Maritime experts look to better protect coastal and reef environments


SUVA, Fiji—In the face of rising maritime accidents in the Pacific region, maritime experts from 12 Pacific Islands Countries gathered this week to discuss and receive training focused on creating a safer environment for ships operating in costal island waters.

The workshop, which took place June 25-26, was implemented by the Pacific Community with support from the International Foundation for Aids to Navigation as part of the Pacific Safety of Navigation Project.

Workshop participants, made up of Aids to Navigation Managers and representatives of government responsible for Aids to Navigation, also undertook an internationally recognized training on the “SIRA” risk assessment tool on June 27-28, which was facilitated by the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouses World Wide Academy.

“The two-day “SIRA” course empowered the 15 participants to conduct formal risk assessments in their waters which, once actioned, will improve navigational safety, protect the marine environment and enhance the maritime economic climate in each State”, added Stephen Bennett, Vide Dean of IALA World Wide Academy, who delivered the training.

The Pacific Safety of Navigation Project has been active since 2016, and over the course of the past two years, phase one of this project has seen SPC conducting visits in 13 targeted PICTs, to identify the needs for safety of navigation systems through a technical, legal and economic assessment.

Francesca Pradelli, SPC Project manager of the Pacific Safety of Navigation Project, highlighted the importance of project for Pacific maritime safety saying, “creating a safe environment for ships in Pacific islands coastal waters is of paramount importance for the protection of our reefs and coasts. Aids to Navigation marking maritime routes must be properly installed and maintained by Pacific islands countries to safety information to all at sea.”

Over the course of the two days of workshop sessions, participants conducted an in-depth analysis of phase one results and agreed on technical assistance activities to be undertaken in the next years to further improve delivery of AtoN services in the Pacific.

The Pacific Safety of Navigation project has been very useful for Samoa, as it has provided the Maritime Administration with appropriate information, both technical, economical and legal,” declared Makerita Atonio, the representative from Samoa.

During the next three years SPC will assist all 13 PICTs as they conduct risk assessments and implement the phase one recommendations including an update or development of an AtoN Register, the provision of laws or alternative instruments to strengthen PICTs legal framework on safety of navigation and the development of budget and maintenance plans. (PR)

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