Latest INTERTANKO Bulletin Addresses Two Critical Issues for Membership

IMO designates Stowaway Focal Point (SFP) to assist masters in the resolution of stowaway problems

At the March meeting of the IMO Facilitation Committee, a joint paper submitted by INTERCARGO / INTERTANKO formed the basis of a decision to designate an IMO “Stowaway Focal Point" (SFP) to assist masters in the resolution of stowaway problems when conventional resolution techniques prove unsuccessful.

With immediate effect, a trial period has been initiated whereby masters can both report statistical stowaway returns and also seek assistance on a Government to Government basis.

To ensure the continuing availability of this valuable facility, separate publicity will be issued in due course, but members have been offered the information which covers the steps to be taken in the event of the discovery of stowaway:

• Immediate assistance
• Informing people and getting help
• Investigating the stowaway -- a stowaway report form (a.871) (including pieces of information that should be collected as per the IMO Resolution A.871 (20) dated 27 November 1997):

                 1. ship details
                 2. stowaway details - timeline
                 3. stowaway details -- personal details
                 4. stowaway details -- identification documents
                 5. stowaway details : personal characteristics

• Stowaway Focal Point (SFP) : If P&I / Company / Flag cannot resolve
• Terms of reference for the SFP trial (abridged)
• Contacting the IMO SFP
• Other sources of information

Migrants and refugees

There are important distinctions between stowaways and other persons who may find themselves being taken aboard a ship.

The IMO defines stowaways in Section 1A of the Facilitation (FAL) Convention as:

“Stowaway means a person who is secreted on a ship, or in cargo which is subsequently loaded on the ship without the consent of the shipowner or the master or any other responsible person and who is detected on board the ship after it has departed from a port, or in the cargo while unloading it in the port of arrival, and is reported as a stowaway by the master to the appropriate authorities.”

However, there are other categories of persons which may equally find their way on board a vessel such as survivors of rescue operations, refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.

To assist masters and others to understand the complex legal frameworks (UNCLOS, the Search and Rescue Convention and SOLAS requiring masters to render assistance, together with commensurate responsibilities of Governments to accept them), the IMO and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have produced a leaflet called “Rescue at Sea”.

Who carries the can when ultra high-sulphur residual fuel is sold breaching ISO and IMO limits?

This week saw a notification of heavy residual fueloil being sold in Italy with a sulphur content above the 4.5% specified by ISO and therefore above the limit set by international regulation as per Regulation 14 of MARPOL Annex VI.

Not only could this put a ship whose owners buys this product in breach of international regulation if it flies the flag of a country, or is trading in the waters of countries, that have ratified MARPOL Annex VI, but it also increases the risk of piston ring and liner wear if the lubricants are inadequate or otherwise not matched to the fuel.

The owner of a ship buying such fuel could face the heavy hand of the law and/or the heavy hand of his charterer with the risk of his ship being penalised commercially for being in contravention of prevailing international regulations.

But why is there no penalty to the refiner and the marketing company for putting on the market such product? And how long will governments take to develop national legislation to allow authorities effectively to monitor and enforce the law?

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INTERTANKO Contact: Bill Box, Communications and Public Relations Manager, Area Manager for Greece & Cyprus. E-Mail: bill.box@intertanko.com