In an effort to ensure the safety of lives at sea, 20 emergency kits were presented to small-scale fishers and boat owners in Alofi, Niue today, by the European Union Ambassador for the Pacific, His Excellency Andrew Jacobs.

The delivery of the emergency “grab bags” worth a total of €18,000 (NZ$30,143), was made possible through the Development of Tuna Fisheries in the Pacific Project (DevFish2), a European Union project which is implemented regionally by the Pacific Community (SPC).

Taking place on the eve of the 9th Conference of the Pacific Community, the handover ceremony also involved Niue’s Minister for Natural Resources, the Hon Billy Talagi, and the Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga.

The DevFish2 initiative focuses on assisting small-scale fisheries development in the Pacific in recognition of the significant role of the fisheries sector for local rural community livelihoods and sustenance.

While handing over the emergency kits to 20 fishers and boat owners, Ambassador Jacobs said: ”Fisheries resources represent a high-value commodity, an important means of revenue generation to Pacific countries, and a vital source to ensure food security. There is a need to manage those resources in a sustainable and responsible manner thereby guaranteeing availability and accessibility for future generations too.

”The European Union is committed to assisting Pacific countries to increase their export capacity while preserving the valuable marine resources. The EU is the world’s biggest importer of the seafood products, in particular tuna products. So EU has, as the biggest fisheries market state, a huge responsibility to ensure that fisheries are undertaken in a responsible and sustainable manner.

”The EU is one of the largest donors in the field of fisheries development and cooperation in the Pacific. Under the 10th EDF EU we contributed approximately 20 million euros for the sustainable management of the region’s fisheries,” concluded Ambassador Jacobs.

The emergency grab bag concept ensures that fishers and small craft operators have convenient access to basic sea safety equipment that is easy to carry and transport onto small vessels.

Each bag is fully kitted with a personal locater beacon, strobe light with batteries, compact medical kit, a signalling mirror and whistle, a rescue laser and sea rescue streamer, a marine radio with support pack, a sea anchor, two manual inflatable lifejackets, a directional compass and two emergency thermal blankets.

“Small-scale fisheries are a lifeline for not only local communities in Niue but for many of its Pacific Island neighbours as well. Therefore it’s imperative that we emphasise the importance of safety at sea and the need for simple safety precaution to be followed,” Dr Tukuitonga said.

“While the gesture of providing these emergency bags is simple and relatively small, its value is priceless in terms of its ability to save the life of a family member, friend and neighbour,” Dr Tukuitonga said.

Niue’s Fisheries Division will coordinate an awareness workshop on the safety at sea that will also include a demonstration on the proper use of the emergency grab bag items.

“We are grateful for the support given by the Pacific Community and European Union as these emergency grab bags will benefit not only our small-scale commercial fishers but also sports fishing charter operators and vaka fishers,” Niue’s Minister for Natural Resources, Hon Billy Talagi, said.

“We will continue to promote and raise awareness on the importance of always taking precautions before going to sea and also on board with the emergency grab bags through the various international fishing tournaments held throughout the year here in Niue,” the Minister said.

Media contacts:
Mohammed Nazeem Kasim EU Press Officer, Mohammed-Nazeem.KASIM@eeas.europa.eu
Lauren Robinson   SPC acting Media Relations Team Leader, laurenr@spc.int or +683 6800
Brendon Pasisi Director of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Brendon.Pasisi@mail.gov.nu