Equasis Editorial Board meeting tackles CAS and PSC deficiencies

The meeting of the Equasis 7th Editorial Board Meeting was held in the INTERTANKO/ INTERCARGO offices in London on 28 October 2004 and was attended by over 20 industry representatives from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), United States Coast Guard (USCG), International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Oil Companies’ International Marine Forum (OCIMF), Chemical Distribution Institute (CDI), International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO.

A report from the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) Working Group updated the Editorial Board on developments since its last meeting in London on 3 March 2004. The group was given the task to find a mechanism to

a)   identify vessels that are CAS eligible;

b)   identify the date when CAS certification is needed and the status;

c)   Identify the information needed by PSC officers;

d)    decide on the format of information and the way it will be displayed on Equasis.

The signatories of the Equasis MoU had put forward a request to the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 48) to provide information on CAS. At the following Equasis Supervisory Committee meeting it was decided that the decision of MEPC 48 did not help transparency and therefore a more detailed request was presented to MEPC 49. This MEPC meeting confirmed the previous decision of MEPC 48 without amending paragraph 14.2 of CAS (MARPOL 73/78 Annex 13G amended), which maintains that an electronic database containing CAS information will be accessible only to parties to MARPOL 73/78. This had been reiterated to the CAS Working Group by the IMO. However, the IMO representative at the Editorial Board meeting claimed that the information could be made available, although he recognised that it was currently out of date and was therefore of little use. He suggested that a further approach should be made to IMO.

The Paris MoU representative stated that port state control (PSC) inspectors needed to know prior to inspection if a tanker should or should not have a Statement of Compliance and that this information had to be made available by 5 April 2005.

The Editorial Board concluded that it was virtually impossible to find a reliable source of data in the time available. INTERTANKO had mentioned to the Board previously that its revised Questionnaire 88 (Q88) included a question pertaining to CAS, which asks if the vessel has a Statement of Compliance issued under the provision of the CAS as relevant to MARPOL. INTERTANKO believes that this will be of immense value to PSC officers and other industry bodies. The Board agreed in principle that it will be a good start to have this information from INTERTANKO, and had given the task to the management unit to consider this proposal and examine the format of information and the way it could be displayed on Equasis.

INTERTANKO also raised the matter of “closing-out” deficiencies. Currently, when a deficiency is raised it is entered into the Equasis web site against the relevant vessel. But there is no report on the appropriate corrective action taken by the owner to close-out the deficiency.

INTERTANKO voiced its concerns on the absence of a method whereby a responsible owner can demonstrate that correct and adequate measures have been taken to ensure that corrective action has been taken regarding the deficiency within the time frame required and that the deficiency has been closed out. INTERTANKO suggested two options for the Board to review. It was recognised that the Paris MOU has no immediate ''closing out'' procedure but the representative agreed to consider ways in which this could be done.

The Editorial Board has noted these concerns and will consider how a system can be established to reflect the reality that deficiencies registered in Equasis do not necessarily mean that outstanding deficiencies exist.

With regard to the users by country, it was accepted that the Equasis Secretariat would have to increase its marketing efforts to include those developing countries which had major importers and exporters of cargoes. The statistics showed a marked Eurocentric bias which needs to be rectified.

The issues surrounding the relationship with non-providing MoUs and the criteria for potential PSC providers was discussed in depth. There was support for including as PSC providers those countries (as opposed to MoUs) which meet the required standards. The Paris MoU representative advised that those standards were being developed as a code of practice and that the Paris MoU would provide an audit facility for new providers. It was accepted that before this could happen, the Paris MoU and the Tokyo MoU needed to have their standards harmonised.

A list was provided of Equasis data currently available, and it was stated that the naming of charterers in the wet and dry bulk trades would start where possible from early 2005. It was noted that bulk carriers recently banned by the EU had their charterers named in the Paris MoU and this was accepted as a positive move in the battle to eradicate substandard shipping.

Contact: Minerva R. Alfonso