Facilitation Committee (FAL), 36th Session: 6 - 10 September 2010

FAL Explanatory Manual finalized by Facilitation Committee
The Explanatory Manual to the IMO Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965, as amended (FAL Convention) was finalized by the Facilitation Committee, when it met for its 36th session.
The manual, which will be disseminated widely as a FAL circular,  contains explanations of the provisions of the Annex to the IMO Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965, as amended (including amendments adopted in 2009) as well as practical methods of applications and examples of best practices. Public authorities can apply the methods of applications or best practices which are most suitable for their circumstances.
The manual, which encourages the use of information and communication technologies, is aimed at promoting the wide acceptance of the FAL Convention and the universal implementation of the measures adopted by the Organization to facilitate international maritime traffic.  
Correspondence group set up to review FAL Convention
The Committee agreed terms of reference for an intersessional Correspondence Group on the comprehensive review of the FAL Convention,  to begin the process of reviewing the convention  with a view to ensuring that it continues to adequately address the present and emerging needs of the shipping industry, as well as modernizing its provisions through taking into account, for example, developments in the field of the electronic transmission of information and data and the Single Window concept. 
The correspondence group will focus its work on investigating all areas where electronic methods of communication should replace paper-based information for the clearance of ships;  identifying the scope for harmonizing the provisions of the Convention with the current security requirements of other relevant IMO instruments; looking at areas where the single-window concept can be promoted;  harmonizing duplicated requirements; adding new definitions for globally-used terminology;  and reviewing the structure of the Convention.
Revised IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business approved
The draft revised IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business was approved by the Committee (subject to editorial revisions by the Secretariat), for forwarding to the World Customs Organization (WCO), the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) International Trade & Business Processes Group (TBG) and other organizations for comments, with a view to final approval at the next meeting of the Committee (FAL 37).
The compendium provides information, guidance and recommended formats for electronic exchange of information required by public authorities for the arrival, stay, and departure of the ship, persons, and cargo to facilitate clearance processes.
Additionally, the correspondence group on the development of guidelines for setting up a Single Window system in maritime transport was re-established, to update and finalize draft guidelines for setting up a Single Window system, which is intended as a tool to facilitate trade and to decrease the burden on the shipmaster, while, at the same time, improving the information flow to both individual port authorities and Governmental agencies concerned.
Shore leave circular approved
The Committee approved a circular on Facilitating shore leave and access to ships, removing unnecessary restrictions imposed by divergences in the implementation of the ISPS Code noting that the circular was written in recognition of the importance of the human element, without prejudice to the immigration procedures of Member States.
The circular notes that  port States, while giving effect to the special measures envisaged to prevent security incidents affecting ships or port facilities and to exercise control over access to their territories, have to recognize that shore leave for seafarers constitutes their right – not a privilege. 
The circular states that States should endeavour to establish standard practices regarding requirements related to the identity documents which provide public authorities with information about the individual member of the crew seeking access to the shore based facilities. Administrations should render particular attention to ensuring unbiased and nondiscriminatory practice in exercising control and allowing access to shore irrespective of vessels' flags and nationalities of individual crew members. 
The approval of the circular follows the approval by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), at its 87th session, of a related circular on MSC.1/Circ.1342 Reminder in connection with shore leave and access to ships.
Revised stowaway guidelines agreed
The Committee approved a draft FAL resolution on Revised Guidelines on the allocation of responsibilities to seek the successful resolution of stowaway cases, and agreed to submit it to the MSC for consideration.
The guidelines update and revise those adopted in 1997 (resolution A.871(20)) and take into account the amendments to the FAL Convention to incorporate standards and recommended practices on dealing with stowaways, which were were adopted in January 2002 and entered into force in 2003, and other developments such as the adoption of the International Ship and Port Facilities (ISPS) Code.
The revised guidelines are intended for use by  Member States which are not Contracting Governments to the FAL Convention; and Member States which are Contracting Governments to the FAL Convention and which have notified the Secretary-General either that they find it impracticable to comply with the aforementioned Standards or of differences between their own practices and those Standards; or which have not yet notified the Secretary-General that they have brought their formalities, documentary requirements and procedures into accord in so far as practicable with the Recommended Practices.
The Committee noted the number of stowaway incidents reported to the organization:  494 stowaway cases, involving 2,052 stowaways, in 2008, 314, involving 1,070 stowaways, in 2009; and 102, involving 251 stowaways, in the second quarter of the first half of 2010.  Data was received primarily received from a small number of flag States and port States.
The Committee noted with concern the potential under reporting of incidents, citing the fact that the number of stowaway cases reported to the Organization during calendar 2007 totalled 252 incidents involving 889 stowaways while the number of stowaway cases collated by the P&I Clubs from 20 February 2007 to 20 February 2008 totaled 842 incidents involving 1,955 stowaways, which cost the Clubs a total of some US$14.3 million in costs, including fines imposed by some States not willing to assist in the disembarkation of the stowaways.
The Committee also approved revised circular FAL.2/Circ.50/Rev.2 on reports of stowaway incidents, inviting Member Governments and international organizations in consultative status to provide the Organization with data on stowaway incidents and information on experience gained with the provisions of the Convention or the Guidelines.

List of certificates and documents to be carried on board revised
The Committee approved an updated list of certificates and documents required to be carried on board ships, to be submitted to the MSC and Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) for concurrent approval.