12th April 2019

Turaga na Tui Ba,
The Talatala Qase – Nailaga,
Distinguished Invited Guests,
Government Officials,
The Youth Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni Sa Bula Vinaka and a Very Good Morning to you all.

It is indeed a pleasure to be present amongst you here in Nailaga Village to officiate in this important occasion for the youths of our province of Ba.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am told that this training coincided with the request from Honourable Viam Pillay and the District Officer Ba Mr Elisha Joshua to target the Tikina(s) of Bulu, Nailaga and the surrounding settlements.

This training is also in response to the demand for boat licenses in alignment with the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji’s restriction on boat operators without a license.

This training overall is an initiative of government in conjunction with the Maritime Safety Authority. It was the result of extensive consultations with various stakeholders in the shipping and transportation industry hence the need for the country to comply with international laws and standards concerning safety at sea for sea fearers.

Safety is paramount ladies and gentlemen, whilst safety is everyone’s responsibility, a lot of emphasis is placed upon the captain who is overall accountable for the safety of all passengers. And ensuring that the vessel and operations is compliant and meets the required standards prescribed by law.

Ladies and Gentlemen, It is very expensive for government to have a search and rescue operation if there is mishap at sea hence it is a compulsory requirement for all boat to have licenses and to be sea worthy at all times.

These controls on movements at sea by MSAF also ensure all boat owners operate legally and to curb illegal operation. This implementation subsequently is directly linked to the regulating of abuse of natural resources thus allowing control through procurement of proper licenses.

This training also creates awareness on the importance of safety at sea which we often overlook such as:
• Informing family members of the places you are travelling to and your expected time of return;
• Checking engines prior to travelling
• Having an effective and workable communication tool (mobile phones) and light and emergency supplies.
• NO overloading - this means having the right number of passengers on board
• Updates on weather patterns and news

Ladies and gentlemen, a lot of young people depend on sea as source of income using various fishing methods and to sell fish in the market and various outlets. Some have been able to secure employment using their boat license as entry qualification in resorts as boat operators. Some others have moved on to continue with their studies.

As young people, this training initiates collaborative strategies between government and your communities to increase the capacity and engagement of young people of Ba in their respective community and economy.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports is mandated to develop youth to become productive and participatory and thereby increase their influence in decision-making.
This is achieved by providing support for youth community-based capacity building programmes on entrepreneurship development and skills-based training under the Ministry and other relevant agencies like MSAF.

In doing so we are ‘Empowering Youths to be Agents of Change’ in their societies. Today, 70 percent of Fiji’s population is under the age of 45 years. On record Fiji has a young population hence this Government views youths as agents of change.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Government is committed to an inclusive policy for all Fijians regardless of your ethnicity, your social background, your status in the community, your culture or your religious beliefs. Our objective is to reach out to all Fijians and no matter how isolated you may be to address this issues on about safety at sea and minimizing impacts of loss of lives through negligence and non-compliance to our maritime and safety laws.

As your government we have put in place opportunities for young Fijians to be empowered and self-sustainable through the Ministry’s Mobile and Specific Skills empowerment and capacity building training programmes.
These training programmes are targeted for those Fijians who cannot qualify for mainstream learning opportunities. Example, a place at the University or due to circumstances and cannot complete high school. This government wants an inclusive society and believes in the foundation of equal opportunities for all and the right to decent living.

In providing the Boat master and Class 6 licensing training we are giving you an opportunity to use your license for “self-income generation”. It is our hope that by generating income, it will inspire you to do more for your family and community to a sustainable way of life.
I encourage all boat captains who are here today to adhere to the Maritime and Safety laws and put into practice what you have learnt from this training. As captains you’re accountable for the lives of your passengers. It is your principle duty to ensure safety at all times for your passengers and yourself.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports priority is to reduce unemployment, create opportunities for youths and Fijians to be entrepreneurially successful, contribute to the reduction of poverty and to promote economic growth.

We are all aware that our province of BA is an economic powerhouse. I therefore encourage you all to make use of government opportunities and contribute economically to our nation’s well-being.

Ladies and Gentleman, before I conclude please allow me again to remind you on the importance of complying with the maritime and safety laws, rules and regulations and become agents of change in your societies.

With those words I now declare the Nailaga Boat master and Class 6 licensing training closed.

Vinaka vakalevu.