How can IMO Member State audits be conducted remotely? This was one item on the table for discussion during a virtual meeting of all auditors under the IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS) (10 September).
Amidst ongoing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting provided a forum to update all auditors on the impact of the disruption on the implementation of audits under the Scheme. Participants discussed the use of possible remote audit mechanism aimed at preventing further postponements of the audits. This process is crucial as it promotes the consistent and effective implementation of the applicable IMO instruments and assists Member States to improve their capabilities as flag, coastal and port States.
Attended by 98 auditors from 50 Member States, the meeting provided a valuable platform to explore the next steps in the conduct of audits for 2021 and beyond using new collaborative approaches for the conduct of remote audits.
To date 76 Member State audits have been conducted under the Scheme, up to March 2020. Further audits originally scheduled for 2020 are being rescheduled and moved to 2021.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued interim guidance aimed at protecting the health of seafarers working on cargo ships and fishing vessels amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This specific guidance (download here) addresses the unique situation of seafarers, who work in close contact environments and often embark on ships for extended periods of time, generally without a medical doctor on board.
The document provides guidance to shipowners, seafarers, unions and associations and competent authorities. It includes advice on pre-boarding screening, hand hygiene, physical distancing and the use of masks, as well as recommendations on how to manage suspected COVID-19 cases on board. The importance of mental health services and psychological support for seafarers is also covered. The WHO also reminds Member States that they must ensure that seafarers in need of immediate medical care are given access to their medical facilities on shore.
IMO encourages its Member States and international organizations to disseminate the guidance as widely as possible. Preventing and managing outbreaks on board ships is vital not only for the safety and well-being of the crew, but also to protect the crew’s ability to safely navigate and operate the ship.
IMO Member States are also invited to make use of the Protocols to Mitigate the Risks of Cases On Board Ships (download here), which have been issued by non-governmental associations in consultative status with the Organization (ICS, INTERTANKO and IMHA). The Protocols include tools to help ship operators manage suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and to ensure that seafarers can embark and disembark safely and efficiently.
Hapag-Lloyd AG is the latest entity to join the Global Industry Alliance (GIA) for Marine Biosafety, an initiative launched in June 2020 by the IMO GloFouling Partnerships project. The initiative works to promote collaboration with the private sector to address two of the most pressing environmental issues of our time: invasive species and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The new member of the GIA joins forces with an expanding group of leading private sector champions representing a wide range of maritime industries affected by biofouling, including shipping, aquaculture, offshore oil and gas and ocean renewable energies. Click here for full news item.
Biofouling is the build-up of aquatic organisms, such as algae or small animals, on marine surfaces that can lead to the introduction of potentially invasive species to new environments, where they may threaten native species and cause irreversible damage to biodiversity. Additionally, biofouling increases the drag of ships, forcing them to burn more fuel to maintain speed.
Glofouling Project Manager, Lilia Khodjet El Khil, welcomed the latest expansion as an important step towards finding solutions to improve the hydrodynamic performance of ships and thereby contribute to a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emission of the shipping industry.
Further private sector companies are expected to join the GIA in time for its first GIA Task Force meeting, planned for the end of October, where members will convene to discuss and kick-off the GIA work.
Click here for more information on how to join the GIA.
Graduating during a world pandemic is no ordinary event, but this is what the students of the class of 2019-2020 of the International Law Institute (IMLI) did during a virtual ceremony (3 September) addressed by the IMO Secretary-General.
Sixty-two students from 34 countries, graduated as international maritime law professionals, joining a network of more than 1000 students from 146 States and territories who have pursued studies at IMLI.
Two students were awarded the Degree of Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in International Maritime Law and Ocean Policy.
IMO's Chris Trelawny, Acting Director, Technical Cooperation Division
reiterated how important the next generation of maritime lawyers is to confront challenges affecting oceans today, including destruction of marine environment, climate change and sustainable shipping.
The ceremony marked the successful completion of a very trying but intensive year of studies in all the areas of the Institute's programmes, including the law of the sea, shipping law, marine environmental law, maritime safety and security law, research project and maritime legislation drafting.
Joining forces to shape the fishery sector of tomorrow is the newly launched (3 September) publication prepared by IMO, ILO and FAO. The new brochure will help promote safe and decent work in fisheries through the application of international standards.
