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Major NZ presence at the International Maritime Organisation

14 June 2013

Major New Zealand presence at the International Maritime Organisation

New Zealand has stepped up its engagement with the International Maritime Organization, with the appointment this week of the Rt Hon Sir Lockwood Smith as New Zealand’s first Permanent Representative.

The Director of Maritime New Zealand, Keith Manch, also participated in the first-ever Symposium on the Future of Ship Safety, held at IMO headquarters in London.

Sir Lockwood, New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, presented his credentials to the IMO’s Secretary-General, Koji Sekimizu, today (London time).

Mr Manch said Sir Lockwood’s appointment as Permanent Representative was an indication of the importance of maritime affairs to New Zealand. “New Zealand has a strong interest in ensuring effective international rules for safe and secure shipping and the protection of the marine environment,” he said.

Sir Lockwood, a former New Zealand Minister for Agriculture and for International Trade, underlined the links that maritime affairs have to the New Zealand economy.

“New Zealand is reliant on international shipping for the vast majority of our imports, and to get our exports to market. We need to be confident about the quality of this shipping, in terms of safety, security and environmental standards,” he said. “Shipping is one of the most international of human endeavours, and no country can regulate it on its own. It’s important we have our say in shaping the international rules that apply.”

The two-day Symposium on the Future of Ship Safety preceded a meeting of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee and brought together the full spectrum of ship designers, builders, owners, operators and regulators. Sessions were focused on the challenges facing shipping if it is to meet the needs of society, industry and global trade, and whether the existing regulatory regime will be sufficient to respond to these challenges.

Themes emerging from the Symposium, for consideration by the Maritime Safety Committee, were:

• improving data collection and increasing its availability to support the evolution of the international regulatory regime

• better integrating risk-based methodologies into the safety framework

• encouraging a safety culture that goes beyond "mere compliance" with requirements.

There was also a strong focus on the "human element" in accidents and incidents, and how to support the development of seafarers’ capability in a time of significant change.

Mr Manch said, “It is striking how much these themes echo what we are currently doing within Maritime New Zealand to become more risk-based and intelligence-led. The introduction of New Zealand’s Maritime Operator Safety System, MOSS, will be a big step towards promoting the safety culture that the Symposium was focusing on, and our Seafarer Certification, or SeaCert, project will introduce a modern certification and proficiency framework.”

The IMO is the 170-member organisation responsible for the safety and security of shipping and protection of the marine environment. It is responsible for the international regulations that apply to shipping organisations and about 50 international treaties and more than 1000 codes and recommendations.

New Zealand has been a member of the IMO since its establishment in 1948.

ENDS

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