FREEPORT – Minister for Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna Martin described the maritime sector as filled with opportunities, both actual and potential.
She said it is a source of great excitement that this partially untapped area holds so much possibility for individual and collective advancement, growth and success.
Mrs Hanna-Martin was in Grand Bahama delivering the keynote address at the opening of the National Maritime Workshop underway at the Grand Lucayan Resort.
The workshop has as its theme, “Improving the Standards of Implementation and Enforcement of the International Maritime Organisation’s Mandatory Instruments.”
The Bahamas underwent an IMO Member State Audit back in February of 2011, with the auditors concluding that the country had met the majority of its obligations.
With respect to the mandatory IMO instruments and code for their implementation, they identified a number of areas of good practice, as well as areas where improvement was possible.
A number of persons from the public and private sector are participating in the three day workshop being sponsored by the IMO and the Bahamas Maritime Authority.
The Transport and Aviation Minister began her remarks by thanking the IMO for its continued collaboration with the Bahamas in our efforts to develop and modernise our maritime sector to the highest international standards.
She pointed out that our geographic configuration is a significant indicator to us of what we should be thinking about.
“The sea, the ocean exists in abundance all around us. Our waters are a major selling point in our tourism marketing as we would have seen in the most recent commercial shown during the Super Bowl last Sunday where the world was asked to ‘Behold’ the beauty of our waters.
“I wish to congratulate the Minister of Tourism and his team for taking the messaging of our national identity in a new direction,” she said.
Mrs Hanna-Martin said the government is now in the process of developing a Maritime Policy aimed at maximising the benefits derived from the country’s natural resources – a policy of sustainable exploitation of energy, science and technology to improve industries including fisheries and trade.
“This will create new paradigms in our national development, new niches in our economic model and new and exciting career opportunities for our young bright minds.
“It is projected that this policy in a first draft will be completed early 2014. It is expected that the policy will create a framework for significant initiatives that will create economic opportunities,” she said.
Mrs Hanna-Martin also pointed out the role of the Bahamas Maritime Authority in training the “young bright minds” that will take advantage of these opportunities.
The Maritime Cadet Programme has trained and certified hundreds of high school students in private and public schools.
She also drew attention to the scholarship programme, which, in conjunction with the Bahamas Ship-owners Association, has facilitated advanced degree programmes in schools in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
“We now anticipate the LIM Maritime Academy, which has collaborated with the College of the Bahamas, will further deepen and expand our national thrust for creating a cadre of highly trained young people in the various sectors of the maritime field,” she said.
Mrs Hanna Martin added her ministry, in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, is now reviewing the management, administrative and commercial structure of the Prince George Dock, the country’s premier cruise ship docking facility, which caters to around four million passengers annually.
“At the end of this review we expect to see a modern, efficient and self-sustaining port facility which will be the envy of the world,” she said.
The minister said her team is reviewing port facilities around the country with a view to creating a more structured port administration which will enhance local economies and advance the maritime industry.