Maritime students grateful for maritime employment opportunities
These are the sentiments of 25 year old Livini Buca Ratukana, who is part of the Deck Hand Fishing Programme, a newly introduced programme currently offered at the Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA), aimed at equipping future seafarers with deck hand cadetship skills.
Through the partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature Pacific (WWF-Pacific), 46 students have been awarded tuition only scholarships for FMA’s Deck Hand Fishing and Offshore Fishing Skipper Programmes.
For 22 year old Senirosi Railala, being selected as one of the 15 students for the Offshore Fishing Skipper Programme is another opportunity to chase her dream of being a sea captain someday.
“I was enrolled at FMA last year for a short course and am a continuing student. I have also undertaken sea time via one of the local operating fishing companies here in Fiji over the last six months. The Offshore Fishing Skipper Programme will aid my ambition of being a captain someday and am looking forward to do my best for this programme,” Railala added.
For 31 year old Deck Hand Fishing Programme student, Sevuloni Valenitabua, the programme enables trainee seafarers the training needed before boarding a fishing vessel.
“I think this is a good programme because I have seen injuries being sustained on board vessels especially on deck. From what I have witnessed, most of the new cadets, when they board such vessels, they board with little or no experience in fishing, and you usually learn on the job and from senior sailors who have been sailing for years. So this programme will prepare future seafarers well on what to expect when they board fishing vessels,” added Valenitabua.
23 year old Shivnesh Sami has always had an interest in the maritime industry. Being accepted into the Offshore Fishing Skipper Programme is a blessing for him.
“I became interested in the maritime industry when I was on attachment with the Ministry of Fisheries a few months ago. Being selected, I am grateful as it’s quite costly to undertake maritime courses and also I have applied for other courses previously and didn’t quite make it. I am very grateful for the tuition scholarship and it will definitely assist me in my goal to become a sea captain,” added Sami.
For more experienced students, being part of the new programmes will further strengthen their skillset within the maritime industry.
“I also hold a trade diploma in marine engineering and this Deck Hand Fishing Programme will give me the cadetship and opportunity of being a dual officer specializing in both deck hand and engine room mechanics,” added Valenitabua.
The 46 students have been separated into two groups, with the first group of 23 to undergo their month training this month and the second batch to undergo their training in March.
15 students have been selected for the Offshore Fishing Skipper Programme, whilst 31 have been selected for the Deck Hand Fishing Programme.
Of the 46 students, close to 50% of the students are females. This is the highest number of female recruits for FMA for any of their maritime programmes.
After their one month of theory classes, students who are part of the Offshore Fishing Skipper Programme will undergo a six month attachment on board local longline fishing vessels, whilst for the Deck Hand Fishing Programme, students will similarly undergo a 12 month attachment on board local longline fishing vessels.
“As part of the programmes’ requirements, FMA will also look for placements for these students on board fishing vessels after their one month training. So we will be talking to the local companies on absorbing these students like we have done in the past for other programmes. Also, these students will be also paid whilst on board these vessels,” added FMA’s Head of Safety, Survival and Fisheries Department, Captain Tevita Robanakadavu.
The FMA and WWF-Pacific partnership is possible through WWF-Pacific’s ‘Developing Sustainable and Responsible Tuna Longline Fisheries in Fiji’ project that is funded by New Zealand Aid’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and WWF New Zealand.