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.
IHMA is run on a day-to-day basis by the Executive Committee which is referred to as ExCo. This consists of 7 Officers (The President, 5 Vice Presidents and the Treasurer) and is supported by the Secretary. The Vice Presidents are required to be Full members of the Association; the Treasurer is required to be a Full member of the Association when first elected. These seven positions are filled by election held at each Ordinary General Meeting (OGM). Once elected by the Full members of the Association, the Vice Presidents elect the President from amongst their number. Other members may be co-opted to ExCo for specific purposes, such as the next Congress Chair and the Chair of the Papers’ Committee.
ExCo meets quarterly and is increasingly doing so using electronic means. However, it always meets ‘face to face’ just before and at the end of each Congress; the latter meeting is held in combination with the IHMA Council.
The Council consists of six full members who are also elected at each OGM and exercise immediate oversight of ExCo. It is accepted practice for the Council to be consulted about the proposed annual budget and any sensitive issue arising at ExCo meetings.
The Constitution of the International Harbour Masters’ Association sets out the articles under which the IHMA shall exist and operate. Amendments to the Constitution are approved at Ordinary General Meetings (OGM).
The Constitution was initially approved by an Ordinary General Meeting of the European Harbour Masters’ Association in Reykjavik, Iceland, on 21 June 1996, with the agreement of those harbour masters from outside Europe in attendance at the Sixth Congress of the EHMA. A substantially revised Constitution was approved on 1 June 2016 at the OGM held in Vancouver during the 10th IHMA Congress.
IHMA members within a defined geographical region of two or more neighbouring countries may seek IHMA authority to establish a Regional Committee. The aim of a Regional Committee is to further the specific interests of IHMA's members within that region.
At present, there is one Regional Committee, the European Harbour Masters' Committee (EHMC). The EHMC is managed by a board from which its Chair is elected. There are board members for each of the South, East, West and North European areas. The EHMC has its own Secretary and its elected Chair is co-opted to ExCo.
International Maritime Organization (IMO)
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations specialised agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. Find out more about the IMO here.
IHMA has Non–Governmental Organisation (NGO) consultative status at IMO. The purpose of consultative status is to enable IMO to obtain information or expert advice from NGOs with specialist knowledge in a particular area of maritime activity and to enable such NGOs, representing their members whose activities have an important and direct bearing on IMO’s work, to express their points of view.
Members of IHMA may attend IMO meetings by arrangement with the IHMA Secretary. Members of IHMA are able to participate in Correspondence Groups between meetings and in Working Groups during IMO meetings.
International Hydrographic Organization
The principal aim of IHO is to ensure that all the world's seas, oceans and navigable waters are surveyed and charted. Its vision is to create a global environment in which States provide adequate and timely hydrographic data, products and services and ensure their widest possible use. IHMA has Observer status at IHO and contributes to work streams associated with the provision of nautical port information.
Whilst maintaining relations with many maritime organisations, especially those represented at IMO, IHMA has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with four organisations.
IHMA is represented at meetings of IALA. IHMA members have the opportunity to participate in PIANC Working Groups which develop guidance to inform the construction and management of waterborne transport infrastructure.
National Associations for Harbour Masters are active in some countries.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the commitment of 12 countries to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers, following a virtual ministerial summit hosted by the UK Government on 9 July. This step represents significant progress to help resolve a growing crisis facing the maritime industry, and enable hundreds of thousands of stranded seafarers to go home or join ships.
In a joint statement, representatives from 12 countries expressed their deep concern about the current crisis and acknowledged that “the inability of ship operators worldwide to conduct ship’s crew changes is the single most pressing maritime operational challenge to the safe and efficient movement of global trade”.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions and border closures imposed by Governments around the world have caused significant hurdles to crew changes and left hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded onboard ships, or unable to join ships. It is currently estimated that at least 200,000 seafarers worldwide are stranded on ships and require immediate repatriation, and a similar number urgently need to join ships to replace them. This has led to a growing humanitarian crisis, in addition to concerns that seafarer fatigue and mental health issues may lead to serious maritime accidents. There are also concerns about the continuity of the global supply chain.
French container carrier, CMA CGM has announced its intention of launching a new product called Round the Africa (RTA) service to add to and complement the current 31 CMA CGM services already operating to sub-Saharan Africa.
A bit of a misnomer, the service is unique in terms of providing a direct service from Asia to Senegal and Sierra Leone along with best transit times, as well as calls to other selected West African ports.
Dakar is reached weekly from Ningbo in 35 days, from Nansha in 32 days. Freetown (Sierra Leone) is reached in 35 days from Nansha. The service offer to Tema (Ghana) is improved with three weekly departures.
‘Our exporters from West Africa will benefit of excellent transit time and direct service to China. Shanghai is reached in 29 days from Abidjan, 31 days from Tema, 36 days from Freetown and 39 days from Dakar,’ says the line in a statement.
One is left to assume the Round Africa part comes from the ships returning to Asia via the Cape of Good Hope.
Round the Africa service rotation is as follows:
Shanghai – Ningbo – Nansha – Singapore – Malta – Tanger – Dakar – Freetown – Tema – Abidjan – Port Kelang – Shanghai