22 April 2013
Shipowners and Unions Raise Concern at Casualty Reporting Failures
Shipowners and seafarers' unions have joined forces to express concern at flag states’ failure to submit maritime casualty reports as required under international Conventions.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents 80% of the world merchant fleet, and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which represents seafarers’ unions worldwide, have made a joint submission to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) commenting on the apparent failure of some flag states to submit maritime casualty reports to IMO. This is a requirement under several international maritime Conventions, including the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS).
ICS and ITF hope that governments will give consideration to this important issue at the next meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in June.
In accordance with SOLAS regulation I/21, maritime administrations undertake to conduct investigations into any casualty occurring to ships under their flag, and to supply IMO with pertinent information concerning the findings of such investigations.
In accordance with other Guidelines adopted by IMO, this is meant to include incidents defined as being a "very serious marine casualty" involving the total loss of the ship, a death, or severe damage to the environment.
“The lack of investigation and accident reports hinders the development of appropriate measures by IMO to address the cause of serious incidents in which seafarers may have lost their lives.” said ITF Acting General Secretary, Stephen Cotton.
“It also frustrates efforts by ship operators to learn from the reports and to amend or develop new procedures, or implement other measures to prevent or mitigate similar future incidents.” said ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe.
ICS and ITF have therefore suggested that further consideration might be given by IMO to what constitutes “a very serious marine casualty” and the extent to which flag states should retain the latitude which they currently enjoy when determining whether the results of any investigation should be submitted to IMO.
As a first step, they have suggested that, in consultation with ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization), IMO might consider whether any lessons might be learnt from the approach taken towards the submission and dissemination of accident reports within the aviation industry.
15 April 2013
Ship Recycling - Global Shipping Industry Slams Unworkable European Parliament Proposals that will Offend EU Trading Partners
The world’s national shipowners’ associations in nearly 50 countries - represented by the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF) - have united to condemn proposed amendments, to be voted on by the European Parliament this week (probably on 18 April), on a new EU Ship Recycling Regulation.
Shipowners especially object to the proposal by the EP Environment Committee to impose a tax on merchant ships of all flags calling at EU ports, in order to fund ship recycling facilities in the European Union.
“This is an unacceptable tax on trade and will cause grave offense to the EU’s trading partners, not just major ship recycling nations such as China and India, but to major shipping nations such as Japan and Singapore. These proposals have simply not been thought through.” said ECSA Secretary General Alfons Guinier. “As a matter of principle, it is wrong to impose a tax on one industrial sector in order to assist another, especially without proper consultation with the parties affected. Shipping is a global industry operating under global rules. The European Parliament should really not be contemplating measures which will work against the aim to improve recycling conditions globally, an aim which we fully support.”
The shipowners’ groups also believe that, if adopted, the EP amendments will fatally undermine the entry into force of the International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong) which was adopted by the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2009 - with full industry support - to improve working and environmental conditions in the world’s ship recycling yards, most of which are located in Asia.
The IMO Convention has not yet entered into force, pending the development of detailed Guidelines on implementation that have only recently been finalised by IMO. But the Convention has the full support of the global shipping industry, which has already produced its own recommendations so that shipowners can comply with the IMO requirements in advance of governments formally ratifying the Hong Kong Convention - see www.ics-shipping.org/recycling.htm
“If the proposed amendments are taken forward, it will be seriously damaging to the Hong Kong Convention. The EP measures would therefore be completely counterproductive.” said ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe. “It’s not just the tax. Many of the other measures being proposed, such as sanctions against non-EU shipowners who don’t comply, and the creation of a unilateral list of recycling facilities that meet EU requirements, will almost certainly mean that Asian nations will be unable to ratify the IMO Convention. This will undermine years of hard work by governments at IMO (including EU Member States) as well as by shipowners and ship recyclers to develop a binding global solution that will actually work.”
ASF Secretary General, Yuichi Sonoda, added, “It is important to understand that under the terms of the Hong Kong Convention’s entry into force criteria, it is not possible for the Convention to enter into force unless it is ratified by the major ship recycling nations. An opportunity to improve standards via the Hong Kong Convention will be lost for a generation by these astounding and incomprehensible proposals which are creating huge concern amongst industry and governments alike in Asia.”
If the proposals are taken forward by the European Parliament, the shipping industry will be working with EU Member States to ensure that the proposals are stopped before it is too late. The international shipping industry is also working with governments in non-EU shipping nations, which can be expected to make strong representations in Brussels should the European Parliament vote the proposals through.
