IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios Mitropoulos has stressed the importance of ensuring that strategically important international shipping lanes are protected from the threat of terrorism and remain open for trade at all times.
Announcing the latest International Ship and Port Facility Security
(ISPS) Code compliance figures to the Council's 92nd session, which meets 21 to 25 June (see figures below), Mr. Mitropoulos emphasized the need to ensure that shipping lanes, particularly those of strategic significance and importance, are kept open under all circumstances.
"To this effect, we have undertaken some research work in the Secretariat to identify those shipping lanes which may be vulnerable to terrorist attacks and are prepared and eager to work with others to act pro-actively in a manner which will protect, to the best of our abilities, the interests of safety, security, the environment, seaborne trade and the world economy at large," he said.
Mr. Mitropoulos added that, although he was optimistic that most of the ships liable to the Code will meet the 1 July 2004 target compliance date, the status of compliance by port facilities has not yet reached a satisfactory level despite repeated calls to Governments to intensify their efforts.
He went on, "I am, therefore, concerned that, unless prompt action is taken urgently by all parties concerned, we may live to regret any delay in acting as we should have done within the 18-month period since the IMO security measures were adopted by the 2002 SOLAS Conference, both from the security and the trade cum economy points of view. That is why I wish to also use this opportunity to appeal, once again, to SOLAS Contracting Governments, which have not yet done so, not to spare any effort to implement these measures as soon as possible."