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black-seaThe IMO’s Ivaylo Valev discusses the future of maritime development within CIS countries and the Eastern Europe region

Implementation of several UN General Assembly Resolutions, namely resolutions 47/187 of 22 December 1992, 48/181 of 21 December 1993, 49/106 of 19 December 1994, 51/175 of 6 December 1996, 53/179 of 15 December 1998, 55/191 of 20 December 2000, 57/247 of 7 February 2003, 59/243 of 28 February 2005 and 61/210 of 6 March 2007 highlight the need for integration of the countries from Eastern Europe and the former USSR republics into the world economy. The socialist system managed to ensure a relatively high level of human development but failed to achieve economic efficiency. Many newly independent states have been established in the region. This disintegration trend has not yet been completely exhausted and still creates certain tensions in the region. Radical formal changes in transition countries did not necessarily imply immediate substantial changes in practice. Changing and creating institutions, as well as the promotion of efficient privately owned enterprises, including independent financial institutions, proved difficult. As a result a variety of political and economic approaches emerged. Success in building a market economy and in strengthening national economic performance in the region is heterogeneous. Transition results achieved by a particular country are influenced by such factors as integration into the world trading system, EU accession, ownership of significant natural resources, and conditions before transition started (EG some liberalisation pre-transition and a broad political consensus in favour of the reform process). Collapse of the national fleets of all Eastern European countries reduced the workload on the administrations as Flag States, thus the expertise as well. The only exemption is Croatia, and the tonnage registered under the  Croatian flag is relatively higher than other East European countries.

The technical assistance provided by the IMO’s programme for support to maritime development in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Eastern Europe region is aimed at establishing and further strengthening maritime administrations to enable them to carry out their overall responsibilities as flag, port and coastal States effectively, whilst strengthening their capacity to prevent, control, combat and mitigate marine pollution. Another priority of the programme will be human resource development by implementing training courses, seminars and workshops to train relevant personnel on matters pertaining to maritime safety and security, facilitation of maritime traffic, national and regional contingency planning, prevention, preparedness and response to marine pollution. The programme has been developed as a tool to ‘deliver as one’ (with the collaboration of regional organisations) and to give priority to those activities that contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Although Maritime Administrations were established throughout the CIS and Eastern Europe region, frequent changes in the political arena have hindered the capacity-building process within the Administrations. Furthermore, low pay in the respective civil services does not attract experienced maritime experts in the implementation of IMO instruments. Consequently, despite the assistance provided, there is a need for continuous commitment from CIS and Eastern European countries towards IMO legislative work.

Prior to 2000, the number of CIS and Eastern European countries’ acceptances of IMO instruments totalled 364; for the 2000-2013 period, this rose to 681, marking an increase of 87 per cent in the number of acceptances. The Adriatic, Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas countries have generally acceded to the main IMO Conventions, although the level of implementation differs from country to country due to insufficient or uncertain administrative regulations, as well as practical implementation. The above-mentioned statistic shows that this programme, although scarcely funded, can produce good results when country maritime profiles for the technical cooperation needs of each developing country are used knowledgeably. The IMO’s country maritime profiles, based on the assessed technical assistance needs would provide a useful tool for ensuring effective delivery of the support to maritime development in the region. To identify individual needs, the findings of the Voluntary IMO Audit Scheme could be used in order to provide the data required. It is expected that Member States would play a key role by providing information and feedback in the process of developing country maritime profiles. In this regard, more needs assessment missions might also be fielded to those countries with economies in transition where there is insufficient or out-of-date information.

Regional meetings of Heads of Maritime Administrations have been held in many countries around the world, where transport ministers and senior officials met and discussed maritime issues. There was a strong support for the development of country maritime profiles which would clear the way for the promotion of an integrated maritime policy tailored on a regional basis.

An Inaugural Meeting of the Heads of Maritime Administrations from the Black and Caspian Sea States was held in Batumi, Georgia, on the Black Sea coast on 16 and 17 December 2012. The meeting adopted a resolution calling on the States represented at the meeting to submit to the IMO their completed country maritime profile, identifying the needs for technical assistance, at their earliest convenience, to serve as the basis for the preparation of the Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme for the 2014/2015 biennium meeting. Organised by the IMO, this was attended by representatives of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Iran, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine; as well as representatives from the Black Sea Association of Maritime Institutions, European Commission, World Maritime University and the Black Sea MoU on Port State Control.

Despite that the region’s principal flag States have accepted major IMO Conventions, there is a need for the acceptance/ratification of IMO instruments, especially by some of the Caspian Sea littoral States. There is also a need for the development and/or updating of secondary legislation in the region to allow maritime administrations to fulfil their implementation and enforcement responsibilities adequately.

The Caspian Sea is the world’s largest enclosed body of water and is recognised as an inland sea. It is an endorheic lake, defined as having little or no outflow of water. Endorheic lakes are usually very saline and sensitive to marine pollutant inputs. For purposes of transport, the Caspian Sea is connected to the Russian inland waterways network, thus giving ships access to the Black Sea. The Black Sea has access to the Mediterranean via the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits and then to the open sea.

Co-operation for the prevention of pollution from ships is of paramount importance in both Black and Caspian Seas, as they are very sensitive to marine pollution. The Black Sea is a ‘Special Area’ under Annexes I (oil) and V (garbage) of the MARPOL Convention, and the requirements for the prevention of pollution from ships are more stringent. To increase mutual support for several environmental aspects of shipping, including oil pollution preparedness, ballast water management and the dumping of waste at sea, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with the Black Sea Commission (BSC).

Hydrographic surveys and nautical charting are critical to the safety of navigation and life at sea, environmental protection, including the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems and the economics of the global shipping industry. In this regard, it also recognises that the move towards electronic charting not only provides significantly increased benefits for safe navigation and management of ship movement, but also provides data and information that can be used for sustainable fisheries activities and other sectoral uses of the marine environment, the delimitation of maritime boundaries and environmental protection.

Notwithstanding the above, the delivery of technical assistance is jeopardised through a lack of sustainable financing and donor diversification. The current challenges include an over-dependence on the IMO’s budget that resulted in an average of 47 per cent of the total expenditure on providing assistance to developing countries over the period 2008-2012, together with an over-reliance on a small number of large partners for other revenue. Furthermore, although the IMO Secretariat has successfully attracted significant funding for donor projects, such funds preclude any flexibility since they are tied to the donor’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) priorities and are not available to be allocated against specific technical cooperation activities. The future of the maritime development of  the CIS and Eastern Europe region will be dependent on clear understanding of the priorities, their inclusion in the national maritime policies/strategies, and attraction of development partners in close co-operation with the IMO


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