Maritime Search And Rescue Workshop Held In

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community Suva, Fiji

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fiji

The fifth Pacific Regional Maritime Search and Rescue workshop got under way in Suva yesterday, with about 70 participants from search and rescue (SAR) authorities, government and non-state organizations in the Pacific region in attendance.

The five-day workshop is organized by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) with support from Fiji’s Ministry of Defence, National Security and Immigration.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, IMO Deputy Director/Head of Operational Safety Section of Maritime Safety Division said that under the memorandum of understanding IMO has with SPC, SPC has been delegated to implement maritime safety-related activities in the Pacific.

He added, ‘The region's lack of adequate infrastructure and skill management in maritime safety administration and training are the main obstacles to meeting international standards. Despite a great deal of work that has been done through the implementation of regional and national activities, there are still many issues that need to be addressed to ensure that continued progress is made towards strengthening the response capabilities within the region.’

There are currently 13 IMO Member States in the region, following the latest acceptance of the IMO Convention by Palau in 2011.

In his opening speech, SPC’s Economic Development Division Director, John Hogan, stressed that international organizations are now encouraging the harmonization of aviation and maritime SAR services and, while this is not a common policy within the Pacific region, ‘the first step in achieving a common goal is to begin a dialogue to consider its merits.’

‘This transition to harmonized SAR services is important, particularly now, with tourism on the rise throughout the Pacific region. The challenge is to ensure essential SAR services and operations through effective national SAR legislation and planning, placing special focus on preparing for the possibility of someday having to conduct mass rescue operations, an effort that will most likely require a regional response,’ he said.

Fiji’s acting Permanent Secretary of Defence, National Security and Immigration, Osea Cawaru, in his address acknowledged the importance of having such workshops and thanked the International Civil Aviation Organization, IMO and SPC for providing opportunities to achieve a safer Pacific maritime and aviation environment.

‘It is important that all member countries meet international standards and adopt best practices, and we must take advantage of the existing synergies and those that can be created by such forums like workshops, seminars and training, where we share and learn from each other,’ he said.

‘It is imperative, too, that we attain the optimum level of being positioned with the best skill sets and the best access to readily available technical advice and technical institutions. At the same time, operational costs are minimized by having access to efficient infrastructural costs and telecommunications so that we can make ourselves accessible to member countries on a cost-effective basis,’ he added.

The workshop features presentations from government and industry SAR experts, country reports from member countries, a SAR demonstration at Fiji’s Rescue Coordination Centre and an introduction to a mass rescue operation game that has been developed by the United States Coast Guard.

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