5 April 2013
Maritime Lawyers Join Forces with Shipowners to Promote Ratification of International Maritime Conventions
New Brochure highlights importance of FAL Convention, as IMO Facilitation Committee meets in London
A copy of the new ICS, ISF and CMI Campaign Brochure is attached, and contains additional information about the international Conventions to which this PR refers. The Brochure can also be downloaded from the ICS website.
The Comité Maritime International (CMI) - the international association for maritime lawyers - has joined forces with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF) - which represent the operators of over 80% of the world merchant fleet - to promote those key international maritime Conventions which they believe are vital for governments to ratify and implement as soon as possible.
As part of their joint campaign, ICS, ISF and CMI have today published a new brochure, which their respective member national associations will be distributing to governments worldwide in order to encourage more widespread ratification of a number of instruments adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
“Shipping is an inherently international industry dependent on a global regulatory system to operate efficiently.” explained ICS/ISF Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe. “It is crucial that the same regulations governing matters such as safety, environmental protection and liability apply to all ships in international trade, and that the same laws apply to all parts of a ship’s voyage. The alternative would be chaos.”
CMI President, Stuart Hetherington, added “I am delighted that CMI is co-operating with ICS and ISF members to assist those countries where there has been limited ratification of some of the more important maritime Conventions. Our hope is that all of the instruments we have identified for promotion will eventually enjoy the same level of universal acceptance amongst governments as Conventions such as SOLAS and MARPOL.”
The launch of the brochure has been timed to coincide with a meeting of the IMO Facilitation Committee (8-12 April) given that the brochure now includes the IMO Convention on the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL) as one of the key international instruments whose wider ratification the industry organisations wish to promote, especially amongst developing countries. The FAL Convention makes life easier for ships and their crews by reducing reporting formalities when ships enter the ports of other nations.
However, the campaign is also seeking to encourage the ratification by governments of a number of other instruments dealing with international liabilities and insurance cover, which are of special interest to CMI, as well as to ICS. These include: the 1996 Protocol to the International Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC), whose limits were increased by IMO last year; the 2002 Protocol to the Athens Convention on passenger liability (PAL); the 2010 Protocol to the HNS Convention; and the (UNCITRAL) Rotterdam Rules on cargo liability.
Following discussion between ICS and CMI, the brochure also includes the IMO Convention governing liabilities for wreck removal which was adopted in 2007. The Nairobi Convention has now been ratified by six countries, only two of which have so far elected to apply it into their territorial sea. In order to encourage international uniformity, this Convention is now being promoted actively by industry, although only on the basis that ratifications should always include governments opting to apply the Convention’s provisions into their territorial sea.
The new brochure also refers to the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. However, while it is explained that ICS supports the eventual entry into force of the BWM Convention, it is not currently being actively promoted for additional ratification by governments, pending the resolution of important questions about implementation prior to its entry into force.
The other maritime instruments highlighted by the brochure include: MARPOL Annex VI, which governs atmospheric pollution and CO2 emissions; the IMO (Hong Kong) Ship Recycling Convention, which is in danger of being undermined by a proposed EU regulation currently being debated by the European Parliament; the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, governing employment conditions for seafarers and which enters into force this August; and ILO Convention 185, which concerns access to shore leave and crew visas (which will also be a topic of discussion at the IMO Facilitation Committee, this week, as it considers changing references in the FAL Convention to the theoretical prohibition on Parties requiring crew to have visas).
19 March 2013
ICS Chairman Calls for Economic Sustainability
Stringent measures to reduce shipping’s impact on the environment need to also be economically sustainable, warns the Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
Speaking at this week’s Connecticut Maritime Association event in USA, Mr Masamichi Morooka told delegates: “In a truly difficult economic climate like the present, which for many shipping companies is the worst in living memory, there is really only one issue on the minds of ship operators working on the waterfront - and that question is: ‘how are we going to survive?' ”
“The protection of the environment is of great importance, but we must balance the measures we take with the economic impact of these measures. At present shipping finance has virtually dried up. This is not just for new ships but also for the investments needed to continue operating existing ships in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner,” he pointed out.
Speaking during a key debate on The Regulatory Environment, Mr Morooka questioned: “If a shipping company is already sinking in debt, how is it going to pay for the retrofitting of expensive new ballast water treatment systems that will be required in the next few years, at an estimated cost of between one and five million dollars per ship?”
