BELIZE, the friendly flag of quality offers

 

New Developments

 

 

ACHIEVEMENTS 2007 to December 2008

(1) IMPROVEMENT IN PORT STATE CONTROL DETENTION RECORDS

United States Coast Guard
For the first time since the Registry began operations, our vessels have not incurred any detention in the USA during 2003 - 2006.    The U.S. Coast Guard 3 year rolling Detention Rate has dropped from 23.08% in 2001 to 0.00% in 2006. Consequently, on 23rd March 2006, our Registry was notified by the United States Coast Guard that it had qualified for its Quality Shipping for the 21st Century (QUALSHIP 21) Program.  Belize/IMMARBE is one of only nine out of 166 Flag States/Ship Registries in the world holding this qualification in 2007 and the only one in Central America.


Paris MOU on Port State Control
Our 3 year rolling average Detention Rate fell from 24.00% in 2001 with an Excess Factor of 5.57% to 8.77% in 2005 with an Excess Factor of 0.98%. As the result of this improvement, Belize was placed in the Grey List of the Paris MOU in 2006 together with other prominent Registries such as Panama, Japan, Russian Federation. Its Detention Rate in 2006 is 9.49% with an Excess Factor of 1.22.


Tokyo MOU on Port State Control
Our 3 year rolling Detention Rate fell from 27.49% in 2001 to 15.39% in 2005. For 2006, it stood at 12.74%. 


In an effort to accelerate the improvement in our performance in the Paris and Tokyo MOUs in 2007, we have taken certain decisive actions by:
  • Deregistering non-compliant vessels:6 vessels which were trading in the Paris MOU and 12 vessels which were trading in the Tokyo MOU during 2006 which had a poor detention record and whose Owners failed to take the necessary preventive actions/improvements in maintenance etc required by our Administration, were deregistered.
  • Intensifying our Flag State Inspections:  This entails an increase in the number of Inspectors and the location thereof e.g. in smaller ports which have been identified as being frequently visited by certain vessels. Also, we have identified particular vessel types, individual vessels and their operators, which we will target.   This initiative may result in more deregistrations.  Furthermore, the monitoring of the performance of our Flag State Inspectors has been intensified. Any PSC detainable deficiencies found within 3 months after a Flag State Inspection may constitute possible grounds for dismissal of a Flag State Inspector. Also, we have distributed to them our analysis of detentions in 2006 which highlights those deficiencies which incurred the highest number of detentions and requested them to pay particular attention to those areas.
  • Writing to each of our Recognized Organizations with regard to vessels which they individually survey on our behalf.  We have drawn their particular attention to vessels which have incurred detentions, our analysis of the types of deficiencies which have been the cause of the majority of detentions in our fleet and instructing pro-active actions in the prevention of such detentions.


IMMARBE has made considerable improvements in its PSC detention records since 2001 and is committed to attaining the White Lists of all MOUs on Port State Control in 2009.


(2) IMPROVEMENT IN CASUALTY STATISTICS

According to the statistics published by Lloyd’s Ship Manager in January 2005 based on the figures derived from the Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit, the World Average for such casualties during the period 2000-2003 was 2.61% of the world fleet whereas Belize’s performance was 1.70% of its fleet. Furthermore, our statistics show that in 2001, our number of serious casualties were 1.12% of our total fleet whereas in 2006, this figure dropped to 0.55%.


(3)

IMPROVEMENT IN THE QUALITY OF VESSELS REGISTERED

As the result of our quality criteria for registration, the vessels currently being registered are of a better standard and larger than those in 2001. Also, the average age profile of the fleet has been reduced from 28 years in 2001 to 19 years in 2006.


