The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has published its latest Flag State Performance Table providing an annual overview of the performance of the world’s flag states against a number of criteria such as port state control records, ratification of international maritime Conventions and attendance at IMO meetings.
There is nothing inherently unusual in an international ship registry system in which the owner of a ship may be located in a country other than the state whose flag the ship flies, says the ICS. However, a balance has to be struck between the commercial advantages of selecting a particular flag and the need to discourage the use of flags that do not meet their international obligations.
The purpose of this Flag State Performance Table is two-fold:
• To encourage shipowners and operators to examine whether a flag state has sufficient substance before using it.
• To encourage shipowners and operators to put pressure on their flag administrations to effect any improvements that might be necessary, especially in relation to safety of life at sea, the protection of the marine environment, and the provision of decent working and living conditions for seafarers.
Some changes have been made to the table this year. Flag states which do not qualify for the United States “Qualship 21” program have not been given negative performance indicators.
“The list of flag states qualifying for Qualship 21 now varies considerably from year to year. We therefore no longer currently view non-inclusion as being an indicator of negative performance,” says ICS Director of Policy & External Relations, Simon Bennett. However, flag states that continue to qualify for the U.S. program are still given a positive performance indicator.
An important development in the previous 12 months is that participation by maritime administrations in the IMO Member State Audit Scheme became mandatory in 2016. ICS therefore intends to add a new field to address this in 2018.
The table is available here.