Government of the Republic of Fiji
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service
June 03, 2013: A week-long regional workshop is currently underway in Suva to assist Pacific Island States in the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation’s instruments and standards.
The biennial Search and Rescue Workshop is funded by IMO and organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and will focus on marine environment protection and maritime safety
SPC’s Ship Safety Audit Adviser Transport Programme, Bruce Tweed said the objective of the workshops is to bring the Pacific Island Countries together in an effort to improve search and rescue operations at the national as well as regional level.
“Part of the reason for this workshop is the increase in tourism now, which means there are bigger and larger ships, as well as more and more planes flying into the region. The ability to execute a rapid and efficient search and rescue operation is very important,” Mr Tweed said.
“Our goal is to help improve that by assisting the countries to develop national search and rescue plans and provide expertise in plotting out where an incident may have occurred and how to do proper search and other technical aspects of search and rescue.”
Mr Tweed said Fiji fares very well as far as search and rescue operations are concerned.
“Fiji has a computer capability for generating search patterns so once they have identified that an incident has occurred, they can plug in what they know into their computer model so it will put out these computer models.
The computer models will follow the existing currents and wind direction and help to delineate where a search area would best be done. It expedites the amount of time that takes a rescue unit to the site to assist people,” Mr Tweed added.
He highlighted that a primary focus during the workshop would be the new National Search and Rescue Plan that Fiji is working on.
“The other area that we’ll discuss is the Mass Rescue Operations. It is pretty well understood within a Pacific that a true mass rescue operation will be a regional response. It will also have an impact on the island that it occurs near.
“Authorities will have to figure out what is to be done once people are rescued or brought to the shore. They will be safe but still you’ll have to figure out how you are going to provide medical capabilities across, as well as general immigration,” Mr Tweed explained.
Mr Tweed said the national plan Fiji is developing is comprehensive as it involves aviation, maritime and land rescue coordination. The workshop will include developing SAR Exercise (SAREX) scenarios involving a small boat and a downed aircraft.
Meanwhile, while opening the workshop this morning, Ministry of Defence, National Security and Immigration acting permanent secretary Osea Cawaru said search and rescue is a distinctive challenge for the Pacific region given the vast tracts of ocean that separates the island states coupled with the increased number of maritime stream of traffic.
“Having an effective and an efficient system will not only mean better services to member countries but it will also mean that donor agencies and countries will be enthused to contribute and work with states for the improvement and development of their respective systems,” Mr Cawaru said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji