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Sub-Committee on Stability and Load Lines and on Fishing Vessels' Safety (SLF), 52nd session: 25 to 29 January 2010

January 29, 2010

Draft Safety Recommendations for fishing vessels agreed by Sub-Committee

Draft Safety Recommendations for decked fishing vessels of less than 12 metres in length and undecked fishing vessels were agreed by the Sub-Committee on Stability and Load Lines and on Fishing Vessels Safety (SLF), when it met for its 52nd session.
The texts will be submitted to the 87th session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), in May 2010, for approval and concurrent endorsement by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The safety recommendations applying to fishing vessels under 12 metres in length, will complement the revised Code of Safety for Fishermen and Fishing Vessels, 2005 (applying to vessels over 24 metres in length), and the Voluntary Guidelines for the Design, Construction and Equipment of Small Fishing Vessels, 2005 (applying to vessels between 12 and 24 metres in length), which were also approved by ILO and FAO.

Meanwhile, the Sub-Committee established a correspondence group to further the development of draft guidelines to assist competent authorities in the implementation of the Code of Safety, the Voluntary Guidelines and the proposed Safety Recommendations.
In addition the Sub-Committee forwarded the draft guidelines to the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI) for review of relevant sections.

Options to implement Torremolinos Protocol discussed

The Sub-Committee discussed the options available to tackle the lack of sufficient ratifications to the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol in order to bring this important treaty on fishing vessel safety into force. In particular, the following two options were considered:
  • development of an agreement on the implementation of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol, amending certain requirements of the Protocol. Following this, countries could consider ratification of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol under the terms and conditions contained in the agreement (countries would declare that they accept the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol under the terms of the agreement, when they deposit an instrument of ratification); and
  • development of an Assembly resolution to facilitate the implementation of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol, under which Parties to the Torremolinos Protocol would be able to implement the necessary amendments immediately after the entry into force of the current Torremolinos Protocol, even before the amendments are formally adopted under article 11 of the Torremolinos Protocol and put into force.
The above agreement would be a new legally binding instrument, offering a firm foundation to implement the amended Torremolinos Protocol, but Parties that have already ratified the Protocol may have to ratify the agreement as well. . On the other hand, an Assembly resolution is not legally binding but would provide a reasonable basis for Member States to ratify the Protocol, while Parties which have already ratified the Protocol would not have to ratify it again.

A correspondence group was instructed to prepare both a draft agreement and a draft Assembly resolution, and list the pros and cons for each option, for consideration at SLF 53, in 2011. The correspondence group was also tasked further to develop amendments to the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol, which are needed to bring it up to date and thereby encourage the ratification of the treaty.

The Sub-Committee also agreed that an intersessional meeting of the working group on fishing vessel safety should be held during 2010, to finalize the options for the implementation of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol and further develop he associated amendments, so that the final instrument(s) could be adopted at the Assembly, in late 2011, or by a conference.

The Torremolinos Protocol has, to date, been ratified by 17 States, with an aggregate fishing vessel fleet of approximately 3,000 vessels of 24 metres in length and over. It will enter into force one year after 15 States with at least an aggregate fleet of 14,000 vessels of 24 metres in length and over, have ratified the Protocol. The aggregate fleet total has yet to be reached.

Guidance on open watertight doors agreed

The Sub-Committee agreed to the draft Guidance for the determination by Administrations of the impact of open watertight doors on ship survivability under SOLAS regulation II-1/22.4 and previous SOLAS regulation II-1/15.9.3 and forwarded it to the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE 54) for finalization in October 2010. The guidance is intended to be applied by Administrations after they have initially determined the need for a watertight door(s) to remain open during navigation.

New generation intact stability criteria - work plan agreed

The Sub-Committee continued its work on the development of new generation intact stability criteria, which would aim to provide methods of assessing ships that may be vulnerable to particular stability failure modes not adequately assessed by the existing criteria, contained in the mandatory International Code on Intact Stability (IS Code), 2008, which will enter into force in July 2010.

The Sub-Committee agreed an updated work plan for the development of draft vulnerability criteria that identify the possible susceptibility of a ship to partial (excessive roll angles/accelerations) or total (capsizing) stability failures and draft direct stability assessment procedures for stability failures in different conditions.

A correspondence group was established to continue the work.

Guidance on safe return to port for damaged passenger ships to be developed

The Sub-Committee reviewed issues relating to the stability and sea-keeping characteristics of damaged passenger ships in a seaway when returning to port by own power or under tow and agreed to establish a correspondence group to develop draft Operational information for masters of passenger ships for safe return to port by own power or under tow. This work follows on from the adoption, in 2006, of revised passenger ship safety standards, in the SOLAS Convention, that focus on designing passenger ships for improved survivability so that, in the event of a casualty, persons can stay safely on board as the ship proceeds to port.

The Sub-Committee also considered the issues of safety provided by damage stability regulations of SOLAS chapter II-1 for ro-ro passenger ships, compared with that provided by the so-called SOLAS 90 regulations and the Stockholm Agreement concerning specific stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships undertaking regular scheduled international voyages between or to or from designated ports in North West Europe and the Baltic Sea; and subdivision standards for cargo ships, to ensure consistency of the application of subdivision standards for cargo ships in the revised SOLAS chapter II-1.

Review of Tonnage Measurement convention continues

The Sub-Committee reviewed options to improve the effect of the 1969 TM Convention on ship design and safety and generally agreed to focus on preparing amendments to the interpretations of the provisions of the 1969 TM Convention (circular TM.5/Circ.5), rather than amending the Convention itself.

A correspondence group on the issue was re-established to further consider improving the effect of the 1969 TM Convention on the design of ships, in particular with reference to the effect on safety; to address the issue of crew accommodation; to consider the tonnage measurement of ships carrying deck cargoes and, in particular, of containerships; and to identify and investigate the benefits and disadvantages of the options for improving the convention.
The options include, in order of preference by the Sub-Committee: option A - ensure the integrity and uniform implementation of the existing gross and net tonnage parameters; option B - promote use of existing net tonnage for tonnage-based fees but take no other action; option C - amend TM Convention to establish a third tonnage parameter, namely, adjusted net tonnage, that includes deck cargo volume; and option D - "maritime real estate" concept (perhaps as a third tonnage value under the 1969 TM Convention), with an associated resolution recommending use of this value for tonnage-based fees.