He pointed out that investing in environmental measures such as exhaust gas cleaning systems and ‘green’ technologies to reduce CO2 emissions, as well as installing ballast water treatment systems and the use of distillate fuels, could cost the shipping industry “hundreds of billions”. “How will ship operators manage all these additional costs rising so high that they have a dramatic impact on world trade or force cargo back onto roads or to other, less carbon-efficient modes of transport?”
“We are committed to protecting the environment but I do not believe that shipowners should shy away from asking these challenging questions,” Mr Morooka said.
“While our regulators have a responsibility to balance the interests of shipowners with the need to protect the environment and the interests of wider society, they also need to be pragmatic and to have an understanding of the impact that their actions are having on the industry’s own long-term sustainability. Otherwise there is a danger of creating an industry in which investors will not want to invest,” he warned.
25 February 2013
ICS to Publish EBooks
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has announced that it will be making its publications on best practices for shipping companies available as eBooks.
ICS will be using the eReader technology developed by Witherby Seamanship Group (WPG), which is now being widely used by many other bodies producing maritime publications, including the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The ICS publications to be made available as eBooks from April 2013 will continue to be published on behalf of ICS by Marisec Publications and will only be available from maritime booksellers.
The initial ICS publications to become available as eBooks will be the ICS Bridge Procedures Guide (4th edition), the ICS Guide to Helicopter/Ship Operations (4th edition) and the ICS/ISF Guidelines on the Application of the ISM Code (4th Edition). Other ICS publications will be made available as eBooks when new or revised editions of print versions are published.
The ICS eBooks will be available as single user versions (with the same recommended retail price as the existing print editions) or as network versions whereby a customer will have access to five copies of the eBook for just twice the cost of the single user version.
Full details of prices can be obtained from maritime booksellers.
Many ICS publications on best practices are an essential complement to international maritime regulations adopted by IMO, and are required reading by companies and seafarers involved in maritime operations.
ICS Director External Relations, Simon Bennett, explained “As well as responding to the demand from shipping companies to produce ICS publications as eBooks, we believe that by using the proven WPG system it will be helpful to ship operators for our books to sit alongside IMO regulations, as well as useful advice produced by other maritime bodies, in electronic form.”
18 February 2013
ISF Calls on Governments to Facilitate Shore Leave by Proposing New Pragmatic Approach to Visa Requirements
The International Shipping Federation (ISF), which represents maritime employers globally, is calling on port states to facilitate the right of seafarers to shore leave, in line with governments’ international treaty obligations, by proposing a new pragmatic approach to visa requirements.
ISF has made this proposal in a submission to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Facilitation Committee, which next meets in April to consider its current review of the IMO Convention on the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL). The FAL Convention includes a blanket prohibition on port states requiring seafarers to obtain visas in order to enjoy shore leave.
The long established principle that, due to the special nature of their employment, seafarers should not be required to hold a visa for the purposes of shore leave is enshrined in various international Conventions, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions 185 and 108, as well the IMO FAL Convention.
However, in a post ‘9/11’ world of heightened concerns about security and immigration issues, the ability of seafarers to exercise this right is increasingly being challenged, with visas now required in United States and Australia. Problems are still being reported of seafarers not being able to leave their ships without visas within the Schengen area of the European Union, in spite of efforts by the European Commission to resolve these difficulties. Problems also exist in Brazil, Singapore, South Africa and other countries.
“Despite the clear principle established by various Conventions, many port states do now require a large number of seafarers to obtain visas in advance in order to enjoy shore leave. This causes serious difficulties for seafarers - especially those operating in tramp trades that may not have the opportunity to apply for a visa in advance.” said ISF Director of Employment Affairs, Natalie Shaw.
As part of the ongoing review of the FAL Convention, several governments have supported proposals to add “visa number, if appropriate” within the information that port states can be permitted to request from ships. Whilst governments have argued that this information will only be used to assist the transmission of information about visas required by those seafarers who might wish to travel beyond the ‘geographical limits’ of shore leave, ISF believes that adoption of such an amendment could serve to legitimise the requirement of visas for shore leave by Parties to FAL, further undermining the fundamental principle that visas should not be required.
