IMO FACILITATION COMMITTEE 40th Session 4 – 8 April 2016

The IMO Committee on Facilitation held its 40th Session (FAL 40) from Monday 4 through Friday 8 April 2016 under the Chairmanship of Mr Yury Melenas (RUSSIAN FEDERATION) together with his Vice Chair, Mrs Marina Angsell (SWEDEN) both of whom were re-elected for 2017.  Two Working Groups (WG) and one Drafting Group (DG) were formed and chaired as follows:


WG1    Electronic means for the clearance of ships, Mr Roger Buttorini (USA)


WG2    FAL Circular on training of mooring personnel, Mr Haakon Storhaug (NORWAY)


DG1    Amendment to the FAL Convention, Mr Fabien Jaret (FRANCE)


The meeting was attended by representatives from 76 Member Governments, and 1 each from the Associate Members, UN and Specialised Agencies, Intergovernmental Organisations, EC, also the League of Arab States together with 27 Observers from Non-Governmental organisations.


Items of particular interest to InterManager Members are highlighted as follows:


ADDRESS BY SECRETARY GENERAL.  The Secretary-General expressed sympathy for the victims of the terrorist attack in Brussels on 22 March 2016, in particular to Mr Johan Van Steen, a distinguished delegate from Belgium to the FAL Committee and other IMO meetings who had been killed.  A minute’s silence was observed after which the Secretary General welcomed participants.  Following repetition of his theme at preceding meetings that shipping connects buyers and sellers across the world, he notably expressed views that FAL needed to meet annually, rather than every 18 months as happens currently because it would lend greater momentum to such important work.  Also he invited the Committee to revisit the concept of the ship/ port interface at FAL41 in order to focus on the relationship between the two.


AMENDMENTS TO THE FAL CONVENTION.   FAL35 agreed to initiate a comprehensive revision of the Convention on Facilities of International Maritime Traffic, 1965 (FAL Convention) with a view to ensuring that it adequately addressed the needs of the shipping industry as well as modernisation of its provisions, taking into account for example, developments in the field of the transmission of information and data by electronic means and the Single Window concept.  Subsequent draft amendments to the annex to the FAL Convention were approved by FAL39 and circulated to all IMO Member States and Contracting Governments to the FAL Convention but no comments, adverse or otherwise, have been submitted.  Following recommendations by DG1, the Committee adopted the amendments to the annex of the FAL Convention together with its associated draft resolution which will enter into force on 1 January 2018.


APPLICATION OF SINGLE WINDOW CONCEPT.  FAL39 noted that the majority of Member States had some kind of single window in place related to cargo, but very few had any single window for maritime transport.  The IMO Secretariat therefore planned to design a prototype of a maritime single window (MSW) and to implement the project in three phases:


First:  gather information on the current situation of the clearance of ships, cargo and passengers at ports from some developing countries;


Second:  gather further information from the authorities involved in the clearance of ships;  and


Third:  on the basis of collected information, design, develop and implement a prototype MSW in one of the selected countries.


The Committee noted that the first two phases of the project have been completed and the results presented to Technical Committee (TC) 65.  After consideration, TC65 invited the Secretariat to provide a clear project outline on the development of the single window concept to TC66 together with related budget estimates.  Following on from this, the Secretariat established consultation meetings with other international organisations (UNCTAD, WCO and IPCSA), also various donors offering their assistance.  It emerged that most, if not all, the systems presented by the donors could already achieve the goals of the project.  Some were more complex than others but a major feature was the lack of harmonisation of formats for data submission.  There were, basically, three different preferences:  EDIFACT (with different versions in place), XML and EXCEL.  UNECE pointed out that though there may  be various versions of official EDIFACT messages, all of these are backwards compatible.  Also, there is not one single XML standard, and neither are they necessarily compatible with each other.  The Secretariat identified three alternatives to be considered by the FAL Committee for development:


  1. Prototype MSW re-using a donor system and / or parts of different systems;
  2. A completely new prototype
  3. Not a prototype, but using one or various existing systems or one offered in the future.


The ensuing debate in Plenary saw a majority in support of the first alternative, with a preference for re-using one of the systems offered by the donors.  With regard to the deliberations of WG1 on the development of a Prototype MSW, again the majority favoured the first alternative (as a scalable modular development) since it could also serve as a method of leading the harmonisation and standardisation of reporting requirements.  However, it was noted that the first and third alternatives were not mutually exclusive and that MSW systems offered by some of the donors are currently available to Member States requiring assistance, on a bilateral basis.  WG1 was not able to recommend a way forward for the development of a MSW prototype but recommended that specific requirements from Member States willing to implement a MSW and requiring assistance should contact the Secretariat together with those willing to assist, following which the Secretariat will report back to FAL41 with an analysis of the needs and a summary of commonalities.


In considering proposals relating to the reformatting of FAL.5/Circ.40 on the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business, WG1 concluded that reformatting was not necessary at this stage but that the Compendium should be reviewed or clarified to address possible misinterpretations by relevant users such as ISO, UNECE and WCO.


