US maritime legislation irks BIMCO

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 March, 1994, 12:00am

THE Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) has expressed ''deep concern'' over US legislative initiatives such as the Gibbons/Breaux Bills which it describes as ''protectionist, discriminatory and counter-productive''.

''If enacted, this legislation would penalise shipowners and not the yards receiving the subsidies, and it could provoke severe retaliatory action, harmful to international trade,'' BIMCO said after an executive committee meeting in Copenhagen.

BIMCO also pointed out inconsistencies in US policies.

''On one hand the Gibbons/Breaux Bills aim at eliminating shipbuilding subsidies in foreign countries, while at the same time a number of initiatives have been launched to provide significant subsidies to domestic shipbuilding and shipping operations,'' it said.

''BIMCO has followed very closely the negotiations on shipbuilding subsidies within the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), which have so far been inconclusive, and urges the parties involved to conclude multilateral agreements, avoiding initiatives which may be detrimental to international trade.'' The committee also endorsed the proposal to amend Chapter V of the SOLAS Convention to make the observance of Vessel Traffic Systems mandatory.

By amending SOLAS Chapter V, safety would be enhanced and proliferation of unilateral initiatives checked, it said.

Participation in any mandatory ship reporting system must be free of charge to the ships involved, in line with the existing provisions in SOLAS Chapter V covering danger messages.

On the question of port state control, it said the industry was concerned about proposed amendments to the SOLAS Convention to extend port state control to cover operational requirements at a time when the concept of port state control was expanding beyond those countries which were parties to the Paris Memorandum.

Some of the countries which are introducing port state control regimes do not have the necessary infrastructure to execute their obligations as flag states.

''BIMCO holds the view that without establishing minimum levels of competence for port state control inspectors, the value of port state control inspections will be questionable, and calls for harmonised systems, developed regionally, as the Paris Memorandum calls for.'' Referring to a study undertaken by the International Maritime Organisation into the feasibility of establishing an International Ship Information Database, it said BIMCO was of the opinion that the classification societies were the primary source of information on the condition of ships and had a supervisory role in maintaining standards.

It reiterated that shipowners must have the right to challenge information which might be recorded in any database, to ensure that correct information was kept on file at all times.

BIMCO also voiced concerns over the growing incidence of stowaways.