International Cruise and Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2019
International Cruise & Ferry Review Ferry Business 104 A new approach to safety COMMENTARY ollowing major ferry accidents in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s (Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987, Scandinavian Star in 1990, Jan Heweliusz in 1993 and Estonia in 1994) many European countries have cooperated to strengthen requirements for ferry safety with the help of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and European Union (EU). Although these regulations are typically developed for the international market, thanks to the EU’s wider reach, many significant IMO regulations have been transposed to also be applicable for domestic ferries that operate exclusively within one country’s territory. At Interferry, we strongly endorse national adoption of international rules, under the motto that ‘a ferry passenger should be equally safe regardless of the ferry’s destination’. While there is no mechanism for IMO regulations to be enforced on domestic operations, most developed countries use the key parts as a basis for developing their own corresponding, but adapted, national requirements. Thanks to this positive development, the number of annual ferry fatalities in international operations between developed (OECD) countries has been consistently low for decades. The situation in developing countries, however, is different. Since 1985, some 97% of known ferry fatalities have occurred in domestic operations in non- OECD countries. Over the 10-year period between 2009 and 2018, 99.8% of known fatalities occurred in domestic operations in non-OECD countries. Hence, it’s evident that any efforts to enhance ferry safety should target domestic operations within these developing markets. Still, the IMO trudges on to ‘enhance’ passenger ship safety for internationally operated ships. Interferry has long been engaged to raise the awareness of domestic ferry safety and has continuously encouraged the IMO to expand its remit to also engage with domestic operations. While the IMO has consistently quoted some formal reasons not to do so, it has become increasingly apparent that investing the collective resources of the international community to address a fraction of a percentage of the problem is unequitable and untenable. Therefore, Interferry has been very happy to see how China and the Philippines have asserted strong leadership to put this issue on the international agenda over the past few years. However, we have also been very disappointed to see the limited support from other leading developed maritime nations. In November 2018, China suggested to the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) that a statistical analysis of domestic ferry incidences in IMO Member States should be undertaken, but this was met with a lukewarm response. Building on that placeholder and continuing the work that was initiated by his predecessor, IMO secretary general Ki-Tack Lim issued a strong note to the following MSC in May 2019, encouraging a stronger IMO Interferry’s Johan Roos explains why the global industry must focus on helping developing nations to improve domestic ferry safety Ferry operators should carry out regular training exercises to ensure they are well prepared in the event of an emergency Johan Roos Photo: IMO Swedish national Johan Roos holds an environmental sciences masters degree from the University of Gothenburg. He has previously worked at both DNV and Stena Line, and was Stena Rederi’s director of sustainability from 2006-2011 before taking up his Brussels-based Interferry post.