(4)

IMPROVEMENT IN THE PREVENTION OF ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES

As the result of our rigidly enforced quality criteria for registration, the monitoring/inspection of our vessels as well as the extensive deterrents/ powers available to IMMARBE under the Registration of Merchant Ships (Disciplinary Regulations) and the High Seas Fishing Act, during 2005 up to date, there have been no incidents of trafficking in drugs, contraband, illegal weapons or humans in our fleet which averaged one thousand registered vessels during this period. Furthermore, Belize has two Boarding Agreements with the USA, one in respect of vessels which are suspected of being engaged in the transportation of narcotics and the other which was signed in 2005, in respect of vessels which are suspected of being engaged in
the transportation of weapons of mass destruction and related materials.
They establish points of contact and procedures for the boarding and searching of ships bearing the flag of the USA or that of Belize in international waters. These Agreements are a further reflection of Belize’s policy of cooperation in the prevention, detection and suppression of illegal activities in the interests of safety and the protection of the environment.


(5) IMPLEMENTATION OF A QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM/ EXTERNAL AUDITS

The Quality Management System for our Registry was accredited in 2002 by ANSI-RAB as compliant with ISO 9002. This encompasses Ship Registration Endorsement Certificates of Seafarers, Statutory Certification and Fishing Vessel Administration. As the result of an audit in December 2003, we were recertified by ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (USA) in accordance with the latest Quality System Standard ISO 9001-2000.


Since 2003, IMMARBE has co-operated with the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) in the pilot initiative for the formulation and implementation of measures to improve its Flag State Performance.


IMMARBE has submitted to the IMO its completed Flag State Performance Self-Assessment Form.


IMMARBE has always supported the voluntary IMO Menber State Audit Scheme initiative and had submitted recommendations to the IMO in connection with implementation of the Scheme as well as through its participation in the IMO Correspondence Group established for that purpose. On 13th March 2007, we received confirmation in writing that the Belize Port Authority was also willing to participate, thus enabling Belize to volunteer for this Audit which covers Flag State, Port State and Coastal State responsibilities. Consequently on 19th March 2007, we announced that Belize has decided to volunteer for the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme. The formal notification to the IMO by the Government of Belize is dated 7th August 2007.


(6)
COMPLIANCE WITH THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON STANDARDS OF TRAINING, CERTIFICATION AND WATCHKEEPING FOR SEAFARERS, 1978 (STCW)

Belize was placed on the IMO White List in November 2001. Also, the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee has confirmed that in accordance with Regulation 1/8 of the STCW 1978 Convention, it has received the required independent evaluation which demonstrates that Belize is giving full and complete effect to the aforementioned Convention.

(7)

EFFECTIVE  IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SHIP & PORT SECURITY (ISPS)  CODE

At a symposium on International Maritime Developments in the Caribbean held in Barbados on 16th July 2004, our Registry was praised for its effective implementation of the ISPS Code.


(8)

EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF FISHING VESSEL COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT

International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)
During ICCAT’s 18th Regular Meeting which was held in Dublin on 17th – 24st November 2003, the Commission reviewed the regulatory measures introduced by our High Seas Fishing Act 2003 and the strict enforcement measures implemented by Immarbe during the past 2 years which included the deregistration of some 513 non-compliant fishing vessels. As the result of this review, ICCAT decided to confirm the lifting of all existing sanctions against Belize in respect of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna and Swordfish with effect from 1st January 2004. Also the EU lifted its fishing sanctions against Belize in April 2004. We acceded to the ICCAT Convention in July 2005 thereby becoming a Contracting Party of ICCAT. We have secured quotas from ICCAT for tuna and tuna-like species which we allocate to our fishing vessels.


Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)

  • At its 10th Session which was held in Goa on 22nd – 26th May 2006, this Commission was satisfied that IMMARBE’s fishing vessels are properly regulated, monitored and controlled, thus conforming with the accepted international Conventions/ Agreements and norms as well as their own Regulations. Consequently, IMMARBE’s fishing vessels were placed on their Official Register of Vessels authorized to fish in their Convention area and Belize was granted Co-operating non-Contracting Party Status of this Commission.
  • At the 11th Session which was held in Mauritius on 13th – 18th May 2007, Belize was admitted as a Full Member/Contracting Party of IOTC. Also, its Director General, Mr. Angelo Mouzouropoulos was unanimously elected Vice-Chairman of IOTC’s Compliance Committee – itself an acknowledgement of the successful implementation of conservation and management measures on IMMARBE’s High Seas Fishing Fleet.

