The Global initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa, GIWACAF works alongside 22 partner countries in Africa to strengthen their national capacities for preparedness and response to oil spills. In order to continue to improve the level of preparedness during the pandemic, GIWACAF has launched a series of webinar to keep providing capacity-building activities and best practices to its stakeholders and beyond. The webinars began in June and will run monthly through to late automn.
This series address issues ranging from the international regulatory framework to shoreline and at-sea response techniques, all in order to protect the marine and shoreline environment. All webinars will be delivered in English and French and live events will be recorded and made available on the GIWACAF website.
The webinars include interventions from many experts from organizations such as Cedre, ITOPF, OSRL and IMO. The GIWACAF project supports implementation of IMO’s International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (OPRC 1990), which promotes industry-government cooperation and encourages them to work together to address core elements of effective preparedness and response to an oil spill.
IMO remains committed to reducing GHG emissions from ships, even though the COVID-19 pandemic has led to postponements of important marine environment meetings and forced the maritime community to focus on other pressing issues, such as crew changes. In order to keep up the momentum on the implementation of the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, IMO is holding an informal (virtual) preliminary discussion session on short-term measures for reducing GHG emissions from ships (6-10 July).
This informal session will provide a platform for all IMO Member States and international organizations in consultative status with IMO to exchange views and share updated information on various technical and operational proposals to reduce the carbon intensity of ships. Views on assessing the impacts of these proposals on States are also expected to be shared.
Due to the informal nature of discussions, the discussion session is not expected to take any decisions, but rather to progress the dialogue among stakeholders, ahead of future negotiations during the next planned Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 7) and Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 75). It is hoped that both the ISWG GHG and MEPC will be able to be held later this year.
Governments have the power to solve a growing humanitarian crisis and must take action to bring seafarers home and allow their relief crews to join ships. “Get our hero seafarers home” was the plea from panelists during a webinar (26 June) hosted by IMO on the occasion of the Day of the Seafarer. IMO, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) urged countries to implement protocols on safe crew change developed by the maritime industry and circulated by IMO.
The 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign has highlighted the essential role of seafarers on the frontline of the global supply chain, while urging Governments to grant them key worker status so they are able to travel and transit to and from ships. Hundreds of thousands of seafarers are stranded on ships and desperate to go home. In many cases, their contracts have been extended for several months beyond the maximum time at sea permitted under international regulations.
In his opening remarks , IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said: “Seafarers' work is unique and essential. Seafarers are on the front line in this global fight. They deserve our thanks. But they also need – and deserve – quick and decisive humanitarian action from governments everywhere, not just during this pandemic, but at all times.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, ships, which fundamentally depend on seafarers, have continued to carry essential goods across the globe. Leadership and action are now needed to bring back seafarers, who are fatigued and have missed weddings, births and funerals because of the crisis, said Guy Platten, Secretary-General, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). The number of stranded seafarers is currently 400,000, with 200,000 needing to leave ships and a similar number needing to replace them.
“Shipping is truly a global industry and we need Governments to provide a global solution,” said Mr. Stephen Cotton, General Secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). The ITF has been receiving emails from hundreds of seafarers daily, expressing their concern about contracts being extended under duress. This will impact their ability to perform safe operations, putting themselves at risk as well as the global supply chain and potentially the environment, he warned.
Fr. Paulo Prigol, Stella Maris Manila and South East Asia Regional Coordinator, highlighted the importance of the work of seafarers for their communities and home countries, as well as the devastating financial and emotional impact of the pandemic on families of seafarers, due to the extended time at sea for some seafarers and the inability to get to work for others.
Some successful crew changeovers been happening in and via the Netherlands, thanks to collaboration between shipowners, the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and the Netherlands Government, said Mr. Niels van de Minkelis, Head, Operational Affairs, Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KNVR). Some 6,000 seafarers have been moved since May between the Netherlands and seafaring nations (Indonesia, the Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation and Ukraine), in an example of what can be done with good cooperation between the different entities involved.
The panelists welcomed the United Kingdom Government’s initiative in calling a global summit on the issue, but warned that real action from governments everywhere was needed to solve the crisis and get seafarers home and replaced.
A recording of the full webinar can be viewed here.
