IMO sees no need to wait for adoption of its new maritime regulations

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 November, 1999, 12:00am

Preventive measures available to government and industry bodies could reduce pollution risks, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) says.

Its marine environment protection committee chairman, Michael Julian, said preventive mechanisms included improved administrative measures, greater clarity in IMO regulations and fuller compliance with international conventions.

'Governments and non-government organisations [NGOs] can reduce the demand on new IMO regulations and work towards industry self-regulation, particularly in ship-recycling and protection of bunker fuel tanks in bulk carriers and other vessels carrying large quantities of heavy bunker oil,' he said.

Governments must speed up incorporation of international conventions dealing with safety and marine environment protection into domestic legislation. Delays were lengthy in some countries.

Such delays and the resulting uncertainties regarding future regulatory requirements could add a significant cost to the industry.

'One attempt to assist in this matter is a proposal by the Republic of Korea being considered by Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation [Apec] transport working group to undertake a study of Apec economies and provide a comparison of the various legal frameworks and methods used to implement international maritime treaties into domestic law,' Mr Julian said.

This was part of a wider study to identify optimum maritime administrative structures and one which would provide options to governments to select a preferred legal framework suitable to its economy.

A key principle adopted by several administrations while awaiting the outcome of the study was to delegate maritime safety and marine environmental legislation - particularly the subordinate technical regulations - as far as the country's parliamentary process or legal system would allow.

The domestic legislation could call up the international instrument by its title, in its original form without rewriting it, he said.

He proposed that parliaments pass the parent maritime act without detailed technical regulations and amendments to technical regulations - which should be authorised and promulgated by the head of the maritime agency through administrative law such as marine orders.

Mr Julian said another frustrating issue which industry and governments had to deal with was the IMO's sometimes ambiguous regulations.

'This is often the result of compromises being made during what can be quite complex negotiations in developing a legal instrument which includes the desire to reach universal acceptance,' he said.

IMO members needed to examine the issue more closely.

Mr Julian said maritime safety decisions were made by the 138 member states which had ratified the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (Solas 74) and its protocol of 1978, and attended meetings of the Marine Safety Committee (MSC).

Decisions on marine environment protection matters were made by the 106 member states which had ratified Marpol 73-78 and attended meetings of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).

NGOs gave considerable value to the decisions made by the MSC and the MEPC, he said.

In regard to sub-standard shipping, it was up to the MSC and the MEPC to take the issue further in the next century to ensure full compliance with maritime safety and environmental conventions, Mr Julian said.