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12. Conclusions on future sea safety initiatives

The five major themes covered in this survey are the relation of fisheries management to sea safety, success of safety programmes, accident data recording, safety legislation, and boatbuilding and vessel design. Where the survey had useful findings or recommended action concerning the five themes, they are given in this report at the national level in the country sections and at the regional level in Section 10.2.

In considering future work in sea safety, it appears that certain topics covered in the scope of this survey deserve special priority due to their likely positive impact on sea safety or catalytic effect on safety programmes.

Sensitizing fishery managers that sea safety is a legitimate and important objective of fisheries management Progress in this area could have a very positive impact on sea safety in the region. As explained in Section 10.1 above, there appears to be no major objection to the concept among fisheries managers of the region, but rather they are unfamiliar with the concept and its potential benefits. Because it is the tuna fisheries that have the strongest relationship to sea safety in most Pacific Island countries, it is in the area of tuna fisheries management where most attention should be focused in order to encourage the management-safety link. As most of the national tuna management arrangements in Pacific islands are specified national tuna management plans, the modification of those plans to specifically address safety would represent an important step. Although there should obviously be efforts to sensitize national fisheries managers to the management-safety issue, the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is also in a position to play a key role. The FFA is the regional organization charged with major responsibilities in providing tuna management advice to countries (including supporting the formulation of most national tuna management plans). Steps should therefore be taken to draw the Agency into the process of incorporating safety into management. The FFA is also important for the management-safety link in another respect; as the Agency provides legislative advice and actual drafting of national fisheries legislation, sensitizing FFA's legal staff to safety issues is important so that fisheries laws encompass sea safety.

Focusing more attention on small fishing vessel safety The reality is that small fishing boats probably cause most of the sea safety problems in the Pacific Islands region but have received the least attention in terms of legislation, construction standards, enforcement strategies, regional discussions, training on proper use, and other schemes to improve safety. Not only do vessels under eight metres deserve more attention, it is needed in a different form than in the past. In the future, the various types of safety interventions should be oriented more to those types of vessels which are popular now and likely to be so in the future, rather than attempts to alter preferences.

Improving systems for recording/analysing sea accident data and making use of the results The effective analysis of accident data can have a remarkably positive effect on two important areas: (1) formulating and targeting of sea safety programmes, and (2) determining the cost of sea accidents in terms of lives lost and government expenditure for the crucially important generation of political will. The major tasks are demonstration of the benefits of data recording/analysing, establishing/refining systems (including the possibility of promoting a standard regional form), and using the results for educating responsible authorities.

Awareness programmes Education on sea safety through publicity campaigns was the major conclusion of the 1991 FAO regional safety study, the main theme of SPC's safety work, and is thought to be responsible for much of the progress made in sea safety during the past decade. In recognition that such safety awareness work should be an on-going process, the current awareness programmes should continue, but with some modification in emphasis. More effort should be made to get the awareness message to remote places where it may be the only practical mechanism for improving safety. Another important consideration is that the highly-appreciated SPC safety awareness tools should be viewed as a complement to national awareness efforts, not as a replacement.

Regional sea safety workshop A meeting which is attended by motivated people from several relevant disciplines, focused on challenging issues, oriented to small fishing vessels, and co-hosted by SPC could produce results having a positive effect on regional and national sea safety programmes. To be effective, follow-up work would be required to disseminate and facilitate implementation of the workshop output.

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