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Future Ship Safety Symposium - closing remarks

June 11, 2013

Future Ship Safety Symposium
IMO HQ, 10-11 June 2013
Closing Remarks, Day 2, by Koji Sekimizu,
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization

Ladies and gentlemen,
 
We have reached the conclusion of what I am sure you will agree has been a fascinating, stimulating and insightful Symposium on future ship safety.
 
Yesterday we embarked on an ambitious programme, covering a number of wide ranging issues and, thanks to the wisdom and experience of all the participants, I believe we have done all that we set out to do and more.
 
However, the purpose of the Symposium is not to provide specific input to the MSC but to share views on various elements which would compose a future safety system for further consideration in the coming years.
 
The scope and breadth of the discussion has been extremely impressive and I feel sure that the Maritime Safety Committee, which begins its 92nd session tomorrow, will very much appreciate being made aware of your deliberations, conclusions and recommendations.
 
I note with great satisfaction that you have considered wide ranging issues relating to a more goal-based, risk-based approach.
 
With regard to data collection: there is no doubt that more and better data, and the use of the latest methods to analyse them, are central to the development of future regulations based on risk.
 
Second, there is no doubt in my mind that a safety culture that goes beyond mere compliance is essential in the future. Ships will become more complex and, as they do, we must move away from safety being simply a series of box-ticking exercises. That approach is not good enough now, and the administrative burden must be reduced.
 
Third – and this is perhaps the most far reaching – you have considered whether the current safety regulatory framework is appropriate for responding to the future challenges and innovation and new technology associated with the ever-increasing sizes of ships and the need for compliance with environmental regulations; and, if we should change the safety system, how should we do that?
 
You talked about the human element, the need for self-regulation, and education and training.  The serious challenge maritime training institutes are now facing is to keep up with new technology and this must be addresses.  Currently, the shipping industry is facing serious financial difficulties but they need to comply with regulations for marine environment protection.  I am sure IMO’s Committees will take into account the cost of immediate compliance and ensure the smooth implementation of pending IMO conventions.
 
But the subject of the Symposium has been something beyond overcoming the present challenges.  The subject was Safety of ships in the future; and discussion on the future must cover all issues relating to ensuring competent seafarers free of stress and fatigue; support for seafarers must be continuously addressed at IMO.
 
We have touched upon various important issues and I believe that those issues raised during the last two days will remain with us in the years to come when we discuss at the MSC exploring future safety regulations.
 
On our trial for remote participation, it looks like we were successful and it was encouraging to have received comments from participants from India, Indonesia, Panama and others, actively involved in the Question and Answer sessions.  We will explore this further at a future opportunity.
 
It remains only for me to thank all those who have helped to make this Symposium such a great success. The expertise and eloquence of all the speakers and panellists has been clear for all, and I thank them all for their insightful interventions. In particular, I should like to thank our session moderators, Mr. Bernard Meyer, Mr. Tom Boardley, Mr. Peter Hinchliffe, Dr. Kirsi Tikka, Mr. Gerardo A. Borromeo, and Dr. Tom Allan, as well as today’s keynote speaker, Dr Tor E. Svensen. You have all made significant contributions to the event and helped to give it what I believe has been a very unique flavour.
 
I should like to thank my colleagues in the Secretariat, particularly Jack Westwood-Booth and his team, for all they have done to bring this event together; it has been a considerable logistical exercise.  Many thanks to you all.
 
My thanks also go to IACS for sponsoring the tea and coffee breaks, and to the International Chamber of Shipping for sponsoring yesterday evening’s reception. Never underestimate the importance of refreshment in such an intense gathering!
 
Finally, my thanks go to all of you, who have participated in this Symposium, whether in person physically at IMO Headquarters or remotely.  I hope you have found it stimulating and thought-provoking and that you will leave it with fresh and renewed motivation to play your part in ushering in an exciting new era for ship safety.
 
The Symposium was, to my mind, a great success.
 
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you.
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