Finally on this item, WG1 recognised that lack of harmonisation and standardisation of data reporting formats are often driven by unavoidable differences in national legislation, organisation and data needs among the various receivers of information, including ports and port States and that Administrations should promote and encourage harmonisation among their individual ports.


REQUIREMENTS FOR ACCESS TO, OR ELECTRONIC VERSIONS OF, CERTIFICATES AND DOCUMENTS, INCLUDING RECORD BOOKS REQUIRED TO BE CARRIED ON SHIPS.  The Committee recalled that FAL39 had approved a revised list of certificates and documents required to be carried on board ships and that electronic certificates should be used as an equivalent to traditional paper certificates for which viewing on a computer would be considered as meeting the requirement to be ‘on board’.  Further, following a request to the Secretariat, the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) module on Survey and Certification has been further developed to allow the recording of e-certificate-related information.

Following deliberation by WG1on this issue, the Committee:

  1. Endorsed the view of the group to maintain the ‘Guidelines for use of electronic certificates’ as a FAL circular and monitor how prototype systems progress;
  2. Approved draft amendments to FAL.5/Circ.39/Rev2, for the use of electronic certificates;
  3. Agreed not to re-establish the CG on Electronic Access to Certificates and Documents; and
  4. Approved draft amendments to resolution A.1052(27) on Procedures for port State control, 2011, for consideration by MSC and MEPC, then Assembly for adoption.


GUIDELINES ON THE FACILITATION ASPECTS OF PROTECTING THE MARITIME TRANSPORT NETWORK FROM CYBER THREATS.  The Committee noted that the issue of cybersecurity is also being considered by MSC and that the task for FAL is to focus on the facilitation aspects of protecting the maritime transport network.  Further:


  1. The International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code includes a framework to ‘detect security’ threats and take preventative measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade;
  2. IMO has issued a range of guidance on security risk management, including section 5 of the ‘Guide to Maritime Security (MS) and ISPS Code;
  3. Both FAL and MSC have agreed that WCO has primacy over supply chain security, with IMO’s role limited to aspects of ships and port facilities; and
  4. The FAL Convention, SOLAS Convention, ISPS Code, the ‘Guide to MS and the ISPS Code’ do not directly address the responsibility of Administrations to protect the ship arrival, stay, departure, and security information they receive in compliance with requirements in these documents.


Tasked to consider, in principle, the facilitation aspect of cyberthreats that may affect international maritime traffic, in order to better inform MSC deliberations on cybersecurity, WG1’s views, subsequently endorsed by the Committee were that:


  1. The FAL Committee has a role in IMO’s response to growing cyberthreats;
  2. FAL has important responsibilities related to the management of risks associated with cyberthreats in respect to facilitation, such as MSWs, processes for electronic certificates and data exchange between ships and shore, pre-arrival information based on the Convention and processes involving ship-port interface;
  3. If MSC decides to develop guidelines in cybersecurity, it should be done as joint FAL/MSC guidelines to avoid duplication; and
  4. Note that there will be two sessions of MSC before FAL 41 which will assist the process.


GUIDELINES ON MINIMUM TRAINING AND EDUCATION FOR MOORING PERSONNEL.  The Committee recalled that FAL39 had convened a WG, but noting the division of opinions within the WG, recognised that it was not possible to reconcile the various views and could not approve the revised guidelines.  Issues that needed to be further considered included:


  1. The need to include a definition on mooring personnel; and
  2. Whether to maintain references to the privatisation of port services.


WG2 was given the task of reviewing the circular, taking into account views and decisions made in Plenary that:


  1. There was a clear majority supporting the two-level training approach in order to differentiate the training requirement for mooring personnel working only ashore and those working from the mooring boats;
  2. A majority did not deem it appropriate for the continued inclusion of the privatisation of port services as it is outwith the remit of IMO; and
  3. The scope of application may need to be defined as to whom the circular is being addressed.


In reviewing the circular, a new definition of applicability was inserted rendering unnecessary the mentioning of ‘shore-side’ before mooring personnel.  Definitions of ‘mooring personnel’ and ‘mooring’ boat were also inserted.  A clarifying sentence was inserted to the effect that mooring personnel who could alternatively work ashore should have priority for additional training over their counterparts working from mooring boats.  It was concluded that the term ‘maritime security’ should instead be replaced by ‘port security’.


The Committee accordingly approved WG2’s report in general and, in particular, approved the draft FAL.6 circular on revised ‘Guidelines for minimum training and education of mooring personnel’.


DATE OF NEXT MEETING.  The Committee considered and agreed the proposal by the IMO Secretary-General that the Committee should meet in regular session once a year, rather than the current frequency of once every 18 months.   Member States also argued that a 4 day meeting would be sufficient to cover the agenda and this too was agreed by the Committee.  FAL41 has therefore been tentatively scheduled to take place from 3 to 7 April 2017 at IMO Headquarters.







Captain Paddy McKnight                                                                                                        End




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