The International Maritime Organization (IMO) will hold an international Conference on the enhancement of safety of ships carrying passengers on non-international voyages, in Manila, the Philippines, on 24 April 2015.
The Conference, which will be opened by IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu, is being hosted by the Government of the Philippines at the Philippine International Convention Centre, Manila, and is expected to be attended by a number of IMO Member States interested in the matter, as well as representatives of regional organizations and relevant international non-governmental organizations.
The Conference is expected to consider draft guidelines on the safe operation of coastal and inter-island passenger ships not engaged on international voyages. The draft guidelines are expected to address issues relating to: the purchase of a second hand ship intended to enter into service as a domestic passenger ship; a change in operating limits; the conversion or modification of a ship before the ship enters into service as a domestic passenger ship; passenger counting and voyage planning.
The one-day Conference will be preceded on 23 April by a preparatory meeting, for tabling and discussing proposals for improvement of the proposed guidelines.
The programme of the Conference includes a presentation on how hazards which need to be regulated can be identified and addressed by using the Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) hazard identification (HAZID) process as a tool. The Conference will be given a presentation of this, using the Philippines as an example, following work done in March, with the involvement of officials from the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Department of Transportation and Communications of the Philippines, other Government agencies, local classification societies, IACS members, domestic ship owners, domestic crew associations, shipyard operators, surveyors and consumer groups.
The Conference has been organized in the context of an on-going programme conducted by IMO, through its technical cooperation programme, to improve the safety of sea and inland waters transport operations in several countries and regions, while recognizing that the regulatory framework of domestic passenger ferries varies considerably from place to place.
Since 2006, activities relating to domestic ferries have been pursued in partnership with the international non-governmental organization Interferry, including a series of fora on the safety of domestic ferries in the East Asia sub-region and for Pacific Island Countries and Territories, as well as the implementation of a national pilot project in Bangladesh, including the development of specific training programmes.
Despite the best efforts of IMO and others, accidents have continued to occur, including the Rabaul Queen sinking in Papua New Guinea in 2012 and the Sewol accident in the Republic of Korea in April 2014. In the wake of the Sewol incident, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu urged action on domestic ferries, which are not covered by IMO’s widely-accepted international treaties, including the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), saying that it was “time for IMO to step forward to take action to improve the safety of passenger ships carrying hundreds of the general public, regardless of the nature of their voyage, whether domestic or international”.
The outcome of the Philippines Conference will be reported to IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee, Technical Cooperation Committee and Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments.
Further information on the Conference can be found here.