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Council: 106th session - 27 June to 1 July 2011

July 1, 2011

Mr. Koji Sekimizu elected as IMO Secretary-General
The Council elected Mr. Koji Sekimizu of Japan as the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), with effect from 1 January 2012, for an initial term of four years.
 
The vote took place during the 106th session of the 40-Member strong IMO Council.  The decision of the Council will be submitted to the IMO Assembly, which meets for its 27th session from 21 to 30 November 2011, for approval.
 
Mr. Sekimizu, 58, is currently Director of IMO’s Maritime Safety Division. Mr. Sekimizu studied marine engineering and naval architecture and joined the Ministry of Transport of Japan in 1977, working initially as a ship inspector and moving on to senior positions in both maritime safety and environment related positions within the Ministry. He began attending IMO meetings as part of the Japanese delegation in 1980 and joined the IMO Secretariat in 1989, initially as Technical Officer, Sub-Division for Technology, Maritime Safety Division, becoming Head, Technology Section in 1992, then moving to become Senior Deputy Director, Marine Environment Division in 1997 and Director of that Division in 2000, before moving to his current position in 2004. 
 
WMD theme 2012: “IMO: One hundred years after the Titanic”
The IMO Council has endorsed a proposal by IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos to adopt “IMO: One hundred years after the Titanic” as the World Maritime Day theme for 2012.
 
One of the consequences of the sinking, in 1912, of the Titanic, in which 1,503 people lost their lives,  was the adoption, two years later, of the first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (the SOLAS Convention).  The 1914 version of the Convention was gradually superseded, respectively, by SOLAS 1929, SOLAS 1948, SOLAS 1960 (the first adopted under the auspices of IMO, then known as IMCO) and SOLAS 1974.  SOLAS 1974 is still in force today, amended and updated many times.
 
The selection of the theme proposed will provide an opportunity to:
 
- take stock of improvements in maritime safety during the 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic;
- pay tribute to the memory of those, who lost their lives in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic on that fatal night of 14 April 1912;
- highlight that the sacrifice of so many of the Titanic (passengers and crew) has not gone in vain;
- examine whether the lessons drawn from amongst the most costly (in human lives lost) accidents of the last 100 years have been learnt to the full;
- examine the safety record of shipping and identify those areas that have contributed the most to its improvement over the years;
- identify the most contributory factors (systems, concepts, mechanisms, etc) in the quest for ever-enhanced safety in shipping;
- examine which areas, within the overall spectrum of maritime safety (constructional, operational, cargo, human element, etc.), should be given priority consideration in the years to come;  and
- pay tribute to all those who, in the course of the 100 years, have contributed to improvements in maritime safety.

Bravery winner 2011 chosen
The Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has unanimously endorsed the decision of a Panel of Judges that the 2011 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea should go to Captain Seog Hae-gyun of the Republic of Korea, Master of the chemical tanker Samho Jewelry. He was nominated by the Government of the Republic of Korea for his heroic actions to keep his vessel and crew safe, while suffering vicious assaults, following a hijack by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
 
The Council agreed that Captain Seog displayed truly extraordinary bravery and concern for his crew after his ship was hijacked in the Indian Ocean in January 2011, going far beyond the call of duty, at great risk and danger to himself. With the pirates onboard, Captain Seog steered the vessel away from the Somali coast, watered down the fuel to prevent combustion, pretended the steering gear was not working properly and reduced the vessel’s speed. He also managed, surreptitiously, to communicate information to naval forces, which facilitated a dramatic raid by commandos from the Republic of Korea’s destroyer Choi Young. As a result, all 21 crew members were rescued.
 
During the hijack, Captain Seog was subject to a number of assaults, causing fractures to his legs and shoulders. He was later shot twice in the abdomen and once in the upper thigh, required several surgical operations and almost lost his life.
 
The Council also decided that, of the other nominees or groups of nominees, eight should receive Certificates of Commendation and eleven Letters of Commendation.
 
The Council further agreed that special certificates be awarded to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) Falmouth (United Kingdom) and Stavanger (Norway) for their contribution, on several occasions,  to search and rescue operations unfolding in distant areas, far away from their respective countries’ SAR regions, and for their dedicated performance over many years.
 
A total of 38 nominations from 14 Member States and one non-governmental organization in consultative status with IMO were received. They were first considered by an Assessment Panel, which was chaired by the IMO Secretary-General and consisted of experts nominated by various international non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO. A Panel of Judges then met, led by the Chairman of the IMO Council, with the participation of the Chairmen of IMO’s Maritime Safety, Marine Environment Protection, Legal, Technical Co operation, and Facilitation Committees.
 
Ms Linda (Lindy) Johnson to get 2010 International Maritime Prize
The IMO Council unanimously agreed to award the prestigious International Maritime Prize for 2010 posthumously to Ms Linda (Lindy) Johnson of the United States of America, for her significant contribution to the work of IMO, in particular with regard to the protection of the marine environment. 
 
Ms Johnson, who passed away in October 2010 after a long illness, joined the Office of General Counsel for International Law of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1992 and was a regular member of the United States delegation to meetings of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) from 1995 until her retirement in 2010.
 
Ms Johnson was involved in the negotiation of many international environmental treaty instruments, having served as Chair for a number of important IMO working, drafting and technical groups, as well as acting as coordinator for several correspondence groups.
 
She played a crucial role in the development of revised procedures for the designation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs) and was directly involved in the PSSA designation of the sea around the Florida Keys, United States (2002) and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, United States (2007). She also provided technical assistance to Ecuador leading to the designation of the Galapagos Archipelago PSSA in 2005.
 
Ms Johnson also distinguished herself in IMO’s work to protect cetaceans and chaired the IMO working group which led to the adoption of the 2009 Guidance document for minimizing the risk of ship strikes with cetaceans.
She also chaired drafting groups on environmental provisions for the International Code for the Safe Carriage of Packaged Irradiated Nuclear Fuel, Plutonium and High-Level Radioactive Wastes on Board Ships, in 1997, and on the revision of MARPOL Annex VI, in 2008.
 
Ms Johnson will be honoured for her exceptional efforts and achievements and her passion and untiring dedication to marine environmental protection have earned her a very special place within the international maritime community.
 
IMO fishing vessel safety conference to be held in South Africa in 2012
The IMO Council agreed to the convening of a diplomatic conference in South Africa, in 2012, for the purpose of adopting an Agreement on the Implementation of the 1993 Protocol relating to the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels.  The Agreement would amend the technical provisions of the 1993 Protocol and bring them into force.
 
The safety of fishermen and fishing vessels forms an integral part of the Organization’s mandate but the instruments on fishing vessel safety which have previously been adopted by the Organization have not come into force due to a variety of technical and legal obstacles and the fishing sector is still experiencing a large number of fatalities every year.  Bringing into force a binding international safety regime is expected to play a part in helping reverse that trend.
 
The decision by the IMO Council to hold the 2012 conference follows the endorsement of the draft Agreement by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in May 2011.  The Committee had undertaken extensive work to review the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol and address impediments to its entry into force.  The MSC also agreed to the proposed draft amendments to the annex to the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol, which would be attached to the Agreement.
 
Once the Agreement is in force, countries which are Party to it could consider implementation of the technical requirements of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol under the terms and conditions contained in the Agreement. The Agreement would be a new, legally binding, instrument, offering a firm foundation to implement the amended technical provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol.

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