A steward at sea

Iliave Rokodrawe Koroi after the Fiji National University mini graduation at the Fiji Maritime Academy in Nasese, Suva. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

As stewards of the ocean, it is vital for seafarers to safeguard the ocean especially in ensuring sustainable fishing practices and minimising the negative impacts on sea turtles and other marine species.

In order to create awareness on this vital aspect, WWF-Pacific, the Fiji Fishing Industry Association and the Fiji Maritime Academy offered Deckhand Fishing Program to 18 graduates at the Fiji Maritime Academy.

The partnership, according to WWF has been instrumental in creating a training program that aligns with global conservation efforts and industry best practices.

WWF-Pacific regional conservation director, Hanna Helsingen said they recognised the importance of safeguarding marine species, especially sea turtles as nearly all species are now classified as endangered and mostly vulnerable to the adverse impact of by-catch.

“Integrating principles of environmental sustainability into the curriculum, equips our future generation to addressing profound challenges faced by our ocean, contributing to the preservation of marine biodiversity and the mitigation of harmful fishing practices,” she said.

“By instilling in these graduates and future graduates a deep appreciation for the marine ecosystem and the need for responsible fishing practices, we are fostering a new generation of maritime professionals who will act as stewards of our ocean.

“We also recognise the importance of making this transformative education accessible for deserving students through the provision of scholarships.”

Fiji Maritime Academy chief executive officer, Captain Rajitha Semage said they were immensely proud of their graduates and their accomplishments.

“The FMA is committed to providing students with the knowledge, skills and opportunities they need to thrive in the fishing industry,” Captain Semage said.

“Through the support of our partners, including WWF, we have been able to equip these graduates with the necessary training to make a positive impact in their careers as fishing deckhands and in the marine environment.

“These graduates now have the skills and knowledge to mitigate the effects of bycatch in the fishery where they work and to do so safely.”

The academy’s program is focused on providing students with both theoretical knowledge and practical experience in basic sea safety, nautical expertise and effective by-catch mitigation strategies.

Graduate Iliave Rokodrawe Koroi is grateful to have been part of the deckhand fishing program.

The 19-year-old, who hails from Lami Village, said it was great to learn about sustainable fishing practices and on how to protect marine life when out on a vessel.

Koroi, who was in the same class as his dad, said attending the same program was strange at first, but he managed to complete it with the help of his father.

“I was the youngest in the class, but it was good to have my dad there.

He was the oldest and most experienced out of all of us in the program.

“My dad has about 20 years of experience and to learn the ropes from him made it easy for me.”

After the course, Koroi will spend two years out at sea where he will put his training to use. After returning, he will then continue his study at the academy.

He hopes to put what he has learned to good use when he goes out to sea. Since the program’s inception, FMA has produced over 100 qualified deckhands.

More Stories