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Coping with regulation in the US

Coping with regulation in the US
The fleet has moved south from the New York maritime hub - a series of high profile events was held in Washington, DC, centered around National Maritime Day, celebrated each year on 22 May, and there was much discussion on issues relating to regulation.

Conference organiser Mare Forum put on an event on the Monday, aptly titled “The Regulatory Tsunami”, billed as a dialogue between government and industry. The following day, on Tuesday, the North American Environmental Protection Association (NAMEPA) organised an afternoon seminar that melded with the annual awards dinner for AMVER- the voluntary rescue programme.

Mare Forum events are dialogue driven and one of the better revelations came from Dr Sandra Whitehouse, of the Ocean Conservancy, an environmental organisation with a focus on North American waters. She suggested that Marine Spatial Planning makes commercial sense for all users of the oceans. She noted a frustration with fragmented regulatory structure and pointed towards a practicality that works for both environmentalists and industry, for example, actually monitoring whether regulations to prevent the inflow of invasive species have actually worked in practice.

Clay Maitland, who wears many hats in the industry, took up the cudgel against the loose oversight of Responsible Organisations (RO) on behalf of certain Flag states. Maitland, with a “day job” at the Marshall Islands registry, noted that: “There are quite a lot of flag states that end up connected with casualties and most of them are from places like the Cook Islands, Cambodia, Bangladesh and other outliers.” Talking about sub-standard ships, Maitland said: “I think substandard ships will disappear in certain areas of the world due to PSC (Port State Control). I suppose they will always go somewhere else, but I would like to believe they will be banished from the face of the Earth.”

The costs of compliance and regulation were also in Maitland’s crosshairs. During one exchange, he suggested: “Maybe we need to rethink about liability and cost. We are not going to get out of these expenses, the burden of compliance is only going to increase and we need to find out how to pass them along.” He also expressed a view that the burden of regulations may necessitate personnel changes- in the form of an onboard compliance officer.  

At NAMEPA’s event, US Coast Guard Rear Adm. Joseph A. Servidio, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, told his audience: “…we are actively seeking mechanisms to reduce the time frame for developing rules from five years to four years this year with a goal to bring the time down to three years.” Servidio, a point man on Ballast Water Treatment (BWT) regulations at the USCG, also stressed the philosophy of harmonising international regulations and the shift in the regulatory development from maritime security (brought on by flood of rules post 9-11) to balance.