Port State control (PSC) regimes have expressed their willingness to be part of the solution to the urgent issue of crew changes and repatriation of seafarers. This is a key outcome of the second virtual meeting of all PSC regimes (17 June), organised by IMO in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to address issues surrounding surveys and certificates renewals during the pandemic.
Even though crew changes and repatriation are not directly under the realm of port State control authorities, they can still play an important role, as they are in charge of carrying out inspections onboard ships to monitor and enforce compliance with international regulations. For example, safety issues resulting from crew fatigue may be examined by port State control, especially when extensions of seafarers' contracts violate the maximum stipulated in ILO's Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). PSC regimes can also help IMO's Seafarer Crisis Action Team resolve individual cases by providing valuable information about specific situations
Opening the meeting, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim praised the collaboration and cooperation demonstrated by PSC regimes, since the beginning of the crisis.
PSC regimes shared their appreciation of the release by IMO of Guidance regarding surveys and renewals of certificates during the COVID-19 pandemic, developed in cooperation with the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) (CL.No.4204/Add.19,) They also welcomed the dissemination by IMO of the Singapore Crew Change Guidebook (CL.No.4204/Add.22 ).
The second video meeting for the Port State Control (PSC) regimes during the COVID-19 pandemic was attended by ILO and IACS, as well as representatives from all 10 PSC regimes. Click here for a full summary of the meeting.
Governments need to urgently act to ensure ships’ crew changeovers can take place to keep world trade flowing and avert a humanitarian and ship safety crisis, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has told Member State representatives. “We are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis and a real safety issue - we cannot expect seafarers currently on ships to stay at sea forever. It is the responsibility of Governments to allow shipping to continue moving, and for seafarers to return to their homes, or get to their ships to begin work,” Mr. Lim said during a virtual meeting organized by IMO (9 June) to brief permanent representatives and liaison officers from IMO Member States. It is estimated that some 150,000 seafarers are urgently waiting to leave their ships since their contracts as well as any extensions have expired and they need to be replaced by a similar number, since travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have severely hampered crew changeovers.
Mr. Lim thanked countries which have made progress by designating seafarers as key workers, by facilitating crew changes through implementing crew change protocols which have been endorsed by IMO, by easing travel restrictions including facilitating the issuance of passports and visas, and by giving seafarers access to medical care. “But I remain very concerned about countries where restrictions are still in place for seafarers,” Mr. Lim said.
IMO is continuing to support work on information sharing to boost maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
A virtual meeting of the Steering committee* of the revised Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden Area (also known as the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017) was held (9 June) to discuss ways of continuing to enhance regional maritime security efforts amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting, chaired by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, agreed to proposals presented by Kenya and Madagascar to develop an enduring regional information sharing network, anchored on multiagency National Maritime Information Sharing Centres in all the participating countries.
Proposals by Ethiopia and Mozambique were also presented. These called for better coordination of capacity building efforts, based on regional needs and priorities.
The meeting also called on IMO members and other appropriate organizations and the industry to provide assistance to participating States to help implement the code of conduct through the DCoC Trust fund, in order for all Member States to benefit.
* Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia and Seychelles
The importance of collaboration between all maritime sectors has been thrown into the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic and will be needed more than ever in the recovery phase, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim told a webinar on ship-shore relations. Mr. Lim highlighted ongoing challenges, including the need for crew changeovers for some 150,000 seafarers who need to leave their ships. However, the pandemic has led to intensive collaboration on a digital and virtual basis between the shipping and port communities, as well as with and between Governments and international organizations. Many Governments had acted in collaboration with shipping and ports to address crew change and other issues, but more needed to be done. “I would like to encourage all Governments to pay attention to these issues, which impact not only on shipping but also the global economy and the global supply chain,” Mr. Lim said.
The webinar speakers agreed that the pandemic situation has highlighted the relevance of digitalization and new ways of working, which should continue beyond the immediate crisis situation. One example is electronic data exchange, for information which needs to be exchanged between ship and shore. Electronic data exchange is mandatory under IMO’s FAL Convention. IMO is looking at ways to support countries to fully implement electronic data, exchange and the recommended single window approach, whereby all data is sent through a single portal. For IMO’s regulatory work, the way ahead may mean holding virtual meetings to ensure the work on important agenda items, including action on climate change and safety issues, is advanced.
