Pacific maritime leaders see community based approach as key to improving safety at sea

Secretariat of the Pacific Community

25 April 2018

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea- Participants at the Third Domestic Ship Safety Forum have recommended adopting a community based approach involving end users of domestic ship services to improve safety at sea.

The Third Domestic Ship Safety Forum was organised by the Pacific Community (SPC), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Government of Papua New Guinea. The forum was attended by representatives from Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, along with regional and international partners.

The gathering provided an opportunity to examine challenges and discuss possible solutions for emerging and persistent issues in relation to domestic shipping safety in the Pacific as well as consider the responsibilities of ship operators and maritime administrations in this matter.

Speaking at the official opening of the Forum, the Hon Westly Nukundj, Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Transport and Infrastructure said, “We acknowledge that this meeting with support from the regional and international maritime organisations plays an important role in facilitating discussions that are mutually beneficial to our countries. It provides an avenue to stimulate solutions to common challenges while identifying priorities for inclusive and sustainable development.”

Domestic ship services are a major part of the transport system in Pacific Island Countries and while issues relating to ship safety in the region remain an ongoing challenge, the potential of adopting a more community based approach was proposed as a way to make significant progress towards safety at sea. Participants agreed to explore ways to promote a community-based approach towards safe, accessible, green and efficient domestic shipping that supports resilient development of Pacific communities.

Bekir Sitki Ustaoglu, Head Asia-Pacific Section of IMO Technical Co-operation Division highlighted the importance of ensuring maritime safety is seen as a common priority for both government and industry leaders saying, “This is a platform where we are trying to obtain direct input from all stakeholders in matters related to the safety of domestic ferries. The dependence of Pacific Islanders on inter-island shipping is of paramount importance and every effort must be made by government and industry alike to ensure that only safe ships sail.”

Thierry Nervale SPC’s Deputy Director for Oceans and Maritime, stressed his organizations support for a more community based approach and committed to providing the technical support required to implement this methodology. “Providing technical support to ship operators and maritime administrations is at the core of our programme.”, said Mr. Nervale, “SPC will support the implementation of the forum activities and a new approach towards safer domestic shipping focusing on community needs requires improved maritime governance.”

The Forum reiterated that all stakeholders in the Pacific, work towards ensuring that all vessels operate in a sound and safe condition, posing no danger to the lives of those on board or to the marine environment.