Notwithstanding the principle, however, ISF’s priority is to ensure that the welfare of seafarers is met by ensuring that shore leave is facilitated. ISF is therefore proposing to IMO that governments should agree that in the event that port states insist upon requiring visas for shore leave, they should make provisions for the seafarers to be able to apply for visas upon arrival in port, or very shortly before. ISF will therefore propose that a new ‘Recommended Practice’ to this effect be included in the FAL Convention. If accepted, ISF will drop its current opposition to the proposal that visa numbers might be requested from ships.
“While this involves a degree of compromise on our part, we do not want to cut off our nose to spite our face. In the event that such an amendment could be accepted by governments, this might make a significant contribution towards facilitating access to shore leave, which remains a serious problem for many seafarers and shipping companies and which is a matter on which we have seen little progress in recent years. We want to break the impasse.” said Mrs Shaw.
The amendment proposed by ISF would also be consistent with the principles established in ILO Convention 185, which ISF, in its capacity as co-ordinator of the Employers’ Group, helped to negotiate at an ILO Tripartite Conference in 2003.
5 February 2013
ICS Board Meets in London
The Board of Directors of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) - the principal international trade association for shipowners, representing all sectors and trades and over 80% of the world merchant fleet - met in London today (5 February).
The issues that ICS members considered included: frustration with the failure of Italy to submit a full maritime casualty report to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) following the ‘Costa Concordia’ cruise ship tragedy which occurred over a year ago; the continuing discussions at IMO and elsewhere on the best means of achieving further carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduction from ships; and serious concerns that the IMO Convention on Ship Recycling, adopted to improve standards throughout the world’s ship recycling yards, is in danger of being undermined by regional measures being discussed by the European Union.
ICS Commits to CO2 MRV
The ICS Board reviewed recent developments with respect to the international regulation of CO2 emissions from ships. This included proposals by the United States and the European Commission, and others, concerning the establishment of a mandatory system of Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of emissions (known as ‘MRV’).
ICS Chairman, Masamichi Morooka, explained “Our meeting agreed that ICS will fully support the concept of MRV, provided that any measure adopted is developed and agreed at IMO, and that it will be simple to administer and based primarily on fuel consumption measured by bunker delivery notes.”
“However,” added Mr Morooka “ICS support for the development of an MRV mechanism does not imply acceptance of MRV being used for the eventual development of any other Market Based Measure, or the mandatory application of energy indexing measures to existing ships.”
ICS is currently developing a detailed position on how MRV might work, but is waiting for formal submissions to be made by governments at the next meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in May.
ICS is optimistic that the United States will submit a paper to IMO that will address some (though not all) of the concerns previously raised by ICS in response to earlier US proposals made last year. In particular, it is hoped that the US will acknowledge the central role of bunker delivery notes, and that it will avoid any suggestion that expensive or impractical emission monitoring equipment should be installed on board ships (as has been suggested by some elements within the European Commission).
IMO has already adopted a comprehensive package of technical and operational measures to reduce CO2 emissions, and shipping is the only industry which already has CO2 reduction regulations in force at a global level. ICS therefore welcomes the recent announcement by the European Commission that if further measures are developed to address CO2 that this should be done globally inside the IMO.
At their meeting, ICS members’ noted with satisfaction that, for the time being at least, it seems that the EU will give much less emphasis to developing its own Market Based Measure on a regional basis (including a mooted regional emissions trading scheme for ships) and that as an interim measure the EU instead wishes to focus on a global system of MRV.
“This constructive stance now being taken by Europe is very positive,” said Mr Morooka. “But with respect to MRV, we are still waiting to see if firm proposals will be made at IMO by the European Commission. At consultations we have attended in Brussels, some EU officials from the Climate Change Directorate still seem to be thinking in terms of a developing a regional measure first. In the absence of firm EU proposals being submitted to IMO it is difficult for industry to contribute to the MRV debate at European level meaningfully. This is something which ICS is very keen to do.”
Notwithstanding ICS’s support for MRV, its priority remains to help ensure that the technical and operational measures adopted by IMO, which came into force in January 2013, are successfully implemented. This includes the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and the mandatory use of Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans (SEEMP). ICS believes that the further reduction in emissions that will be delivered by the SEEMP, which are now being utilised by tens of thousands of existing ships worldwide, should not be understated.
The ICS Board expressed serious concern about proposals being considered by the European Union for an EU Regulation on ship recycling.
ICS believes that the EU Regulation being considered by the EU Parliament risks completely undermining the International (Hong Kong) Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, which was adopted by IMO in 2009. The EU proposals include a fund to which EU ship operators would have to pay in order to ensure that their ships are recycling in accordance with EU standards, rather than those already agreed by governments at IMO. The ulterior motive of the European Parliament seems to be a wish to create work for ship recycling facilities in Europe.