The webinar on Improving ship-shore relations in the post COVID-19 era. Ports and shipping working together on decarbonisation, trade facilitation and automation was organized by the IAPH World Ports Conference 2021. IMO Secretary-General Lim participated alongside Ley Hoon Quah, Chief Executive, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, and Guy Platten, Secretary-General, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the latest initiatives to address the serious issue of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, including a joint meeting (28 May) between the government of Nigeria and representatives from organizations representing the oil and shipping industries.
In a statement, Secretary-General Lim said he commended the collaborative efforts to address piracy and armed robbery, which "send a strong and valuable message to the international community with respect to the considerable efforts Nigeria is making to curb piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea." Secretary-General Lim recently met Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in a virtual meeting. He said, "I would also like to commend the industry's effort to establish an open dialogue with coastal states and for the work undertaken to develop the Best Management Practices (BMP) for West Africa, and would like to highlight the importance of full application of the measures and reporting procedures contained therein." (Click here to read the full statement.)
NIMASA, the Nigerian Navy, the oil industry (represented by OCIMF) and the shipping industry (represented by ICS, BIMCO, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO and the Nigerian Shipowners' Association) held their first meeting on 28 May to discuss the current situation and how to tackle the piracy problem in the Eastern Gulf of Guinea and the daily threats faced by seafarers. (Read more here).
The number of incidents that were reported to have taken place in the Gulf of Guinea (West Africa) decreased in 2019 by 14 incidents, to 67, down from 81 incidents in 2018. However, the number of incidents involving kidnapped and missing crew in this region increased from 11 in 2018 to 20 incidents in 2019, in which 151 crew in total were reported kidnapped/missing - the highest number so far on record. The data shows the number of incidents were almost equally split between those occurring in international waters, territorial waters and in the port areas in the region. IMO works with Member States to develop their capacity to prevent and counter threats to port and maritime security through improved implementation of the international maritime security instruments and guidance. Download annual report 2019.
An important international treaty which helps prevent the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species by ships now covers more than 90% of shipping worldwide, following China’s extension of the treaty to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Ships flagged to Hong Kong, China - the fourth largest flag Administration in the world by shipping tonnage - will now be required to apply the requirements of the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWM).
The BWM Convention aims to protect marine ecosystems by requiring ships to manage their ballast water so that harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location. This helps prevent the spread of invasive species - as well as potentially harmful pathogens.
The BWM Convention entered into force in 2017 and now has 83 Parties, representing 90.98% of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant shipping, up from 81.83% previously. Since the entry into force requirements for the treaty were met in September 2016, there have been some 30 ratifications, with the percentage of world merchant shipping tonnage covered increasing considerably, from 35.14% to 90.98%.
China notified IMO on 13 May that the Government of the People’s Republic of China has extended the BWM Convention to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, with effect from 13 August 2020.
Find out more about the BWM Convention, including frequently asked questions and an infographic on complying with the treaty, here.
A key IMO initiative supporting ship decarbonization – the Global Industry Alliance (GIA) to Support Low Carbon Shipping – will intensify its work on the ship-port interface to reduce emissions from ships. This is one of the outcomes of a GIA task force meeting, which took place over videoconference on 14-15 May.
During the meeting, 21 participants from the industry and the IMO Secretariat discussed progress on a number of ongoing projects and set tangible goals for the GIA up to 2023. Participants agreed to continue work under the existing workstreams, including alternative fuels and validating the performance of energy efficiency technologies, and to expand these even further.
They also agreed to embark on an entirely new workstream aimed at creating a “holistic approach to reducing emissions in the ship-port interface”. This will support implementation by ports of regulatory, technical, operational and economic actions to help reduce GHG emissions from ships, such as providing onshore power supply and safe and efficient bunkering of alternative low-carbon fuels. This new workstream will also identify additional measures that could be taken to reduce emissions in the ship-port interface. This new workstream builds on the work undertaken by the GIA on the “Just-in-Time” (JIT) Arrival of Ships. JIT operation allows ships to optimise their speed so they arrive at their destination port when their berth is ready for them – cutting the time ships spend waiting outside ports with their engines on, thereby saving energy and cutting costs and emissions.
The group further discussed as to how it could support the financial recovery of the maritime sector to COVID-19. The GIA also considered in detail the aims and objectives of the IMO-Norway GreenVoyage2050 Project and discussed ideas for collaboration, in particular, how to catalyze demonstration and trialing solutions in the GreenVoyage2050 pilot countries.
