Maritime academy graduates 11 from deck hand fishing programme
The graduation was a culmination of a one month intense theory and hands-on training by the students on basic sea safety, nautical knowledge, and bycatch knowledge.
The cohort consisted of nine male and two female graduates.
Their tuition was covered under the Developing Sustainable and Responsible Tuna Longline Fisheries in Fiji project, funded by the New Zealand government. The project is a partnership between FMA, Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA), Fiji Ministry of Fisheries (MoF) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Of the 11 graduates, seven are currently employed as longline fishing crew.
FMA Chief Executive Officer, Mahesa Abeynayake highlighted that today’s graduates will board with two important elements required for seafarers on a fishing vessel - essential knowledge and skills that are embedded in the Deck Hand Fishing Programme.
“First is personal safety awareness of a hazardous profession. The basic first aid training imparts competency necessary not only to look after themselves but also caring for others. For instance fighting a fire onboard as well as actions in an emergency and training often needed to save the vessels and others.”
“The second one is the importance of protecting the maritime environment and the sustainability of pristine oceans. Rules and regulation of properly dealing with maritime species that are caught accidently has been an integral and driving force in developing the curriculum. This component being an essential part of the topic of by-catch mitigation. So its awareness of marine pollution mitigation methods focusing on common pollution offences specially by fishing vessels is also part of the curriculum,” said Abeynayake.
Abeynayake added through the well-rounded short course the graduates are given the basic knowledge to survive at sea and save the environment while sustaining a timely memorial profession.
The 11 graduates today join the cohort of 48 students who graduated last year.
FFIA President, Radhika Kumar stated that the association fully supports and is really appreciative of the initiative from the FMA to conduct trainings specifically for deck hands on Fiji long line fishing vessels that are totally different from other vessels.
“We only hope that the same continues since there are still many within the Fiji national long line fishing fleet that has yet to go through the same training.”
“At the same time, FFIA would also like to see that Fiji ratifies the STCW-F soon that will assist the fishing industry maintaining the standard and addressing the shortage of qualified seamen,” added Radhika.
WWF-Pacific’s Project Manager, Seremaia Tuqiri, highlighted that such training would provide greater awareness of safety while at sea, strengthen employment opportunities, as well encourage graduates to pursue further training.