals. 25 Local Coastal Oil Spill Contingency Plans, compiled by DEAT, detail appropriate actions to be taken upon threatened or actual impact. These are supported by a comprehensive Coastal Sensitivity Atlas. Individual plans for oil handling facilities are in place, drawn up by the oil industry, represented by the Oil Industry Environment Committee (OIEC). The clean up of oil spills in port has been delegated to PORTNET, the ports administration. Plans are established for each port.

Control functions are performed by personnel drawn from the major agencies with the On Scene Coordinator drawn from the DEAT. In the event of a major incident a Marine Control Centre will be established by DEAT at the nearest port facilities and in the event of a threat or actual impact of pollution of the shoreline, a Shore Control Centre will be established by DEAT. When alerted, local authorities must nominate officers to become Area Controllers. In the event of lesser spills, where more localised areas have been impacted or threatened, operations may be coordinated from Local Civil Defence Control Centres in contact with the main Shore Control Centre.

Response at Naval facilities would be managed by the South African Navy using equipment and personnel at its disposal.  In the event of large spills assistance would have to be called for from other sources.

Response Policy

Dispersants have historically been relied on for spill combat at sea. However, present day policy reflects a more cautious approach with spraying determined by the OSC and dependant upon the type and state of the oil and the size of the slick. In general, dispersants may only be used more than 9.2km offshore and in water with a depth of more than 30 metres. In certain cases, where the advantages of spraying outweigh those of abstinence (e.g. where the slick threatens important ecological or socio-economic resources), this policy may be overridden. A list of approved oil spill dispersants has been established. Only dispersants bearing the South African Bureau of Standards mark of approval may be used.

Booms and skimmers are utilised in sheltered port and coastal areas in an attempt to protect sensitive areas and to recover spilt oil. Considerable effort has also been directed to advising local authorities on the use of 'self-help' techniques for the protection of the numerous sensitive areas along the coastline, using locally available equipment and materials.

There do not appear to be any specific regulations concerning waste disposal. Disposal routes have included landfill, incineration, stabilisation using quicklime and biodegredation.



DEAT have 3 dedicated dispersant spraying vessels at Cape Town (2) and Durban (1) operated on their behalf by Smit Pentow Marine, a salvage company. Stocks of specialised oil spill equipment are held at various locations around the coast and are owned by the DEAT, SAMSA, SA Navy, oil industry and port authorities. The local authorities are required to provide assistance in the form of supervision, labour, transport and equipment (vacuum trucks, bulldozers, etc.) for the protection and clean-up of the beaches and estuaries in their area.

DEAT operates an observation aircraft on contract, which is dedicated to marine surveillance and could be used to guide operations and track oil in the event of a spill at sea.


The Strategic Fuel Fund Association maintains a large stock of equipment for response in Saldanha Bay. The OIEC has stocks of equipment at Durban, East London, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth and Richards Bay and has placed 43 response trailers around the country. The content of these trailers is designed primarily  for inland spills and includes sorbent, small amounts of boom, a small skimmer and other items.

Previous Spill Experience

Prevailing sea conditions have lead to many pollution incidents off the South African coast, with many more averted by ship lightering operations. The CASTILLO DE BELLVER (1983) broke up off Cape Town releasing 240,000t crude. Dispersants were used and although birdlife was affected, no oil came ashore. The collision of the VENOIL & VENPET (1977) spilled 30,000t crude and resulted in the oiling of beaches around Mossel Bay. Again, dispersant was applied and beaches cleaned manually. The bulk carrier APOLLO SEA (1994) sank off Cape Town spilling bunker fuel and thereby severely contaminating beaches and oiling penguins.  A large shoreline clean-up operation was put into effect. The TREASURE (2000), another bulk carrier, also sank in heavy seas off Cape Town, spilling at least 200 tonnes of HFO.  The incident severely affected two large breeding colonies of African Penguins on Robben and Dassen Islands and resulted in the evacuation of 21,000 birds.  Other incidents include the PACIFICOS (1989) and the ATLAS PRIDE (1991).


Prevention & Safety

MARPOL Annexes

* not yet in force 

Spill Response



'69 '76 '92 '92Fund

Regional & Bilateral Agreements

  • South Africa is in the process of acceding to the Nairobi and Abidjan Conventions.

Date of issue: August 2008

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