IMO updates sea guide for rescue of refugees, migrants

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THE International Maritime Organization (IMO) has issued the updated and revised Rescue at Sea guide intended for the rescue of refugees and migrants. 

According to IMO, the guide, was prepared in collaboration with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

IMO explained that  the document provides guidance on relevant legal provisions, on practical procedures to ensure prompt rescue of  persons, and on measures to meet their specific needs, particularly in the case of refugees and asylum-seekers.

Available data indicates that 2014 has been a record high year for illegal migration at sea, with migrants putting lives at risk and placing a huge strain on rescue services and on merchant vessels.

IMO had in  2014,“pursued actively”  its targets and objectives in a wide range of subject areas including rescue at sea. 

The global body explained that safety remained a high priority during 2014, pointing out that  IMO adopted the safety provisions of the Polar Code and SOLAS amendments to make it mandatory. 

“Also adopted were important measures addressing container safety and enclosed space entry drills. Several amendments entered into force during the year. Domestic ferry safety was also a topic of concern. 

“2014 proved a busy and productive year for IMO on the environmental front. Among the highlights were the adoption of the environmental provisions of the Polar Code and the entry into force of the Emission Control Area for the United States and Caribbean Sea. 

“Further progress was also made on extending and developing energy efficiency measures for ships.

“IMO joined other United Nations bodies in calling for action to address irregular maritime migration, an increasing problem from the point of view of loss of life at sea as well as a burden on shipping. 

“The Facilitation Committee moved forward on e-business and the single window concept, approving a completely revised Annex to the FAL Convention, while the Facilitation and Maritime safety Committees agreed to look into cyber security.  Action against piracy and armed robbery against ships remained a high priority off the coasts of Africa.  

“IMO was involved in a series of capacity-building projects across the globe including ship recycling, energy efficiency, counter-piracy and stowaways. 

“April saw the entry into force of the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, while the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks reached its criteria to enter into force in April 2015.

“IMO joined a UN and industry taskforce on Ebola Virus Disease and continued to work with ILO on seafarer matters.

“The importance of effective implementation of IMO measures was a recurrent topic throughout 2014 as it had been chosen as the theme for World Maritime Day. The Secretary-General spoke on theme at meetings and conference across the globe and recorded a video message highlighting key aspects of the subject. A host of workshops, seminars and training events were organised all over the world, and work progressed in preparation for implementation of the mandatory IMO Member State audit scheme.”

Meanwhile, Sekimizu,  has launched the 2015 world maritime day with theme: “Maritime Education and Training” at World Maritime University, Page Content

telling students and staff that maritime education and training was essential for the long-term sustainability of the sector, both at sea and on-shore.  

He said: ““Effective standards of training remain the bedrock of a safe and secure shipping industry, which needs to preserve the quality, practical skills and competence of qualified human resources,” Mr. Sekimizu said, adding that the 2015 World Maritime Day theme provided the opportunity to highlight the importance to everybody, not just within the shipping industry, of there being sufficient quantity and quality maritime education and training available to meet the sector’s needs, now and into the future.

“The 1978 STCW Convention and Code, as amended, has set the international benchmark for the training and education of seafarers. While compliance with its standards is essential for serving on board ships, the skills and competence of seafarers, and indeed, the human element ashore, can only be adequately underpinned, updated and maintained through effective maritime education and training,” he added. 

Addressing the class of 2015 post-graduate students, who have begun their first semester at WMU, in Malmö, Sweden, Sekimizu said that the university was a cornerstone of global maritime education and training and a vital and integral part of the IMO family.

“At IMO, we are unique among UN agencies to have two affiliated educational institutions – the World Maritime University and the International Maritime Law Institute (in Malta). We are very proud of these and of the many graduates they have produced who now hold positions of responsibility and influence within the maritime community,” he said. 

Without a quality labour force, motivated, trained and skilled to the appropriate international standards, the maritime industry cannot thrive. Not only that, but all the many advances that have been made, in terms of safety and environmental impact, are at risk if those at the “sharp end” are unable to implement them properly.

While seafarer training falls to training institutions recognized and authorised by national authorities to meet STCW standards, IMO as an organization supports skills-based training events and the sharing of technical knowledge, through national and regional Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) training events and workshops, which provide short up-grading courses, based typically on the IMO Model Courses. 

On another level, the World Maritime University and the IMO International Maritime Law Institute are at the forefront of IMO’s capacity-building strategy, supporting post-graduate training in order to maintain a cadre of high level managers, policy makers and other key personnel. 

While in Malmö, Mr. Sekimizu also made a site visit to the future home of WMU in Tornhuset, the centrally located, historic harbor master’s building that is being enhanced by a dramatic new addition designed by renowned architect Kim Utzon in collaboration with Tyrone Cobcroft of Terrior Architects (Australia). The new building will be inaugurated in May 2015.



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