Facilitation Committee (FAL), 37th session: 5-9 September 2011

Revised IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business agreed
The revised IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business was approved by the Facilitation Committee, when it met for its 37th session.  The Compendium, which provides updated 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, was finalized following input from Member Governments, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and other organizations.
Single window guidelines agreed
The Committee also approved Guidelines for setting up a single window system in maritime transport.  Single Window systems enable information to be provided to multiple users trough a single report and are thus tools to facilitate trade and to decrease the administrative burden on the shipmaster, while, at the same time, improving the information flow to both individual port authorities and Government agencies concerned.
Review of FAL Convention continues
The Committee continued its work on reviewing the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965, as amended (FAL Convention), with a view to ensuring that it continues to adequately address the present and emerging needs of the shipping industry.  The Correspondence Group on the comprehensive review of the Convention was re-established in order to continue the review. The first stage of the review will focus on updating the Annex of the Convention but in the longer term, the aim is to make the Convention more binding. 
Revised stowaways guidelines agreed
The Committee adopted Revised guidelines on the prevention of access by stowaways and the allocation of responsibilities to seek the successful resolution of stowaway cases.   

The resolution of stowaway cases can be challenging because of differences between national legislation of a number of potentially several interested States: the State of embarkation, the State of disembarkation, the flag State of the ship, the State of apparent, claimed or actual nationality/ citizenship or right of residence of the stowaway, and States of transit during repatriation. The Revised guidelines outline comprehensive strategies to improve access control and prevent intending stowaways from gaining access to ships; and for public authorities, port authorities, shipowners and masters, to co operate to the fullest extent possible in order to resolve stowaway cases expeditiously and secure that an early return or repatriation of the stowaway will take place. 
The Committee also endorsed the inclusion, in the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS), of a module on stowaways, and urged Member States to make as much use as possible of the GISIS reporting facilities. 
The Organization received reports of 494 stowaway cases in 2008, 314 in 2009, 253 in 2010 and 47 in 2011 (up to August 2011). The reported cases involved 2,052 stowaways in 2008; 1,070 in 2009, 721 in 2010 and 147 in the first eight months of 2011. However, the low number of reporting sources meant that meaningful analysis of the reports was difficult.
Noting that the increasing problem of stowaways was in large part due to a lack of proper implementation of physical security measures and access controls on board ships and within port facilities, the Committee recalled Member States' obligations to implement fully the provisions of SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and, in particular, the requirement for flag States to assess, on a continuous basis, all threats to ships entitled to fly their flag; to set the security level accordingly; and to ensure that ships implement fully the security procedures appropriate to the security level as detailed in the ship security plan.
Questionnaire on privately contracted armed security personnel agreed
The Committee provided advice to the Maritime Safety Committee on the embarkation and disembarkation of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) on board ships, their firearms, ammunition and security-related equipment, where such activities take place within the jurisdiction port or coastal States. The Committee approved a draft circular on Questionnaire on information on port and coastal State requirements related to PCASP on board ships, which was subsequently issued as a joint MSC/FAL circular.
The aim of the questionnaire is to garner information from coastal and port States, on whether and under what conditions the embarkation and disembarkation of PCASP and/or firearms and security-related equipment is allowed, and any specific procedures to be followed, as appropriate.  This information will be made available to the shipping industry, masters of ships and the PCASP service providers via the IMO website.
Work progressed on electronic access to ships’ certificates and documents
The Committee continued its work on electronic access to, or electronic versions of, certificates and documents required to be carried on ships.  A Correspondence Group to further progress the matter, including consideration of options for accessing electronic versions of certificates and documents to supplement or replace paper forms; and system architectures, was re-established.  The aim will be to facilitate the early and efficient checking of ships’ documentation by control authorities, thus improving the flow of maritime traffic through ports, and therefore improving the efficiency of maritime transport.
Guidelines in the event of large-scale disruption to be developed
The development of voluntary guidelines or recommendations for use by countries towards enhancing the resilience of maritime shipping within the global supply chain system in the event of large-scale system disruptions, in co-ordination with the WCO, will also be considered by a correspondence group.