Flag State Poor Performers' List Grows

Georgia, Indonesia and Kenya now have 12 or more negative performance indicators on the Round Table of international shipping associations' newly updated "Shipping Industry Flag State Performance Table."

The updated table summarizes factual information that is available to the public as of June 30, 2006. The aim is to help shipping companies assess the performance and credibility of the hundred or so major flag state administrations.

The Round Table: which is comprised of Bimco, Intercargo, the International Chamber of Shipping/International Shipping Federation, and Intertanko, says shipping companies "may wish to consider whether being a member of a flag state that has a large number of negative performance indicators is in the best interest of the company or the industry at large."

In addition to Georgia, Indonesia, and Kenya, the following flags also have 12 or more negative performance indicators: Albania, Bolivia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Honduras, Madagascar, Mongolia, Sao Tome & Principe, Suriname and the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Round Table comments: Following the entry into force of MARPOL Annex VI (atmospheric pollution), a disappointingly large number of flags have acquired an additional "black blob" on the Round Table's list of potential performance indicators, which is ultimately due to the failure to ratify this Annex. A number of new flags, including some traditional maritime countries, have also appeared on the U.S. Coast Guard port state control target list for the first time, again resulting in some additional 'black blobs."

Meanwhile, the Round Table has reiterated its strong support for the IMO Member State Audit Scheme, whereby flag states will be subject to, on a voluntary basis, external audit by experts from other IMO Members under the auspices of IMO. The Scheme is due to be adopted at the biennial meeting of the IMO Assembly which meets next week.

The Round Table says it hopes that the results of the audits will be used to identify areas for improvement, which in the case of developing countries might be targeted for IMO technical assistance programs. It adds: "Although the industry would welcome the eventual emergence of a mandatory scheme, in practice, a voluntary scheme should also prove effective. Any responsible flag state should feel obliged to participate, not least because this is likely to be a factor in port state control targeting."