HK joins in fight against unsafe craft
By K.K. CHADHA
HONG Kong is to join forces with other maritime nations in the Asia-Pacific region to combat sub-standard shipping, Director of Marine Allan Pyrke says.
He was speaking on his return from Tokyo after signing the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) along with representatives of 16 other maritime nations in the region.
The Tokyo MOU was the most significant initiative in recent history to combat sub-standard ships in Asia-Pacific waters, he said.
Under the MOU, port authorities will ultimately aim to inspect about 25 per cent of all ships calling at their ports in an effort to eliminate sub-standard and unsafe ships.
Similar targets have been set under the Paris MOU.
The MOU was adopted at the four-day final preparatory meeting on Asia-Pacific Regional Co-operation on Port State Control in Tokyo.
The meeting was also attended by the Assistant Director of Marine (Shipping), John Tse Chi-yan.
The MOU seeks to improve maritime safety, protect the marine environment and improve the welfare of seafarers.
''As a major maritime and shipping centre with its own shipping register, Hong Kong's participation in regional co-operation on Port State Control demonstrates its determination as a responsible maritime authority and the operator of a reputable registerof ships,'' Mr Pyrke said.
''It also shows to the international shipping community that Hong Kong is endeavouring to improve maritime safety and the marine environment.'' The meeting was chaired by the director-general of the Ship Safety Directorate of the Canadian Coast Guard, Michael Hubbard.
Representatives from the International Maritime Organisation, International Labour Organisation and the Paris MOU also were present.
Following a series of preparatory meetings over the first three days, the participants unanimously agreed on the Tokyo MOU.
It will take effect on April 1, with its own secretariat located in Tokyo.
The secretariat will operate independently of the participating maritime authorities and other organisations, but will be accountable to a governing body set up under the provisions of the MOU.
The Canadian Coast Guard will operate a ship inspection data base that can be accessed and updated by maritime authorities to target sub-standard ships.
Representatives from Australia, Canada, China, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand and Vietnam took part in the meeting.
The next meeting will be held in Beijing from April 11 to 13 next year to explore further means to extend the fight against poorly maintained and operated ships trading in the Asia-Pacific region.
Last year, more than 25,000 ocean-going ships called at Hong Kong, which is now the largest container port in the world.