Thursday, March 19, 2009

Safety at sea kits to be delivered to Nauru

The NFMRA Fisheries Management Institutional Strengthening Project (ISP), funded by AusAID, has ordered fifteen "Safety at Sea" kits to help Nauru small-scale fishing boats avoid accidents and reduce the risk of being lost at sea.

Tim Adams, the NFMRA ISP Adviser says "We're hoping for these kits to arrive on the April cargo boat, but since the items in the kits come from suppliers in three different countries we can't be sure that they'll all be delivered to Brisbane at the same time."

He explained that there are of course more than 15 small fishing boats on the island, but the project can not afford to give a personal kit to every single boat owner since electronic beacons are expensive. "But we estimate that there are usually not more than 15 boats fishing outside the reef at any one point in time. These kits will be managed by the Nauru Fishing Association and lent out to Association members, when they request them, for the duration of each trip."

"We'll be supplying different kinds of kits for outboard-powered boats and canoes," he added.

Even the relatively high cost of these safety kits is less than the $200,000 that it costs the Nauru Government to hire aerial surveillance when someone goes missing at sea, but of course the value of a life is incalculable.

NFMRA thanks the Coastal Fisheries Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) for their assistance in putting together these kits. SPC has contacts with an extensive list of suppliers around the region and has long experience of the reliability of different items, to ensure best value for ISP money. The kits that have been made up for Nauru include items from New Zealand, Hawaii and Australia.

SPC has also been promoting safety at sea for small fishing vessels for several years. The SPC Nearshore Fisheries Section publishes a wide range of training and awareness materials and will also be sending one of their Fisheries Development Officers, Steve Beverly to Nauru to show members of the Nauru Fishing Association how to use the various items in the kits, and to provide some general sea-safety training.

Putting to sea at the Gabab Channel
Smaller versions of the sea-safety kits will also
 be available for canoes

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