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SSA speaks out on Malacca Straits 'burden sharing'

SSA speaks out on Malacca Straits 'burden sharing'

Singapore: The Singapore Shipping Association has responded in guarded fashion to the proposal that shipping users of the Malacca Straits contribute to enhanced safety of navigation and environmental protection of the waterway. The idea was mooted at a special seminar held last week in Kuala Lumpur (see March 14 story) as a measure to help share the littoral states' growing cost of upkeeping one of the world's busiest waterways.

The SSA says it has 'noted with interest' the proposal to establish an acceptable mechanism for voluntary funding, but feels any such mechanism should "be consistent with the KL Statement  issued last September and the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982." It also requests that the shipping industry in the region be invited to participate in further discussions on the issue before a consensus paper can be made to the IMO.

"We would like to know how the funds are to be collected, managed and distributed," comments SSA president SS Teo. "There should also be further consultation on the voluntary funding mechanism that will be established with all interested stakeholders before it is endorsed by the three littoral States and the IMO."  

But Teo rejects outright any suggestion that mandatory funding be imposed on shipowners. 'Our members would not be receptive to the idea,' he says, 'since their ships calling at ports in the three littoral states are already paying port dues or light dues ... (which) should be used for the enhancement of safe navigation and environmental protection." The Straits of Malacca and Singapore have the legal status of "international waterways for free and unimpeded passage of ships," he adds.

For its part, the IMO says it will "consider, in consultation with the littoral States, convening further follow-on meetings for the littoral States to identify and prioritize specific needs, and for  user States to identify possible assistance and to respond to those specific needs,  which may include provision of resources, capacity building, training and  technical support, with a view to promote  further  co-operative measures  including possible options for burden sharing."  [19/03/07]