Port State Control Corruption

It is widely recognized that flag states are the primary enforcers of international shipping regulations and that they exercise their rights of port state control (PSC) over foreign-flag vessels entering their domains. However, many PSC's are accused of being lax with their own vessels, while effectively inspecting foreign ships while in their control.

Intertanko, the independent tanker owners group, has had a problem with various PSCs for quite sometime. It recently began working with the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) secretariat about these problems.

Intertanko highlighted some of the problems by issuing a list of concerns: selective targeting- in which a PSC selects ships from another PSC that has targeted its vessels; easy targeting- where good and compliant owners? ships are picked to meet inspection quotas, which in turn reverses incentives to be a responsible owner, and, finally, malpractice.

Blatant malpractice, or better put, corruption, is a real problem throughout the world. Intertanko has identified two forms of corruption. The first is where port state inspectors act on behalf of third parties and pressure an owner to use certain port services. An inspector can also harass a vessel to such an extent as to drive an owner from continuing in that specific trade, to which a competitor benefits.

Secondly, there is the old fashioned bribe, where the inspector, either on their own behalf or collectively, makes financial demands ranging from cash to requiring an owner to make unwarranted repairs or parts replacements to avoid a deficiency report or, worse, detention.

Intertanko and the Paris MOU came up with four action points that were agreed upon:
regular and open communications between shipowners and PSC officials; extending a worldwide basis for independent appeals for owners who are supported by their flag or class that have a legitimate grievance about a specific detention; offering a venue or mechanism in which owners can provide feedback on particular problems that are encountered with a specific port state, and, if necessary, reporting abuses by port states to the IMO.