AMRIE (The Alliance of Maritime Regional Interests in Europe) will today present a series of recommendations aimed at improving levels of oil tanker safety in response to recent Commission proposals on the safety of the seaborne oil trade. The AMRIE Paper calls on the Commission to lead the way in introducing requirements for Black Boxes to be fitted in ALL existing cargo ships, going beyond the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) suggestion of new cargo ships only. AMRIE believes that the speedy introduction of Voyage Data Recorders to all vessels is imperative if the Commission is to achieve a ‘Safety Culture’ in Shipping. AMRIE has also warned the Commission that it could be economically damaging for Europe’s shipping industry if it acted unilaterally in bringing forward deadlines to ban single hull tankers. It would also be counter productive. Firstly, because of a shortage of double-hull tankers, oil supply to the EU could be restricted and Member States may be forced to turn towards flags of convenience. Secondly, these requirements are only applicable to ships using EU ports and not ships passing through EU waters. AMRIE has responded to the Commission’s plans with the suggestion that a tax, progressive with age, should be levied on single hull tankers as an alternative to banning them unilaterally. The proposed blanket ban by the Commission on ships over 15 years old which have been detained twice over the preceding two years is also criticized by the AMRIE paper on the grounds that it would unfairly penalise many ships do not pose a risk. While the AMRIE report broadly welcomes the Commission’s proposals on Port State Control, it would prefer to see a comprehensive examination on ALL ships which have been detained twice in two years, involving her flag state, her owners and the relevant classification society. This would require a radical increase in the number of qualified port state inspectors. AMRIE argues that the present level of inspectors is unacceptable - there is only 250 inspectors across the entire European Union, 100 of which are in the UK alone. More emphasis should be placed on higher risk categories of ship rather than on arbitrary age limits; ‘an old ship is not necessarily a bad ship’, says the paper. AMRIE is surprised that there has not been more emphasis on high-risk ships such as the elderly tankers under the MARPOL limit, carrying heated cargoes. AMRIE has also called on the Commission to tackle related problems when it will announce further reformas later in the year, such as the question of ‘ports of refuge’, ‘chartering agreements’, ‘transparency of ownership’ and ‘training initiatives’.