Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III), 7th session (12-16 July 2021)

Draft resolutions to support implementation finalized

The Sub-Committee, which reports to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), finalized updates to three key instruments on implementation. The Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification, 2021; the 2021 Non-exhaustive list of obligations under instruments relevant to the IMO instruments implementation Code (III Code); and the Procedures for port State control, 2021, will be forwarded for adoption by the IMO Assembly at its thirty-second session in December 2021 after approval by the Committees.

Certificates and documents required on board ships

The Sub-Committee approved the draft FAL.2-MEPC.1-MSC.1-LEG.2 circular on the list of certificates and documents required to be carried on board ships, to update the previous list published in 2017.

The text will be submitted to MEPC 77 (November 2021), the Legal Committee (LEG 109, in 2022), MSC 105 (in 2022) and the Facilitation Committee (FAL 46), in 2022, for approval.

Harmonizing port State control (PSC)

The Sub-Committee noted reports from the regional port State control (PSC) regimes and the United States, on inspection rates and detentions, and invited them to continue submitting annual reports.

The Sub-Committee noted with appreciation information on ongoing discussions between the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (IOMOU) and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) on a possible cooperation programme on port State inspections.

Addressing seafarer rights

Following discussion in the virtual Working Group on Measures to Harmonize Port State Control Activities and Procedures Worldwide, the Sub-Committee agreed that the individual PSC inspection reports should include information regarding the validity period and contact information of financial security providers of the insurance certificates required by the 2014 amendments to the MLC, 2006.  The Sub-Committee also agreed to invite PSC regimes to consider a concentrated inspection campaign (CIC) on financial security related to the 2014 amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006.

Draft model agreement for authorization of recognized organizations finalized

The Sub-Committee finalized the draft model agreement for the authorization of Recognized Organizations acting on behalf of administrations, for submission to MSC 104 and MEPC 77 for approval. The III Code and the Code for Recognized Organizations (RO Code) require a formal written agreement between the Administration and the ROs. The guidance provided by the Model Agreement, including its appendix, meet the minimum standard for a formal written agreement, as set out in both Codes.

The model agreement, at the discretion of the Administration, may be supplemented by additional matters and/or may be formulated in more detail. Member Governments will be invited to use the Model Agreement when concluding a formal agreement with organizations carrying out surveys and issuing certificates on their behalf.

IMO Member State Audit Scheme – consolidated reports reviewed

The Sub-Committee reviewed the analysis of four Consolidated Audit Summary Reports (CASRs) from 68 audits conducted under the IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS).

The audits contained 1,167 findings, 107 observations with references to conventions' requirements, where applicable, and the III Code, as the audit standard; as well as 5,239 root causes as reported by the audited Member States. (The full report can be found in document III 7/INF.27.)

The analysis revealed that audit findings and observations were predominantly related to flag State and common areas issues. For flag States, common findings and observations were found in implementation, enforcement, flag State surveyors and flag State investigations; while in the common areas, most of the findings and observations related to initial actions (legislation), communication of information and strategy issues.

The most frequent root causes contributing to lack of effective implementation were related to the lack of national provisions; lack of policies; lack of awareness, understanding or interpretation of the requirements; lack of established written procedures; lack of management system; insufficient human and financial resources; lack of technical capability (trained personnel, hardware/equipment); and insufficient capacity to promulgate national legislation and keep it updated.

In its feedback to the Committees, also expected to be provided to the Council and the Assembly, the Sub-Committee identified, among other things, the need for additional assistance to Member States in the major recurrent areas of findings/observations. Recurrent references to the mandatory IMO instruments in findings and observations were indicative of the absence of systems and mechanisms established for the implementation and enforcement of the mandatory IMO instruments. This related to all three areas of activities – flag, coastal and port State activities. There was a significant issue identified in relation to the lack of national legislation giving full and complete effect to the provisions of the mandatory IMO instruments, which is a prerequisite for effective implementation and enforcement.

The Sub-Committee recommended to the Committees to request the Technical Cooperation Committee (TCC) to review current technical assistance activities, consider whether these adequately cover the areas of recurrent shortcomings identified in audits, and potentially develop any new technical assistance programmes to provide more specific support to Member States in implementation and enforcement of requirements of the relevant mandatory IMO instruments.

Using the methodology endorsed by the Committees, the Sub-Committee prepared, for the first time, the feedback into regulatory process of the Organization by identifying, analysing and recommending to the Committees for further review by responsible IMO organs, several recurrent provisions of the mandatory IMO instruments, in terms of their appropriateness and effectiveness for implementation.

Casualty analysis

Following analysis of casualties by the casualty analysis correspondence and working groups (the Sub-Committee agreed to the findings on those analyses and authorize their release to the public on the GISIS MCI module (, noting with satisfaction the completion of the GISIS-related redesign work of the Marine Casualties and Incidents (MCI 2) module .

The Sub-Committee agreed with the recommendation that two potential safety issues would require a more focused and concerted effort , specifically, man overboard from fishing vessels; and pilot ladder-related safety issues. Further analysis was also needed of the casualties seen to be occurring more frequently, namely collisions with fishing vessels and occupational accidents (fall from height). Furthermore, the Sub-Committee agreed to recommend that an ISM Code-related concern on unsatisfactory implementation of safety management systems would need further analysis.