The IMO Convention was adopted to address legitimate concerns about environmental and working conditions in ship recycling yards which for the most part are located in Asia. “If the EU Regulation goes ahead in its current form, it is very hard to see how the IMO Convention can ever enter into force.” said Mr Morooka.
“As well as damaging the EU registered fleet, undermining the Hong Kong Convention will do little to help workers in the recycling yards in developing nations who will continue to be engaged in dismantling the majority of the world’s redundant ships, and whose workload is already increasing in view of the chronic over capacity that exists throughout the shipping industry.” said Mr Morooka. “It must be hoped that the governments of EU Member States, which are signatories to the Hong Kong Convention, will start to see sense and stop these damaging proposals before it is too late.”
The ICS Board reviewed the continuing response at IMO to the ‘Costa Concordia’ cruise ship tragedy, and welcomed the measures that have so far been taken forward relating to passenger safety and evacuation procedures.
“The response of IMO so far has been measured and reasonable and we have been impressed by the commitment amongst governments to avoid knee jerk reactions” said Mr Morooka. “But IMO is under increasing pressure to take forward far more radical steps in advance of Italy publishing the complete results of its accident investigation, which it has still singularly failed to do. Given the seriousness of the disaster, which happened over a year ago, this failure by Italy is simply unacceptable. We still have no official understanding of what the underlying causes were with respect to an accident that really should never have happened.”
ICS believes that the ‘Costa Concordia’ tragedy has highlighted the seemingly inadequate obligations on the part of flag states to submit the results of accident investigations to IMO. The impasse created by the failure of Italy to report definitively on such a serious casualty indicates that action may be needed in an area where other flag states are also commonly guilty with respect to less high profile incidents which are nevertheless serious and from which important safety lessons could be learned.
The ICS Board agreed that, in discussion with governments, ICS will take forward proposals to IMO as to how the obligations of flag states with respect to casualty reports might be strengthened. These will probably draw on the obligations that the EU now places upon its Members States, with a view to seeing if these might be applied on a global basis.
4 February 2013
ICS Protests at Suez Canal toll Increases
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) - the principal international trade association for shipowners, representing all sectors and trades and over 80% of the world merchant fleet - has voiced serious concerns about toll increases just announced by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), to be implemented on 1 May 2013.
For all but the smallest ships, the Suez Canal toll increases range from about 3% to 5% according to tonnage and ship type. These follow across the board increases of 3% which were implemented in March last year despite industry protests.
ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe, remarked “Most international ship operators are trading in the worst shipping markets in living memory due to there being too many ships chasing too few cargoes. This is not the time for the SCA to be announcing increases, which for some trades seem very dramatic indeed, and which many shipowners will find impossible to pass on to their customers.”
He added “We recognise that, with pressure on Egypt’s tourism and its other economic problems, there is increased pressure on the SCA to maintain what is now the country’s biggest source of foreign revenue. But the effect of these increases will be to give a spur to those owners who may already be considering the Cape route as a serious alternative.”
The route via the Cape of Good Hope is already becoming relatively less expensive as many ships resort to slow steaming in an effort to reduce costs and to deliver the reductions in CO2 emissions which are now demanded by their customers.
Moreover, the entrance to the Suez Canal, via the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, is already unattractive due to the continuing threat of Somali piracy, compounded by instability in the Yemen. Recent events in Egypt, including riots in Ismailia and Port Said, are generating concerns about the security of the Canal itself.
“We are also disappointed by the lack of consultation that preceded these increases.” said Mr Hinchliffe. “To the SCA’s credit, the Canal has so far continued to function smoothly. But ICS will be repeating its request for full and proper consultation between the industry and the SCA, particularly whenever toll adjustments are being contemplated.”
The ICS Board of Directors will be considering the matter further at its meeting in London tomorrow (5 February), together with the status of ongoing discussions between ICS and the Panama Canal Authority about a new toll structure which is being introduced to coincide with the expansion of the Panama Canal, expected to be completed in 2014/15.
29 January 2013
ISF Launches New on Board Training Book for Engine Cadets
The International Shipping Federation (ISF) has updated its widely-used On Board Training Record Book for Engine Cadets to meet the latest requirements governing seafarers’ training emanating from the STCW 2010 Manila Amendments.
