Plan Calls for Enhanced Safety on Pacific Region's Domestic Ferries

It was adopted at a recent forum organized by the International Maritime Organization.

An action plan adopted this month at an International Maritime Organization forum held in Fiji calls on governments, maritime agencies, shipbuilders, ship owners and operators, and other stakeholders to address key concerns relating to the safety of domestic ferries in the Pacific Island countries and territories.

IMO noted recent domestic ferry disasters, including the sinking of the Rabaul Queen in Papua New Guinea in February 2012, spurred the action plan and the agreement that a holistic approach is needed. The intention now is to develop regional support to address specific national solutions.

The forum focused on safety programs, vessel-specific concerns, legislation, regulatory and compliance matters, seafarers' training and certification, operational issues, search and rescue, and safety awareness. The action plan invites stakeholders to:

  • Encourage the implementation and enforcement of applicable provisions of conventions/regulations, including adopting the Pacific Islands Maritime Laws model legislation and regulations), into national legislation as appropriate and to ensure harmonization of maritime legislation within the region.
  • Ensure legislation is easily understood, enforceable, accessible to all, and includes appropriate penalties severe enough to encourage effective implementation.
  • Encourage periodic review and continued development and improvement of relevant guidelines on surveying, maritime training, legislation and regulations, and domestic ship safety programs, including adequate training, accreditation, and regulation of surveyors to meet standards set by their respective states.
  • Develop and implement effective passenger control and accountability mechanisms.
  • Develop safety management systems for domestic ferries and passenger vessels that include training in operational matters, including planned maintenance, and safety awareness programs and pre-departure safety briefs for passengers.

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