Elevators on ships - output agreed for safe operation

The Sub-Committee agreed to forward a proposal to the MSC to address the design, installation, maintenance, inspection and operation of elevators as a whole with supplementary and reference to an ISO Standard, as appropriate. It proposed to include a new output on "Adoption of measures to ensure safe operation of elevators onboard ships" in the MSC's biennial agenda.

The move follows a submission to the Sub-committee on Ships Systems and Equipment (SSE 7), which noted that large passenger ships and cargo ships are often installed with elevators for use by the passengers and/or crew. However, there is currently no provision/requirement in the SOLAS Convention for the use, maintenance and safety of ship elevators.

MSC Zoe incident – container losses

The Sub-Committee noted the analysis of the casualty investigation into the MSC Zoe in severe weather. Lessons from the incident are included in the lessons learned, including the issues related to high stability of large and wide Ultra Large Container Ships.

The Sub-Committee invited the MSC to take note of the findings and to consider taking appropriate measures to extend the scope of the MSC output on "development of measures regarding the detection and mandatory reporting of containers lost at sea that may enhance the positioning, tracking and recovery of such containers", which was agreed by MSC 103.

Lessons learned

The Sub-Committee agreed the lessons learned from marine casualties and incidents, for release on the IMO website.

Improving reporting rate for investigations into maritime casualties

The Sub-Committee recommended the additional provision to display the status of investigations in progress in  the redesigned MCI 2 module, aimed at achieving comprehensive reporting and increasing the reporting rate of very serious marine casualties and the collection of casualty data to support trend analysis.  

The regional virtual workshop on marine casualty investigation (MCI), in November 2020, was highlighted as part of a strategy for improving the rate of investigation and reporting into marine casualties and incidents, increasing capacity-building and enhancing self-sustainability regarding marine casualty investigation, as well as the development of increased cooperation with the World Maritime University (WMU) in this regard.

The Sub-Committee again reminded States to submit reports of investigation into marine casualties and incidents and encouraged the reporting of near-miss occurrences.

Improving fishing vessel safety, combating IUU fishing

The Sub-Committee noted the status of the Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety, which currently has 16 Contracting States. For entry into force, 22 States are required, with an aggregate number of 1,433 of 24 metres in length and over operating on the high seas, compared to the required number of 3,600 fishing vessels. In this context, the Sub-Committee urged Member States and, in particular, the signatories of the 2019  Torremolinos Declaration, to take necessary measures to ensure that the entry into force criteria of the Cape Town Agreement are met, at the latest, by the target date of 11 October 2022, the tenth anniversary of its adoption.

The Sub-Committee noted that a group of interested parties was developing a comprehensive set draft guidance to assist competent authorities in implementing the 2012 Cape Town Agreement for consideration by the MSC together with a proposal for a related new input identifying future work for the Sub-Committee.

With respect to the handling of issues related to the abandonment and fair treatment of seafarers, the Sub-Committee, while endorsing the understanding that both seafarers and fishers are often confronted with the same kinds of problems, becoming even more serious in the context of the pandemic, recommended the alignment and integration of actions in favour of both seafarers and fishers.

Addressing IUU fishing

The Sub-Committee considered and noted the recommendations from the Fourth session of the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ILO/IMO Ad Hoc Working Group on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Related Matters, held in Torremolinos, Spain in October 2019, following the Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and IUU fishing.

In particular, the Sub-Committee noted the ongoing series of regional webinars to encourage ratification and implementation of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement; and other action to promote cooperation among intergovernmental organizations regulating inspections of fishing vessels.

III 7 noted that the Secretariats of IMO, FAO and ILO are cooperating to support WMU in the implementation of the Inter-Agency Capacity-Building and Development Project on the Implementation of International Instruments to Combat IUU Fishing (ICAPFISH), creating an education and capacity building platform that consolidates the expertise of the UN specialized agencies mandated with a role in fisheries as well as academic research and practical knowledge.

The ICAPFISH Project will integrate science, economics, maritime policy and ocean governance, law and regulation, maritime technology and operation, safety at sea, societal factors, human rights, as well as compliance monitoring and enforcement.

Fifth meeting of the Joint FAO/ILO/IMO Ad Hoc Working Group on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Related Matters (JWG 5)

The Sub-Committee considered draft terms of reference for the Joint FAO/ILO/IMO Ad Hoc Working Group on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Related Matters, for referral to JWG 5 and recommended that the joint group should meet every two years. 

Consideration and analysis of reports on Alleged Inadequacy of Port Reception Facilities

In noting the annual enforcement reports on port reception facilities (PRFs) for 2018, 2019 and 2020, the Sub-Committee agreed on the importance of timely reporting of alleged inadequacies of PRFs to the Organization, noting that it was crucial that inadequacies are accurately reported in GISIS to address existing problems.

The Sub-Committee took note of the proposal to develop a GISIS-notification system for administrators. New amendments, insertions or updates made to any of the flag or coastal States' modules, not made by the flag or coastal State itself, could be automatically highlighted to the GISIS user. The Sub-Committee supported the intervention made by the Secretariat indicating that they would take action in order to develop a notification mechanism, similar to the one already in place in IMODOCS, across GISIS modules, as appropriate.