The region is composed of 19 developing countries (two of which are land-locked while two others are island nations), with a vast coastline facing the Pacific Ocean on the western seaboard and the Atlantic Ocean/Caribbean Sea on the eastern coast. All 19 countries in the region are IMO Member States.
The region has extensive commercial interests in merchant shipping and fisheries, embracing maritime, river and lake navigation. Because of the region’s vast coastline and heavy tanker traffic and its considerable interests in oil and chemical exports, as well as the growing cruise trade in countries bordering the Caribbean, Latin American countries address marine environment protection issues through regional strategies.
Priority programme for 2012-2013
IMO’s assistance to Latin America is guided by the maritime strategies of the region which are revised every five years. IMO continues to focus on the implementation of the adopted and emerging regional strategies, with emphasis on regional programmes that correspond to the immediate objectives of the ITCP.
The priority programmes for the region for 2012-2013 will continue to be guided by the regional strategies, the MDGs and IMO’s Strategic Plan. Working closely with the regional partners, it will focus on fostering the effective implementation of Conventions and mandatory instruments such as the FAL 65, SAR 79, AFS 2001, STCW 78, MARPOL 73/78, OPRC 90 and BWM 2004 Conventions, OPRC HNS 2000, and the ISM and Casualty Investigation Codes. It will also support institutional capacity-building by further strengthening maritime Administrations to enable them to effectively discharge their overall responsibilities as flag, port and coastal States.
Human resources capacity-building
As at the end of May 2012, 252 Latin American nationals have been trained at WMU since 1984, representing some 7.7% of the total 3,241 WMU graduates worldwide. The corresponding number of nationals who have so far graduated from IMLI is 39, representing some 7.3% of the 531 IMLI graduates who have graduated worldwide since 1989.
The region has some 22 maritime training centres located in 13 of the 14 countries which are parties to the 1978 STCW Convention, as amended, providing most of the seafarers for the regional fleet, as well as personnel for the fleets of other regions. They also offer other courses on shipping/port operations, coastal zone management, maritime legislation, etc.
Partnerships with regional and/or national institutions
Since the early 1980s, IMO has collaborated closely with the two Latin American maritime networks, namely:
Operative Network of Regional Co-operation of Maritime Authorities of the Americas (Red Operativa de Cooperación Regional de las Autoridades Marítimas de las Américas (ROCRAM)) 
Operative Network of Regional Co-operation of Maritime Administrations in Central America (Red Operativa de Cooperación Regional de las Administraciones Marítimas de Centro América (ROCRAM CA)) 
ROCRAM has a rotating Secretariat. For ROCRAM’s 2011/2012 biennium, the Secretariat was held by Cuba. For their 2013/2014 biennium, it will be held by Chile.
ROCRAM-CA has a permanent secretariat held by the Central American Commission on Maritime Transport (Comisión Centroamericana para Transporte Marítimo (COCATRAM)) based in Nicaragua.
The more developed nations of the region have continually assisted others in strengthening the human and institutional capacities of the maritime administrations and such assistance continues to be provided through Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries (TCDC) modalities that are supported by IMO. Examples of the latter include the seven Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed since 2002 between IMO and the maritime administrations of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), which facilitate the provision of experts and instructors from those nations on a no-fee basis.
In addition to these two networks, some Latin American countries are also beneficiaries of activities organized by the Regional Activity Centre/Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre of the Wider Caribbean  (RAC/REMPEITC Carib) based in Curação. The Centre was formally institutionalized in 2002 with the signature of a MoU between the former Netherlands Antilles, IMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) resulting in the subsequent programming, in co-operation with the Asociación de Asistencia Recíproca Petrolera Estatal Latinoamericana (ARPEL) and other industry bodies, of activities for the development/updating of national, bilateral and regional contingency plans and the training of personnel on OPRC matters.
The region is composed of 14 States and 16 Dependent Territories or parts within the Caribbean Basin or bordering the Atlantic Ocean. All Caribbean States are Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with only one – Haiti – being the sole nation in the American hemisphere classified also as a Least Developed Country (LDC). All but three of the Caribbean States and Territories are islands or archipelagos. By its very nature, therefore, the region is highly dependent on the maritime sector for the transport of people and goods, fisheries and also tourism, which now constitutes the principal economic activity in the region as a whole. All Caribbean States are Members of IMO.
The Caribbean States have extensive and growing interests in merchant shipping. Coastal tourism is an important aspect within the economy of the countries in the region in general. In recent years, there has been a marked and continuous growth in the cruise industry, particularly in selected tourist destinations throughout the region.
With the growth of the region’s merchant fleet and its tourism and cruise industries during the last two decades, the emphasis on IMO assistance has moved to effective maritime safety administration and marine environment protection.
Registries operate in all but one of the independent States and the Bahamas, by far, leads the region in terms of gross tonnage. The dependent territories also have significant interests in ship registration.
