Seaport and Vessel Search Training Yields Dividends in Fiji

A two-week seaport and border control training in Nadi has yielded immediate results, participants intercepting a vessel carrying narcotics while it was entering the Fijian waters.

The training, which was spearheaded by the Fiji Revenue Customs Service (FRCS) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, saw 85 participants from FRCS, the Fiji Police Force, Republic of Fiji Navy, Fiji Immigration Department, Ministry of Fisheries, Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF), and the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji enhance essential knowledge and skills for vessel searches. This included safety at sea, boarding operations, boarding access systems, and in-water survival techniques.

The five-day intensive training also included a set of mock exercises that focused on vessel searches and seizures, with participants searching yachts, barges, and container ships, amongst others.

On the final day of the training, the participants conducted a live search on a yacht where the officials discovered marijuana onboard. The seizure highlighted the practical efficacy of the training, as the border officials tracked the vessel due to suspicious activities before the successful interception.

Under the leadership of FRCS, these nationwide training initiatives bring together a diverse range of border control agencies, fostering collaboration, and promoting the exchange of best practices. Through this concerted effort, FRCS aims to strengthen the capabilities of all participating agencies, ensuring a unified and robust approach to border security that aligns with Fiji’s strategic goals for national defense and protection.

The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Hon. Siromi Turaga commended the diligent efforts and collaborative spirit demonstrated by the border agencies.

“The successful interception of narcotics underscores the critical importance of such training initiatives and the synergy among our dedicated officials. By working together seamlessly, we strengthen our ability to combat illicit activities and protect our maritime borders. I extend my appreciation to all participants for their commitment to ensuring the safety and security of Fiji’s waters and territories,” said Hon. Turaga.

“The Pacific has a strong reliance on its seaports, not only for the import and export of goods, but for tourism and additional economic activity. World Bank data shows that in 2022, the importation of goods and services to Fiji accounted for 69.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product; this figure underscores the critical need for robust controls and capacity building to be put in place”.

Applauding the efforts for the successful interception, FRCS CEO, Mr. Udit Singh stated that the seizure is a demonstration of the effectiveness of the Seaport Vessel Search training.

“I commend our officers for carrying out their duties diligently in ensuring our borders are protected from the infiltration of illicit drugs and thank UNDP and the Government of Japan for further enhancing the knowledge and skills of our officers in fighting against border threats,” Mr. Singh said.

FRCS Chief Customs Officer, Mr. Osea Dakai, said the training and subsequent live vessel search has further enhanced Fiji’s capacity to combat illicit activity in protection of the Blue Pacific Continent:

“The recent seizure during the training program exemplifies the project’s effectiveness in fortifying Fiji’s border security. Our dedication to border control and law enforcement goes beyond pronouncements; it’s a proven reality. FRCS, together with our border management partners, remains steadfast in safeguarding our maritime territory from criminal activity.”

UNDP’s Integrated Border Management Project is supported by the Government of Japan.

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