FAO warns Indonesian fishermen about sub-standard boats

FAO warns Indonesian fishermen about sub-standard boats

22/06/2005

Fishermen in Sumatra who survived the tsunami are having their lives put at risk by the delivery of poorly constructed boats to replace the craft they lost in the December 26 disaster, FAO warned. "The quality of some of the boats being built by NGOs and local institutions is giving us serious concern, ranging from the sub-standard to the actually unsafe," said Jeremy Turner, head of FAO's Fishing Technology Service.

"In some cases these vessels represent disaster waiting to happen and will inevitably result in loss of lives," Turner said. The problem had arisen because many NGOs engaged in post-tsunami relief efforts lacked the technical expertise to appreciate the poor quality of the boats they are having built. Inadequacies involve both the boatbuilders being employed and the quality of materials being used.

"As a result, many of the boats that are being built at the moment will need to be replaced fairly soon, possibly after humanitarian aid has shifted elsewhere," Turner said.

An unknown number of skilled boatbuilders were lost in the tsunami, and against a background of extremely high demand for boats many inexperienced boatbuilders or even furniture makers are claiming expertise that they do not possess.

FAO is launching a plan to improve skill levels through a series of training workshops to be given by FAO Master Boat Builder Michael Savins. The first will be held in Meulaboh by mid July.

"FAO would like to see the enforcement of minimum standards to ensure that badly built boats are rectified or destroyed. In the longer term, inspection and certification should be linked to vessel registration and authorizations to fish, which would improve safety at sea and fisheries management," Turner said.