The recent boat tragedy has highlighted the need for authorities to do more to regulate the use of small boats in the country.
Too many lives have been lost at sea, and often times such boating disasters could have been avoided if basic safety measures were adhered to.
Despite public safety campaigns and warnings during bad weather small boats continue to crisscross our waters, putting the lives of passengers at risk.
The number of people dying at sea continues to rise, and will continue to rise if nothing is done to curb bad practices or risky behavior by way of strengthening or enacting new laws or regulations.
Our current laws focus solely on safety requirements for passenger boats, but fails to address small boats that now seem to dominate the way our people travel interisland.
Despite such boating tragedies people will continue to overloaded their boats, travel with limited fuel, travel in bad weather and skippers consuming alcohol. These are the bad decisions that directly cause loss of life at sea, and nothing is being done about it.
It is time that we look at our maritime laws and find ways to prevent further deaths at sea. Serious consideration should be given to the enactment of laws that manage and promote sea safety for small boat owners, operators and passengers.
Small boats will continue to be the main form of transportation for many of our people, and safety at sea will not be adhered to simply because there are no penalties for bad behavior or practice.
We all recognize the need to improve seafarer attitudes to safety requirements when traveling at sea, and the need to foster a safety-first culture at sea in Solomon Islands. This can only be achieved if there is national legislation for small boats – the high incidence of fatalities at sea must be addressed with a greater sense of urgency.