It was the first meeting of the GIA task force since it became part of GreenVoyage2050, an IMO-executed project, funded by Norway, to initiate and promote global efforts to demonstrate and test technical solutions for reducing ship emissions. The project also aims to enhance knowledge and information-sharing to support the IMO GHG reduction strategy.
The GIA is an innovative public-private partnership initiative of IMO that brings together maritime industry leaders to support an energy-efficient and low carbon maritime transport system. The GIA was set up as part of IMO’s Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships (GloMEEP) project in 2017, but is now running under GreenVoyage2050 following a new agreement, earlier this year, signed by 14 companies, which have committed to financial and in-kind contributions, such as sharing expertise, until 2023.
Shipping is vital to the world supply chain. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that all personnel involved are protected from infection, including those onboard ships and shore personnel who may need to temporarily go on ships or interact with seafarers.
IMO has circulated World Health Organization (WHO) guidance on the safe and effective use of personal protective equipment (PPE), to support decisions on use of PPE to minimize the risks of COVID-19 infection for seafarers, marine personnel, fishing vessel personnel, passengers and others on board ships. This guidance also applies to shore personnel intending to go on board (such as pilots, port workers, port State control officers, shipʹs agents, etc.); and when any of these people interact with each other. The PPE guidance is available here (CL.No.4204/Add.15
To support decision making and risk assessment, IMO has also circulated practical measures to address COVID-19 risks for all people involved on ships and in ports when they may need to interact with each other, available here (CL.No.4204/Add.16). Recognizing that there are differences in national requirements, the guidelines propose a straightforward system to evaluate the risks and communicate the control measures that will be put in place, by mutual agreement, to reduce infection risk. They also propose simple steps and precautions to take if attendance onboard a ship is unavoidable. These include minimising the number of persons attending; using outer walkways rather than access through the crew accommodation; frequently cleaning hands and maintaining social distancing.
The COVID-19 related guidelines for ensuring a safe shipboard interface between ship and shore based personnel were proposed by a broad cross section of global industry associations in consultative status with IMO: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IACS, IFSMA, IMPA, INTERTANKO, P&I Clubs, CLIA, INTERCARGO, InterManager, IPTA, FONASBA, and WSC; and also take account of input from the International Maritime Employers' Council (IMEC) and the International Support Vessel Owners Association (ISOA).
The need for crew changeovers to take place is of the utmost urgency, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and shipping industry representatives agreed, during a virtual IMO-industry meeting hosted by IMO (30 April).
Many seafarers on board ships (and personnel in the offshore industry) have been on enforced extended contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions on travel making it difficult for crew to leave ships and for new crew to join ships. These extended stays on board could have significant repercussions for crew wellbeing as well as for ship operations, several NGOs said.
Representatives of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) highlighted their work in leading a call for "hub" airports and seaports to be established, so that crew changes could take place more easily. Work is ongoing with governments, port authorities, health authorities and others to develop protocols for crew changes and crew movements. ICS said they estimated that 150,000 seafarers were trapped at sea and needed to change over as soon as possible.
IMO Secretary-General Lim and industry representatives highlighted their appreciation for seafarers working on the front line to keep trade of essential goods flowing during the pandemic. They reiterated the need for seafarers, port workers and related personnel to be designated as key workers.
The meeting was updated on ongoing collaborative work underway to address specific issues during the pandemic. IMO has been working with other UN agencies and bodies to issue joint guidance and statements, and to disseminate communications received from Member States detailing their arrangements for issues such as certificate extensions. These are available on the IMO website (click here).
The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) highlighted the efforts of IACS member surveyors to continue to certify ships for compliance with international treaty and class requirements, sometimes using techniques such as remote surveying where this was feasible. When surveyors do go on board, provision of personal protective equipment is critical.
There are legal questions over what happens when or if extensions of certificates need to go beyond the three months permitted extension in exceptional circumstances provided for under IMO treaties. The IMO Secretariat noted that this issue was under active consideration.
NGOs were invited to submit their views and updates on survey and certification, seafarer changeover and other concerns, including the prioritization and rescheduling of IMO meetings to the forthcoming thirty-second Extraordinary Session of the IMO Council, which is being held by correspondence from May to mid-July. (see briefing).
