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NMSA warns of risky betelnut trade

The National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) reminds governments of the 15 Maritime Provinces of their responsibility to ensure that the betelnut trade is supervised and safe.

These provinces must take full responsibility and ownership to ensure the Small Craft Act (SCA) 2011 is effectively implemented and administered to improve and promote sea safety for small boat owners, operators and passengers, including those transporting betelnut by sea.

NMSA General Manager/Chief Executive Officer, Paul Unas issued this warning after the several boat incidents in Manus, Wewak and Madang Provinces recently.

He said small boat owners, operators and passengers in the Maritime Provinces must exercise some responsibility when conducting betelnut trade and comply with sea safety measures including, not overloading, carrying extra fuel and not travelling in bad weather. Failure to comply can result in severe penalties under the SCA.

He said: “Only recently a boat operator in Milne Bay Province was convicted of a serious SCA offence and was sentenced for 5 years imprisonment. I would like to warn the boat owner, operators and passengers if anyone is caught breaching this Act, necessary penalties will be applied accordingly.”

Mr Unas urged the Maritime Provinces that have already established their Small Craft Boards to effectively implement and enforce the SCA to prevent such risky behaviours and practises.

“The Authority is only providing an oversight role in ensuring that these provinces effectively implement the SCA at the provincial levels.  The implementation of the Act is the responsibility of the provincial administrations by law as it clearly states in the Act itself.

The failure of Madang, Central, Gulf and Western provinces as well as the NCD to comply with the Act shows a disregard for the sea safety of their people. Maritime Provinces have that responsibility under the law and must enforce this Act to prevent such cases of irresponsible boat incidents,” he said.

Mr Unas encouraged everyone in the maritime provinces to embrace maritime safety and practise sea safety before anything else when going out to sea.

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