IMO completes Vanuatu Maritime Sector audit

The Maritime Sector of Vanuatu was audited by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) from the 17th October to 3rd November 2017. Vanuatu is a member of the IMO and it is a mandatory requirement for such an audit to be conducted on member States, and it occurs every seven (7) years.

The purpose of the Audit is to determine the extent to which Vanuatu as a State Party to IMO give full and complete effect to its obligations and responsibilities under the IMO International conventions. This include the mandatory IMO Conventions Safety of life at sea (SOLAS 1974 and its 1988 Protocol); Prevention of Pollution from ships (MARPOL); standards of training, certification and watch keeping for seafarers (STCW 1978); load lines (LL 66 and its 1988 Protocol); tonnage measurement of ships (Tonnage 1969); and regulations for preventing collisions at sea (COLREG 1972).

The audit was conducted by three expert auditors drawn from Denmark, India and Papua New Guinea. The audit covers Vanuatu’s obligations relating to the Flag, Coastal and Port State obligations of Vanuatu and other mandatory requirements of IMO instruments.

The three Auditors started the audit in New York where the Vanuatu International Shipping Registry located, and later with Maritime administrations in Port Vila from 18th October to 3 November, 2017. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU) together with the Office of the Maritime Regulator (OMR) and Vanuatu IMO representative in London, Mr. Laurent Parente coordinated the audit program between these periods.

The Auditors met with various maritime stakeholders including the New York based Vanuatu Maritime Services Limited, Department of Ports and Harbour, Police Maritime Wing, OMR, Environment, Ministry of Lands (Surveyor hydrography), National Disaster Management Committee, Meteorological Department, State Law Office and Foreign Affairs representative.

The audit program was concluded on 3 November with 27 findings to which Vanuatu needed to address to go forward. Some of the main findings included: the lack of a system to monitor the Vanuatu International Shipping Registry and Flag Surveyors, lack of Port State Control implementation, lack of system and procedures relating to Coastal State obligations and the need of having relevant technical capacities for key maritime administrations.

According to the Interim Regulator, Mr. Charlie Maniel, “the importance of these findings as it will help maritime administrations to understand the root cause of the problems and ensure Vanuatu rectify in order to strengthened the maritime safety and improve compliance within the sector.”

In accepting the findings on behalf of the Minister of MIPU, the First Political Advisor to the Minister who is also the Executive Chair for Maritime Affairs, Mr. Bakoa Kaltongga thanked the IMO auditors for conducting such an audit within such a short time frame period.

“Vanuatu accepts the findings and it is the Government’s commitment to address these findings. All Maritime administration must work as a team to carry this sector forward’, concluded Mr Kaltongga.