IMO Secretary-General Lim pledged to continue to collaborate and cooperate - including diplomatic consultations with Member States - to tackle the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular to address the issues faced by seafarers.
The virtual roundtable meeting with the shipping industry was held on 30 April. It was attended by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and IMO Directors, and heads or representatives from the following NGOs in consultative status with IMO: BIMCO; Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA); International Association of Classification Societies (IACS): International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH); International Chamber of Shipping (ICS); International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA); International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA); International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO): INTERFERRY; International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO); International Parcel Tanker Association (IPTA); International Transport Workers Federation (ITF); Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF); World Shipping Council (WSC).
When ships enter and leave ports, vital information about cargoes, dangerous goods, crews, vessel details and many other things has to be exchanged with the authorities ashore. Under IMO's FAL Convention, public authorities are now required to set up systems so that all this happens digitally.
A new partnership between IMO, the World Customs Organization, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the International Organization for Standardization has been signed to support this increased maritime digitalization.
The partnership agreement which has been effective since 15 March paves the way for updating the IMO Reference Data Model and for its further development towards harmonization of data standards in other areas, beyond the FAL Convention, such as exchanging operational data that could help facilitate just-in-time operation of ships. Just-in-time operation allows ships to optimise their speed so they arrive at their destination port when their berth is ready for them, thereby saving energy and cutting costs and emissions.
The Parties of this agreement have been already cooperating to develop the IMO Reference Data Model, which is a key element of the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business and covers the reporting requirements defined in the FAL Convention to support transmission, receipt, and response of information required for the arrival, stay, and departure of ships, persons, and cargo via electronic data exchange. This work ensures interoperability between the respective standards of each organization.
The challenges faced by seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to keep on track with IMO’s work to combat climate change were two key issues highlighted during a virtual meeting organized by IMO (23 April), to brief permanent representatives and liaison officers from 78 IMO Member States and one Associate Member.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim thanked Member States for detailing their arrangements to address the fallout of the pandemic, in particular concerning extending seafarers’ certificates, in notices that are made available on the IMO website. He highlighted the need for seafarers to be designated as keyworkers and appealed to all permanent representatives and liaison officers to convey this message to their governments. Seafarers, he said, are beneficial to the smooth operation of shipping and enable the industry to support the global supply chain.
The meeting was updated on the discussions by the IMO Council, in an extraordinary session held by correspondence, (C ES 31) and a recent meeting of the chairs of Committees, about the development of a proposal on rescheduling IMO meetings that have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A priority list has been drawn up and will be considered by the thirty-second extraordinary session of the Council. The proposal give priority to a regular session of the IMO Council, followed by meetings of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) - which will be preceded by the 7th meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships - and to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). Resuming physical meetings will depend on guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UK Government guidance as well as the national situation of IMO Member States.
This priority on the MEPC and GHG working group highlighted IMO’s continued commitment to moving forward with combatting climate change, without undue delay, Mr. Lim said. The meeting was also told that the 4th IMO GHG study, which will provide data on GHG emission from ships up to 2018 and future projections, is on schedule to be completed by late 2020.
The participants were briefed on work being done by the Secretariat, in liaison with other UN agencies and bodies, to explore the practicalities of holding virtual meetings, including multilingual meetings with interpretation into the six official languages of the Organization. The IMO Secretariat is also making preparations for re-opening the IMO Headquarters building, when that is permitted, including how to provide for applicable measures such as social distancing.
The participants were also briefed on COVID-19 related technical guidance IMO has issued (Circular Letter no. 4204 and addenda) to address the fall-out from the pandemic, following requests from Member States for uniform recommendations on how to address certain issues. These include joint statements with other UN agencies as well as guidance issued by the shipping industry, to ensure global distribution of such information. They were also informed that the Secretary-General has established a Seafarer Crisis Team, continuously providing world-wide assistance to seafarers in individual cases.
The next extraordinary session of the Council (C ES 32) will start on 4 May. It will be held by correspondence over two months, to allow time for Member States (Council Members and observers) to communicate on various agenda items, including holding meetings in future.
On other activities, the meeting was informed that in-country audits under the IMO Member State Audit Scheme had been paused and that the remaining audit schedule from 2020 onwards would be moved one year forward from 2021 whilst follow-up audit work will continue as usual.
