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IMO Urged To Modernize Safety Rules

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

25 June 2013

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Symposium on the Future of Ship Safety, held on June 10-11, 2013, has recommended that the International Maritime Organization should carry out a full review of the existing regulatory regime to ensure that it has kept pace with industry developments.

The Symposium recommended that the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee, which held its 92nd session over nine days concluding June 21, 2013, should:

  • Consider how to improve data collection and increase its availability in order to support monitoring and development of safety regulations;
  • Consider how to better integrate risk-based methodologies and the latest analysis techniques into the safety regulatory framework to provide a sound scientific and practicable basis for the development of future safety regulations;
  • Consider ways of encouraging a safety culture beyond mere compliance with regulatory requirements;
  • Take into account the burden of any new or changing regulation(s) placed on the seafarers and consider the burden can be minimized; and,
  • Consider undertaking a long-term comprehensive review of the existing safety regulatory framework with a view to ensuring that it will meet the future challenges associated with the application of new technologies, the human element, the needs of the maritime industry and the expectations of society, taking into account the ever-increasing pace of change and technological advancements made since the 1974 SOLAS and the International Load Lines Conventions were adopted.

Speaking at the close of the Symposium, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu said that the Symposium had considered wide-ranging issues, relating to a more goal-based, risk-based approach: "With regard to data collection: there is no doubt that more and better data, and the use of the latest methods to analyse them, are central to the development of future regulations based on risk. There is no doubt in my mind that a safety culture that goes beyond mere compliance is essential in the future. Ships will become more complex and, as they do, we must move away from safety being simply a series of box-ticking exercises. That approach is not good enough now, and the administrative burden must be reduced."

Sekimizu also highlighted the symposium’s focus on the human element; the need for self-regulation; and education and training: "The serious challenge maritime training institutes are now facing is to keep up with new technology and this must be addressed. Currently, the shipping industry is facing serious financial difficulties but it needs to comply with regulations for marine environment protection. Discussion on the future must cover all issues relating to ensuring competent seafarers free of stress and fatigue; support for seafarers must be continuously addressed at IMO."

The symposium was attended by some 500 delegates (including some remote participants) who had the opportunity to pose questions to six international panels of high-level speakers from across the broad spectrum of ship design, construction, equipment, operation and regulation.

TAGS: marine

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