Fishing skills

Fishermen learn skills vital to sailors

A GROUP of 10 fishermen from the south of Penang Island are now about to be certified as seafarers to handle much bigger vessels.

After completing the seven-day “Mate Domestic Under 500GT Open” course at Akademi Maritim Penjana Ilmu in Taman Inderawasih and passing the written assessment, they will then move on to an oral test held by the Navy Department.

Managing Director of Penang Infrastructure Corporation, Datuk Seri Farizan Darus, said the group was the first group to benefit from the seafarers course program offered under the Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) of the Penang South Project. Island (PSI).

“The sailor course was part of the training programs offered under Pelitaku’s Community Involvement Program.

He added that the state and the SRS Consortium, the project’s delivery partner, are preparing to organize courses for seafarers for the next batch, in addition to other programs beneficial to the fishing community.

“When the PSI project starts in the second half of the year, more fishermen enrolled in SIMP will have the opportunity to take the sailor course,” said Farizan after handing over the participation certificates to the academy fishermen.

The course covers cartography, rules and regulations, meteorology, general ship knowledge and engineering.

The fishermen, after passing the seaman’s course, will receive the Certificate of Competence (COC) which gives them accreditation to work in national waters.

With the COC, they will be able to work on pontoons and vessels under 500 gross tons and offer boat transport services to construction workers and tourists to earn additional or alternative income.

Among the group was veteran Fajinah Jaafar, 60, who said the course taught her the right way to operate at sea.

“It broadened my knowledge of ships, including international ships.

“I haven’t taken the course in the past because of the cost, but I am now looking forward to more job opportunities to earn a better income with this certificate,” she said.

Fisherman Loo Tang Nee, 42, based in Gertak Sanggul, said he was happy with the training.

“Before that, we didn’t know anything about the rules and regulations at sea, and I didn’t know there were so many.

“When we worked at sea, we relied only on experience without guidance to operate.

“Now we know the protocols and how to react when we encounter larger vessels at sea,” he said.

The state has allocated RM100 million to SIMP to develop the skills of the local fishing community.

The academy’s chief executive, Nazir Hamzah, explained that certified fishermen would experience a major boost in their career prospects, as the vessels they would be able to maneuver would be much larger than those they were used to.

“Vessels over 500 gross tonnage are large and capable of carrying many passengers.

“Those who succeed will have better career prospects providing transport and leisure services in Malaysian coastal waters.

“At present, between 300 and 400 people in Penang hold such certificates and most of them are employed by large shipping operators or own their own businesses,” he said.