Taiwan Completes IMO-Compliant Voluntary Audit

Proactive move by a non-IMO Member State is believed to be a first.

IMO HQ with flags

By MarEx 2015-01-26 14:46:40

By Jack Gallagher

The Republic of China (Taiwan) is a major maritime economy with a significant global network.  Taiwan ports move in excess of 200 million tons of cargo and 700,000 passengers annually and rank high internationally in terms of tonnage and container throughput. Given this level of activity, the Taiwan Maritime Administration recognized the importance of international convention compliance even though it lacks formal recognition by the United Nations and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The country, accordingly, prepared for an IMO-compliant voluntary audit of its Maritime Administration to assess compliance with IMO safety, security and environmental conventions.  These conventions were developed by the IMO in response to criticism regarding a lack of international consistency in the implementation of maritime standards. The audit regime applies to IMO Member States willing to commit to a voluntary maritime administration audit.  

The IMO on request by the Member State assembles a multinational team to undertake the work. As of 2012 only 48 of the 170 Member States had completed the voluntary audit. In order to expand the audit program, the IMO took the necessary steps to make the audit scheme mandatory as of 2016.

Conducting the Audit

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on maritime training and technology executed between Canada and Taiwan is an important component of the country’s IMO-compliant audit program. This MOU is administered by a Canadian company, COMART (Canadian Office of Maritime Technologies) International Corporation, and uses Canadian maritime experts who work together with Taiwan colleagues to develop and deliver important maritime programming. 

These programs have included training and information on search and rescue, vessel traffic services, port state control, port navigational risk assessment, oil spill response, casualty investigations and other maritime topics. 

Taiwan commenced preparations for an IMO-compliant voluntary audit with the assistance of COMART from 2011 to 2013. An internationally qualified audit team then assembled in Taiwan and completed the first stage of the audit from October 6 -14, 2014. To ensure its credibility, three qualified auditors were engaged by COMART through the maritime risk and safety company Admaris GmbH of Hamburg, Germany. All auditors had extensive prior experience assisting maritime administrations in audit preparation and execution and had also completed IMO-approved auditor training.

The auditors followed all principles and practices of a fully compliant IMO audit and, in recognition of the special status of Taiwan, it was assumed that the country was a signatory to all relevant conventions. As Taiwan cannot formally deposit reports with the IMO, the auditors recommended that Taiwan pursue other methods to ensure distribution of relevant and important maritime information to the global maritime community. This article is part of that effort.

Taiwan was under no obligation to undertake this audit process but did so to ensure high standards of compliance by the Taiwan Maritime Administration with all IMO conventions.  This is important to Taiwan as a fully participating member of the global maritime community. – MarEx 

Jack Gallagher is President of Hammurabi Marine Consulting and an advisor to COMART, a Canadian company with a focus on technology transfer between Canada and Asia.