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)
At its 75th Meeting which was held in Cancun on 25th – 29th June 2006, this Commission reviewed IMMARBE’s regulatory systems with a positive result. Consequently, IMMARBE’s Co-operating non-Contracting Party Status of this Commission was renewed. At the same time, it had acceded to the IATTC “Convention for the Strengthening of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission Established by the 1949 Convention between the United States of America and the Republic of Costa Rica (Antigua Convention)”. Belize will become a Contracting Party latest by when the IATTC “Antigua Convention” comes into force which is expected to be in 2009

 

Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)
We have applied for Co-operating non-Contracting Party Status of this Commission. At its 3rd Regular Session which was held in Apia, Samoa on 11th – 15th December 2006, it was decided to allow all Belize registered fishing vessels which are operating in their Convention area to continue to do so pending consideration of Belize’s application for Cooperating non-Contracting Party status at WCPFC’s 4th Regular Session in December 2007.


North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)
At the 25th Annual Meeting of NEAFC which was held in London on 13th- 17th November 2006, Belize was admitted as a Cooperating non-Contracting Party.

Adherence/accession to Fishing Conventions/Agreements
On 8th July 2005, Belize issued instruments of adherence/acceptance of:

  • The 1993 FAO “Compliance Agreement”
  • The 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement
  • The International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

Also, in accordance with Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article VI of the FAO “Compliance Agreement”, we have sent to the FAO our detailed list of all fishing vessels operating worldwide.This is updated on a monthly basis.


(9)

IMPROVEMENT IN THE REPUTATION OF OUR REGISTRY

• The Flag State Audit published by the Seafarers International Research centre, Cardiff University in 2003 as the result of its study of the regulatory capacity of 37 flag States, including national flags, open and second registers rated Belize’s capacity as “modest” in line with registers such as Bahamas, Liberia, Malta, Marshall Islands and Panama.


• In December 2004, the Round Table of shipping industry organizations – Bimco, Intercargo, International Chamber of Shipping/International Shipping Federation (ICS/ISF) and Intertanko removed Belize from its list of registers with the most “negative performance indicators.” This is further confirmed in their 2005 and 2006 Updates and Belize is not included in their list of the 14 worst performing flags.


• As Director General of IMMARBE, the undersigned was invited to deliver speeches on “improving the performance of a Flag State” and related topics at:

  • Conferences on “Port State Control” which were held in London, 5th - 6th December 2001 & 29th - 30th September 2003.
  • At the “Mare Forum” Conference which was held in Athens, 19th – 20th September 2002..
  • - At the International Fisheries Compliance Conference which was held Brussels, 29th – 30th September 2004.
  • - At the World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden, on 17th October 2005.

    Also, in November 2006, the FAO requested us to write a thesis on the reform of our fishing activities on the High Seas for use as a template to assist other developing nations.

• There has been a considerable improvement in the reputation of our Registry within the shipping community – at IMO, the MOUs on Port State Control, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) where we are being noted for our constructive co-operation in the eradication of substandard shipping. Our submission to the IMO with regard to the Voluntary Model Audit Scheme is but one example.  

Generally, this improvement flows from the enforcement of our:

  • new Quality Policy Statement
    "To provide an efficient, cost effective quality ship registration service and to enforce national laws and international Conventions which have been ratified by Belize in the interests of safety at sea and the protection of the environment."

  • new Mission Statement
    "Striving for excellence in ship registration so as to attain international acclaim as a leading quality Open Registry."

Although we have made considerable improvements in our performance as a Flag State, we still have some way to go before we attain the objective set in our Mission Statement.

 

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