IMO Secretary-General Kitak Lim: «Russia has always been one of IMO major Member States»
In his exclusive interview with IAA PortNews in Moscow, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim covered a wide range of IMO activities: fuel and environmental regulations, Polar Code, autonomous ships, cybersecurity, etc.
- What is your first impression of your visit to Russia, of your meetings with Russian authorities?
- First of all, Russia has always been one of IMO’s major Member States. The Russian Federation joined IMO in 1958 and is represented at most IMO meetings. Today, based on my communications with the Minister (Maxim Sokolov), Deputy Minister (Victor Olersky), President and CEO of the SCF Group (Sergey Frank), I can confirm that my first impression of Russian shipping sector exceeded my expectations. When it comes to the government authorities and the capability of shipping companies, their competence is clearly at the top level.
- We know that your committee work has started in Vladivostok, we have our reporter on the ground and the working group has held its first session. Can we expect that Russia's voice will be heard at these very representative meetings in the framework of Tokyo MoU, and of IMO?
Russia has always been participating very actively in the work of the Tokyo MoU and in the IMO and hopefully will continue to strengthen communication with other Members in order to promote maritime safety environment protection values through consultation and cooperation. Therefore I believe that Russia's efforts will definitely contribute to the sustainable development of global shipping industry.
- If we talk about some specifics, say, about low sulfur fuel requirement, date of its entry into force, about emissions trading - can our stance on these issues be represented?
The amendments to MARPOL Annex VI regarding the 0.5% global sulphur cap in oil fuel were adopted in 2016 and will enter into force in 2020. It is important to provide the shipping and oil industries with clarity and certainty in terms of application date of new requirement in order for them to be duly prepared. That is why I am on missions around the world to listen to the voice of industry and to emphasize our adherence to the decisions taken.
With regards to GHG emissions, it is important to establish a realistic strategy and carefully consider measures to be adopted.
The philosophy of the Paris Agreement on climate change has to be duly taken into account when developing new measures. The GHG reduction strategy that is now under development in the IMO will be based on detailed considerations of all technical issues by the intersessional working group. We have established very good communication amongst Member States and an efficient process to allow IMO to come up with the initial strategy in 2018. It is important to maintain a good level of communication and consultation among Member States so that everyone's voice will be heard.
- And will Russia's voice on that process be heard?
Russia has been contributing substantially to the IMO regulatory process related to the prevention of air pollution from ships and energy efficiency. The Russian Federation has raised a number of technical issues, contributing to the detailed discussions on the topic. I believe that all IMO Members should also bear in mind the provisions and philosophy laid down in the Paris Agreement on climate change. Personally, I am quite optimistic about our future progress in the IMO on the development of the overall strategy for GHG reduction.
- And again, concerning Russia, its shipping and shipbuilding companies. Is it possible to say that Russia has its own niche in the global shipbuilding, its own expertise and especially a niche in the Arctic, or our impression is misleading?
Russian shipping and shipbuilding sectors are definitely a part of the global maritime industry. This afternoon, I've seen an impressive presentation by Sovcomflot about the strategies for ship management, training of seafarers, philosophy of shipping and I recommended they make that presentation at IMO. Russia has a lot of shipping and shipbuilding experience, particularly in the niche field of polar navigation and ice class ships. The experience of Russian shipping companies and shipbuilders will be important for global shipping community and helpful for IMO work to improve regulations and practices for navigation in polar waters,
- Some days ago a COSCO's general cargo vessel called at St. Petersburg port after passing the Northern Sea Route. What is your opinion on transits along the NSR and do you believe in its future development for shipping?
According to research and statistics available, due to the melting ice, commercial and transit navigation in Arctic waters is expected to increase year by year. I believe that shipping lines and others will be looking to explore the benefits of shortened Arctic routes. So, the overall expectations for increased Arctic navigation look very positive. I expect that the Russian government will continue to make a substantial contribution to maritime safety, environmental protection and efficiency of shipping along the NSR.
- BWM 2004 entered into force on 8 September 2017. What would it mean for shipowners in reality? Has global maritime sector been prepared for the Convention?
- IMO has been addressing implementation of the BWM treaty since it was adopted in 2004. The GloBallast project (2000-2017) has supported developing countries to prepare for implementation of the BWM treaty.
The GloBallast Project has supported awareness-raising and preparation for BWM implementation for the global maritime industry through the holding of six international R&D fora for academics and industry, supporting the international conference series on BWM (ICBWM), development of e-learning packages for the industry, the establishment of the Global Industry Alliance and the establishment of the Global Ballast Water Test Organizations Network (GloBal TestNet).
The maritime sector is represented at IMO through international NGOs with an interest in shipping. NGOs in consultative status at IMO include those representing all parts of the shipping industry, seafarers, as well as international environmental interest groups. The Ballast Water Management Convention requires all ships in international trade to manage their ballast water and sediments, to minimize the amount of organisms and pathogens which may be released into new areas.
New ships built from now must meet a performance standard which specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, including specified indicator microbes harmful to human health. For most ships, this involves installing special equipment.
IMO has agreed an implementation schedule for existing ships - those ships already in operation. These ships must meet the performance standard by a date linked to a specified survey of the ship, with dates going up to 2024.
Until they meet that standard, the ships must exchange their ballast water in open seas, away from coastal areas. By exchanging the water like this, fewer organisms will survive and so ships will be less likely to introduce potentially harmful species when they release the ballast water.
The BWM Convention is a key international measure for environmental protection that aims to stop the spread of potentially harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in ships' ballast water. It entered into force on 8 September 2017.
This is a landmark step towards halting the spread of invasive aquatic species, which can cause havoc for local ecosystems, affect biodiversity and lead to substantial economic loss.
- What perspectives IMO envisages for regulation of fishing fleet? Does IMO have any plan to establish a dedicated body to deal with fishing sector?
- A number of IMO instruments support the safety of the global fishing sector, such as safety of navigation requirements as set out in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (applicable to all vessels); collision regulations (applicable to all vessels) and regulations on garbage from ships, prohibiting the disposal of fishing gear at sea.
International training standards for fishing vessel personnel are set out in a treaty which has been in force since 2012.
The STCW-F treaty provides an international curriculum for training of people working on fishing vessels.
IMO has adopted a treaty on the safety of fishing vessels but this is not yet in force. We are working with countries to encourage ratification of the so-called 2012 Cape Town Agreement on the safety of fishing vessels.
IMO does not have plans to establish a dedicated fishing body. However, IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee has designated the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC) as the lead technical body for fishing vessel safety issues. The SDC Sub-Committee has developed a number of voluntary guidelines and recommendations over the years, which have been jointly approved with other UN agencies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) ILO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
IMO works closely with FAO on illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. IMO and FAO are jointly collaborating in improving port State measures to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.
- What perspectives IMO envisages for further development of SOLAS Convention? In this respect are there any plans for further development and improvement of the Polar Code? Shipowners expect to get more transparent and clear text.
- The SOLAS Convention is kept under review. In 2017, IMO adopted revised sub-division and stability rules, particular focusing on improvements to passenger ship safety.
IMO is currently reviewing the SOLAS chapter on radiocommunications, including the global maritime distress and safety system. IMO is also reviewing the chapter on life-saving appliances and arrangements and undertaking a scoping exercise starting in 2018 to look at regulations in relation to autonomous vessels.
- What about development of the Polar Code?