IMO conventions to be introduced

THE Fiji Local Shipowners Association says it is not aware of moves by the State to implement seven conventions of the International Maritime Organisation.

Association president Commander Semi Koroilavesau said the association had met in recent weeks where there wasn’t even the slightest mention of the matter — either for the members consideration or discussion.

His comments come on the heels of the revelation by permanent secretary for Works, Transport and Public Utilities Commander Francis Kean that the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji would introduce IMO conventions.

Cdr Kean said there was no specific time frame set aside for the implementation of these conventions.

He said the seven conventions would include the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78), the International Convention of Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR Convention 1979), the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM 2004) and the International Convention on the Control of antifouling Systems on Ships (AFS 2001).

Other conventions, he said, were the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention 1965), the Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Cooperation to Pollution incidents by Hazardous and Noxious substances (OPRC), and the International Convention on Salvage (Salvage Convention 1989).

“For a developing island nation like Fiji, this is a mammoth task however one that the Bainimarama Government, the Ministry of Transport and the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji will not shy away from, in its effective implementation,” he said.

“Maritime transportation is an essential enabler to the continued development and future growth of our economy, the ministry and MSAF in partnership with relevant stakeholders will continue to play the lead role by involving the shipping industry in the development and introduction of this new maritime legislation.

“Most importantly the ministry will continue to support stakeholders by creating an environment that would encourage compliance through self regulation, thereby promoting together in partnership, a sustainable, and a compliant and vibrant maritime transportation sector.”

Cdr Kean said the national maritime industry had undertaken a major transformation in the past four years. Apart from the introduction of new maritime legislation, several other key areas of the industry have been revamped to ensure a vibrant and dynamic maritime industry.

“These include the review of the Fiji Franchise Shipping Scheme which has been successfully completed and now awaiting implementation,” he said.

“This government subsidised scheme is an effective strategy for boosting the local economies in many of these islands classified under the uneconomical shipping routes.

“This year the Ministry with Government Shipping Services twice trialled a new route to the North servicing destinations like Malau, Cikobia, Naqelelevu, Rabi and villagers along the division.”

Cdr Kean said this was all part of Government’s and ministry’s plan to make the maritime industry self-regulatory. Meanwhile, the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association said they had many meetings with MSAF on the matter, and while the association agreed with the general trend towards safety, the expectations of MSAF that the industry could comply with their new standards in such a short time, was unrealistic.

“We have pointed out to them many times that the standards they intend to enforce on the Fiji industry are substantially higher than those that apply in NZ and Australia in some cases, but bottom line is that their wish for standards and manning requirements are simply not available in Fiji, as there are insufficient training facilities putting out such qualified persons, and MSAF itself have demonstrated an inability to certify even our current deck officers,as they cannot run the necessary courses due to lack of manpower and qualified officers,” Grahame Southwick of the association said.

“We are constantly being told that there are no courses being conducted, and being quoted delays of up to three and four months

“In addition every time the industry meets with MSAF on these matters trying to progress, we are told on specific issues, ‘OK we will look into that’ but then the next meeting comes around and the ‘looking into’ has either not taken place or has not resulted in a workable solution, and another ‘we will look into it.’

“And on and on it goes. Bottom line is that if MSAF intends to strictly enforce these new regulations, when they themselves are not able to service the industry, training and qualification requirements, the entire industry will be grounded.”