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IMO’s regulation making processes need improvement: Hinchliffe

While the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has made strides in better regulating the shipping industry, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) secretary-general Peter Hinchliffe said there are still shortcomings in the way the United Nations agency in charge of shipping comes up with regulations.

“There are some shortcomings in the way that the IMO produces regulation which have emerged over the last say 10 years,” he told Seatrade Maritime News. For example Hinchliffe noted there was too much “stovepiping” of regulation, referring to the way the different committees do not seem to coordinate with each other in formulating policy and regulations.

“If you get stovepiping between regulations it means the IMO never looks back; It gets a draft regulation but it never looks back and says ‘what is the impact of that regulation on everything that we’ve already got in place?’, and that’s an important step,” lamented Hinchliffe.

“Another missing step is that the IMO does not take ownership of a cost-benefit analysis or an impact assessment of incoming regulation. We believe that’s essential,” he added.

“So those are steps that I really want the IMO to take because I think over the last 10 years the system has been exposed to the lack of IMO ownership of those aspects,” Hinchliffe reiterated.

He believed that the industry has progressed and is in a good position now. Although it has always been in the interests of ship owners to be compliant with regulations and be environmentally friendly, a lot of that has been formalized now and the performance of the industry has improved, with the claims figures for ships losses and accidents all trending in the right direction.

Coming back to the lack of IMO ownership of regulations Hinchliffe said: “But I worry about how they are going to be able to afford what they’re now facing.”

Read More: Industry players fret over lack of uniform environmental regulations

He noted: “The IMO has got to take account of the impact on the industry (and) be very wary of aspirational regulation, putting something in place for which the technology is not available. Hinchliffe highlighted previous cases of this happening with the Ballast Water Management Convention and ECDIS systems.

“We’ve got to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” especially when it comes to discussions on carbon dioxide emissions about technologies that are available in the laboratory but not yet commercially. “This needs to be in place before there are carriage requirements,” he concluded.

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