Trinity House Younger Brethren’s Guest Night Dinner
14 February 2013
By Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Your Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Deputy Master, Brethren, Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted that you have invited me here this evening to speak at your annual “Guest Night” dinner and I am greatly honoured to be in such distinguished company.
Trinity House has a long history. Today, Trinity House has three main functions, each of them firmly in the tradition of service to the maritime community. You are the general lighthouse authority for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar. You also provide a deep-sea pilotage service for ships trading in northern European waters; and, perhaps the least known part of your remit, you are a charitable organization dedicated to the care and welfare of seafarers and their families. They are very close to my heart and to the entire IMO family.
It is clear that Trinity House and IMO share so many common goals, objectives and concerns, and I hope that will continue to be the case as we move forward, and tackle new challenges.
There are a number of themes that I would like to touch upon this evening, some of them very familiar to you, others, perhaps less so.
Ship safety remains at the heart of IMO’s work. The world is still waiting for our full response to last year’s Costa Concordia incident. However, we do understand that the core process of the casualty investigation has been finalized and the report will be available soon. I am seriously encouraging the Italian authority to present the report with findings on causes of the incident as soon as possible, so that the next Maritime Safety Committee, in June, will be able to discuss all aspects of the casualty investigation report and take the necessary action.
Some progress was made in May last year, including recommended measures for carrying out the muster for embarking passengers prior to departure from every port of embarkation; limiting access to the bridge and ensuring that the ship's voyage plan has taken into account IMO’s Guidelines for voyage planning.
And, in December last year, the MSC approved draft amendments to chapter III of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to require musters of newly embarked passengers prior to or immediately upon departure, instead of “within 24 hours”, as stated in the current regulations.
I hope that issues that will be highlighted in the full report into the Costa Concordia casualty will be far reaching. They will, I believe, raise serious questions about the very fundamental premise on which we base our understanding of, and our requirements for, ship safety. And that is a good thing, at least for us to take serious lessons from the accident.
Indeed, there is already a trend towards a more scientific approach, including risk based methodologies, in the design and operation of safe ships today. This trend is set to continue but it requires structured data collection and analysis methodologies to give shipping a sound basis from which to continuously improve. Advances in technology inevitably outpace prescriptive regulation. The innovation inherent in their designs today will find its way into the mainstream design of tomorrow. We should be able to consider the future of the ship safety regime.
With this in mind, later this year, IMO will host a special symposium; a symposium that aims to look ahead to the ships of the future, ships that will be required to meet clear goals and functional requirements to fulfil the safety and, increasingly, the environmental protection expectations of society.
While this symposium will be taking a long term view, I have also, at the same time, set in motion a number of initiatives which, I hope, will enable stakeholders to unite around collective short- to mid-term goals in terms of improved safety at sea.
At the beginning of this year, I said that I thought a 50 per cent reduction in the number of lives lost at sea annually by 2015 was an ambitious yet, nevertheless, realistic target that should be universally adopted.
Among the various mechanisms by which this might be achieved, I would point to the implementation of the Torremolinos Protocol, through the Cape Town Agreement of 2012, to improve fishing vessel safety; IMO’s Technical Co operation activities in the field of domestic ferry safety and finally the initiative for an “Accident Zero” campaign, in conjunction with the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA).
The latter was an idea I first raised at the IALA symposium on vessel traffic services in September last year. The meeting was held in Istanbul, and I remarked that, since the introduction of the advanced VTS there, in 2003, there had been no major accident.
This is a very significant achievement, something that required concerted effort by all involved, in this case the maritime authority, VTS operators, mariners, pilots, and so on. But the challenge for everybody is to continue this excellent achievement, day-in, day-out, into the future. In order to promote safety and encourage all parties involved to continue this excellent achievement, I suggested that what was needed was to create a clear concept of a corporate culture which will ensure that everybody is working together to achieve a common objective.
The words “Accident Zero” came to mind. Every day can become a conscious challenge to achieve “Accident Zero” and, by doing so, to stretch a continuous period of “Accident Zero” day by day into the future. Consecutive, continuous days of “Accident Zero” can be a solid framework for working together, to involve everybody, to encourage everybody to contribute towards a common and great objective.
I asked IALA to consider this concept and create with me the initiative of an “Accident Zero” campaign worldwide. I have no doubt that the concept can be, and should be, picked up and replicated elsewhere.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I cannot conclude these remarks without mentioning another vision that I have for the future – one in which, again, I hope to find common ground throughout the maritime community.
Today, we understand that the planet’s resources are limited and that the environment can be damaged forever unless we give it our care and attention. Yet mankind must continue to develop. But what we now realize is that our development today must take full account of finite and limited resources and a fragile environment. We must ensure that our future development could be sustainable.
The United Nations is the global leader pushing forward efforts to turn the concept of sustainable development into something tangible. At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, in June last year, twenty years after the first such conference in the same city, the United Nations undertook an initiative to develop and set a series of Sustainable Development Goals.
In order to reflect the universal importance of these efforts, this year, the theme chosen by IMO for this year’s World Maritime Day is “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20”. And I believe this is a theme that can underlie IMO’s work not just for this year, but for many years to come. I have, therefore, established an internal mechanism, within my Office, to work with our industry partners and interested stakeholders on the development and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals for the maritime transport sector, which will be IMO’s own contribution to the United Nations led work on Sustainable Development Goals and the wider efforts of the United Nations arising from Rio+20.
My vision is that, while the United Nations is preparing Sustainable Development Goals, it is clear to everyone that sustainability cannot be achieved without shipping. Shipping carries goods for trade and energy and everything we need to live and the economy cannot be sustained without shipping. Another important point is that, if shipping is indispensable for sustainable development, we want sustainable shipping as well. Furthermore, when we are dealing with sustainable shipping, we must understand that ships and shipping are just part of the international transportation system. Shipbuilding, manufacturing industries, seafarers, ports, traffic management systems and so on are all part of a great mechanism of the transportation system and we must consider the sustainability of the system as a whole and not just that of ships and shipping.
I am working closely together with shipping industry partners towards creating a clear concept of sustainable maritime development and I am sure such a concept would reconfirm the activities of IMO over safety, security, and environmental protection.
I am very excited by the prospect of something that can provide a new direction for IMO in the future, and make a very positive and tangible contribution to the process established to develop UN-wide Sustainable Development Goals as well as to the well-being of mankind in the years ahead.
The ships, shipping and maritime industry of the future will have to provide a sustainable response to the needs of society, industry and global trade. They must be operated within a framework which encourages a safety culture and environmental stewardship beyond mere compliance with statutory requirements. This will require all stakeholders not only to accept their own responsibilities but to work seamlessly with others to ensure that areas of shared or overlapping responsibility are always fully and effectively addressed.
Those of you who provide such valuable assistance to navigators and seafarers have your own part to play in sustainable maritime development; and I know the shipping community can continue to rely on you, the brethren of Trinity House, to take your own centuries-old traditions of service forward into the new era, and beyond.
Ladies and gentlemen,