Tue | Dec 6, 2016

IMO as a global regulatory agency

Published:Tuesday | September 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Rear Admiral Peter Brady

Every year at this time Jamaica joins the rest of the world to celebrate World Maritime Week which climaxes into World Maritime Day on the last Thursday of September. The purpose of the celebration is to showcase the activities of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which is the United Nations' specialised agency responsible for regulating international shipping.

We take for granted many important things in the world; the air we breathe and day following night. An activity which sustains our very being, our livelihood, is sometimes also taken for granted, that of international seaborne trade.

Jamaica, a small country in the Caribbean Sea as with other states of the world, rely on foreign trade borne by ships which bring goods, food, commodities, raw materials, energy in the form of gas and oil on the one hand.

role of the sea

On the other hand, while we do not export as much as we ought, we, nevertheless, rely on the carriage of those export items to go by sea. A massive 90 per cent of global trade goes by sea from port to port. Jamaica's dependence on maritime trade exceeds that figure, as about 93 per cent of our trade is conducted by sea in ships that transit all of the major ocean corridors of the world.

We, therefore, acknowledge the invaluable role that marine transportation plays as one of the primary uses of the seas and oceans, we take time out to highlight the significance of the IMO as the global regulatory agency, which promotes safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through the cooperation of the member states such as Jamaica.

practicable standards

The IMO accomplishes its mission by ensuring that the highest practicable standards of maritime safety and security, efficiency of navigation and prevention of pollution from ships, through the adoption of international conventions which ensure that there is universal and uniform application of these standards.

This simply means that there are sound rules, laws, standards and guidelines that govern the operation of ships which have received global acceptance and facilitates international trade. For port operators in Jamaica, harmonised international standards will ensure that the ships calling at their facilities will not pose unnecessary safety, security or environmental risks, while in the case of owners of cargo, these standards provide a level of certainty that their goods will arrive at the intended ports in the same condition in which they were loaded on the vessel.

IMO Instruments not only regulate ships but also influence activities in our ports in the areas of the handling of dangerous goods, standards for testing and inspecting containers and security in the form of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. Other conventions address the type and quantity of documents used by the Jamaica Customs Agency and the Quarantine division in the clearance of goods as well as the establishment of aids to navigation and rules to prevent the collisions of vessels using our harbours and the larger maritime space within Jamaica's maritime domain.

international Convention

However, these international conventions which are, in effect, treaties are not always signed by all member states of the IMO, or even if signed are not always brought into their own local or domestic law, or sufficient states do not sign the particular international convention for the instrument to come into force. And so, this year the theme for World Maritime Day is 'IMO Conventions: Effective Implementation'. Member states should then use their own laws to provide for compliance and rigid enforcement.

Inter-agency collaboration is also key to implementation and although the Maritime Authority has the primary responsibility for implementing the IMO conventions in the country, there are over 13 agencies which collaborate on a regular basis to ensure that we properly discharge our obligations under the main marine safety and pollution prevention conventions which regulate shipping activities in our waters.

Jamaica is a responsible member state of the IMO and also a member of its governing body, the IMO Council, and the Maritime Authority shares this message not only with the rest of the Jamaican maritime community but also Jamaica at large so that we can highlight the importance of implementing the maritime conventions for safer, cleaner seas and also port facility operations.

Rear Admiral Peter Brady

Director General

Maritime Authority of

Jamaica