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IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS)

The audit of all Member States will become mandatory from 1 January 2016, to determine the extent to which they give full and complete effect to their obligations and responsibilities contained in a number of IMO treaty instruments. The mandatory IMO instruments included in the scope of the Scheme cover safety of life at sea (SOLAS 1974 and its 1988 Protocol); prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL); standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW 1978); load lines (LL 66 and its 1988 Protocol); tonnage measurement of ships (Tonnage 1969); and regulations for preventing collisions at sea (COLREG 1972).
The audit of all Member States will become mandatory from 1 January 2016, to determine the extent to which they give full and complete effect to their obligations and responsibilities contained in a number of IMO treaty instruments. The mandatory IMO instruments included in the scope of the Scheme cover safety of life at sea (SOLAS 1974 and its 1988 Protocol); prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL); standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW 1978); load lines (LL 66 and its 1988 Protocol); tonnage measurement of ships (Tonnage 1969); and regulations for preventing collisions at sea (COLREG 1972).

Member State Audit Scheme & Implementation Support

IMO was established to adopt legislation and Governments are responsible for implementing them. When a Government accepts an IMO Convention it agrees to make it part of its national law and to enforce all of the provisions contained therein.

IMO’s Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III) has a remit to review issues relating to implementation, and its tasks include:
  • review the rights and obligations of States emanating from the IMO treaty instruments;
  • assess, monitor and review the current level of implementation of IMO instruments by States in their capacity as flag, port and coastal States, with a view to identifying areas where States may have difficulties in fully implementing them;
  • identify the reasons for the difficulties in implementing provisions of relevant IMO instruments, taking into account any relevant information collected through, inter alia, the assessment of performance, the investigation of marine casualties and incidents and port State control (PSC) data, while paying particular attention to difficulties faced by developing countries;
  • consider proposals to assist States in implementing and complying with IMO instruments by the development of appropriate instruments, guidelines and recommendations.
  • analyse investigation reports into marine casualties and incidents and maintain an efficient and comprehensive knowledge-based mechanism to support the identification of trends and feed into the IMO rule-making process;
  • review IMO standards on maritime safety and security and the protection of the marine environment, to maintain an updated and harmonized guidance on survey and certification related requirements; and
  • promote global harmonization of PSC activitie

IMO Member State Audit Scheme – Purpose

The IMO Member State Audit Scheme is intended to provide an audited Member State with a comprehensive and objective assessment of how effectively it administers and implements those mandatory IMO instruments which are covered by the Scheme.

The MSC in May 2014 completed the legal framework for the implementation of the mandatory IMO audit scheme, with the adoption of amendments to the following treaties to make mandatory the use of the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code) and auditing of Parties to those treaties:

  • ​SOLAS, 1974, as amended (adding a new chapter XIII)
  • the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, and the Seafarers’ Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code
  • the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (1988 Load Lines Protocol), as amended.
This follows the adoption, by the IMO Assembly at its twenty-eighth session, of similar amendments to:
  • the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, as amended (COLREG 1972), the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 (LL 1966)
  • the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969 (TONNAGE 1969), (following the procedures for adoption of amendments for the COLREG 1972, LL 1966 and Tonnage 1969 conventions).
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), at its 66th session, in April 2014, adopted similar amendments to MARPOL Annexes I through to VI.
The amendments will make the auditing of Member States mandatory, once they enter into force in 2016.
It is reasonably expected that the audit scheme will bring about many benefits, such as identifying where capacity-building activities (for example, the provision of technical assistance by IMO to Member States) would have the greatest effect. Targeting of appropriate action to improve performance would be greatly improved. The Member States themselves would receive valuable feedback, intended to assist them in improving their own capacity to put the applicable instruments into practice; and generic lessons learnt from audits could be provided to all Member States so that the benefits could be widely shared.
Moreover, the results of the audits could be systematically fed back into the regulatory process at IMO to help make measurable improvements in the effectiveness of the international regulatory framework of shipping.
The scheme addresses issues such as conformance in enacting appropriate legislation for the IMO instruments to which a Member State is a Party; the implementation and enforcement of the applicable laws and regulations by the Member State; the delegation of authority to recognized organizations (ROs); the related control and monitoring mechanism of the survey and certification processes by the Member States.
Related topic: Training the Auditors
Source: IMO

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