IMO backs more English Channel ship reporting

Draft approval given for new "post-Erika" mandatory system proposed by UK, France

A new ship reporting system, aimed at tightening maritime security by requiring ships in the English Channel to disclose their identity and cargo to coastal authorities, has been given preliminary approval by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The scheme was proposed by the UK and French governments in order to improve communication between ships and authorities in the event of dangerous situations at sea.

The new system would be set up for the central section of the sea, supplementing two existing reporting centres already in place for the Channel's shipping lanes, the IMO said yesterday. All ships over 300 gross tonnes would be obliged to provide their name, position, destination and cargo if they contained any potentially hazardous items. The scheme could be formally adopted by the IMO before the end of the year. If accepted, it would enter into force six months later.

The move is the latest in a series aimed at improving maritime safety at EU and international level following the sinking of the Erika oil tanker off France's Atlantic coast last December (ENDS Daily 12 January). The IMO has argued that it should play the pre-eminent role in agreeing new international safety rules and has been angered by EU moves to act unilaterally (ENDS Daily 17 March). Secretary-general William O'Neil said last week that the IMO was grateful to the UK and France for bringing their proposals to the organisation, which he said was "the only place where issues [of] international shipping safety and environmental protection should be resolved".

Follow Up:
IMO, tel: +44 20 77 35 76 11.

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