“Mandatory Drug Testing Initiated for Seafarers in Fiji Waters”

In a significant move to bolster maritime safety in Fijian waters, the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) will introduce mandatory drug testing for all seafarers licensed to operate boats, ships, and vessels.

MSAF Chief Executive Officer Joweli Cawaki stated that this decision is part of a comprehensive legislative review aimed at enhancing safety standards and ensuring the well-being of crew members at sea. As part of the licensing process, all seafarers undergoing training at the Fiji Maritime Academy will now be required to pass drug tests.

“The main issue with MSAF licenses is the lack of conditions attached, but implementing drug tests as a requirement is a major priority,” Mr. Cawaki explained. “We have seen numerous cases of drug-related offenses aboard boats, ships, and vessels. To deter such illegal activities, we will begin drug testing.”

The initial phase will target students at the Maritime Academy to ensure that by the time they receive their boat operating licenses, they are free from drug use and aware of the consequences of illegal drug activities.

Existing license holders actively operating vessels will also be required to undergo regular drug tests. “These tests will be conducted periodically to ensure ongoing compliance with safety protocols and to maintain the highest standards of professionalism and safety within the maritime industry,” said Mr. Cawaki.

He emphasized that the safety of maritime operations and the crew’s well-being are of utmost importance. “Introducing mandatory drug testing is a crucial step towards maintaining a safe and responsible maritime environment in Fiji,” he added.

This measure aims to prevent accidents and incidents caused by impaired judgment due to drug use, thereby protecting human lives and marine resources. Should a seafarer test positive for drugs, their license will be immediately suspended, and penalties will be enforced based on the severity of the offense.

The strict enforcement of this policy demonstrates MSAF’s commitment to zero tolerance for substance abuse within the maritime sector, ensuring that only competent and responsible individuals operate vessels in Fijian waters.

The implementation of mandatory drug testing aligns with international maritime standards and best practices.

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