Rules burden criticised
WONG JOON SAN
Shipowners and managers are being urged to help formulate effective rules concerning safety and the environment instead of allowing themselves to be 'victims' of an overwhelming volume of regulation by well-meaning regulators.
Captain Pradeep Chawla, general manager of quality and training at Anglo-Eastern Ship Management, said regulators - feeling the pressures of the industry - had come up with many regulations they believed were benefiting safety and the environment but which put a burden on ship masters.
By participating in formulation of rules, ship managers could urge regulators to concentrate on finding effective solutions, such as good training for officers and seafarers, instead of issuing a 70-page instruction for each task.
Mr Chawla said nobody knew better than ship managers about the human element of ship operation.
'If we want the regulation to be beneficial to the industry, then ship managers should participate and be part of the group making the changes rather than be the 'victim' of regulations,' he said.
'The Oil Pollution Act '90, International Safety Management Code and Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers [STCW] were all examples of regulations that had been introduced by pressure from the media on regulators,' he said.
Ship masters today had to read thousands of pages of manuals, procedures and international conventions to keep abreast of industry developments.
A master had to read, among others, ISO procedures, cargo securing, garbage management, ballast management, global maritime distress and safety systems and so on.
There were more than 1,500 pages in the International Maritime Organisation's International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, its International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, STCW and search and rescue.
These did not include the day-to-day requirements of running the ship and carrying out charterer's instructions, he said.
Immigration and customs quarantine forms and other nautical publications added to the master's reading.
International Ship Management Association chairman Peter Cremers said pressure would be put on owners and managers in the next few years to carefully consider a variety of crews, not only for their economic viability, but also on their individual credentials as seafarers and their ability to conform to company policy.
More focus would be put on quality assurance programmes and on the willingness of crew to learn and to participate in continuous training programmes.
'It is probably true to say that ship managers and crew managers of the 90s have become the expert employers and trainers of professional seafarers,' he said.