Scheduled missions for technical cooperation activities had also been paused, but the IMO Secretariat was working with the IMO global institutions, the World Maritime University and the IMO International Maritime Law Institute, to develop online learning to students all over the world. Meanwhile, the process for selecting countries to participate in global projects, including GreenVoyage and GloLitter, is continuing, despite the pandemic.
Briefings for permanent representatives and liaison officers are usually regularly held at IMO Headquarters, on the invitation of the Secretary-General, but the travel and lockdown restrictions imposed because of the pandemic necessitated a virtual edition. A total of 155 participants from 78 Member States and one associate Member State attended the meeting. This was the largest virtual meeting organized by IMO to date.
While travel is seriously curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic, eager students and academic institutions are finding new ways to ensure learning continues. IMO's World Maritime University (WMU) is no exception. Technical officers from the IMO Secretariat were able to deliver, from their locations in London and Tunisia, virtual lectures on legal aspects of maritime safety and security maritime security, as part of an annual collaboration between IMO and WMU on the maritime security module of the post graduate Masters course with Maritime Law and Policy specialisation at WMU, which is based in Malmö, Sweden. The lectures address security aspects of port operations covered by IMO conventions. The lectures were delivered on 14 and 15 April 2020 to 16 students.
Partnerships are essential in tackling the global issue of marine plastic litter. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have formally signed an agreement to move forward and jointly implement the GloLitter Partnerships Project, initially launched in December 2019, with funding from Norway, to prevent and reduce marine plastic litter from shipping and fisheries (read more here).
The agreement specifies how the agencies will jointly execute the project and marks the next step towards many strategic partnerships anticipated under the project. Both agencies will now reach out to their respective fields to strengthen cooperation, not least private sector participation through a Global Industry Alliance.
The GloLitter project will help developing countries to identify opportunities to prevent and reduce marine litter, including plastic litter, from within the maritime transport and fisheries sectors, and to decrease the use of plastics in these industries. It will identify opportunities to re-use and recycle plastics. It will directly help to achieve one of the of the specific targets in the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 - to "prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution, by 2025".
The agreement was signed on 14 April 2020 by Dr. Jose Matheickal, Chief of the Department of Partnerships and Projects, IMO, and Roberto Ridolfi, Assistant Director General of FAO.
Countries are invited to submit their expressions of interest to be part of the project by 30 April.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has asked the United Nations system agencies to support IMO in its request to governments to declare seafarers, port personnel and other crucial maritime workers as key personnel. Mr. Lim made the plea during a virtual meeting (1 April) with other UN chiefs and the UN Secretary-General. The meeting addressed the impact of COVID-19 on, among other things, disruption and restrictions to travel, trade flows, global logistics, supply of food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
During the meeting, Mr Lim highlighted the importance of welfare and well-being of maritime personnel and particularly seafarers and the significance of crew changes to support the global supply chain. He also highlighted the major restrictions to crew changes due to travel bans and restrictions that are being increasingly imposed by governments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Lim reiterated his message that shipping is a vital artery for the economy to enable the global supply chain and global trade flows, including in particular urgently needed pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and food supply. Seaborne trade is still flowing but challenges are growing due to restrictions being introduced by countries. Mr. Lim added that
IMO and the maritime industry were committed to ensuring and supporting global trade flows and the global supply chain.
IMO Secretary-Lim was participating in the meeting of the expanded UN Senior Management Group (SMG) chaired by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The meeting was attended by members of the SMG as well as heads of UN specialized agencies of FAO, IFAD, ICAO, IMO, ILO, ITU, WHO and WMO.
Opening the meeting, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the importance of and need for coordinated global, but also regional and local approach to address this unprecedented crisis and appealed to all UN-system agencies to work together for a coordinated response.
What is biofouling and why does it matter? How do ships and other ocean structures spread invasive aquatic species? How does it contribute to Greenhouse gas emissions?
A new IMO video animation shows how aquatic organisms can build up on surfaces and structures exposed to the sea - a process known as biofouling. These organisms can be potentially invasive and spread across oceans, with sometimes dramatic consequences on biodiversity and economy.
But there is hope: a global project, led by IMO, has been set up to tackle this problem head on.
