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Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI), 21st session, 4 to 8 March 2013 (opening address)

March 4, 2013

Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI). 21st session, 4 to 8 March 2013
Secretary-General’s Opening Remarks

Good morning, distinguished delegates and observers – and welcome to the twenty-first session of the Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation.  I extend a particularly warm welcome to those of you who are attending this Sub-Committee for the first time.
 
From the beginning of last year, I have taken a number of new initiatives and introduced new ways of handling our business, in particular ensuring that my Opening Address is short and concise and delivers my clear message.  I take my address as an opportunity to talk to you rather than read a prepared text.
 
At FP 56 at the beginning of the year, I set two bold targets.  On piracy, I set a target for the eradication of piracy and the release of all seafarers held hostage within the foreseeable future. 
 
Regrettably, 3 ships have been hijacked and 38 seafarers held hostage since the beginning of the year but, more positively, 3 ships and 33 seafarers have been released.  At the current time, 12 ships and 159 seafarers remain captive. Our fight against piracy continues and we should further our efforts to address the problem. In this regard, I recently wrote to 24 Member States urging them to continue their work to protect merchant shipping through the provision of naval forces until the risk is substantially reduced. 
 
My second target relates to casualties and loss of life, with the aim of reducing the current level of some 1,000 lives lost per year to half that figure.  This is a significant challenge when considering the many types of ships involved, including domestic ferries, fishing vessels and others.
 
The recent adoption of the Cape Town Agreement was an important milestone.  Contracting Parties to the Torremolinos Protocol are able to take advantage of the simplified process available under the Agreement to become Parties through their signature of the Agreement.  The Agreement is open for signature until 10 February next year and, as to date none have done so, I urge Governments to do so at the earliest opportunity.
 
Turning now to safety matters and, in particular, the loss of the Costa Concordia, which is still high on our agenda.  I understand that the report on the casualty investigation is close to completion and that it will be submitted to the MSC very soon.  I visited Italy two weeks ago and met with the Head of the Coastguard and the Head of Casualty Investigation and received assurances that the report would be submitted in good time for consideration by Member States and the MSC.  I plan to post the report immediately when it is available in order to allow its review and study.  In this regard, I plan to consult with the MSC Chairman with a view to some relaxation of document submission deadlines to provide an opportunity for comments.
 
Next year, 2014, is the 100th anniversary of the first SOLAS Convention.  As we now move to a more scientifically-based and goal-oriented approach to ship safety, including the improved use of casualty investigation data and trends, we are holding a Symposium of the Future of Ship Safety in the two days before MSC 92.  More information on the Symposium will be issued in due course. 
 
This year, our World Maritime Day theme is IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20 and in this regard we have commenced discussions with industry and others on sustainable maritime development.  I hope to present a concept of sustainability, with related goals and roles for IMO, Member States and industry, in advance of our World Maritime Day celebration later this year.
 
Mr. Chairman, your Sub-Committee will be aware of my review and reform initiative and the proposal to rename the Sub-Committee as the Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments to better reflect its role in addressing issues related to port and coastal States as well as flag States.  I have recently issued more detailed proposals on restructuring the Sub Committees for consideration by the upcoming sessions of the MSC and MEPC and I suggest that, if time is available for a discussion under Any other business, your Sub Committee’s views on the review and reform from its standpoint would be welcome.
 
Turning now to your work this week, under agenda item 3 on Responsibilities of Governments and measures to encourage flag State compliance, you will address non convention ships.  I think this agenda item and the development of a non-mandatory instrument on regulations for non-convention ships, to improve safety standards on domestic passenger ships are very important.  I encourage the Sub-Committee to agree to a realistic and efficient methodology for the development of the non-mandatory instrument, initially limited to non-convention passenger ships, to support the target I suggested to substantially reduce lives lost.
 
Under agenda item 9 on Comprehensive analysis of difficulties encountered in the implementation of IMO instruments, you will review the consolidated audit summary reports.  Six consolidated audit summary reports have now been issued, five of them having already been considered, in general, by the Sub-Committee.  A detailed review of these consolidated reports remains to be carried out by the Sub-Committee in order to make recommendations on all relevant matters and, in particular, for capacity-building or technical assistance. 
 
The review of the analysis of relevant audit findings is an important contribution to IMO’s work, including the institutionalization of the audit scheme.
 
Under agenda item 10 on Review of the Survey Guidelines under the harmonized system of survey and certification and the annexes to the Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments, you will consider the finalization of a draft Assembly resolution to update the 2011 Survey Guidelines and a draft Assembly resolution containing an update of the annexes to the Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments, 2011. This will be a useful tool following the adoption by the Assembly of the new IMO Instruments Implementation (III) Code, which will replace the non-mandatory Code for implementation.
 
Another important issue, under Any other business, is the Scope of application and drafting of amendments to SOLAS and its Codes.  You are hosting an MSC Ad Hoc Working Group on the issue and I urge the Group to put forward a robust proposal for a consistent and systematic approach to avoid any future anomalies and errors in the process of preparing amendments to IMO instruments.
 
In closing, I wish the Sub-Committee every success in its discussions under the leadership of your Chairman Capt. Dwain Hutchinson of the Bahamas.
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