Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW), 3rd session, 1-5 February 2016 (opening address)


(1 to 5 February 2016)

Good morning, distinguished delegates, and, since we are facing another New Year according to the lunar calendar, Happy New Year to you all,

I am very pleased to welcome you all to the third session of the Sub- Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping. As the new Secretary-General of this prestigious Organization, I know I have a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I am determined to build on the good work of my predecessors and I know I can count on the support of the IMO family as we work toward our shared objectives.

As you are all well aware, IMO’s core goals can only be achieved when all Member States join together to implement IMO standards properly. To this end, I want to act as a bridge among Member States to ensure communication and understanding. While continuing with IMO’s vital and necessary function of rule-making, we believe that utmost focus should be placed on improving implementation at a global level.

To this end, I believe it is necessary to enhance capacity building activities including exploring ways to secure funding from a wider range of donors by building relations with international bodies and industries.

This will be based on an efficient and productive Secretariat, where we continually explore ways to work smarter.

On top of these issues, we need to raise IMO’s profile around the world, promoting the Organization as the single, global body for maritime policy and regulation. This will also lead to increased focus on the importance of the shipping industry.


This leads me to the Theme of the World Maritime Day 2016, which is "Shipping: Indispensable to the world".

Today, around 90% of world trade is carried by the international shipping industry. Without shipping, importing and exporting goods on the scale necessary to sustain the modern world would simply not be possible. And seaborne trade continues to expand, bringing benefits to consumers across the world through competitive freight costs.

There are more than 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally, transporting every kind of cargo. The world fleet is registered in over 150 nations and manned by more than a million seafarers of virtually every nationality.

This year's theme was chosen to focus on the critical link between shipping and global society and to raise awareness of the relevance of the role of IMO as the global regulatory body for international shipping. The importance of shipping to support and sustain today's global society gives IMO's work a significance that reaches far beyond the industry itself.

This year, World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on Thursday 29 September, and the annual parallel event will be held in Turkey in November. We plan to promote these activities very widely, and make full use of our IMO Maritime Ambassadors to spread the word. Other events and activities will be held throughout the year, and I would like to encourage all of you to organize your own events around the theme so we can, together, raise a real groundswell of understanding and appreciation for shipping – and how it truly is indispensable to the world.

Furthermore, I would like to emphasise that it is important to portray shipping as an industry that can provide a career path matching the aspirations of the ambitious and capable young people it urgently needs to attract and retain. Safety, security, shipping’s environmental credentials and the entire future sustainability of the shipping industry are overwhelmingly dependent on the availability of an adequate pool of capable and effective manpower.  Therefore, if the global pool of competent and efficient seafarers is to meet demand, then seafaring must be presented to young generations for their future careers at sea or in the management of maritime industry on shore based on their expertise and experience at sea. 

Distinguished delegates,

The Assembly resolution on Entry into force and implementation of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement was adopted by Assembly 29 last year, which is an important achievement in our endeavours to address the alarmingly high number of fishermen's lives and of fishing vessels lost every year.  In this context, the comprehensive review of the 1995 STCW-F Convention could not have come at a more opportune moment, as you may recall that the 1995 STCW-F Convention only entered into force on 29 December 2012, 17 years after it was adopted.  I, therefore, urge those Governments that have not yet done so to accede to this Convention that will promote safety of life in this important industry.  According to maritime casualty statistics, the overwhelming majority of the root causes of casualties is the Human Factor.

In this regard, an important factor affecting seafarers is fatigue which has been increasingly recognized by the industry as a major human element hazard that affects most aspects of a seafarer's ability to perform effectively and safely. The effects of fatigue can lead to undesirable situations with devastating effects. I encourage you to revise and update the Guidelines on Fatigue to promote improved understanding of fatigue and fatigue risk management at sea, and to reflect current fatigue and sleep research and best practices of fatigue risk management at sea to support the well-being of seafarers, whilst enhancing safety at sea.

Among the other important issues before you this week, I would like to highlight the revision and validation of the model courses, the development of a framework for a new STCW-related GISIS module to reduce the administrative burden, the comprehensive review of the 1995 STCW-F Convention, the revision and updating of the Guidelines on Fatigue, the revision of guidelines on the implementation of the ISM Code by Administrations (resolution A.1071(28)), and the revision of the training requirements for personnel serving on board passenger ships.

You are of course already aware, and I am sure you do not need me to tell you anything more about these topics, as you have all come here well-prepared.  I would however urge you all to think about the important role you play here. You are not just here contributing to the discussions at HTW – you are participating in the decision making of the International Maritime Organization. I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize the important role of your Sub-Committee in dealing with primarily the Human Element.

Distinguished delegates,

I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully, guided by the constant commitment of all of us to this Organization's causes of enhanced maritime safety, security and environmental protection and inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation. As the Secretariat's function to support your work, I'd like to introduce Mr. Ashok Mahapatra, the new Director of the Maritime Safety Division who is full of expertise and knowledge and Mr. Fuazudeen who have been closely supporting your work with devotion and passion.  As you are aware your Chairman, Mr. Bradley Groves of Australia, has been elected as Chairman of the Maritime Safety Committee and hence will not be available to chair this session.  Therefore, in accordance with rule 16(3) of the Rules of procedure of the Maritime Safety Committee, this session will be presided by your Vice-Chairman, Ms. Mayte Medina of the United States.  I am sure that under her able leadership, you will make sound, balanced and timely decisions.  As always, the Secretariat will give you all the support required.  I wish you every success in your deliberations and the best of luck.

Finally, as is customary, all of you are cordially invited to a cocktail reception hosted by IMO this evening.

Thank you.