Domestic shipping fundamental for interisland connectivity

Participants of the workshop in a group photo with Minister Jotham Napat (seated front center).

The Government considers the country’s domestic shipping fundamental for inter-island connectivity and the main means of access to and from many outer islands, supporting the socioeconomic needs of Vanuatu.

The Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jotham Napat, responsible for maritime affairs, made this comment Monday while officially opening a workshop on Maritime Safety and Governance at The Melanesian hotel in Port Vila.

It is the first national workshop in Vanuatu, which is introducing maritime safety and governance, ship energy efficiency, operations and management.

This workshop over four days supports the Pacific Island Domestic Ship Safety, known as PIDSS program, a program developed by SPC with the aim to improve, maintain and promote safe operations of domestic shipping. Participants are from the Office of the Maritime Regulator, government agencies and stakeholders include the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), private shipping owners and operators.

“Today, our focus is looking into clean domestic shipping and I am very happy that in the maritime sector we have the maritime technology operation center, Pacific MTCC, with the support of the Global MTCC Network to build capacity in smaller nations such as Vanuatu for the climate mitigation in the maritime industry,” Minister Napat said.

He expressed his appreciation to Vanuatu’s prominent working partners, especially the Pacific Community (SPC), for making this workshop happen.

“Domestic shipping is fundamental for interisland connectivity and is the main means of access to and from many outer islands, supporting the socioeconomic needs of Vanuatu,” the Minister added.

“There are around 60 domestic vessels servicing over 300,000 people of Vanuatu spread across 2,528kms of coastline.

“As islanders, you should all know that the sea is brutal and unpredictable, so as maritime operations are often inherent hazardous. Therefore, we need a culture that ensures safety for those using and working on the seas and have the means and mechanism to respond to any incidents that may arise effectively.”

This workshop brings together relevant government ministries, private domestic ship operators and other stakeholders to discuss a number of priority areas, including challenges and opportunities in the domestic shipping industry, nurturing a safe and clean shipping culture in Vanuatu.

“Safety at sea can be achieved through strong partnership among government agencies, law enforcement departments, the industry and the private sector to better enhance the safety and security of ships engaging in Vanuatu waters,” the minister continued.

“Reforms have been initiated and slowly taking shape including the establishment of an independent maritime regulator that could boost safety and security in the country’s maritime sector.”

“Furthermore, another issue under this platform is limiting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from domestic shipping operators.

“A viable solution could be acquisition of technical assistance and capacity building and the promotion of ship energy efficiency through the update of low carbon technologies and operations.”

Currently, all our Vanuatu flagged vessels use and burn fossil fuels for daily operations and thus have a significant impact on the level of greenhouse emissions in Vanuatu, the Minister responsible for the shipping industry said.

“This demand for immediate action to ensure reduction on the negative impact on the environment and to climate mitigation.

“Reforms have been initiated and are slowly taking shape including the establishment of an independent maritime regulator that could boost safety and security in the country’s maritime sector.”

The Minister said this workshop is an important platform to share and discuss with the participants topics relating to maritime safety and best practices as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our local shipping operations.

“We have a common interest in promoting a secure, clean and efficient transport maritime system. Let us work together on an intelligent and forward-looking policy framework, which will bring us nearer to our goal of fully developing potential of the Vanuatu shipping sector in a highly competitive global market, ensuring at sea this shared responsibility.”

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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