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The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) commenced its search and rescue (SAR) capability partnership program this week with counterpart agencies in Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Mauritius.

This program is being delivered as part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s 'Government partnerships for development' program, which provides funds to eligible Australian public sector organisations to support economic growth and poverty alleviation in developing countries in the Indian Ocean, Asia and Pacific Regions.

AMSA will receive a total of $2.6 million in funding over three years to work in cooperation with the three partner countries and strengthen its national SAR services.  The objective is to develop their capability to provide more effective response to maritime and aviation distress situations within its SAR areas and enhance SAR capability in some of the most remote parts of the Indian Ocean region.

AMSA chief executive officer Mick Kinley said these three countries bordered Australia’s search and rescue region in the Indian Ocean, “search and rescue cooperation in this remote and expansive part of the world is of paramount importance,” he said.

Kinley said AMSA staff will be in Mauritius, the Maldives and Sri Lanka this week to commence the capability development program, “this program will include components of training in search and rescue systems, a staff exchange program to Australia, joint exercises and workshops and development and installation of key search and rescue systems that are tailored to best meet each individual country’s needs,” Mr Kinley said.

“Technical experts from the International Civil Aviation Authority Organisation and the International Maritime Organisation will also be involved to ensure that requirements of international standards and conventions are met in line with the Global Maritime Distress Safety System,” he said.

By the end of the program in 2017, it is expected that national and regional aviation and maritime search and rescue capability will be strengthened. Partner countries will also have improved cooperation and greater ability to communicate for search and rescue, along with improved systems to conduct timely and effective search and rescue operations across the region.

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