AGRICULTURE and Marine Resources Minister Michael Pintard.
By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
AGRICULTURE and Marine Resources Minister Michael Pintard said 44 Bahamians are enrolled in the department’s first diving training programme.
Speaking to reporters at the Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday, Mr Pintard said that more Bahamians trained as professional divers will reduce the need for “foreign workers to carry out these tasks".
He said: “The programme was designed to instruct young Bahamians in the proper use of dive equipment, resulting in PADI certification for the participants. The training was conducted by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force master dive instructors.
“On completion, students will be given a one-month internship on commercial fishing vessels as facilitated by the Bahamas Commercial Fishing Boat Owners group. We expect some of these divers will be put to use this season.”
He added: “The programme was fully subscribed, and we anticipate a continuation of this opportunity for Bahamians to enter the sector as trained divers. The intent of this programme is clear.”
In June, the Department of Marine Resources in conjunction with the National Training Agency launched their first Diver Training programme.
Mr Pintard stressed the need for more Bahamians in this industry and invited interested Bahamians to pick up applications from the National Training Agency located on Gladstone Road or at the Department of Marine Resources located on East Bay Street.
Mr Pintard said the diving training programme consists of five mandatory modules and one additional module.
Modules include a month of soft skills training that has been tweaked specifically for the dive and fishing industry, one week of training on the laws governing the industry, one month to receive a diving certificate, CPR and first-aid training, as well as two-week training in the use of air compressors for fishing purposes and air compressor maintenance. The optional module is specific to fish pot construction.
Gregory Bethel, acting assistant director at Department of Marine Resources, said the programme will be free of charge to the participants and noted the entire cost will be covered by the government.
Mr Bethel said: “As indicated the government will be covering the entire cost of hosting the programme inclusive in that course is all of the dive gear and equipment. I can say that to date the government has already invested some $40,000 with respect to just dive equipment for participants of this programme.”
The minister noted the increase of foreign nationals applying to the Department of Marine Resources for compressor permits.
Mr Pintard said: “Part and parcel of the requests has been an increase of requests for foreign nationals seeking compressor permits to work on board Bahamian registered commercial fishing vessels.
“In an effort to assist the fisheries sector, the government through a joint effort between the National Training Agency, the coordinating agency, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources along with the Ministry of Health have all gotten together to train and certify interested Bahamians.”