Maritime authority issues safety warning to betel nut traders


THE National Maritime Safety Authority has warned small craft operators involved in betel nut trade in waters between Manus and East Sepik to take extra safety precautions.
Search and rescue coordinator Ben Keri, speaking during the World Maritime Day celebration in Port Moresby on Thursday, said that there had been reports of people going missing at sea during such trips.
“This has been the recent trend of people, especially in places like East Sepik travelling to Manus to do business,” he said.
“We are not stopping you to do business. But you must remember that your life and the lives of others are important.”
Keri urged boat operators and crew to ensure their boats were in good condition and that they must observe safety rules.
He said they usually received reports of people going missing at sea a week after.
“Sometimes the fault is with the relatives of the missing people. They should inform us as soon as they suspect that someone might be missing,” he said.
Keri said they had been carrying out awareness on safety at sea and had been developing their rescue strategies.
“Apart from other awareness in schools, we are now connected on the mobile internet where we send out safety tips and also inform people in coastal centres when there is a boat missing or issues arising.”
Keri said their biggest challenge was having capabilities of their own.
“Right now we have all the safety measures in place but we cannot implement them, as we do not have boats and ships to assist us.”
He said they requested the assistance of organisations such as PNG Ports and National Fisheries Authority to use their vessels during rescue operations at sea.

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