The Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji is once again pleading with members of the public to adhere to all safety messages and strictly follow these maritime safety rules as we head into the festive season.
MSAF is aware that most Fijians have made plans to visit loved ones in the maritime islands and vice versa during this period, MSAF would like to advise our traveling public to be attentive and watchful during this time of the year.
MSAF’s acting Chief Executive Officer Captain Philip Hill said MSAF’s priority is the safety of passengers and crew members as well as the protection of the marine environment.
Capt Hill said therefore, it is only prudent that members of the traveling public be MSAF’s eyes and ears on the ground when traveling.
“Sea Worthiness of all vessels are maintained by the ship operators through stringent MSAF survey requirements. Prior to departure MSAF enforcement officers’ carryout a final check,” Capt Hill said.
Below are some key points that MSAF would like all our inter-island commuters to take heed of when traveling.
- Movement of Children / Passengers on jetties
All adults are to supervise children at all times on jetties and only take children if they are to travel on board ships. All passengers and the general public are required to adhere to all safety requirements on jetties. Keep clear of restricted areas and follow the allocated walk areas for boarding and disembarking.
- Movement of Children/Passenger on board any vessel
All adults in any vessel should ensure the safety of their children as well as any other individual accompanying them on a trip. Part of this safety check is listening carefully to the safety instructions from jetty or wharf staff and crew on board.
- Three (3) key pointers for passengers on small open boats that they must look out for is that the Boat Captain holds:-
- A valid Operator’s license. Boat Captain for sheltered coastal waters, Class 6- Master Engineer for crossing to Islands
- The boat has a survey certificate certified and approved by MSAF. It is important that life jackets are available for all passengers on board the boat. Life jackets must be worn at ALL times prior to and during the course of the journey.
- The passenger capacity of boats is painted on each side of the surveyed and registered boat. Passengers have the right to refuse to board the board if they see that the number of passenger on board has exceeded the number the boat is supposed to carry, or inform relevant authorities about overloading.
- Ensure the use of Life Jackets on small boats less than 10meters
Every passenger on board boats less than 10 meters should ensure they have a life jacket readily available for them, and this must be worn at all times. MSAF encourages this practice to any person traveling on board these boats. Wearing a life jacket should never be dependent on the weather pattern or situation. IT IS A REQUIREMENT. Freak accidents on small boats can happen within split seconds giving no time at all for people to wear a life jacket. It is better to be proactive then to be reactive,
- Weather Observation
Checking the weather forecast is a must before the start of any journey. Adhering to the local weather bulletin is a must. Every individual will be the judge when it comes to the weather bulletins. It is advisable that weather bulletins are strictly followed.
- Safety is your own responsibility
The responsibility of traveling is not only at the boat captain’s discretion, the onus is also with the individual passenger. The decision to cancel any travel due to unfavorable weather condition is also the responsibility of the passenger. Passengers have a key role to play when it comes to safety at sea.
Any person wishing to travel must inform a loved one or village headman of their travel plans, this includes estimated time of arrival at destination including plans of their return journey. It is advisable that boat captains carry mobile phones as this is an effective way of communication, which can be used to advise people of the progress of the journey. The Boat Captain must continuously communicate to family members and village headman until the boat has safely reached its destination.
- Rubbish Disposal
All traveling public must use the rubbish bins provided on board all vessels. Plastics bags must not be dumped at sea. Heavy fines can be levied to those caught doing so. For those traveling in small boats, it is advisable that all rubbish collected during the journey, be brought back to shore for proper disposal.