Backed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), IMO's GloFouling Partnerships is bringing together partners and stakeholders all over the world to develop and share solutions to biofouling.
Watch the video here and find out more about biofouling and the GloFouling Partnerships project.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the IMO Secretariat continues to function effectively. The majority of staff are working remotely, making full use of telecommuting and teleconferencing technology. (see press briefing here for details).
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim stressed the need to move to this operational mode to help protect staff and visitors and to contribute to wider efforts to mitigate the impact of the disease. He also acknowledged the impact that COVID-19 is having not only on the shipping industry but on the world as a whole. However, he hoped any negative impact it might have on the good progress being made at IMO on key policy issues such as environmental protection, would be short-lived.
He emphasized that, despite working from home, IMO staff remain fully committed to supporting the Member States and delivering on the Organization's objectives and mandates.
The entry into force of IMO's Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety will be crucial for improved safety at sea for fishers and will support the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. During a European Union High-level Ministerial Maritime Conference in Opatija, Croatia (10-11 March), participants including IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim highlighted the urgent need to bring the Cape Town Agreement into force.
During the event, further momentum towards this goal was seen, with three more States (Bulgaria, Poland and Portugal) signing the "Torremolinos Declaration" - under which States publicly indicate their determination to ratify the Cape Town Agreement by the tenth anniversary of its adoption (11 October 2022), and to combat illegal unreported and unregulated fishing.
The Torremolinos Declaration was opened for signature at IMO's October 2019 conference on fishing vessel safety in Torremolinos, Spain, and has now reached 51 signatories.
The Cape Town Agreement outlines regulations designed to protect the safety of crews and observers and provides a level playing field for the industry while setting standards for fishing vessels of 24 meters length and over.
The treaty will enter into force 12 months after at least 22 States, with an aggregate 3,600 fishing vessels of 24 meters in length and over operating on the high seas have expressed their consent to be bound by it. To date, 14 countries have ratified the Agreement. The entry into force is expected to improve safety at sea in the fisheries sector worldwide. It will also be a useful tool in combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and reducing pollution from fishing vessels, including marine debris.
Regional efforts to enhance maritime security are dependent on good information sharing, through multi-agency National Maritime Information Sharing Centres. An IMO-led regional workshop on information sharing in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden ((3-5 March) brought together participants from 14 signatory States to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) and its Jeddah Amendment, which aims to counter and suppress crime in the maritime domain.
Participants discussed how best to set up national maritime information sharing centres and agreed on the need to establish legal frameworks at national level, to ensure coordination and full participation of all agencies.
The workshop was organised following the establishment last year of a Working Group on Information Sharing. This was part of a plan of action adopted by States in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden area to ensure better coordination of regional efforts to enhance maritime security. Recommendations from the workshop will be fed into the next Jeddah Amendment high-level workshop, scheduled to be held later this year.
The workshop was held at the Djibouti Regional Training Centre (DRTC), Djibouti, and attended by 24 participants from Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania (United Republic of), and Yemen. The workshop was organized by IMO and supported by the United Kingdom, who provided technical experts. Funding came from a Japanese contribution to the DCoC Trust Fund to support training activities at the DRTC.
Senior maritime administrators in the Caribbean have had the chance to network and bring themselves up to speed with the latest IMO regulatory developments, during a recent IMO-led regional workshop for senior maritime administrators, held in Castries, St. Lucia (5-6 March).
Participants received detailed information about activities organized under IMO's Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) aimed at building capacity in the region to comply with international rules and standards related to maritime safety and the prevention of maritime pollution. Participants had a chance to ask questions on the outcomes of many IMO meetings of special interest to their region and were updated on knowledge partnerships and ongoing major projects, as well as the IMO Member State Audit Scheme. They also heard about the latest work of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency, Information and Training Centre – Caribe (RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe), the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre for the Caribbean (MTCC Caribbean), the Caribbean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (CMoU), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat (in the context of maritime transport) and the Women in Maritime Association Caribbean (WiMAC).
The workshop was hosted by the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA). Participants attended from: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago; and the territories/regions of Anguilla (United Kingdom), Bermuda (United Kingdom), British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom), the Cayman Islands (United Kingdom), Curaçao (Netherlands), Martinique (France), Montserrat (United Kingdom), Sint Eustatius (Netherlands), Sint Maarten (Netherlands) and Turks and Caicos Island.
