Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
A mandatory requirement for national governments to introduce electronic information exchange between ships and ports came into effect from 8 April 2019.
The aim is to make cross-border trade simpler and the logistics chain more efficient, for the more than 10 billion tons of goods which are traded by sea annually across the globe.
The requirement, mandatory under IMOs Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention), is part of a package of amendments under the revised Annexe to the FAL Convention, adopted in 2016.
In the words of IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim: ‘The new FAL Convention requirement for all Public Authorities to establish systems for the electronic exchange of information related to maritime transport marks a significant move in the maritime industry and ports towards a digital maritime world, reducing the administrative burden and increasing the efficiency of maritime trade and transport.’
IMO’s Facilitation Convention encourages use of a single window for data, 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.
Requirement for electronic data exchange came into effect as IMO’s Facilitation Committee was meeting for its 43rd session from 8-12 April.
Alongside other agenda items, at the time of writing, the Committee was due to continue its ongoing work on harmonization and standardization of electronic messages.
Phase One of the review of the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic business, including the data elements of the FAL Convention, was expected to be completed and the revised Guidelines for setting up a single window system in maritime transport approved.
The FAL Committee was also due to receive an update on a successful IMO maritime single window project, implemented in Antigua and Barbuda, with Norway’s support. The source code developed for the system established in Antigua and Barbuda was due to be made available to other interested Member States with a presentation on the system during the Facilitation Committee.
The FAL Convention
The main objective of IMO’s Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention), adopted in 1965, is to achieve the most efficient maritime transport as possible, looking for smooth transit in ports of ships, cargo and passengers.
This Convention, which has 121 Contracting Governments, contains standards and recommended practices and rules for simplifying formalities, documentary requirements and procedures on ships’ arrival, stay and departure.
Under the FAL Committee, IMO has developed standardised FAL documentation for authorities and Governments to use, and the FAL Convention urges all stakeholders to make use of them.
Documentation: The IMO Standardized Forms (FAL 1-7)
The Facilitation Convention (Standard 2.1) lists documents which public authorities can demand of a ship and recommends the maximum information and number of copies which should be required. IMO has developed Standardized Forms for seven of these documents.
They are the:
Five other documents are required, on security, on wastes from ships, on advance electronic cargo information for customs risk assessment purposes, and two additional ones under the Universal Postal Convention and the International Health Regulations.
Under the requirement for electronic data exchange, all national authorities should now have provision for electronic exchange of this information.
Details for this briefing and the accompanying illustration were kindly provided by the IMO Media service (www.imo.org ).
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At its 2019 AGM held in the Faroe Islands in week ending 15 June representatives of the world’s national shipowners’ associations reviewed the priorities of the global shipowners’ association, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
Sadly, the ICS Annual General Meeting was overshadowed by the attacks against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and the very serious threat this presents to the lives of seafarers and maritime trade.
Action on CO2 Reduction
ICS agreed a suite of actions in support of the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) strategy to decarbonise international shipping in line with the United Nations 1.5 degree climate change goal.
Speaking from the Faroe Islands, ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson (illustrated) said: ‘It is imperative that IMO Member States adopt a new global regulation to mandate further short term CO2 reduction measures at the next session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee in 2020. This should deliver further CO2 reductions by 2023 to help us meet the IMO target set for 2030. We will work with a broad coalition of governments to produce a comprehensive proposal that can be submitted to IMO in September this year.’
Pan-European multimodal service provider Samskip have indicated experience gained up to 31 March 2019 find it fully prepared for a North Sea container traffic surge, as attitudes harden in the run up to October’s revised UK Brexit deadline. (An illustration of Samskip’s traffic is provided here with thanks ©)
Europe’s largest multimodal transport group by freight volume reports that it expects UK exporters and importers to start switching away from trailers and towards containerisation, repeating a trend established in the run-up to the original deadline for Brexit of 31 March this year.
David Besseling, Samskip UK Trade Manager commented: ‘We saw a significant push in container volumes up to March 2019, especially into Hull, as decision-makers facing uncertainty opted for the reliability and proven procedures of container shipping. Concerns over supply chain security are fast re-emerging.’
Besseling reflected that stockpiling contributed to the earlier traffic surge, but added that the experience also confirmed robustness in new Hull-Ghent and Hull-Amsterdam links established by Samskip at the end of 2018. The services add to existing high-frequency connections between Rotterdam, Tilbury, Hull and Grangemouth.