The publication provides an overview of the four main international binding fisheries conventions/agreements* that promote the safety of fishing vessels, safety of fishers, training of fishers, and responsible and safe fisheries operations.
Guidance for policy and decision-makers in the fisheries, maritime, and labour sectors is also provided with a view to encourage the ratification and implementation of the above-mentioned fisheries instruments.
As fishing remains one of the most dangerous professions in the world, the sector needs to change to become more sustainable. This publication aims to support governments in achieving their commitments towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; and SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
* The IMO (2012) Cape Town Agreement (CTA), The IMO (1995) International Convention on Training, Certification and for Fishing Vessels Personnel (STCW-F), The ILO (2007) Work in Fishing Convention (C188), The (2009) FAO Agreement on Port States Measures to Prevent Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA)
Forty-six participants from 18 countries* took part in a virtual meeting (26 August) to discuss the
implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) amid the global pandemic. The meeting
also assessed progress made at the operational level of the DCoC, and the development of its
The Djibouti Code of Conduct is a key tool in repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships
in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
The event saw many proposals presented, such as the development of a regional informationsharing network, based on the existing national maritime information sharing centres in all the
participating countries. Other propositions called for better coordination of capacity-building
efforts, based on regional needs and priorities.
IMO gave a presentation on the new EU funded port security project for the region and on the
technical assistance available for the development of National Maritime Security Strategies.
The meeting was opened by the newly appointed Director of the Saudi Border Guard and
incoming Chairman of the DCoC Steering Committee, Major General Muhammed Abdullah AlShehri.
*Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, France, India, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Maldives,
Oman, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, United Arab Emirates
Successful seafarer repatriation procedures have been highlighted as part of an in-depth webinar run by the Embassy of Indonesia in London (26 August). The event, which gathered representatives from governments and international organizations, provided a platform for countries to learn from effective measures and to discuss ways forward.
It included a presentation on Indonesia's experience in dealing with the issue, which has led to the repatriation of over 25 thousand seafarers involving 38 countries and international waters. Methods of return (evacuation and repatriation), the resources used, whether by government, shipowner or agent, were all presented (see video link below at 24:18 minutes). The challenges, with regard to key stakeholders – shipowner, port States, regional government and flag States were also addressed.
The webinar also featured the United Kingdom's approach to resolving cases surrounding global cruise line vessels (14:13). For example, port State control action was used to drive action by flag State, company and P&I clubs to protect seafarer welfare after vessel detainment.
Additionally, the perspective of the International Transport Workers' Federation raised (1:20:02) the plight of many seafarers – including lack of shore leave, contract expiry, and general worsening living and working conditions, while also praising areas of progress and cases of good cooperation.
Speaking at the event, IMO Legal & External Relations Director and Chair of the Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT), Frederick Kenney accordingly described the crew change crisis as an "all hands on deck evolution" in which international cooperation represented the only way forward (55:47). Mr Kenney highlighted the work of the SCAT, which works to help resolve individual cases of seafarers in need on the front line as well as dealing with larger policy issues.
Watch the full webinar, here.
IMO is contributing to international efforts aimed at preventing an oil spill from the deteriorating floating storage and offloading unit FSO Safer moored off the coast of Yemen. The Organisation is also leading on the contingency planning efforts aimed at enhancing preparedness to mitigate the environmental impacts of a potential spill.
IMO has mobilised a technical expert to develop contingency plan based on a variety of risk scenarios, which would play a key role in improving the efficiency, effectiveness and management of emergency response operations in the event of a spill from the FSO Safer. The contingency plan will outline the roles and responsibilities of key players and assist in coordinating the response. It will also clarify equipment requirements and locations of stockpiles and identify priority areas. IMO will also provide training to the relevant actors. The expert is currently working remotely in close communication with all relevant stakeholders.
IMO is offering technical advice to support the joint international efforts, led by the wider UN family*, to assess the current condition of the FSO Safer and examine ways to secure the 150,000 MT of light crude oil currently on board.
Following recent reports of water entering the engine room, it is considered that the risk of an oil spill from the FSO Safer is increasing. The floating storage and offloading unit, moored off the coast of Yemen, has not been inspected or maintained since 2015, leading to serious concerns about its integrity.
