ADDRESS OF THE IMO SECRETARY-GENERAL KITACK LIM AT THE OPENING OF MSC 106
(2 to 11 November 2022)
Good morning, excellencies, distinguished delegates, and observers.
I am very pleased to welcome you all to the 106th session of the Maritime Safety Committee and to see so many familiar faces assembled here in the Main Hall.
I have to start this meeting with some sad news. Those of you that attended CCC Sub-committee will recall that I informed that your former Chair, Mr. Christian Breinholt of Denmark, passed away in September after long illness.
As many of you may remember, Christian chaired the Committee from 2012 to 2015. We are all appreciative of his many important contributions to the work of this Organization.
My deepest condolences go to the Breinholt family and the delegation of Denmark. It would be most appreciated if the delegation of Demark could convey our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
As a mark of respect, I suggest we now observe one minute silence in memory of Christian.
The ongoing military conflict in Ukraine remains a matter of grave concern at all levels. Its major impact on the safety and welfare of seafarers; the safety of shipping operations and ships, particularly those stranded in the affected areas; and the global supply chain continues to be a concern.
Despite the challenges the establishment of the Humanitarian Maritime Corridor and the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July has shown what can be achieved with the cooperation of all involved parties under the support and leadership of the United Nations. I was privileged to visit the port of Odesa in late August to see first-hand how ship safety and port management are being implemented, and the critical role played by seafarers.
I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the industry and seafarers for their contribution to the global supply chain.
The IMO Secretariat contributes to the UN efforts led by OCHA, by providing critical technical advice and facilitation support, which have underpinned the success of both initiatives up to now.
Although ships are continuing to move. I am concerned at recent reported developments in relation to the Black Sea Grain Initiative. I strongly urge all Member States to cooperate to ensure that the safety of shipping and seafarers in this vital initiative is not compromised.
Let me now turn to some of the important items on the agenda for this session.
At your last session, you agreed to develop a non‑mandatory goal-based Code for MASS. I hope that progress will be made in line with the approved road map so that we can deliver a Code for Administrations, shipowners, and the industry as a whole to ensure the safe operation of MASS by 2025.
This work is undoubtedly challenging due to the complexity of the task, which requires work on some common issues in close cooperation with other IMO Committees, most notably the Legal and Facilitation Committees. In this respect, I commend the successful holding of the first meeting of the Joint MSC/LEG/FAL Working Group on MASS, the report of which you will consider at this session as part of your work on the matter.
Concerning maritime security, I would like to highlight the significant ongoing expansion of the range of technical assistance offered by the Secretariat to Member States, including the new courses on the Whole of Government Approach, Passenger and Baggage Screening and Maritime Domain Awareness, with more new courses to follow. I urge all Member States to consider donating to the International Maritime Security Trust Fund to support this important work.
You will be invited to consider an update on global trends relating to piracy and armed robbery against ships. I am pleased to report that the global number of incidents has generally continued to fall, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, with 13 incidents reported in the first six months of 2022 compared to 27 in the same period last year. I also note the intention of the industry to remove the Indian Ocean High Risk Area with effect from 1 January 2023.
These are encouraging developments, but we must remain vigilant. I call upon international organizations, littoral States and industry stakeholders to continue their efforts to reduce the threat of piracy and armed robbery; and I also encourage Member States to continue to monitor the threat to ships flying their flag in whichever region they may be operating, and to set appropriate security levels in accordance with the ISPS Code.
With regard to the work undertaken to address issues related to fuel oil safety, I would urge you to adopt the draft amendments to SOLAS, intended to prevent the supply of fuels in breach of SOLAS flashpoint requirements and to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil.
You will be invited at this session, to adopt milestone provisions for the safety of ships carrying industrial personnel, consisting of new SOLAS chapter XV and the associated International Code of Safety for Ships Carrying Industrial Personnel (IP Code). I am happy to see that this long expected new instrument, which is of major importance in the context of the decarbonization goal, is finally before you for approval with a view to adoption.
You will also be invited to consider the recognition of a new mobile satellite service. NCSR 9 completed the evaluation of the BeiDou Message Service System and recommended its recognition for use in the GMDSS. While noting that there is still work to be done, in particular to address certain outstanding issues. I trust you will be able to conclude this matter in the best interest of maritime safety.
I am certain that you will also make progress on all other substantive items on the agenda for this session.
As you are aware, 11 October 2022 marked the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement, the key international treaty applicable to large industrial fishing vessels aiming at providing safety standards for their operation.
The Agreement will also protect resources and contribute to sustainable, legal, and transparent fisheries, whilst caring for the marine environment, as well as providing fishers with better working and living conditions.
I would urge Member States and industry observers to take action to achieve the entry into force of the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 in order to meet the goal set in the 2019 Torremolinos Declaration.
The Secretariat will remain committed to providing any technical and legal support to achieve this long-awaited milestone.
I am confident that with the usual customary IMO spirit of cooperation and under the capable leadership of your Chair, Mrs. Medina of the United States, supported by the Vice-Chair, Capt. Mozas of Greece, you will engage in constructive discussions and reach agreement on the matters before you at this session.
My best wishes to you all for a productive session.
Finally. I look forward to seeing you all at the IMO Award Ceremony, where we will pay a special tribute to former Secretary-General William O'Neil and present the International Maritime Prize 2021 and the IMO Award for exceptional bravery at sea.