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The Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirmed its commitment to implementing the highest global standards for its maritime industry at a key meeting in London yesterday. Shaikh Daij bin Salman Al Khalifa, Undersecretary for Port Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Chairman of the General Organisation of Sea Ports spoke at the 27th Assembly of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) held in London on 21st November 2011, highlighting key initiatives being undertaken by the Kingdom to further develop its shipping and ports sector.
In his address, Shaikh Daij said: “The Kingdom of Bahrain has been working tirelessly towards realising its goal of establishing Bahrain as the preferred transshipment hub in the region, focusing on the development of its maritime and logistics infrastructure. This is in keeping with the rich maritime heritage of the Kingdom and with the long-term Bahrain Economic Vision 2030, which, among other things, envisions the creation of a world-class infrastructure that effectively links Bahrain to the global economy.”
“Bahrain is the proud signatory on a number of IMO conventions, and adheres strictly to the IMO standards and best practices that have been adopted, and have included several provisions in our new and modern Maritime Code, which is now in advanced stages of the legislative process. We view this as part of our responsibility to the international maritime committee, and believe that it has played a significant role in establishing the Kingdom of Bahrain as a maritime leader both in the region and abroad.”
“The new Bahrain Maritime Code will include effective and more stringent measures to combat the rising perils at sea, including piracy and all threats to marine life. As an active member of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), Bahrain co-ordinates its efforts with its fellow GCC countries and other neighbors in all matters relating to navigational safety, regional security and protection of the environment,” he added.
Shaikh Daij went on to applaud the significant role played by the IMO since its inception, from safeguarding the interests of the global shipping industry and the welfare of the seafarers, to providing governments with assistance in modernizing their national maritime codes. He added that Bahrain has always endeavored to support the IMO in all of its initiatives to raise global safety and environmental standards.
Shaikh Daij highlighted some of Bahrain’s accomplishments in improving its maritime practices in line with IMO practices. These accomplishments include becoming the first country in the entire Middle East to implement Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT), advocating the integration of the GCC systems into a Co-operative Data Centre (CDC) and participating in the Voluntary IMO Member States Audit Scheme (VIMSAS). Bahrain has also welcomed the latest amendments to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping (STCW) Convention, and Shaikh Daij reaffirmed the GOP’s commitment to do everything within its means to stop fraudulent use of certificates and promote the high standards of training and certification.
Demonstrating this commitment, the GOP recently launched the Maritime Education Fund to provide scholarships to local nationals interested in pursuing higher education degrees and certifications in maritime-related fields including sea-going training.
In appreciation of the IMO’s various initiatives and measures in combating the increasing menace of piracy, Shaikh Daij also told the attendees of the range of activities that Bahrain had organised to commemorate World Maritime Day in September of this year. “One of the maritime-themed activities we held was an industry seminar entitled: ‘Addressing Piracy’, which highlighted the fact that piracy is not a problem just for the governments and the shipping industry, it is a threat that affects every household as piracy leads to massive increases in marine insurance premiums, which are naturally passed on to the consumers by the shipping industry in the form of the increased cost of goods.
“Continued and increased public awareness and well co-ordinated international action led by the United Nations will help wipe out this menace. Bahrain will continue to cooperate fully with the IMO and will wholly support all international efforts in the fight against piracy for the good of the international maritime industry and the many mariners who sacrifice so much regularly.”
Shaikh Daij went on to request that the IMO concentrate efforts on compliance and consolidation rather than on creating new roles, and suggested that, if possible, the IMO should dedicate 2012 or 2013 to consolidation and compliance of IMO instruments.
On behalf of the Government of Bahrain, Shaikh Daij paid tribute to Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, the current Secretary General of IMO, for his excellent service to the member states and the maritime community at large, and wished him continued success in the future. He added that Bahrain looks forward to working with the new Secretary General, the new IMO Council and all IMO member states, forming an effective team to take the organisation forward and continue to achieve incredible results and bolster the global maritime heritage to new heights.
Two senior officials from the GOP, Mr. Essa Yateem, Assistant Director General for Maritime Affairs, and Mr. Bader Al Mahmood, Head of Port Operations, accompanied Shaikh Daij on the delegation.