Sub-Committee on Stability and Load Lines and on Fishing Vessels' Safety (SLF), 55th session, 18 to 22 February 2013 (opening address)

(18 to 22 February 2013)
(delivered on behalf of the Secretary-General by Mr. A. Winbow, ASG, Director, MSD)

Good morning, distinguished delegates,
On behalf of the Secretary-General, who is abroad on mission, it is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the fifty-fifth session of the Sub-Committee on Stability and Load Lines and on Fishing Vessels Safety.  I particularly welcome those delegates who may be attending this Sub Committee for the first time.
This meeting is the fourth Sub-Committee meeting of the year and at those meetings the Secretary-General set some bold targets: eradication of maritime piracy and the complete release of hostages as soon as possible; and in the safety field, reducing lives lost by half and promoting the idea of an “Accident Zero Campaign” with IALA in areas covered by VTS.
As you are all aware, in October last year, a Diplomatic Conference adopted the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the Implementation of the Provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol of 1993 relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977.  In this context, the Secretary-General is promoting the ratification and early entry into force of the Agreement, and particularly asking all Contracting States of the Torremolinos Protocol to sign the Cape Town Agreement as soon as possible, using the simplified procedure under the Cape Town Agreement.  The Agreement will be open for signature for a period of one year, which started on 11 February of this year.
Those Contracting States which have already accepted and implemented the safety standards of the Torremolinos Protocol nationally should not have any practical, administrative, legal or procedural problems to accept the Cape Town Agreement and should be able to sign it straightaway without any difficulties.  Their collective signatures would significantly move the international and global implementation of the safety regime for fishing vessel towards reality.
In this connection, MSC 91 instructed your Sub-Committee to develop a procedure for calculating the number of fishing vessels of each Contracting State of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement, as a matter of high-priority.  Resolution 5 of the Conference states that this should be done at the earliest opportunity, but not later than 1 January 2014, and therefore, I urge the Sub Committee to finalize this work at this session, for approval at MSC 92 later this year.
Additionally, there are three other issues I would like specifically to mention.
Firstly, I want to urge the Sub-Committee to finalize its work on the development of guidelines for verification of damage stability requirements for tankers and the related mandatory carriage requirements for stability instruments on board tankers.
Secondly, I encourage the Sub-Committee to complete the revision of SOLAS chapter II-1 subdivision and damage stability regulations, the review of the damage stability regulations for ro-ro passenger ships and the development of guidelines on safe return to port for passenger ships, as a follow-up to the passenger ship safety initiative, and with the aim of developing appropriate amendments to the relevant SOLAS regulations.  I am aware that the very best experts on the subject are here this week and I am sure they will be able to accomplish this task.
Thirdly, I would like to stress the significance of the Sub-Committee’s work on development of provisions to ensure the integrity and uniform implementation of the 1969 TM Convention.  As has been pointed out by several Members and also by ILO, regrettably, larger crew accommodation spaces result in a larger gross tonnage, thereby penalizing owners, as port fees are often governed by the gross tonnage defined by the 1969 TM Convention, resulting in a detrimental effect on the human element, and good working and living conditions on board. 
You have also been requested to render your expert assistance to the DE and BLG Sub-Committees in their work on the development and/or revision of the Polar, IGC and IGF Codes, so that these instruments may be completed according to the planned target dates.
In July, this year, the Council will discuss the outline of the Secretary-General’s budgetary proposals for 2014 2015, which will take into account progress with the review and reform initiative, including the potential new sub committees’ structure.
The sub-committees’ restructuring is, I am sure, a subject you are interested in.  The Council requested the Maritime Safety and Marine Environment Protection Committees to consider the implications and practicability of the proposals.  Of interest to this Sub-Committee is the combining of the work of the SLF, DE and FP Sub-Committees and re-allocating the work to two new sub-committees.  Based on the discussions at the MSC, the Secretariat is now preparing a draft proposal for the MEPC and MSC and is also in the process of informal consultations; we have consulted Chairmen, seeking their views.  The Secretary-General wants to involve as many delegates as possible.  There is no item on your meeting agenda but it is important that you express your views, so that they can be taken into account by the Secretariat and reflected in the proposals for further discussion at Committee level.  I suggest that the Sub-Committee finds some time to discuss this under “Any other business”.
Finally, I wish you all productive and successful deliberations for this meeting.
To get it underway, I move straight to the task of electing your Chairman.