Cooperation group on Places of Refuge

By Helle Hammer, Managing Director of Cefor and Chair of the IUMI Policy Forum

The European Commission, EU/EEA Member States and industry representatives met in Brussels on 6 February to discuss the drafting of revised international guidelines for Places of Refuge (PoR). Lars Lange and Helle Hammer represented IUMI in the cooperation group that meets on a regular basis.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed in December last year on a review of the PoR guidelines, following a submission by the EC/EU Member States and stakeholders, IUMI included. While it is recognised that the IMO will not have the same possibility to organise and influence the information and decision-making process across national borders, the EU Operational Guidelines for Places of Refuge will serve as the main point of reference for the review. Finding solutions rather than reasons for denial will be at the core of this work. Still in the preparatory phase, the redrafting is expected to take another two years until completion by the IMO.

The practical implementation of such guidelines is equally important to the cooperation group and in particular emphasised by IUMI and other stakeholders. Exchange of best practice was also on the agenda of the meeting, with a presentation of the tragic fire from a cargo hold on the Maersk Honam that claimed the lives of five crew members in March 2018. Uffe Ernst-Frederiksen, Head of Maersk Cargo Management, presented the challenges and new reporting and handling procedures for dangerous cargo on board their vessels in the aftermath of this incident. Random inspections are among the loss prevention initiatives now in force to detect misdeclared cargo, and both storage and the challenges of fire-fighting are addressed. These concerns are also on the IUMI Policy Agenda, with the need for improved measures to fight fires on board container vessels further explained in an IUMI Position Paper from 2017: