Increased enrolment for females for maritime academy programmes
The 15 female students will join 31 of their male counterpart for the 3-week Deck Hand Fishing programme.
With their acceptance into the programmes, the 46 students have also been awarded tuition only scholarships.
The two programmes will also have a bycatch component, a first for Fiji to be taught at a tertiary institution tailored at addressing the issue of bycatch within Fiji’s longline tuna fishing industry.
The partnership between FMA and WWF is part of 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.
“A major requirement from the donor was for a 50% gender balance intake criteria for the programmes. When we had advertised, there were 11 applicants from women for the Offshore Fishing Skipper programme. But for the Offshore Fishing Skipper programme, the intake is 15 and 50% of that is around seven.”
“So we have seven females enrolled for the Offshore Fishing Skipper programme and the remaining five females were placed into the Deck Hand Fishing programme with the additional four female applicants who applied only for that particular programme,” revealed FMA’s Head of Safety, Survival and Fisheries Department, Captain Tevita Robanakadavu.
Captain Robanakadavu adds that the participation and interest of women in the maritime industry has drastically changed over the years.
“A few disadvantages of this profession is that seafarers spend quite an amount of time out at sea and most of the time, the weather isn’t favourable as well. But the interest has increased and we see that here at FMA and with regards to these two new programmes, we have had our highest enrolment of women enrolling and getting accepted.”
“Also with regards to the maritime industry here in Fiji, currently we have three captains who are women. One captains one of the local inter island tourist vessels; one is a captain with one of our locally owned offshore fisheries companies and one is a captain with a tug boat company here in Fiji. So it’s great to see women not only doing well in the industry but also showing the interest of joining this industry,” added Captain Robanakadavu.
WWF-Pacific’s Sustainable Fisheries and Seafood Programme Project Manager, Seremaia Tuqiri, highlights that the interest by females in the programme augurs well with WWF’s commitment to ensuring gender balance and equal opportunities for women.