Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji Implements Mandatory Drug Testing for Seafarers

In a proactive move to enhance maritime safety across Fijian waters, the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) will implement mandatory drug testing for all seafarers holding licenses to operate boats, ships, and vessels.

MSAF Chief Executive Officer Joweli Cawaki stated that this decision is part of a comprehensive legislative review planned for this year to bolster safety standards and ensure the wellbeing of crew members at sea.

Cawaki noted that all seafarers undergoing training at the Fiji Maritime Academy would be required to take drug tests as part of their licensing process.

“The issue with MSAF is that there are no conditions attached to the license, but having the drug test attached to the license is a major priority,” Cawaki said. “There are a lot of cases surfacing with drugs overboard in boats, ships, and vessels, so to deter such illegal offenses, we will start conducting drug tests.”

The initial phase will begin with the Maritime Academy to ensure that when students receive their boat operating licenses, they are free of drugs and aware of the illegality and dangers of drug use.

Existing license holders actively operating vessels will be required to undergo regular drug tests. “The tests will be conducted periodically to ensure continued compliance with safety protocols and to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and safety within the maritime industry,” Cawaki added.

“The safety of our maritime operations and the wellbeing of our seafarers are paramount. Introducing mandatory drug testing is a critical step towards maintaining a safe and responsible maritime environment in Fiji.”

This measure aims to prevent accidents and incidents caused by impaired judgment due to drug use, thereby safeguarding both human lives and marine resources. “If a seafarer tests positive for drugs, their license will be immediately suspended, and penalties will be applied in accordance with the severity of the offense,” he said.

This strict enforcement underscores 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 introduction of mandatory drug testing aligns with international maritime standards and best practices.

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