Search and Rescue Legislation a MUST

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By Mickey Kavera – EM TV News, Port Moresby

The National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) is currently drafting a national search and rescue legislation.

It is understood Papua New Guinea does not have legislation in place for search and rescue operations.

Once approved, it will see a difference in how search and rescue is carried out in Papua New Guinea.

At present, there is a significant risk out on the high seas for vessels.

PNG has had its fair share of maritime incidents, the biggest been the Rabaul Queen Disaster in 2011.

The National Maritime Safety Authority Search and Rescue Unit coordinate most of the search and rescue operations for maritime accidents.

Data from the NMSA showed that in 2014, 1,106 persons were rescued at sea.

The search and rescue operation is mostly a collaborative effort from various government agencies such as the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and overseas partners such as the US Coast Guard.

Funding has been a constant hindrance to the NMSA as it still does not have legislation on search and rescue.

Transport Minister, William Duma, says the Search and Rescue Legislation is important and the government is committed to ensuring it is passed.

If in place, this would mean budgetary support for search and rescue and would give powers to the NMSA to carry out its operation with other government agencies.

The current situation only allows for the NMSA to be a coordinating agency without been physically carrying out search and rescue operations.

NMSA is improving its maritime surveillance and the legislation will be a bonus to the authority in promoting safety out at sea.

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