The New Voice of the Industry

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Newly formed MIASA to “support and grow” marine industry

For too long, the South African marine industry has been yearning for a proper governing body that can not only represent and support its members in tough times, but also challenge questionable legislation and help grow the industry. Enter MIASA (Marine Industry Association of South Africa), showing promising plans for infrastructure and accepting the role as the industry’s newly appointed watchdog.


Three years ago, discussions were initiated and calls were made for the marine industry to fall under one umbrella body. Due to the economic downturn, the forecast wasn’t looking good and an “umbrella” was desperately needed for shelter against the proverbial “storm” hammering down on the marine industry.
Since 2008, the industry has been on the fighting end of an economic meltdown, and local manufacturers and boat dealers were losing business at an alarming rate – nearly 40% on average. As if this crippling recession wasn’t punishing enough, SAMSA’s stringent legislation amendments were deterring prospective boaters for life.
Several bodies already existed within the industry, like the Boating Industry Association of South Africa (IBASA), the Cape Town Boat Building Initiative (CTBi) and South African Boat Building Export Council (SABBEX) – all organisations working from their own quarter and affected by the recession. A serious need arose for an umbrella body that could claim responsibility, take charge and light some fires under some backsides.

So, MIASA was eventually formed in 2011, being an amalgamation of BIASA, CTBi and SABBEX, the latter being a key partner in the association’s plans to take care of the needs of its boat exporters and building the South African marketing brand internationally. According to MIASA’s official website, “the organisation was established as a nationally inclusive representative association to unite the entire boating industry, from boat builders, suppliers, retailers, importers, brokers, surveyors, yacht and powerboat clubs, and fishing associations”. MIASA will span across all subsectors, and cover the entire boating value chain, from design to manufacturer, to sale, to mooring, and even boating activities. As outlined on their website, the key objectives of the newly established MIASA is to unite the broader boating industry on a national level, lobby government for its support and recognition of the industry’s importance to the economy and market development, both locally and abroad. Vanessa Davidson is currently MIASA’s interim chief executive officer, and she said the following: “The formation of MIASA means that we can now offer support to members in all the provinces and provide services to the broader marine industry”.

“For the first time, we will have a body representing the broader marine industry supply chain and establish a national footprint. With a larger membership base and a national mandate, our engagement with government and associated industries will allow more leverage,” said Davidson. “Much like the rest of the world, South Africa’s marine industry has been hit hard by the global recession. We have seen prominent people being retrenched and several companies closing down as a result of the downturn,” Davidson said candidly. “However, the people in our industry are tenacious, and in South African parlance, we always ‘make a plan’.

We have the commitment and support of key industry players and I’m confident that we’ll go from strength to strength. There are opportunities in the Sub-Saharan markets and our RIB and large catamaran manufacturers have managed to weather the economic storm a little better,” said Davidson. AGM MIASA was under the leadership of an interim steering committee, with Bruce Tedder (founder of SABBEX and CTBi), as interim chairman. The first annual general meeting was held last month, and members of MIASA elected their first board members. Leisure Boating, along with many other major industry role players was also in attendance. Interim chairman Bruce Tedder kicked off proceedings by saying that he’d “rather be out boating today”, but knew that business is business and there were several issues that this committee had to address. “MIASA will be opposing SAMSA’s avalanche of boating regulations and deal with standards and certifications that have hampered progress in the boating market. We’re currently in talks with SAMSA and national government on how we’re going to tackle these issues,” said Tedder. Interim CEO Vanessa Davidson said that other issues MIASA will be addressing are trade policy, skills development, cost-cutting strategies, industry statistics and leadership and development. “By professionalising the industry and creating minimum standards,” said Davidson,

“we will grow the industry and ensure a strong market profile with the boating public”. MIASA has a number of positive initiatives underway, including the “builders plate project” which was first conceptualised by BIASA in the early 1990s. MIASA is currently redefining small craft construction standards, ensuring alignment with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) regulations and developing a phased approach for builders to work towards international standards. In February 2011, MIASA successfully completed five projects under IPAP2, the industrial Policy Action Plan of the national Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and is currently working with the DTI on three new projects under the IPAP3. “I’m confident that the projects will see real benefit for our members,” said Davidson.

She added that “the on-going support from the DTI is critical for the growth of our marine industry in South Africa”. MIASA to host ICOMIA Congress In April 2012, the global marine industry’s key representatives will descend upon Cape Town for the first ever African ICOMIA-IFBSO Congress. In collaboration with SABBEX, MIASA is hosting and organising the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA) and International Federation of Boat Show Organisers’ (IFBSO) annual congress which consists of four intense days of marine industry committee meetings with joint and working sessions. The event cements MIASA’s role as the nation’s official marine industry association. MIASA became a full member of the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA) in January 2012. As the voice of the global recreational boating industry since 1967, ICOMIA’s membership consists of 34 of the largest national marine industry associations in the world.

“As a member, we have a long-standing partnership with ICOMIA. – this really puts the Marine Industry Association of South Africa on the global map,” said Davidson. Conclusion The boating community can breathe a sigh of relief with the forming of MIASA – a new national association that will benefit the South African marine industry by acting as a unified voice when engaging with industry issues. And with several plans and projects in place, boaters can rest assured that MIASA will be turning things around. With MIASA at the helm, the future is looking brighter. For more information on how to become a member of MIASA, please visit


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