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Maritime assistance for Caribbean takes focus at IMO forum

Published:Tuesday | August 23, 2022 | 12:05 AM

The expansion of long-term technical assistance for small island developing states (SIDS) of the Caribbean took focus recently as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) urged regional stakeholders to assist its efforts.

The call was made during a Carib-SMART webinar aimed at, among other things, better informing stakeholders to identify issues relevant to sustainable maritime transportation and in executing the preparatory phase of the project.

The Carib-SMART Preparatory Phase Project includes developing and implementing a regional project on legal, policy and institutional reform which allows analyses of gaps and challenges which hinder the execution of IMO mechanisms in the region.

The Caribbean Shipping Association’s (CSA) Group A chairman, Eduardo Pagan, speaking during the event, said the body supports the objectives of the project. Pagan added that the meeting “indicates the priority that this project gives to sharing and accessing information that can benefit all parties in this regional effort, that is part of a global movement”.

“The CSA will continue to do its part to promote and facilitate the various areas of the blue economy; and we are of that view that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option in the face of the changing environment and climate.”

He continued, “Advancing the agenda of the blue economy in the region will require investments in infrastructure, conservation, research and development, institutional and human capacity development as promote greater technological penetration, information sharing and knowledge building.”

The Norwegian-funded Carib-SMART Preparatory Phase Project applies to 13 Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

To aid its information gathering, the project launched a survey between May 16 and July 8 of this year which covered topics such as national and sectoral policies and efforts to adapt marine infrastructure to climate change effects, and the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on maritime transport activities. Additionally, it explored the adequacy of resources to fulfil flag, coastal and port state responsibilities, and resource allocations for the implementation and monitoring of maritime transport and marine environment protection regulations.

As a follow-up to the survey, which received mixed responses, the webinar was staged to re-engage stakeholders to assess reactions to the preparatory phase and the study, get feedback, and share information that may have been missed or warrants repetition.

Among the expected benefits of the programme is the assessment of connections among the maritime transportation sector, which may address matters of navigation, security, pollution, and climate change.

While noting that the CSA has taken its own steps to protect the regional marine environment, including the launch of the Caribbean Marine Environment Protection Agency in 2019, Pagan said SIDS require greater support. To that end, he encouraged the CSA’s members and partners to support the Carib-SMART initiative “as it advances our efforts aimed at strengthening the maritime sector of the Caribbean and Latin America”.

“The challenges are many, but initiatives such as Carib-SMART represent a dynamic and coordinated approach that fosters strategic partnerships and meaningful engagement,” Pagan concluded.

Other contributors to the webinar included the Caribbean Community, Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre, Caribbean Development Bank, and the Association of Caribbean States.