“The competence of engine officers is critical to safety and environmental protection. The updated ISF Book enables cadets and their companies to monitor and evaluate their on board training in a structured manner in accordance with the new STCW Convention requirements.” ISF Director Employment Affairs, Natalie Shaw, explained.
New regulations set out in the 2010 amendments to the IMO STCW Convention controlling seafarers’ training standards came into force in January 2012. Use of a training record book providing evidence of structured on board training is mandatory for trainees seeking to qualify as ships’ officers, and the ISF books are referred to as a model in the footnotes to STCW 2010. The STCW 2010 standards must be applied to new trainees from July 2013.
The revised publication is the fourth in a series of updated ISF training record books following the recent publication of revised On Board Training Record Books for Deck Cadets, Deck Ratings and Engine Ratings (the latter both covering the new grade of Able Seafarer).
The new ISF Book for Engine Cadets contains structured on board training tasks formulated around the revised standards stipulated by STCW 2010, including new competences such as application of leadership and team working skills and proactive measures to protect the marine environment.
As the principal international employers’ organisation for ship operators, representing national shipowners’ associations and some 80% of the world merchant fleet, ISF wishes to ensure that engine cadets optimise their seagoing service and can demonstrate a broad variety of skills.
ISF is currently in discussion with the Philippines and other important seafarer supply countries to ensure that the use of the ISF Books is approved as a part of their national STCW certification processes.
“Many shipping companies are training cadets, across their fleets, from a variety of countries and it is important that they can use a standard international book.” said Mrs Shaw.
17 January 2013
IMO and shipping industry bodies urge continued application of anti-piracy measures
The International Maritime Organization, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO, the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO), the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO), the International Parcel Tankers Association (IPTA), and the International Shipping Federation (ISF), welcome the recent decrease in the number of attempted and successful attacks against ships by Somalia-based pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean.
This decrease may be attributed to a combination of factors, including: the presence of naval forces disrupting pirate operations; implementation of self-protection measures on board merchant ships and better situational awareness of where the threats are; coupled with more effective action ashore in Somalia by the Somali authorities and the international community.
The above-mentioned Organizations remain convinced that the only long-term solution to piracy is to establish effective government and implement the rule of law ashore in Somalia. However, until that is achieved, there can be no room for complacency. Any reduction in the level of protection of merchant ships could lead to a resurgence of pirate activities. Piracy must continue to be suppressed through the visible presence of and robust action by, the world’s navies, consistent with international law.
The Organizations therefore urge shipowners, shipping companies, ship operators, masters and crews to continue to take all appropriate and recommended measures to protect their ships and those on board from pirates and armed robbers, through sustained and full implementation of the relevant IMO guidance and industry-developed Best Management Practices for protection against Somalia-based piracy (BMP 4).
14 January 2013
ICS Updates Flag State Performance Table
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has launched its latest ‘Shipping Industry Flag State Performance Table’ which can be downloaded from the homepage of the ICS website.
ICS Director External Relations, Simon Bennett explained “Our table is intended to encourage shipowners to maintain a dialogue with their flag administrations to effect any improvements that might be necessary in the interests of safety, the environment and decent working conditions.”
This year’s ICS table includes some new flag states which seem to be increasingly popular with some shipowners, such as Moldova and Sierra Leone, which join the ranks of flags such as Bolivia, Cambodia and Mongolia in being revealed by the table to have a somewhat patchy performance.
ICS stresses that the table includes what should be regarded only as potential positive indicators. There may be good reason why a flag is lacking one or two of these, especially if it has had too few port calls to gain a place on certain port state control ‘white lists’ or has not yet ratified one or two recently adopted international Conventions.
Mr Bennett remarked “The absence of a couple of positive indicators is probably not very important. But if a flag is lacking a large number of positive indicators then shipowners may want to ask serious questions.”
ICS is keen to emphasise that, in today’s modern global industry, distinctions between so called traditional flags and open registers are increasingly meaningless and actually unhelpful. The ICS table shows that many open registers like Liberia and the Bahamas are amongst the very top performers alongside several European registers, or flags such as Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, that might be expected to perform well.
In the same way that, through mechanisms such as the ISM Code, the shipping industry is committed to the concept of continuous improvement and transparency with respect to its performance, ICS believes that the same principles apply to the performance of flag administrations. ICS has therefore reiterated its support for the decision by IMO to make its Member State Audit Scheme mandatory.
The ICS Table uses information derived from the public domain as at June 2012.