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April 11, 2002

OECD urges action on substandard shipping
Classification societies might have to be licensed by IMO if proposals made by the Maritime Transport Committee of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) are taken up. The panel has issued a policy statement that urges parties involved in the maritime sector "to act effectively and conscientiously in their approach to substandard shipping, so that the ability of unscrupulous operators to offer substandard ships, and the opportunity for unscrupulous or gullible charterers and shippers to accept them, is severely limited or removed completely."

FLAG STATES: MORE POWER FOR IMO: The committee supports IMO efforts to strengthen implementation of convention requirements--including action to review flag state performance. Committee members also support the concept of extending the IMO charter to give the UN agency the ability to "actively review" flag state performance and to give it the means of enforcing mandatory requirements.

PORT STATES: TOUGHER SANCTIONS "Without discriminating in form or fact against vessels of any state," says the statement, port states should apply sanctions (including detentions) and penalties that are adequate to deter operators and users of substandard ships.

If incident and detention statistics indicate that some classification societies are unable to ensure appropriately high standards, warns the statement, Marine Transport Committee members will consider establishing, maintaining and publicizing a list of societies not applying adequate standards.

"MTC member countries," says the statement, "will also consider the possibility of promoting an international licensing system [for class societies] perhaps operated by the IMO ..."

INSURANCE: NO COVER FOR SUBSTANDARD OPERATORS: Among other recommendations, MTC Members will undertake a study to establish whether, without prejudice to potential victims, it is feasible to remove the cover available to substandard shipping, while still maintaining the necessary risk spreading coverage for the rest of the industry." And MTC members will "actively promote the introduction of compulsory insurance by the IMO for all vessels, including provisions preventing insurers paying fines for shipowners when prosecuted and found guilty of safety or pollution related offenses."

INCENTIVES AND PUBLICITY: The statement strongly endorses efforts to reward responsible shipowners through such means as reduced classification fees and lower port charges. The statement notes that good as well as bad publicity can be an important tool in combating substandard shipping.

You can download the whole statement here

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