Informal Meeting Discussed Bulk Carrier Safety

Friday, March 22, 2002
An informal meeting invited to consider bulk carrier safety issues has agreed that the approach currently being taken within IMO is the right one at this juncture but that more work needs to be done to prevent continuing losses. The meeting convened by the Secretary-General of IMO, William O'Neil, at IMO Headquarters on Friday March 22, 2002, was attended by F. Tsao and R. Holt, Chairman and Secretary-General of INTERCARGO, respectively; Messrs. I. Ponomarev, R. Bradley and J. De Rose (Chairman of the IACS Council, Permanent Secretary and Permanent Representative of IACS to IMO, respectively); and members of the IMO Secretariat. The Chairman of IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), Tom Allan, had also been invited but could not attend due to another commitment. O'Neil observed that bulk carrier safety had been a priority on IMO's agenda for over ten years and acknowledged that, while considerable improvements had been introduced, the work had not been finalized. Upon his proposal, the meeting decided to exchange views on the current state of affairs, discuss measures currently under development and consider possible additional measures that should be taken to stem the continuing loss of bulk carriers and the seafarers who work on them.

The meeting reviewed a tabulated, chronological listing of the mandatory and recommendatory measures that have been taken so far, in particular since 1991, to enhance the safety of bulk carriers. Although appreciative of the wide array of measures developed by both IMO and IACS over the years, and confident that those currently before the MSC would serve their purpose well, they were unanimous that more work had to be done to improve the situation.

The meeting considered that the approach to enhanced safety of bulk carriers decided by and underway at the MSC (distinguishing, in general terms, between measures applicable to existing bulk carriers and others to apply to future bulkers; and taking into account the results of the relevant formal safety assessment study) was the right path to follow at this time. To bring this work to a successful conclusion, the meeting urged all parties involved, Governments, and industry and technical organizations concerned, to act together under the auspices of IMO at the next and subsequent sessions of the MSC. The meeting was briefed by the representatives of IACS about measures the Association had recently announced and, recognizing IACS's contribution to the overall work to improve the safety of bulk carriers, invited them to continue to keep IMO informed of such initiatives so that action could be taken in a harmonized manner to the benefit of safety and the environment. The participants expressed their appreciation of the opportunity to exchange views on a subject of great concern to all.

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