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Maritime safety audits for Pacific Island countries


Maritime officers from around the Pacific are in Wellington this week studying how to prepare their countries for audit by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Maritime NZ’s Chief Executive Keith Manch says the training is an opportunity to improve maritime safety standards across the Pacific.

Maritime representatives from seven Pacific countries will join their New Zealand counterparts at the training course, being delivered by the IMO.

Countries signed up to IMO conventions are required to submit to an IMO audit – under the IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS) – once every seven years. The audit is comprehensive and covers a number of IMO conventions including those relating to oil pollution, safety of life at sea and seafarer training.

Mr Manch said preparing for an IMSAS audit requires significant time and investment for any country.

“But for some Pacific nations, with limited capacity in terms of personnel or local expertise, it is particularly difficult.

“During this course, two IMO auditors will take the participants through their processes and help them understand what will be required of their country’s maritime departments when it is time for them to undergo the IMSAS audit.

“It is an opportunity for each country to identify what it needs to focus on over the next couple of years. Participants will gain a clear understanding of the procedures for the member state audit and their reporting requirements.”

Mr Manch said the course was also an opportunity for collaboration as all participants can share expertise and experiences. A number of Maritime NZ technical officers will be participating in the course, as the organisation prepares for New Zealand’s audit, in late 2020.

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The course is being funded by the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme (PMSP), a New Zealand Aid funded programme administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and delivered by Maritime NZ.

One of the programme’s key areas of focus is to help Pacific countries develop their maritime regulations and capacity to implement them. Mr Manch said the course would support the strengthening of the regulatory frameworks in each of the countries.

Representatives from all seven PMSP countries – Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu – will participate.


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