“While IMO is proactively working on contingency planning, it is hoped that international efforts will succeed in paving the way to assessing the state of the FSO and taking necessary measures, in order to prevent an oil spill from occurring”, said Patricia Charlebois, Deputy Director, Subdivision for Implementation at IMO.
“In the case of oil spills, prevention is always better than cure. However, should these efforts fail, we want to ensure adequate preparedness measures are in place”, she added.
Ms. Charlebois highlighted that the situation is particularly complex due to the conflict in the region and the COVID-19 pandemic.
*The UN entities involved include: OCHA, UN Environment, UNOPS and the Office of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen.
A new Just In Time Arrival Guide which aims to provide both port and shipping sectors with practical guidance on how to facilitate Just In Time Arrivals has been released.
The Guide has been developed by the Global Industry Alliance to support low carbon shipping (Low Carbon GIA), based on research and discussion amongst its membership, and the Guide documents the findings of a series of industry roundtables which brought together nearly 50 companies and organizations who are key stakeholders in the port call process.
Widely recognized as a means of increasing port efficiency and port call optimization, the successful implementation of JIT Arrivals can have a significant environmental impact through reduced GHG emissions from optimizing the ships speed to arrive just in time. The concept is based on the ship maintaining an optimal operating speed, to arrive at the Pilot Boarding Place when the availability is assured of: 1. berth; 2. fairway; and 3. nautical services (pilots, tugs, linesmen). Arrivals also contributes to reduced time at anchorage and therefore reduced congestion in the port area. It is estimated that ships spend up to 9% of their time waiting at anchorage, which could be reduced through the implementation of JIT Arrivals.
The Guide provides a holistic approach to Just In Time Arrivals, considering contractual aspects to its implementation as well as operational. The Guide is envisaged as a useful toolkit for many stakeholders including shipowners, ship operators, charterers, ship agents, shipbrokers, port authorities, terminals, nautical and vessel service providers. All these actors ultimately play a key role in implementing the necessary changes and facilitating the exchange of communication required to realize JIT Arrivals.
The Low Carbon GIA is a public–private partnership with the aim to identify and develop innovative solutions to address common barriers to the uptake and implementation of energy efficiency technologies and operational measures. The Low Carbon GIA was originally established under the framework of the GEF-UNDP-IMO Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships Project (GloMEEP Project), and since the conclusion of the GloMEEP Project at the end of 2019, the Low Carbon GIA has been operating under the framework of the IMO-Norway GreenVoyage2050 Project.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has joined international efforts to assist the Government of Mauritius, following an oil leak from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground on 25 July off Pointe d’Esny natural area, south-eastern coast of Mauritius.
IMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Environment Unit have jointly deployed an oil spill response expert. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures in Mauritius, the expert was (11 August) awaiting onward travel via specially chartered UN flight from Nairobi, following COVID tests.*
Approximately 3,894 tonnes of low-sulphur fuel oil, 207 tonnes of diesel and 90 tonnes of lubricant oil were on board the MV Wakashio. An amount of oil leaked following severe weather conditions. The affected area is located in a very sensitive zone that includes the Blue Bay Marine Park, Ile aux Aigrettes, and the Ramsar sites. Satellite mapping support is being sought from UNOSAT, to provide an indication of the extent of the spill and to inform the response effort.
Alongside IMO and OCHA, the United Nations development Program (UNDP) Mauritius and the ITOPF are also mobilising environmental and oil spill experts. A number of countries, including France and Japan, are also assisting Mauritius, which has activated its national oil spill contingency plan.
IMO is supporting the Government of Mauritius by providing technical advice on oil spill response issues and in the coordination of assistance.
*update 11/8/2020 - the expert is now on route to Mauritius, expected to arrive 11/8/2020 by the evening.
IMO has issued the calendar of meetings for September-December 2020, setting dates for remote sessions of the IMO Council and Committees. The first scheduled meeting is set to be a simultaneous, remote extraordinary sessions of all Committees (expected to be held 16-18 September), to address procedural matters. This follows decisions of the IMO Council's thirty‑second extraordinary session (summary here C.ES 32), which adopted interim guidance to facilitate remote sessions of the IMO Council during the COVID-19 pandemic and invited the Committees to consider utilising the same guidance.
