ISM Code must not become paper excercise
his opening remarks to the 9th session of the Sub-Committee on Flag
State Implementation yesterday, (19 February 2001) IMO Secretary-General William
ONeil has renewed calls for effective and conscientious implementation
of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. Stressing that the shipping
industry should spare no effort in making the ISM Code work, Mr ONeil
told delegates: "We should not allow it to become merely a paper exercise."
At the same time, Mr ONeil announced his intention to instigate an assessment
of the impact of the Code since it become mandatory for passenger ships, oil
and chemical tankers, gas carriers, and bulk carriers on 1 July 1998. The Code
is due to become mandatory for all other cargo ships of 500 gross tons and above
on 1 July 2002.
The ISM code was adopted
in the early 1990s to provide a blueprint for the way shipping companies manage
and operate their fleets and to promote the development of a widespread safety
culture and environmental conscience in shipping. By defining the companys
responsibility for safety and ensuring that senior management could more easily
be held accountable, the code seeks to ensure that safety should be given top
priority. Mr ONeil told delegates to the Sub-Committee, "IMO, its
Member Governments and the world maritime community at large have placed great
expectations in the anticipated contribution of the code to enhanced safety
and environmental protection."
Mr ONeil welcomed the analysis reported by the Swedish P&I Club which
has shown that ships complying with the ISM code have made significant claim
improvements in comparison with non-ISM code ships. He said he believed such
a demonstration of the benefits to be gained by those who have introduced the
systems of the code should also give encouragement to those who have to implement
the same systems between now and 1 July 2002. Mr ONeil urged governments
and industry to ensure that the benefits to be gained from effective implementation
of the ISM code are realized in the second and final tranche of ships as well.
In announcing his intention to make an assessment of the impact of the Code
so far, Mr ONeil identified regional port State control agreements as
a useful source of information. He said he intended to ask the Secretaries of
the PSC groupings around the world to send him information about the number
of detentions recorded for ISM and non-ISM certificated ships, along with any
other action taken by PSC authorities in respect of ISM code deficiencies. Mr
ONeil hopes to be able to report on the outcome to the next session of
the Maritime Safety Committee.
In concluding his remarks to the sub-committee, Mr ONeil called for delegates
not to be distracted from the important tasks ahead. "We should not allow
incidents," he said "such as those involving tankers that captured
the attention of the maritime community recently, to result in a loss of focus
on efforts, such as the ISM code, to ensure a sound approach to the maintenance
and enhancement of safety and environmental protection."
The primary objective of the Sub-Committee
on Flag State Implementation is the identification of measures necessary
to ensure effective and consistent global implementation of IMO instruments,
paying, at the same time, due attention to the special difficulties faced by
developing countries in their efforts to discharge effectively their responsibilities
under the IMO instruments they are party to.