SOUTH Africa was elected onto the Council of the International Maritime Organisation in London on Monday.
"We now take our place proudly among the 40 leading maritime nations of the world," said Transport Minister S'busiso Ndebele.
South Africa was one of 40 countries elected onto the council, which is the executive body of the IMO.
The country succeeded in a bid for Category C council membership based on the size of its maritimeindustry.
Ndebele, who led the bid for the IMO Council in London, told IMO Assembly delegates that South Africa would use its place on the council to develop its maritime sector.
"South Africa has jurisdiction over one million square kilometres of Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ), where a significant part of world trade depends on its coastal waters," said Ndebele.
"Thousands of merchant ships, fishing and commercial vessels and hundreds of special platforms transited or visit the country's ports every year."
In particular, the country is situated on a major sea route facilitating the safe and secure movement of about 500million tons of crude petrochemical sea trade.
"This represents over 30percent of the world's petrochemical production, on board over 5000 tanker voyages of very large crude carriers each year," said Ndebele.
South Africa also manages the Indian Ocean Marine Highway Project on behalf of the 13 countries of the Western Indian Ocean.
South Africa returned to the IMO in 1995 following the end of the country's apartheid regime.
Transport Department spokesman Thami Ngidi said South Africa was now vying to chair the council and would know the allocation of positions by the end of the week. - Sapa