27th annual World Maritime Day

IMO: Focus on maritime security

Today marks World Maritime Day, the annual occasion when, all around the world, attention is focussed on an issue of major significance to the work of IMO. This year's focus is on an issue of global importance - maritime security. On this day we also take the opportunity to highlight, in particular, IMO's work in promoting safe and secure shipping and protection of the marine environment and the key role of shipping in support of world trade.

Addressing the international maritime community in his World Maritime Day message, IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos commended governments and the shipping industry for their efforts in ensuring the timely implementation of the IMO maritime security measures, including the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code - the ISPS Code, which were adopted in 2002 and entered into force on 1 July 2004.

But he warned against complacency.

"Now that the new international maritime security measures are in force, we must not make the mistake of resting on our laurels and assuming the work has been completed. The risks are too high to allow for any hint of complacency and we must make sure that high levels of vigilance and awareness are maintained and built upon until they become second nature throughout the shipping and port industries. Terrorism is not a matter of concern to one country or a group of countries - it is a global issue that affects us all and we should spare no effort to ensure that, together, we build a robust and resilient defence," Mr. Mitropoulos said.

The Secretary-General highlighted the fact that, in a broader context, IMO's work in the realm of maritime security also provides support for its objectives in enhancing safety and also preventing pollution of the marine environment. "The detrimental impact on the environment of a successful attack on a ship laden with oil, chemicals or other hazardous or noxious substances could be immense and, by raising our defences against terrorists, we are providing further protection in this respect," Mr. Mitropoulos said.

The work of the IMO global technical co-operation programme on maritime security was particularly important in helping Member States, especially those in the developing world, to fully and effectively implement the security measures, Mr. Mitropoulos noted. A Maritime Security Trust Fund has been established to provide a dedicated source of financial support for IMO maritime security technical co-operation activities.

The World Maritime Day celebrations conclude at IMO's London Headquarters on Thursday evening with the customary reception for members of the London diplomatic and maritime communities.


Background Information
The International Maritime Organization is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Every year IMO celebrates World Maritime Day. The exact date is left to individual Governments but is usually celebrated during the last week in September. This year, IMO is celebrating the day on Thursday, 30 September 2003.

World Maritime Day is used to focus attention on the importance of shipping safety and the marine environment and to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO's work. To mark the occasion, the Secretary-General of IMO prepares a special message (attached) and this is backed up by a paper which discusses the selected subject in greater depth.

The full text of the message and the background paper can also be found on the IMO Web site at http://www.imo.org (Click on About and World Maritime Day or go direct to: http://www.imo.org/home.asp?topic_id=320 ).

A photograph of Mr. Mitropoulos is available on request.

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Senior External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3153 (media@imo.org) or
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (media@imo.org ).