The Sierra Leone Life Saving Society (SLLSS) has held a virtual conference on recreational boating safety with Africa Command (AFRICOM) and the United States European Command (EUCOM).

The conference was themed “Recreational Boating Safety in Context of SAR (Search & Rescue) & IIU (Illegal, Unreported and Regulated Fishing) Case Study – Sierra Leone”.

Speaking during the conference, Chairman and Principal of SLLSS Patrick Olumide Campbell said that recreational boating safety is an essential initiative that its methodology is to strive towards paying attention to measures that should be in place when an unfortunate incident occurs or about to in the marine environment because its occurrence affects lives and properties, climatic degradation and loss of national revenue.

Campbell said Sierra Leone and its neighbours have been victims of unfortunate marine disasters including falling and drowning, injuries, sinking and degradation of marine environment and value.

“Truly, recreational boat is acknowledged to be full of fun while its danger cannot be underestimated because its occurrence affects many which at times lead to loss of lives and properties,” Campbell  said.

The SLLSS Chairman said the case of Sierra Leone is important because it is a coastal country.

“It (Sierra Leone) has a coastline of about 560km. The coastal zone covers an area of about 71,740 square kilometres,” he said.

He said the country has benefitted a lot from its coastal resources including mining of coarse aggregates, salt, fine aggregates, fishing, sea trade and tourism.

The conference also looked at how search and rescue operations will be conducted in the future, empowerment of the recreational boat operators and awareness on possible environmental hazards like bottom trawling.

The SLLSS is a local NGO which was established to assist the Sierra Leonean Government to protect lives and properties of citizens especially those residing along coastal communities.