Fisheries Dept signs emergency contract

The Fisheries Department signed the short-term contract with Damen Shipyards on Wednesday.

The Fisheries Dept has signed a deal with a ship manufacturer to ensure its fleet of vessels are seaworthy.

CAPE TOWN - The Fisheries Department on Wednesday struck a deal with a ship manufacturer to ensure its fleet of research and patrol vessels are seaworthy.

Damen Shipyards has been brought in to do urgent repairs and maintenance.

The vessels are needed to keep poachers at bay and conduct critical surveys on of fish stocks in South African waters.

The contract signed earlier on Wednesday is only a temporary fix.

The department is still in the process of looking for a company to manage the fleet in the long-term.

The department's Greta Apelgren-Narkedien said, "There's still the five year long-term [contract]. We will appoint one or two companies, I'm not sure at this stage, to manage and maintain all these vessels for the next five years. It's a long and complicated tender process, but this one is an emergency contract."

The state of the fleet has long been a concern for politicians and roleplayers in the fishing industry.

The hake industry came close to losing its certification from the Marine Stewardship Council because of delays in conducting a critical survey.