Following the extraordinary sessions, the calendar sets the 44th session of the Facilitation (FAL) Committee (28 September - 2 October); the Council 124th session of the Council (12-14 October); the 7th meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (19‑23 October); the 102nd session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) (4-11 November); the 75th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) (16-20 November); the 107th session of the Legal Committee (27 November and 30 November-1 December) and a meeting of the IOPC Funds Assembly (2–4 December); the 70th session of the Technical Cooperation (TC) Committee (7-11 December); and the London Convention/London Protocol meeting (LC 42/LP 15) (14-15 December). The International Maritime Satellite Organization (IMSO) Assembly will meet from 16-18 December.
The IMO Council's thirty-second extraordinary session completed its work on 3 August. The Council adopted a statement recognising the importance of keeping trade flowing during the pandemic, recognising the role of seafarers and emphasising the urgent need for action on crew change. The Council also endorsed the World Maritime theme for 2021, "Seafarers: at the core of shippingʹs future". (Read full C ES 32 summary here.)
Trials of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) will be key towards developing an appropriate regulatory regime that addresses the specific challenges of autonomous ships. Eight IMO Member States* have come together to form the MASSPorts, an initiative promoted by Singapore to address the challenges and achieve alignment of standards for the trials and operation of MASS in ports.
The IMO Secretariat joined the initiative's virtual discussions at its first meeting (4 August 2020), where objectives including detailed guidelines, common terminology, ship reporting and data exchange, and facilitating port-to-port trials were set out (read more here).
Find out more about IMO's work on autonomous ships, here.
*China, Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, and Singapore
Cruise shipping has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with most sailings stopped. To facilitate the gradual and safe restart of cruise ship operations, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have jointly developed Guidance on the gradual and safe resumption of operations of cruise ships in the European Union in relation to the COVID‑19 pandemic, which has been circulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). (Download here.)
The Guidance aims to facilitate a safe re-start of operations of cruise ships in the European Union, by recommending minimum measures expected to be implemented by all concerned, while maintaining general safety and security standards. The Guidance is meant for EU/EEA flagged ships engaged in international voyages and for ships calling at an EU/EEA port, irrespective of flag. IMO invites Member States and international organizations to utilize the Guidance as they see fit and circulate it to all interested parties.
For further information, guidance and recommendations related to shipping, please visit our COVID-19 web page.
Digitalization, big data, and new technologies such as artificial intelligence are key in enabling the post-COVID recovery, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim told a a webinar (28 July) on Digital Connectivity and Data Standards. “Cooperation between shipping, ports and logistics will be vital for enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of shipping and therefore facilitating trade and fostering economic recovery and prosperity,” Mr. Lim said. He highlighted IMO’s key role in ensuring shipping can embrace the digital revolution – while ensuring safety, environmental protection as well as cyber security. “Digitalization and new technologies will also be the key to allowing standardization and therefore enhancing the efficiency of shipping,” Mr. Lim said. (View full speech here.)
The need for standardization was also highlighted by IMO’s Facilitation Head, Julian Abril, who noted the mandatory requirement for electronic data exchange in the Facilitation Convention, effective since April 2019. Discussions are currently underway towards making a single maritime window mandatory – so that all data for arrival and departure of ships is submitted through a single point and transmitted to the relevant agencies involved. The standardization and harmonization needed for this to happen is captured in the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business, a tool for software developers that harmonises the data elements required for regulatory purposes during a port call and standardises electronic messages, reducing the administrative burden for ships linked to formalities in ports. The goal is to make it easier for companies involved in maritime trade or transport to create software that can communicate, no matter which standard they are based on. Cooperation, communication and collaboration between the various stakeholders to maintain and further develop the compendium, as well as looking into expanding its data set and data model to areas beyond the FAL Convention, has been formalised in a partnership agreement signed in March 2020 between IMO, the World Customs Organization, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the International Organization for Standardization .
The webinar (28 July) on Digital Connectivity and Data Standards was organized by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the first in a maritime perspectives webinar series.
An ambitious roadmap to develop a National Maritime Security Strategy for Kenya was agreed following an inaugural virtual meeting (21 July) organised by IMO. When in place, the strategy will bring significant opportunities for social-economic growth, by safeguarding and promoting the blue economy and by providing a safe and secure operating environment for international maritime transportation.
The meeting was attended by 16 participants, representing maritime stakeholders from all relevant ministries and agencies of Kenya. They discussed the best way forward in developing the strategy and establishing a National Maritime Security Committee, with the technical assistance of IMO.
