Port Community to Cooperate for Stronger Voice in IMO

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International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) President Santiago Garcia Milà delivered his maiden speech at IMO headquarters this week calling for closer cooperation between various port-related organizations. The port community is currently represented in IMO through various organizations, including port authorities, cargo handling companies, harbor masters, maritime pilots, port community systems, ship agents and port police.

The IAPH President spoke at the first dedicated port event to be held at the IMO, following an initiative of IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim, who also initiated the theme of last year's World Maritime Day “Connecting Ships, Ports and People.”

The IAPH is undertaking steps to establish a coordinated “round table” of port interests in IMO, inspired by the existing round table of international shipowner organisations.

“Ports are not just part of wider transport and logistics supply chains. In themselves, ports are clusters of companies and businesses that provide a mixture of transport and logistics services. This includes maritime-oriented services, such as terminal operations and ship agencies, but also freight forwarding, warehousing and all kinds of supporting services. In addition, various authorities and government agencies are present in ports, such as customs, immigration and food inspection,” said Milà.

“Port authorities play a particular role in this microcosmos. They generally bear the overall responsibility for the management of the port estate. You could say they are hybrids, functioning partly as regulators, looking after safety and environment, and partly as commercial partners of shipping and logistics companies. Above all, port authorities have become facilitators and matchmakers between private and public interests.”

The IAPH President noted that port authorities, port businesses and government agencies handle an incredible amount of data and referred specifically to the single window concept that is promoted by the IMO in the context of the Convention on the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL). The IMO is encouraging governments to use the single window concept to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal, without duplication.

“Shipping companies and ports both support the single window concept,” he says. “Shipping companies are keen to have the ‘reporting once’ principle adopted so that ship crews can be relieved from a considerable administrative burden. The priority for ports is to simplify administrative procedures and harmonize different reporting data formats so that the same data elements can be reported to each competent authority in the same way. Whilst we often tend to focus on the different needs of the ship and the shore side in this debate, we should not lose sight of the big picture. Technically speaking, it should be relatively easy to resolve our differences.”

Considering the wider agenda of the IMO, Milà added: “Digitization and improved ship-to-shore communication will also come up in other topics that are on the agenda of IMO. If reduced vessel speed is going to become a mainstream short-term measure to reduce GHG emissions of ships, then this will need a thorough debate with the port community. The same applies for the introduction of automated vessels."

The Maritime Executive


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