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Friday, September 21, 2018

INTERTANKO addresses maritime safety at Baltic region conference in Brussels

INTERTANKO’s Managing Director Peter Swift addressed a maritime safety conference this week in Brussels. The conference, entitled “Erika, Prestige, Baltic Carrier – Is maritime safety under control? The example of the Baltic Sea Region”, was organised by the three northern German Länder with the support of the Committee of the Regions (an advisory body to the European Union) and various Scandinavian regions. The meeting was widely attended by Ministers, MEPs, other representatives of the regional states, European Commission and European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) staff, and industry organisations. 

Swift was invited to speak on behalf of industry on a panel of high-ranking representatives including the Commissioner for Transport and Energy and Vice President of the European Union Jacques Barrot, the Minister President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and a representative of the Russian Federation. 

In the conference, which discussed the effectiveness of maritime safety measures adopted in the aftermath of the Prestige and Erika incidents with a specific focus on the Baltic Sea, Swift explained the great importance of the tanker industry for the economy of the European Union and emphasised the numerous and effective measures the industry had taken to improve maritime safety and reduce the probability of oil spills. He stressed the critical importance of commitment to continuous improvement by all stakeholders in maritime industries and highlighted the essential partnership with governments and regulators.  

In his comments he lamented the failure of many EU states to ratify important IMO Conventions and their tardiness in acting on Emergency and Casualty Response Planning and the introduction of adequate and affordable reception facilities. He said that industry wanted “Effective Regulation”, that is regulation that addressed the issue at hand, was practical, was properly considered, and was implemented uniformly and internationally -  not regulation poorly conceived and hastily introduced merely to satisfy political expediency. 

Swift’s presentation can be viewed on the INTERTANKO web site  

The participants acknowledged that actions at international, national and regional level had already improved maritime safety and that the industry had made its contribution through various voluntary initiatives. At the same time participants agreed that there was an implementation deficit with regard to some safety measures already agreed on, such as the planning for places of refuge.  

In his final statement the host of the conference, Minister President Ringstorff, said that there could never be complete safety but that it was our responsibility to reduce risk to the minimum possible. The conference issued a (draft) set of conclusions, which can be viewed here.

Contact: Peter Swift