THE requirements of the new Maritime Transport Decree might be just too expensive for small craft and boat owners
It will cost $138.75 to have a boat surveyed, registered and licensed this year and another $600 more for each individual to get a Class 6 certification from the Fiji National University, to allow for operation in open waters.
"We understand this is to improve the safety of the industry but right now we fear that by March this year we will not be allowed to make a living." said Yasawa villager Manasa Katalau.
"We don't earn enough but by March we have to use over $1000 to register our boats, and upgrade our self to Class 6 level to be able to operate."
Mr Katalau, 49, is a diver from Teci and is among many boat owners from the Yasawa Group trying to scrape around for $600 to attain the FNU certification.
"After March 5, the fees will be back to the normal cost of $432.25 but even right now I can tell you no one here has Class 6 level, we are trying to get it before March."
Another boat owner, Ame Tabaiwalu from Waya Island, has registered both his boats but now has to find a way to get his certification.
"Most of us right now only have boat captain certification," he said.
"If we do not get Class 6 then we cannot operate past Bekana Island just off the Lautoka port."
The concern, Tabaiwalu says, is when they will need to gather food, fish in the open ocean or even make trips for medical reasons.
A team from Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji will travel the country from this week to register small crafts and conduct awareness on the decree.