The National, Friday June 21st, 2013
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has donated 1,500 lifejackets to people in 13 villages as part of a maritime safety campaign.
The AMSA took the lifejackets to the South Fly River district from Thursday Island last Sunday.
They will be distributed over 12 days to the traditional inhabitants of the 13 PNG treaty villages including the coastal villages of Bula, Mari, Jarai, Tais, Sigabadaru, Mabadauan, Old Mawatta, Ture Ture, Parama and Sui.
AMSA chief executive officer Graham Peachey said up to 200 lifejackets would be given to each treaty village for use during trips in open waters.
“These coastal villagers undertake extended open water voyages to visit Australian island communities in the Torres Strait to take part in traditional activities,” he said.
“These people often travel in unseaworthy vessels which have very little or no safety equipment. The operators and passengers of these vessels are aware of the need for safety equipment.
“However, the remote location of their villages, combined with low socio-economic factors put equipment such as lifejackets out of reach for most villagers.”
The lifejackets come in lockable containers with a register to assist in their management.
The initiative came about following a request by traditional inhabitants of the Torres Strait treaty villages.
The request was supported by the joint advisory council to the Torres Strait Treaty, an advisory body made up of Australian and PNG officials. AMSA came on board to fund it.
“The distribution of lifejackets is in line with AMSA’s commitments under the Torres Strait marine safety programme to help improve maritime safety in the region,” Peachey said.