Participants agreed on the need for a holistic approach, noting that the response to national maritime security threats must be multi-faceted. The establishment of a national strategy is in line with Kenya’s obligations under article three of the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct. It is also in line with Chapter XI-2 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, the International Ship and Port Security Code (ISPS) and other IMO instruments.
The meeting was opened by Nancy Karigithu, Principal Secretary of the State Department for Shipping and Maritime Affairs, who highlighted the key opportunities that a National Maritime Security Strategy could provide for Kenya.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has announced that the original 2020 calendar of meetings has now been rescinded, as work gets under way to reschedule IMO meetings.
The Organization advised in a Circular Letter that the IMO Council, which is meeting by correspondence for its thirty-second extraordinary session (C/ES.32), is considering the reconstruction of the schedule of meetings for 2020, including the possibilities for virtual meetings. As discussions on the reconstruction of the schedule are still under way, the previously issued programme of meetings for 2020 (and preliminary programme for 2021) should not be used for planning purposes. Information regarding the rescheduling of postponed meetings and scheduling of future meetings will be made available in good time, to allow Member States and other participants to make appropriate arrangements.
All IMO meetings originally planned to be held between late March and July 2020 have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic (read more here).
Resuming physical meetings will depend on guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UK Government, as well as the situation of IMO Member States.
A trial of a platform (KUDO) which provides for simultaneous interpretation into the six official languages of the Organization was conducted during one of a series of informal virtual discussion sessions being held to facilitate discussions during the current extraordinary session of the Council.
The IMO-led GloFouling Partnerships project is tackling the introduction of invasive aquatic organisms into new marine environments. Such invasions have the potential to not only affect biodiversity and ecosystem health, but may also have measurable impacts on several economic sectors.
The project is working with 12 Lead Partnering Countries across the globe. Ecuador and Peru were the last two to hold their first National workshops and national task force meetings, to kick start the work in those countries. The meetings, originally scheduled for earlier this year but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were successfully organized and held virtually.
The first meeting in Ecuador (8-9 July), led by DIRNEA (National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces), highlighted the Galapagos Islands - a biodiversity reserve for marine species, which is now at risk from potential invasive aquatic species. Since 2019 scientists have identified more than 53 non-native species in the Galapagos marine environment and this number is expected to grow. (Read more here.)
Peru held its national task force meeting on 14 July, led by DICAPI (General Directorate of Captaincy and Coast Guard) and the IMARPE (Institute of the Sea of Peru). For Peru, a key concern is to preserve the biodiversity of its extensive coastline, including guano islands and peninsulas, the national marine reserves of Paracas and San Fernando, and the Illescas Reserved Zone. (Read more here.)
During both meetings, the representatives of national navy, port and environmental authorities discussed the challenges and opportunities related to the development of the national strategies and action plans to implement the IMO Biofouling Guidelines. They agreed on the next steps.
GloFouling Partnerships is a joint initiative of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and IMO to assist developing countries to reduce the transfer of harmful organisms through biofouling. Biofouling is the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals on ship hulls or other marine mobile structures. It is one of the main vectors for unintentional transfer of invasive aquatic species.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has urged further Member States to sign up to pledges to ensure more than 200,000 seafarers can be repatriated after months on board ship beyond their original contracts. A similar number of seafarers are waiting to join ships. Mr. Lim made the call in a circular letter issued to disseminate the pledges made by Governments in a joint statement issued following a United Kingdom convened summit on crew changes (read more here).
Pledges in the joint statement include: designating seafarers as key workers; accepting seafarers’ ID documents as evidence of their key worker status; implementing the industry approved protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changeover; reviewing national quarantine restrictions; and increasing access, as soon as possible, to commercial flights to and from the principal countries of origin of seafarers.
Secretary-General Lim urged Member States to commit to the principles in the joint statement and to disseminate it widely to all parties concerned. He invited Member States wishing to sign the statement to contact the Government of the United Kingdom.
IMO has facilitated virtual informal discussion sessions (6-10 July) on short-term greenhouse gas reduction measures for international shipping and their associated impact assessments. The sessions provided a platform for all IMO Member States and organizations in consultative status with IMO to exchange views and share updated information on various technical and operational proposals to reduce the carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030, in line with IMO's Initial GHG Strategy. Carbon intensity refers to CO2 emissions per transport work, and therefore links carbon emissions to the amount of cargo transported and the distance sailed for a specific ship.