The Wider Caribbean region became the 6th zone to be protected, under the terms of the Resolution MEPC.191 (60) adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee, on its 60th Session in March 2010, against the discharge of all garbage by ships, with effect from 1 May 2011.
Regional Presence in the Caribbean
IMO has a Regional Maritime Adviser located in Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago). The Regional Maritime Adviser facilitates the execution of the Integrated Technical Co operation Programme (ITCP), and works closely with governments and regional institutions. Since the establishment of the position of the Regional Maritime Adviser, the accession and ratification on IMO instruments by Member States in the Caribbean has increased noticeably.
The Regional Maritime Adviser provided considerable support for the preparation of a comprehensive package of model acts and regulations, including also Codes for non-Convention sized ships, which form the vast majority of vessels operating in the Caribbean. The models thus developed – which have been shared also with the English-speaking countries of other developing regions and have been classified by the UN as a SIDS success story – can be adapted to the circumstances of individual maritime administrations, and further IMO assistance for this purpose continues to be provided.
All Caribbean Countries receive support from the Regional Activity Centre/Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre of the Wider Caribbean (RAC/REMPEITC Carib) based in Curação.
Priority programme for 2012-2013
Since 2000, the activities related to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) delivered in the Caribbean region focused mainly on "MDG 1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger" and "MDG 7 – Ensure environmental sustainability”.
To address the needs and objectives of the regional maritime action plan developed for the Caribbean by the IMO Regional Maritime Adviser, assistance to the region will continue to concentrate on:
- the coordination of services of the IMO Regional Maritime Adviser in promoting the further development of the region’s maritime sector; and
- the enhancement of capacities for maritime safety administration, maritime security and marine environment protection.
The priority programmes for the region for 2012-2013 will continue to be guided by the regional strategies, the MDGs and IMO’s Strategic Plan. Some activities may be follow-up activities from the previous biennia. The programmes for the this biennium will focus on fostering the effective implementation of Conventions and mandatory instruments such as the FAL 65, SAR 79, AFS 2001, STCW 78, MARPOL 73/78 , OPRC 90 and BWM 2004 Conventions, OPRC HNS 2000, and the ISM and Casualty Investigation Codes. It will also support institutional capacity-building by further strengthening maritime Administrations to enable them to effectively discharge their overall responsibilities as flag, port and coastal States.
Assistance in the region will continue to be facilitated mostly through the IMO Regional Maritime Adviser and the Regional Activity Centre/Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre of the Wider Caribbean(RAC/REMPEITC-Carib). IMO will also co-operate with bilateral, regional and international institutions that have an interest in the development of the Caribbean maritime sector.
Human resources capacity-building
As at the end of May 2012, a total of 102 Caribbean nationals have been trained at WMU since 1984, representing some 3.1% of the total 3,241 WMU graduates worldwide. The corresponding number of nationals who have so far graduated from IMLI is 19, representing some 3.5% of the 531 IMLI graduates who have graduated worldwide since 1989.
Thirteen Caribbean States are parties to the STCW Convention. The region has two main maritime training centres in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, with others also providing some basic training on an ad hoc basis. Although the two main training centres are national in character, they provide most of the region’s officers and ratings and also offer other shipping-related courses.
The Caribbean Ship Inspectors’ Training Course (CASIT) programme had previously been one of the most successful activities for the training of ship inspectors in the Caribbean States, but because of insufficient funds available for the last three biennia, the CASIT programme has not been delivered.
Partnerships with regional and/or national institutions
Only a limited number of Caribbean States have established formal administrations with a nucleus of well-trained personnel. Some countries have relatively large governmental structures that have permitted the development of their maritime administrations, others are constrained by a lack of financial and human resources. Accordingly, there is considerable variance in the levels of administrative, legal and technical expertise for the fulfilment of maritime responsibilities. Nevertheless, some countries with more developed maritime administrations provide technical assistance to their neighbours either directly (through Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries (TCDC) modalities or through IMO) or indirectly, by sharing the outputs of any external maritime assistance that they receive.
Smaller vessels are numerous in the Caribbean, and for governments in the region, the safety of those ships has been a matter of considerable importance. In this context, with the development of the regional MoU on port State control, the countries have adopted a Caribbean Cargo Ship Safety Code that addresses the safety of vessels under 500 GT. IMO has also developed and distributed a Code of Safety for Small Commercial Vessels (for ships under 24 metres) throughout the region.
On marine pollution control, IMO’s support to the region is channelled through the Regional Activity Centre/Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean (RAC/REMPEITC-Carib). Following the formal institutionalization of the Centre by means of the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the former Netherlands Antilles, IMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), its sustainability is ensured by the secondment of experts from the US Coast Guard and France. The Centre’s work programme is now mainly focused on the promotion of the OPRC-HNS 2000, the MARPOL 73/78 Convention and the introduction to Ballast Water Management procedures.
 ROCRAM countries: Argentina, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).
 ROCRAM-CA countries: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic (the), El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua.
 Wider Caribbean region: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas (the), Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic (the), Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America (the) and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).