BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
SMALL Boat skippers and crafts in the Western province will now benefit from the new flag early warning system recently installed in Gizo.
Mr Eddie Maru, Chief Meteorological Officer (forecasting) said that the flag early warning system was installed after a two-day Marine Weather and Ocean Services workshop held in Gizo recently.
He said the workshop was conducted in collaboration with Solomon Islands Meteorology Services (SIMS), Solomon Islands Maritime Authority (SIMA) and National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). Vital stakeholders around Gizo such as MAL, Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children and Western provincial Government boat skippers also participated.
Mr Maru revealed that the workshop was made possible through the Australian Government-funded Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRM) project through United Nations Development Program (UNDP). He thanked DFAT and UNDP for their support.
He added that the workshop targeted at the western province local boat service owners and skippers around Vella, Ranonga, Simbo, kolombangara, Munda, Rarumana, Vonavona, and vital stakeholders in and around Gizo including resort owners.
The workshop is part of the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service (SIMS) Annual Work Plan (AWP) under the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) in partnership with other stakeholders.
“Strategized to strengthen Early warning system by way of flagpole installation, which is simple for small boat skippers and owners to understand. It strengthens the efforts to minimize and mitigate risks and threats of travelling by sea. The theme of the workshop is the safety of lives at sea,’’ he said.
The Marine Officer Mr Willie Aubasi also did vital training about safety equipment required for travelling at sea. These include a demonstration of equipment such as life jackets, EPIRP/PLB, flares/rockets, VHF radio, mirror, torch, GPS and campus.
Speaking to environment media Solomon Islands the Chief weather forecasting officer, Mr Maru said that Gizo in the western province is the second provincial headquarters to have an early warning flag system in Solomon Islands.
“Upon the successful installation of the early warning flag system at Tulagi in Central province last year 2021, and positive feedback, the western Provincial government had made a similar request to the Ministry to install one in Gizo,’’ said Mr Maru.
Mr Maru stated that this is significant for small boat users, skippers and small crafts decision-making when going out at sea and had urged attendees to share the message upon their return to their respective communities.
“The system comprise of two flags, a blue one and a red one, so when there is a strong wind warning covering Gizo, the red flag will be erected up the pole and if the strong wind warning is cancelled the blue flag will be erected replacing the red flag,’’ explained Maru.
He said that the communication of erecting the flag is between the weather forecasting office, Gizo Police and Provincial Disaster Office (PDO) Western province.
He stated that the Duty Weather Forecaster will call the duty police officer to raise the red flag upon the first instance strong wind warning is effective covering Gizo areas.
“Likewise a phone call will also be made, to replace the red flag with blue flag if a strong wind warning is cancelled. Upon such time the Gizo police phone is faulty, the Provincial Disaster Office (PDO) western province will be contacted to liaise with duty police officer,’’ he said.
“So following the establishment of the early warning flag system in Tulagi, Gizo is the second to have a similar kind in the country,’’ said Mr Maru.
According to the met service spokesman, the plan is to spread the system around the country however it depends on funds.
“Participants has excited and happy to be part of the important workshop as they have learned new things that would help them as it is about their safety at sea and their decision making when going out in the waters,” he said.