The constructive atmosphere demonstrated a keen interest to progress work on a mutually acceptable package of further amendments to IMO's MARPOL Annex VI treaty, which already includes energy efficiency measures for shipping. Such future amendments could combine technical and operational approaches to improve the energy efficiency of ships, with a specific reference to carbon intensity.
The webinar-like discussion sessions, attended by more than 350 participants, contributed to increasing the understanding of the various proposals for concrete measures to reduce carbon intensity and their potential impacts on States. The sessions were arranged ahead of the postponed Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 7) and Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 75). It is hoped that both the ISWG-GHG and MEPC will be able to be held later this year.
Good progress towards greener and safer ship recycling in Bangladesh has been reported during the annual meeting for the IMO-Norway-Bangladesh project on "Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh – Phase II" (SENSREC), held virtually (8 July). IMO and the Governments of Norway and Bangladesh took stock of he Project and discussed further cooperation.
The meeting was informed that major steps forward have been made in training for ship recycling workers, train-the-trainer workshops, awareness-raising and the preparation for a Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) for hazardous wastes. The Government of Bangladesh, through the Ministry of Industries, has already started the implementation of the TSDF Feasibility Study, using own funds, demonstrating the country's commitment to establish the TSDF in the near future. This is a crucial requirement for the country to accede to IMO's ship recycling convention, the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.
The meeting also discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic situation on the project and risk mitigation measures. Her Excellency Ms Sidsel Bleken, Ambassador of Norway to Bangladesh, opened the meeting and highlighted the significant progress made and continuous support for the project, expressing the hope that Bangladesh would be ready to accede to the Hong Kong Convention in 2023, as stated in the country's Ship Recycling Act.
The process to follow up on audits under the IMO Member State audit scheme is continuing, despite the unavoidable disruption of the audit schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This process is crucial as it promotes the consistent and effective implementation of the applicable IMO instruments and assists Member States to improve their capabilities as flag, coastal and port States.
To support this work, a virtual meeting of auditors under the IMO Member State Audit Scheme (8 July) provided a forum to inform the 55 auditors who attended the meeting about the latest developments in relation to the Scheme and to provide details about the audit follow-up process. The virtual meeting facilitated the interaction of auditors and the exchange of views in relation to this part of the audit process, and provided an initial insight into future collaborative approaches for the delivery of the audit programme.
Following audits, a corrective action plan is developed by the audited States. The follow-up process involves, as a starting point, assessing information and evidence provided by the audited States , through a specific report containing comments related to the progress of implementation of their corrective action plans. Based on those assessments, wherever possible, a document-based audit will be conducted, with the aim of verifying the implementation of the corrective action plans agreed after the original audits. This current audit follow-up process relates to the 19 audits conducted in 2016 and 22 in 2017.
The Global initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa, GIWACAF works alongside 22 partner countries in Africa to strengthen their national capacities for preparedness and response to oil spills. In order to continue to improve the level of preparedness during the pandemic, GIWACAF has launched a series of webinar to keep providing capacity-building activities and best practices to its stakeholders and beyond. The webinars began in June and will run monthly through to late automn.
This series address issues ranging from the international regulatory framework to shoreline and at-sea response techniques, all in order to protect the marine and shoreline environment. All webinars will be delivered in English and French and live events will be recorded and made available on the GIWACAF website.
The webinars include interventions from many experts from organizations such as Cedre, ITOPF, OSRL and IMO. The GIWACAF project supports implementation of IMO’s International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (OPRC 1990), which promotes industry-government cooperation and encourages them to work together to address core elements of effective preparedness and response to an oil spill.
Governments have the power to solve a growing humanitarian crisis and must take action to bring seafarers home and allow their relief crews to join ships. “Get our hero seafarers home” was the plea from panelists during a webinar (26 June) hosted by IMO on the occasion of the Day of the Seafarer. IMO, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) urged countries to implement protocols on safe crew change developed by the maritime industry and circulated by IMO.
The 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign has highlighted the essential role of seafarers on the frontline of the global supply chain, while urging Governments to grant them key worker status so they are able to travel and transit to and from ships. Hundreds of thousands of seafarers are stranded on ships and desperate to go home. In many cases, their contracts have been extended for several months beyond the maximum time at sea permitted under international regulations.
