An Action Plan
to address key concerns surrounding the safety of domestic ferries in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) has been adopted by a forum on the subject, organized by IMO and held in Suva, Fiji, from 30 October to 2 November 2012.
Recent losses of domestic ferries worldwide, including the sinking of the Rabaul Queen in Papua New Guinea in February 2012, have increased awareness of the need to consider a more holistic approach to domestic ferry safety. The Pacific Forum provided an opportunity for PICTs, development partners and key organizations and the maritime industry as a whole, to collaborate in discussion. The intention now is to develop regional support to address specific national solutions, thus ensuring that domestic ferry safety policies, procedures and activities will be effective, sustainable and relevant to local situations.
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.
Current and emerging domestic ferry safety issues were discussed at the Forum, as well as concerns and trends from international, regional and national perspectives. The goal was to identify outcomes that can be put into practice by national Maritime Administrations and the maritime industry, resulting in safer ferry operations throughout the region.
Through the Action Plan, participants in the Forum hope to sensitize the authorities in the region to the need for urgent measures to be taken to address their core concerns.
The Pacific forum followed the success of the Regional Forum on Domestic Ferry Safety held in Bali, Indonesia, on 6 and 7 December 2011. It was organized by IMO under its Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). It was 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) that have responsibility for the implementation, enforcement and application of national requirements related to the safety of domestic ferries in their countries. Fifteen countries from the Pacific Islands region were represented at the Forum.