DUBAI - The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure has launched the ‘Sail Safely’ initiative, as part of its ongoing efforts to protect the marine environment, enhance maritime safety and security, as well as protect people’s lives.

The initiative includes an intensive training programme for captains of leisure and fishing boats to ensure that they adhere to the highest standards of operation in the sector, avoiding maritime accidents and protecting people’s lives.

Through this free-of-cost programme, started earlier in August 2021, the Ministry aims to increase safety among boat and leisure vessel owners since a large number of marine accidents are caused by small boats that are devoid of technologies that ensure safe sailing.

Commenting on the initiative, Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure said: "With a coastline of over 1,650 km, the sea is a key lifeline for us in the UAE as we largely depend on it in our daily lives. We desalinate seawater to get drinking water. The fishes and marine life are the main pillars of our food security and underneath the seabed lie our most important oil fields, from which we extract over 30 percent of our oil production. That’s why protecting our marine environment is vital for our survival. We cannot compromise anything that may harm that environment or threaten marine safety in any way."

Al Mazrouei added, "In line with our commitment to enhancing maritime safety in the UAE, a country that is a leading maritime hub, we have launched the ‘Sail Safely’ initiative to spread awareness and ensure knowledge exchange among the boating community, including leisure boaters, fishing vessel owners and fishermen. The purpose is to encourage them to adhere to safety procedures on board their boats, while also educating those who sail them about how to prevent accidents and protect the marine environment. This supports our efforts of protecting the marine environment, helping us in our endeavour to make the UAE a role model in achieving sustainability, especially considering the country is a Category B member of the Executive Council of the International Maritime Organization. We are now looking forward to renewing our membership for the third time in a row, which places an additional responsibility on us to adopt and implement the best practices."

Al Mazrouei stated that the Ministry’s continuous efforts to raise awareness among the UAE maritime community and provide the necessary training, have resulted in a 50 percent reduction in marine accidents.

These efforts, in addition to encouraging the adoption of advanced technologies and modern sailing equipment on boats, will further reduce marine accidents that are endangering people’s lives, property and the marine environment.

Thus, aiding the growth of the sector in the UAE that is home to more than 310 marinas for boats, yachts and ships and around 20,000 yachts and leisure boats.

Hassan Mohamed Jumaa Al Mansoori, Undersecretary of the Infrastructure and Transport Affairs at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, explained the strategic importance of this resolution for the UAE being a member of the Executive Council of the International Maritime Organisation in Category B.

He said: "We are committed towards enhancing maritime security and safety, through our regulations that contribute to the development of the UAE maritime sector, and the adoption of international best practices to protect the marine environment. We have witnessed the lack of awareness and knowledge about safe sailing which caused several accidents. That’s why, we unveiled "Sail Safely" initiative to protect our environment."

Sheikh Nasser Majid Al-Qasimi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Infrastructure and Transport at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said: "This initiative is a part of a series of initiatives that aim to consolidate sustainability and social responsibility in the maritime sector. The first is the recently-launched ‘Supporting our Blue Army’ initiative, which aims to protect the rights of seafarers abandoned onboard ships. With the new initiative, we are carrying on our mission by focusing on fishing and leisure boat captains. Our primary purpose is to keep our industry partners informed by imparting the necessary knowledge about boat accidents, thus safeguarding their lives and livelihoods."

This initiative comes at a crucial time, as it coincides with the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai, which will draw in large numbers of visitors and tourists to the UAE.

It is also in conjunction with the launch of several real estate projects, waterfronts and boat and yacht marinas.

The Ministry’s efforts complement other economic activities in the UAE so that the maritime sector maintains its position as a key player in the overall development of the country.

© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2021.