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IMO AND PSC CONTINUE TARGETING SUBSTANDARD SHIPS DURING RESTRICTIONS

Friday, April 10, 2020 

Representatives of the 10 Port State Control (PSC) regimes which carry out inspections onboard ships to monitor and enforce compliance with international regulations met on 8 April in an online video meeting called by the IMO.

The PSC regimes have highlighted their commitment to ensuring shipping continues to trade safely, securely and efficiently during the coronavirus pandemic, while respecting the important role of seafarers as key workers and protecting the environment. They reported that while the number of physical on-board ship inspections has reduced considerably, in order to protect both port State control officers and seafarers, the regimes continue to work to target high-risk ships which may be substandard.

PSC reported taking a "pragmatic, practical and flexible" approach, recognising that exemptions, waivers and extensions to certificates have been granted by many flag States. The PSC regimes expressed a general desire for such practices to be standardised and harmonised. The regimes agreed on the need to work together to develop harmonised PSC practices and policies to ensure a consistent approach across the world and also welcomed the coordinating role of IMO.

Many IMO Member States, as flag States, have communicated information to IMO on their guidance in relation to certificate extensions and related matters. Some PSC regimes have already issued guidance and information on conducting ship inspections during the COVD-19 pandemic. These will be shared on the IMO website.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim reiterated his message that the maritime industry continues to be a vital artery for the global economy and highlighted the need for all involved to work collaboratively to address practical issues caused by the unprecedented global situation. He welcomed the prevailing spirit of cooperation, collaboration and solidarity in these challenging times – when shipping is more important than ever in the global supply chain.

In a joint statement, the port State control regimes and IMO highlighted the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 crisis and recognised the need to maintain crucial sea trade supply chains, including the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products, and other goods and services.

"The respective roles of flag States and port States to solve this crisis, in terms of supporting maritime trade, are paramount, and can also be significantly assisted by the industry. At the same time, the safety of life at sea, the protection of the marine environment and the respect of seafarers as keyworkers must remain shared priorities," the statement said.

On the invitation by the Secretary-General, the online meeting on PSC inspections was attended by representatives of the 10 Port State Control (PSC) regimes, namely the US Coast Guard, the Viña del Mar Agreement and the Abuja, Black Sea, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Paris, Riyadh and Tokyo Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on port State control, as well as from the IMO Secretariat.

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