Executive Chairman of the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF), David Kolitagane;
Director Hydrographic Services, Commander Gerard Rokoua;
Managing Directors of Shipping Companies, Logistic Companies, and our private sector;
Maritime Stakeholders;
Senior Government Officials;
Invited Guests, Teachers, Students of the Fijian Maritime Academy;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula vinaka and a very Good Morning to you all.
I'm delighted to join you all to celebrate World Maritime Day 2022.

In the last two years, our celebrations have been limited due to the pandemic (As you would recall, last year we had virtual celebrations). But today, we are in a much better place.

And like with every crisis, we have been presented with opportunities. Opportunities to transition our sectors and economy to the next stage of development and resilience.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Two days ago, we celebrated World Tourism Day with the theme “Rethinking Tourism”. We acknowledged the role the Maritime sector plays in Tourism.
Not only does the sector connect tourists across our islands, it is a critical link for trade, fuel and basic supplies.

Maritime stakeholders are also ambassadors of tourism, ensuring that Fiji, as our brand reflects, is truly a place where happiness finds you.  The happy faces here reflect this spirit.

So just as we have to rethink the future of the tourism industry, it is equally important to rethink the maritime sector, a sector so intricately tied not only to tourism, but to trade, health, fisheries, and connectivity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In terms of the value of the sector, over 80 percent of global trade is transported by international shipping. In Fiji, this percentage is even higher.

Shipping played an important role in the pandemic, world over. And Fiji was no different.

At a time when most of the world was shut, the maritime sector stood strong and took on a greater role. International airports were closed, but our seaports kept operating.

The Fijians and the Fijian economy were sustained by essential medicine, goods, food and fuel, coming from overseas through ships.

We kept our islands and Fijians connected – supplying essential goods and transporting people home to their islands.

Although there were international disruptions, we kept trading – without a day lost. We took Fijian made and grown products to our export partners, maintaining markets that are so critical to our economy.

We even welcomed tourists by sea when global Tourism was shut.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Global shipping emissions are responsible for roughly 3 percent of the world's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This has grown over the years – creating an urgency to act.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
We, as a nation, contribute only 0.006 percent to global emissions. But we have never shied away from taking a leader role or decisive steps.

We have made a global commitment of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, under the Paris Agreement. Nationally, we have legislated this commitment through the Climate Change Act 2021. We have also pledged to reduce our shipping emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

We are now in the decade of action.

So this year’s World Maritime Day theme, "New Technologies for Greener Shipping" is extremely important if we are to pivot to carbon neutrality.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The question now is how to go about the transition, collectively.

To meet the demand of a greener transition in the maritime sector, particularly in Small Island developing States (SIDS), inclusive innovation must be encouraged and new technologies welcomed and adopted.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In an effort to address the impacts of Climate Change on SIDS, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted an initial strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships, with a vision which aims to phase them out, as soon as possible in this century.

The strategy envisages a reduction in carbon intensity in international shipping and sets a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction, consistent with the Paris Agreement.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
These are big goals that, at the end of the day, require technology as an enabler. An enabler that protects our pristine and fragile ecosystems.

Ships, in the past, were not built to work on clean or green fuel. But now we need clean vessels and technology.  This presents an opportunity.

A lot of corporations and Governments are now looking to retrofit solutions, including Fiji.

By retrofitting vessels, we have flexibility to tailor existing vessels to meet latest global standards.

A large part of retrofitting requires innovative modifications that allow for energy efficiency at a fraction of the cost, because you do not have to change the fleet.

We do not have all the resources or expertise, nor deep pockets for large scale investments to change our entire domestic fleet. That’s where partnership is key.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
To illustrate this partnership, Fiji is working closely with the Global Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC) Network in the Pacific, in the installation of the Propeller Boss Cap Fins. These are energy-saving devices attached to the propeller of a vessel that make propulsion more efficient and less fuel consuming. And we intend to install them on Government vessels.

Another example is, earlier this year, MTCC-Pacific handed over a retrofitted vessel to Naka-lawa-ca Village Women's Group.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
With these initiatives in green shipping, we ask the question, what does this mean for Seafarers, for Captains, for Engineers. It means that relying on fossil fuel is no longer the future of shipping. The future is newer technology, cleaner fuel – and at some point in time no fossil fuel at all.

It means developing capabilities in new technology and continuously upskilling to make the shift. We need local talent to be involved. When we build our human capabilities, we allow sustainability of these initiatives.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a nation, we have set ourselves targets, led by the Hon. Prime Minister, who made it very clear that we need to reduce GHG emissions from the shipping sector.

We have eight more years to reduce our shipping emissions by 40 percent. That’s not a long time.

For Fiji to transition to a climate-resilient economy, we need to mobilise resources and expertise. We need to address barriers such as skills and technology adaptation.

Transformative change can only be realised through accelerated, scalable, and financed initiatives. And we can do this with collaboration and partnerships.

Most importantly, these global and national goals should be owned by everyone. It’s a collective effort.

So I ask that we consider the immediate and long-term solutions as stepping stones between today, 2030, 2050 and beyond.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
They say every ship needs a captain. But it needs a crew to make it sail.
The world owes every woman and every man in the maritime sector, even those offshore, a great deal of gratitude.

Whether you’re a captain, deckhand, port agent, cook, engineer, a planner — you have kept our connectivity and supply chains working.

And you continue to do so in the face of another global crisis. So thank you.

With those few words, I thank everyone for joining us today and wish you a happy World Maritime Day.

Vinaka Vakalevu.