Maritime development in Somalia has moved a significant step forward with the completion of the Somali Shipping Code. The Code is the culmination of some six years of work, supported by IMO and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), to build Somalia's capacity to grow and sustain a burgeoning blue economy and to ensure the necessary legal and administrative processes are in place.
The text of the Shipping Code will now undergo the necessary parliamentary processes for enactment into Somali national law.
The Shipping Code is the blueprint for the country to adop relevant international maritime conventions*, to enable it to discharge its responsibilities as a flag, port and coastal State . At more than 3,300 km, Somalia's coastline is the longest and perhaps the most geographically significant in the Horn of Africa. It has four main commercial seaports and several minor ports.
The development of the Code was instigated in 2014, when Somalia requested IMO to help revise its previous (1959) maritime code. The country was emerging from more than two decades of internal conflict and concerted international efforts to suppress and reduce acts of piracy off its long coastlinr.
The revised Shipping Code reflects the most up-to-date best practices and developments in international maritime law. The process of developing it, has seen aSomali Maritime Administration established. IMO and UNSOM have worked with Somalia to deliver legal and technical training to support core administrative and legal functions, including induction training for maritime administration officials during a workshop in January 2020 at the Djibouti Regional Training Centre, Djibouti.
During a ceremony in Mogadishu (9 March), Her Excellency, Honourable Maryam Aweys Jama, the Minister of Ports and Marine Transport in the Federal Government of Somalia, received a copy of the finalized Code (in the Somali language) from Mr. Dave Muli, IMO's Regional Coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa.
Mr. Muli thanked the Federal Government of Somalia for its commitment to ensuring safe shipping off the coast of Somalia and pledged IMO's continuing support for the development of Somalia's maritime future.
* Relevant international maritime conventions include the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); IMO conventions on safety of life at sea (SOLAS), prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL), seafarer training (STCW); and the International Labour Organization's Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).
To mark International Women's Day, celebrated on 8 March each year, Member States and observer delegations at an IMO sub-committee meeting this week have highlighted the importance of the Day and the continuing struggle for women's rights and gender equality.
In a powerful statement, they point out that women are often exposed to violence, hardship and discrimination in all spheres, everywhere, and women and girls are the first to be affected by poverty, conflict and climate change. The statement adds "This special day reminds us of the ongoing need to ensure that men and women enjoy full and equal rights and participation in their economies, politics, employment, communities and families." The 2020 theme for International Women's Day is "Generation Equality: Realizing Women's Rights".
The statement commends IMO for the many positive efforts it has made in working for gender equality in a traditionally male-dominated arena, including its Women in Maritime Programme and its related regional women's associations. It also points to the success of IMO's 2019 World Maritime Theme - "Empowering Women in the Maritime Community" – and the need to ensure that this theme continues to resonate into the future.
This year's World Maritime theme highlights the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, as the statement points out, SDG 5 (on gender equality) is a crosscutting theme that underpins all the SDGs.
IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim welcomed the statement and confirmed that gender equality remains high on IMO's agenda. The statement was delivered by the delegation of France, on behalf of other member states and organisations.
Multi-agency cooperation at national and international level is key to enhancing maritime security, protecting global trade and countering transnational organized crime. A workshop (2-5 March) in the Maldives has brought together UN agencies and senior officials from various government departments, whose mandates cover counter-terrorism, migration, border security and law enforcement.
The workshop focused on best practices in border security and counter-terrorism. The aim is to bolster further policy discussions by the relevant national authorities on how security can be incorporated into the broader border and migration management framework for the country, including through data collection and management, use of pre-arrival information and passenger controls.
IMO contributed a component on maritime border security, particularly relevant to the Maldives, with its unique geography - a vast coastline and remote islands. IMO focuses on what the shipping and port sectors can do to protect themselves and others against possible maritime security threats, including acts of terrorism; and to assist the Government to implement appropriate security measures. The main focus is on preventive security through a continuous risk management process, including procedures for deterrence and threat transfer in line with IMO measures to enhance maritime security (SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code).
Other sessions have been delivered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) and INTERPOL. The workshop follows a joint IMO-UNODC interagency workshop on legal implementation of counter-terrorism instruments conducted in 2018 as well as technical training for the Maldivian Designated Authority conducted by IMO in 2019.