• Onsite survey to Betio Port, Kiribati

    Onsite survey to Betio Port, Kiribati

  • AtoN Risk assessment seminar in Kiritimati, Kiribati

    AtoN Risk assessment seminar in Kiritimati, Kiribati

  • East channel entrance lighthouse in Koror, Palau

    East channel entrance lighthouse in Koror, Palau

IFAN Supports SPC Safety of Navigation Project

Running a pilot project in a country spread over a marine area roughly the size of Mongolia might sound daunting, but IFAN is currently involved in just such an undertaking through its support of a programme in the South Pacific, designed to improve the level of Aids to Navigation service.

South Pacific Community (SPC) provides a regional resource of specialist technical expertise that strengthens, or supplements, regional and national capacity. It designed and, with the support of IFAN, has started implementing the Safety of Navigation project. Ultimately, the project aims to support the economic development of shipping and trade of Pacific Islands Countries and Territories (PICTs).

The goal is to create safer maritime routes, managed in accordance with international instruments and best practice. IFAN recognised that there was scope for significant improvement in safety at sea, in respect of both international ferry and cruise activities.

Initially presented to 13 targeted countries - Cook Islands, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Niue, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu - at the Transport Officials Meeting held in Suva, Fiji in November 2015, the two-phase project commenced in April 2016. Prior to a six-month preparation phase, an experienced Regional Safety Navigation Advisor, Minsu Jeon, was appointed.

In-country visits to the Cook Islands and Kiribati were conducted, and the accreditation process of SPC as Aids to Navigation Training Organisation is now in progress with the objective of delivering the Level 1 AToN manager course in the region during 2017.

Kiribati was chosen as the pilot country for this project. With a permanent population of just over 100,000, Kiribati comprises 33 atolls and reef islands and one raised coral island. The nation's total land area is just 800 square kilometres, but this is dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres (1,351,000 square miles), a vast navigable area.

From the outset, the main challenge facing the project was identified as being the lack of awareness of the importance of Aids to Navigation systems in the target countries. In addition, limited capacity of managers and technicians and, in almost all countries, an absence of AToN policy and regulation to support process, procedures and resources were additional hurdles to be overcome. SPC is focusing on enhancing and raising awareness of sustainable development of AToNs through in-country visits and capacity-building programmes.

Planned activities for 2016 were completed with a 92.5 percent execution rate. However, the agreement to fund Phase II and the allocation of resources to Phase II activities will be subject to review and approval by IFAN based on the Phase I completion report and the needs assessment carried out in each of the targeted countries.