Publicize Maritime Safety Data, IMO's Chief Urges

Authorities managing ports, harbors, straits, and sea areas should count and publicize the numbers for accident-free days, Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu said at an international symposium in Istanbul.

The International Maritime Organization's secretary-general, Koji Sekimizu, wants the good safety records of maritime authorities to be shared. He gave the closing address Sept. 14 at the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA)'s Vessel Traffic Services Symposium in Istanbul, telling members of that worldwide body that those overseeing ports, harbors, straits, and sea areas should count and publicize their numbers for accident-free days.

Sekimizu cited the safety record of the Turkish Straits VTS, which came into service in 2003, saying since advanced VTS was introduced in the Strait of Istanbul, the Strait of Çanakkale, and the Marmara Sea, no major accident has occurred. To promote safety and encourage all parties involved, a clear concept should be created -– similar to a corporate safety culture –- for all those with an interest in safe navigation in the straits and in areas covered by VTS, he said.

"For me, the phrase 'accident zero' encapsulates the overall objective," Sekimizu said. "Every day it will be a challenge for all concerned to achieve 'accident zero,' and each accident-free day that is achieved will extend the success of the concept and encourage everyone involved to extend the number of 'accident zero' days. This will provide a solid framework for working together, to involve everybody, and to encourage everyone to contribute towards a common and great objective –- continuous days of 'accident zero.'"

Sekimizu asked IALA to join IMO in developing a worldwide "Accident Zero" campaign and to start it from Istanbul, adding that, "with a solid, good track record of operation under one of the most advanced VTS, I think Istanbul is ideally placed to be the standard-bearer for a worldwide 'accident zero' campaign."

The Strait of Istanbul is a busy, challenging trade route about 18 miles long that at its narrowest point is only 2,290 feet wide.

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