The Government of Liberia is encouraging Liberian students to study Marine Sciences in a bid to increase the number of experts to help conserve the marine environment and create opportunities for positive career paths.
The government, through its maritime and marine experts, Sheck A. Sherif, Queen’s University Belfast PhD Scholar, Mathew Opah Salon, Senior Resource Person of the Blue Oceans Conference and Maritime Safety and Administration and Olivia Faith Tah-Johnson, Maritime Law and Policy Practitioner organized a one-day career fair on March 23, 2019 to encourage students to pursue career in marine science. The event was attended by over two hundred high school and college students
The ‘Blue Ocean Career Fair’ was part of activities climaxing the week-long Blue Oceans Conference organized by the Government of Liberia in conjunction with the Embassy of Sweden near Monrovia and Conservation International (CI).
Addressing the students, a maritime practitioner at Liberia International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR), Olivia Tah-Johnson said that the Blue Ocean Career fair was geared towards creating opportunities for students who are seeking career path and to provide professional experience to students who are fresh graduates to learn how to move forward.
In addition, Madam Johnson noted that the career fair was all about facilitating an environment where students can interact with foreign universities and experts and the provide professional experience to fresh graduates on how to move forwards towards a practical life and enabling the students to know how to compete in the competitive market.
Speaking further she said Liberia has a rich maritime history, with over 4000 ships registered under the Liberian Shipping Registry and flying the country’s flag, while the sector is making huge contribution towards the Liberian economy.
Despite these strides, she noted that Liberia is still lagging behind in human resource capacity in the sector and the awareness was to inspire the young generation to study marine sciences and help conserve the marine environment.
As a graduate of the World Maritime Institute, she, on behalf of her colleagues, pledged their commitments to sharing their experiences with the students.
“You will have the opportunity to interact with scientists. Provide job opportunity, internship, scholarships and career opportunities,” she said.
“We want to be inspired; we want to create growth, innovation and creativity for the future. You are the next generation. You are the one that will take up the baton for the next generation. And we want to make sure that since maritime and the marine sectors have so much potential, that youth be empowered; that youth take up positive career to help conserve our marine environment.”
Also addressing the students, the Director of Safety, Inspection Survey and Audit (SISA) of the Liberia Maritime Authority, John Harvey indicated that despite the huge number of ships registered and flying the Liberian flag, not many Liberians are trained to take up key positions on these vessels.
He re-echoed his colleagues in encouraging the students to study marine and maritime courses at advanced level to increase the number of engineers, seafarers and navigators.
For his part, Dr. Kai Schulz, Senior Lecturer of Southern Cross University outlined the importance of marine studies and also encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunity.
Also speaking at the career fair, Dr. Patrizia Ziveri, Professor of Environmental Research at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain told the students particularly females that the dream of having a family should not stand in the way of the career path because they can “have a family and still be career persons.”
Meanwhile the Blue Oceans Conference has ended with a call on stakeholders and policy makers in the West African regionto preserve the coastal and ocean environment; strengthen partnerships for development to help end poverty and to enhance maritime viability for a prosperous Liberia and West Africa.
Excerpt of the statement: “We call on all stakeholders to conserve and sustainably use the coast, ocean and its marine resources for sustainable development by taking, among other things, actions on an urgent basis, as well as by building on existing institutions and partnerships”
“Adherence to the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and contribution to the success of the UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Strengthen cooperation and policy coherence amongst relevant stakeholders in the maritime domain at all level of governance.”
The resolution, among things also called on Liberia and other West African countries to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, by acceding to and implementing the Port State Measures Agreement and implementing monitoring control surveillance (MCS) activities.
The conference also called on Liberia and other West African Countries to openly publish vessel registries, ownership, licenses, and permits through a public forum such as Global Fish Watch or others, and for Liberia to improve its capacity to responding to maritime emergencies within its waters by increasing its capacity in maritime surveillance, towage, salvage, rescue and oil spill preparedness, prevention and response.
In addition, the conference wants Liberia to “place a ban on single-use plastics bags and straws by 2022 and commits to recovering and responsibly managing all plastic packaging by 2025 through partnering with government, private sector and communities to address plastic production, marketing and use.
It also call for the generation of needed funds and securing the necessary commitment from all relevant stakeholders to create and effectively manage a robust network of marine protected areas and other area-based management measures covering 30 percent of Liberia’s EEZ, designed to conserve biodiversity and deliver livelihoods, food security, climate resilience, and other ecosystem services to the coastal communities of Liberia and its neighbors.”