Following the success of the Regional Forum on Domestic Ferry Safety held in Bali, Indonesia, on 6 and 7 December 2011, IMO organized a Forum on Domestic Ferry Safety for the benefit of the Pacific Island countries and Territories (PICTs). The Pacific Forum was held in Suva, Fiji, from 30 October to 2 November 2012 and was organized under the Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), funded by the IMO Technical Co-operation Fund, SPC, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and industry organizations in the region.
The Pacific Forum was attended by forty five participants from the public sector (administrators and policy makers) and private sector (shipowners, operators, maritime training institutions) of fifteen countries in the Pacific Islands region that have responsibility for the implementation, enforcement and application of national requirements related to the safety of domestic ferries in their countries. The Pacific Forum was conducted in English and French interpretation was provided.
Recent losses of domestic ferries worldwide, and the latest incident in the region, the sinking of the Rabaul Queen in Papua New Guinea in February 2012, raised awareness of the need to consider a more holistic approach to safety in the field of marine transportation. The Pacific Forum provided an opportunity for PICTs, development partners and key organizations, and the maritime industry as a whole, to collaborate in the discussion and development of regional support to address specific national solutions, thus ensuring that domestic ferry safety policies, procedures and activities were relevant to local environments and were effective and sustainable.
The Pacific Forum focused on a number of broad issues related to domestic ferry operation including safety programmes, vessel specific concerns, legislative, regulatory and compliance matters, seafarer training and certification, operational issues, search and rescue and safety awareness activities.
The Pacific Forum discussed current and emerging domestic ferry safety issues, concerns, and trends from international, regional and national perspectives with the goal of achieving outcomes that can be operationalized by Maritime Administrations and the maritime industry, resulting in safer ferry operations in the region.
At the conclusion of the Pacific Forum, the participants adopted an Action Plan to highlight their key concerns and sensitize the authorities of the region to the need for urgent measures to be taken to address their core concerns.