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'Urgent need' to improve domestic passenger ship safety: IMO conference

'Urgent need' to improve domestic passenger ship safety: IMO conference
An IMO conference in Manila says there is an “urgent need” to enhance the safety of passenger ships on domestic voyages in certain parts of the world and urges states to review, update and enforce national regulations for their passenger ferries.

The “Manila Statement” from the IMO’s Conference on the enhancement of safety of ships carrying passengers on non-international voyages highlighted the issue of shared responsibility.

It said the issue of safety of domestic ferries is a shared responsibility between and among governments; local authorities; shipowners, shipmanagers, ship operators; shipboard personnel; maritime education and training institutions; classification societies and organisations which governments authorise to survey and certify domestic ferries for compliance with the applicable laws, regulations and rules; insurance providers; port authorities, port terminal owners and operators; and the public and civil society as users of the services provided. 

“Casualties and incidents involving domestic ferries can be avoided if adequate laws, regulations and rules are developed and effectively implemented and enforced,” IMO secretary-general Koji Sekimizu said.

“The public expects safety standards on domestic passenger ferries to be as strong as those on international vessels,” he said. “The perils of the sea do not distinguish between ships engaged on international or non-international voyages and the protection of life at sea is a moral obligation. Those travelling by domestic ferries should enjoy the highest practicable standard of safety irrespective of their citizenship.” 

Domestic passenger vessels fall outside of the international remit of the IMO, however it has an ongoing technical cooperation programme to improve safety in several countries and regions.

It was an issue that Sekimizu also addressed when speaking at Sea Asia 2015 in Singapore last week.

The conference attended by representatives from Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea; the Secretariat Of The Pacific Community; observers from the International Chamber Of Shipping (ICS), the International Association Of Classification Societies (IACS), Interferry and the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association (WFSA); and observers from the World Maritime University (WMU) and the University Of Strathclyde, UK.