The Vanuatu Maritime Safety Authority (VMSA) is pleased to see women in rural areas come forward to be part of the small boat training and safety awareness programme organized by VMSA in the TAFEA programs.

For the first time, women participated in such training on Aneityum, with at least 11 women showing interest in this area.

VMSA, as the authority overseeing shipping safety and the maritime sector, conducts annual training in rural areas for small boat operators.

These training sessions and awareness programs are mandated by the Shipping Act and VMSA Act, aiming to ensure that small boat operators are qualified to navigate boats safely and understand safety procedures during maritime emergencies.

“It is encouraging to see women engage in driving small boats come forward to be part of the training,” said the Commissioner of Maritime,Less Napuati.

“VMSA encourages women not to hesitate in joining these trainings when VMSA visits the islands.

“Safety in operating small boats and awareness are critical and can save lives, especially when navigating the open ocean.

“Normally, there’s a perception that only men can operate small boats, but in the islands, women also actively participate in this trade.”

Small boats play an important role in the trade and transportation of people in the islands. Small boat operators need to learn how to safely operate the vessel and to be aware of the necessary safety equipment that must be onboard at all times. This includes lifejackets, torches, paddles, and spares.

VMSA has developed Small Craft Rules that outline the limitations and safety requirements for small boat users to be aware of.

During the training sessions, VMSA educates small boat users on the legal and safety requirements as set out in the Rules.

Last week, VMSA, with the support of the Helpr 1 vessel, deployed to TAFEA. While the Helpr 1 vessel transported health officers to remote areas for vaccination and health programs, VMSA also conducted training sessions.

Commissioner Less highlighted that this is indeed a service delivery brought directly to the doorstep of our people in the islands.

VMSA is actively encouraging small boat operators to attend training to ensure they meet the qualifications required by law to operate small boats.

The training will equip small boat operators with essential knowledge on how to respond to maritime emergencies, including understanding proper procedures, assessing weather conditions, familiarizing themselves with safety equipment, and adhering to rules and regulations when operating small boats.

The lives of people relying on small boats are in the hands of the small boat operators. Therefore, it is important for captains to undergo appropriate training.

VMSA expressed appreciation to Response Global Ltd, the owner of the Helpr-1 vessel, and the Government for their continuous support in enabling VMSA to implement its Small Boat Safety programs in rural areas.