Latin America and the Caribbean Region

Latin America

The region is composed of 19 developing countries (two of which are land-locked while two others are island nations), with a vast coastline facing the Pacific Ocean on the western seaboard and the Atlantic Ocean/Caribbean Sea on the eastern coast. All 19 countries in the region are IMO Member States. The region has extensive commercial interests in merchant shipping and fisheries, embracing maritime, river and lake navigation. Because of the region’s vast coastline and heavy tanker traffic and its considerable interests in oil and chemical exports, as well as the growing cruise trade in countries bordering the Caribbean, Latin American countries address marine environment protection issues through regional strategies. 

Partnerships with regional and/or national institutions 

Since the early 1980s, IMO has collaborated closely with the two Latin American maritime networks, namely:

  • Operative Network of Regional Cooperation of Maritime Authorities of the Americas (Red Operativa de Cooperación Regional de las Autoridades Marítimas de las Américas (ROCRAM)) [1] 

  • Operative Network of Regional Cooperation of Maritime Administrations in Central America (Red Operativa de Cooperación Regional de las Administraciones Marítimas de Centro América (ROCRAM CA)) [2]

ROCRAM has a rotating Secretariat, which changes every two years.

ROCRAM-CA has a permanent secretariat held by the Central American Commission on Maritime Transport (Comisión Centroamericana para Transporte Marítimo (COCATRAM)) based in Nicaragua.

The more developed nations of the region have continually assisted others in strengthening the human and institutional capacities of the maritime administrations and such assistance continues to be provided through Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) modalities that are supported by IMO. Examples of the latter include the seven Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed since 2002 between IMO and the maritime administrations of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), which facilitate the provision of experts and instructors from those nations on a no-fee basis.

In addition to these two networks, some Latin American countries are also beneficiaries of activities organized by the Regional Activity Centre/Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre of the Wider Caribbean [3] (RAC/REMPEITC Caribe) based in Curaçao. The Centre was formally institutionalized in 2002 with the signature of a MoU between the former Netherlands Antilles, IMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) resulting in the subsequent programming, in cooperation with the Asociación de Asistencia Recíproca Petrolera Estatal Latinoamericana (ARPEL) and other industry bodies, of activities for the development/updating of national, bilateral and regional contingency plans and the training of personnel on OPRC matters.


The region is composed of 14 States and 17 Overseas Territories or parts within the Caribbean Basin or bordering the Atlantic Ocean. All Caribbean States are Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with only one – Haiti – being the sole nation in the American hemisphere classified also as a Least Developed Country (LDC). All but three of the Caribbean States and Territories are islands or archipelagos. By its very nature, the region is highly dependent on the maritime sector for the transport of people and goods, fisheries and also tourism, which constitutes the principal economic activity in the region as a whole. All Caribbean States are Members of IMO.

The Caribbean States have extensive and growing interests in merchant shipping. Coastal tourism is an important aspect within the economy of the countries in the region in general. Over the years, there has been steady growth in the cruise industry, particularly in selected tourist destinations throughout the region. With the growth of the region’s merchant fleet and its tourism and cruise industries during the last two decades, the emphasis on IMO assistance focusses on effective maritime safety administration and marine environment protection.

Registries operate in all but one of the independent States and the Bahamas, by far, leads the region in terms of gross tonnage. The overseas territories also have significant interests in ship registration.

The Wider Caribbean region became the 6th zone to be protected, under the terms of the Resolution MEPC.191 (60) adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee, on its 60th Session in March 2010, against the discharge of all garbage by ships, with effect from 1 May 2011.

Regional Presence in the Caribbean

IMO has a Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean located in Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago). The Regional Coordinator facilitates the execution of the Integrated Technical Co operation Programme (ITCP), and works closely with governments and regional institutions. Since the establishment of the position of the Regional Coordinator, formerly Regional Maritime Adviser, in the Caribbean, the accession and ratification on IMO instruments by Member States in the Caribbean increased noticeably. 

The Regional Coordinator provided considerable support for the preparation of a comprehensive package of model acts and regulations, safety Codes and Model Training Courses for indigenous shipping to which IMO instruments do not fully apply but form the vast majority of vessels operating in the Caribbean. The model legislation thus developed – which has also been shared with the English-speaking countries of other developing regions and has been classified by the UN as a SIDS success story – can be adapted to the circumstances of individual maritime administrations and further IMO assistance for this purpose, among others, continues to be provided.

All Caribbean countries receive support from the Regional Activity Centre/Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre of the Wider Caribbean (RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe) based in Curaçao.

Trinidad and Tobago Office

The regional presence office for the Caribbean is situated in Port of Spain. The contact details of the Regional Coordinator are as follows:

Mr. Colin P. Young
IMO Regional Coordinator

2nd Floor Clarence House
127 - 129 Duke Street
Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago

Tel:                +1 868 224 5490 (direct line)
Mobile:          +1 868 727 1926
Email: ;

The Trinidad and Tobago office covers the following countries and territories:

Antigua and Barbuda 


Saint Lucia



Saint Vincent and the Grenadines



Sint Maarten






Trinidad and Tobago


Saint Kitts and Nevis

Partnerships with regional and/or national institutions 

Only a limited number of Caribbean States have established formal administrations with a nucleus of well-trained personnel. Some countries have relatively large governmental structures that have permitted the development of their maritime administrations, others are constrained by a lack of financial and human resources. Accordingly, there is considerable variance in the levels of administrative, legal and technical expertise for the fulfilment of maritime responsibilities. Nevertheless, some countries with more developed maritime administrations provide technical assistance to their neighbours either directly (through Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) modalities or through IMO) or indirectly, by sharing the outputs of any external maritime assistance that they receive.

Smaller vessels are numerous in the Caribbean, and for governments in the region, the safety of those ships has been a matter of considerable importance. In this context, with the development of the regional MoU on port State control, the countries have adopted a Caribbean Cargo Ship Safety Code that addresses the safety of vessels under 500 GT. IMO has also developed and distributed a Code of Safety for Small Commercial Vessels (for ships under 24 metres) throughout the region.

On marine pollution control, IMO’s support to the region is channeled through the Regional Activity Centre/Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean (RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe). Following the formal institutionalization of the Centre by means of the signing of an MoU between the former Netherlands Antilles, IMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), its sustainability is ensured by the secondment of experts from the US Coast Guard and Jamaica. The Centre’s work programme is now mainly focused on the promotion of the OPRC-HNS 2000, the MARPOL 73/78 Convention and the introduction to Ballast Water Management procedures.

[1] ROCRAM countries: Argentina, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).

[2] ROCRAM-CA countries: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic (the), El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama.

[3] Wider Caribbean region: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas (the), Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic (the), Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America (the) and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).