In his opening remarks , IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said: “Seafarers' work is unique and essential. Seafarers are on the front line in this global fight. They deserve our thanks. But they also need – and deserve – quick and decisive humanitarian action from governments everywhere, not just during this pandemic, but at all times.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, ships, which fundamentally depend on seafarers, have continued to carry essential goods across the globe. Leadership and action are now needed to bring back seafarers, who are fatigued and have missed weddings, births and funerals because of the crisis, said Guy Platten, Secretary-General, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). The number of stranded seafarers is currently 400,000, with 200,000 needing to leave ships and a similar number needing to replace them.
“Shipping is truly a global industry and we need Governments to provide a global solution,” said Mr. Stephen Cotton, General Secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). The ITF has been receiving emails from hundreds of seafarers daily, expressing their concern about contracts being extended under duress. This will impact their ability to perform safe operations, putting themselves at risk as well as the global supply chain and potentially the environment, he warned.
Fr. Paulo Prigol, Stella Maris Manila and South East Asia Regional Coordinator, highlighted the importance of the work of seafarers for their communities and home countries, as well as the devastating financial and emotional impact of the pandemic on families of seafarers, due to the extended time at sea for some seafarers and the inability to get to work for others.
Some successful crew changeovers been happening in and via the Netherlands, thanks to collaboration between shipowners, the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and the Netherlands Government, said Mr. Niels van de Minkelis, Head, Operational Affairs, Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KNVR). Some 6,000 seafarers have been moved since May between the Netherlands and seafaring nations (Indonesia, the Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation and Ukraine), in an example of what can be done with good cooperation between the different entities involved.
The panelists welcomed the United Kingdom Government’s initiative in calling a global summit on the issue, but warned that real action from governments everywhere was needed to solve the crisis and get seafarers home and replaced.
A recording of the full webinar can be viewed here.
Port State control (PSC) regimes have expressed their willingness to be part of the solution to the urgent issue of crew changes and repatriation of seafarers. This is a key outcome of the second virtual meeting of all PSC regimes (17 June), organised by IMO in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to address issues surrounding surveys and certificates renewals during the pandemic.
Even though crew changes and repatriation are not directly under the realm of port State control authorities, they can still play an important role, as they are in charge of carrying out inspections onboard ships to monitor and enforce compliance with international regulations. For example, safety issues resulting from crew fatigue may be examined by port State control, especially when extensions of seafarers' contracts violate the maximum stipulated in ILO's Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). PSC regimes can also help IMO's Seafarer Crisis Action Team resolve individual cases by providing valuable information about specific situations
Opening the meeting, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim praised the collaboration and cooperation demonstrated by PSC regimes, since the beginning of the crisis.
PSC regimes shared their appreciation of the release by IMO of Guidance regarding surveys and renewals of certificates during the COVID-19 pandemic, developed in cooperation with the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) (CL.No.4204/Add.19,) They also welcomed the dissemination by IMO of the Singapore Crew Change Guidebook (CL.No.4204/Add.22 ).
The second video meeting for the Port State Control (PSC) regimes during the COVID-19 pandemic was attended by ILO and IACS, as well as representatives from all 10 PSC regimes. Click here for a full summary of the meeting.
Governments need to urgently act to ensure ships’ crew changeovers can take place to keep world trade flowing and avert a humanitarian and ship safety crisis, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has told Member State representatives. “We are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis and a real safety issue - we cannot expect seafarers currently on ships to stay at sea forever. It is the responsibility of Governments to allow shipping to continue moving, and for seafarers to return to their homes, or get to their ships to begin work,” Mr. Lim said during a virtual meeting organized by IMO (9 June) to brief permanent representatives and liaison officers from IMO Member States. It is estimated that some 150,000 seafarers are urgently waiting to leave their ships since their contracts as well as any extensions have expired and they need to be replaced by a similar number, since travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have severely hampered crew changeovers.
Mr. Lim thanked countries which have made progress by designating seafarers as key workers, by facilitating crew changes through implementing crew change protocols which have been endorsed by IMO, by easing travel restrictions including facilitating the issuance of passports and visas, and by giving seafarers access to medical care. “But I remain very concerned about countries where restrictions are still in place for seafarers,” Mr. Lim said.