Boost for Tokelauan fishers' safety
Some 42 safety sea grab bags have been donated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation of the (F.A.O.) to the Government of Tokelau to ensure the safety of local fishermen.
The handover ceremony took place at the Tokelau-Apia Liaison Office in Matautu.
Operations Manager, Tapaga Collins, accepted the equipment on behalf of Tokelau and thanked F.A.O. for its continued support.
Included with the safety bags were informative banners and posters explaining the use of the equipment and general safety practices to follow before heading out to sea.
During the handover, the F.A.O. sub-regional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, Xiangjun Yao, said that F.A.O. has a long history of working on safety at sea in the Pacific.
Xiangjun noted the critical role that small-scale fisheries play in ensuring food and nutrition security in Pacific island communities.
“Risks at sea can only be reduced by increasing preparedness and awareness of communities on fishing-related emergencies and accidents,” she said.
She also added that in this regard, to equip fishers with needed safety gears and knowledge through training is vital.
Safety at sea relates to the ability of a vessel to return to port —or more usually its island or village— at the completion of a voyage or trip.
In a statement, the F.A.O. said it recognises that fishing is one of the most dangerous professions in the world.
"While accidents at sea are commonplace around the world, small scale fishers in the Pacific are particularly highly vulnerable to accidents, including exposure to extreme weather events,” the statement read.
"The safety bags contain items ranging from life jackets to waterproof radios. It is a vital piece of safety equipment that must be prepared and ready to go in case of an emergency while at sea.
"The bags are an output of a F.A.O. project for Tokelau to improve food security and resilience of fishing communities through safer fishing operations. The objective of the project was to help reduce the risks to loss of life at sea."
F.A.O. worked in close collaboration with New Zealand’s Maritime agency in delivering training and safety awareness materials.
The Tokelau Department of Transport (TRANSTOK) was another crucial partner in providing logistical and local support.