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IMO Audit Preparation Series

Communication of Information

Communication of Information Report

The findings arising from this area of the Code relate generally to the communication of the texts of national laws, decrees, regulations etc to the IMO and others and also the provision of reports as required by the conventions. This area noticeably overlaps the area of "initial actions (Legislation)" where there are findings related to the same thing although the IMO summaries do make it clear that findings related to the lack of resources to complete the communication of information task are recorded in the statistics for initial actions.

Communication of Information is addressed in a very brief paragraph 9 of the Code where it says simply:

Communication of Information
9. The State should communicate its strategy, as referred to in paragraph 3, including information on its national legislation to all concerned.

The paragraph 3 that is referred to is a recommendation for the flag state to:

What is striking about paragraph 3 is the content; a strategy, a methodology to monitor and assess, and continuous review. These are the fundamentals of any quality management system and it is clear from this paragraph alone, as well as others, that such a system is expected even if it is not formally certified.

While paragraph 9 of the Code is very brief, the IMO audit summaries indicate that the findings included under this head include the transmission of laws etc to the IMO and the submission of mandatory reports as well as the dissemination of the laws and requirements to all potential users.

The submission of mandatory reports is potentially a complex task as any quick look at the main conventions will show that the obligation to report an action to the IMO comes up again and again.

This is essentially a duplicate in the summaries, as the obligation to report is also mentioned in paragraph 8 of the Code under the head of initial actions (legislation) and the summaries contain findings from this paragraph as a separate issue. It must be assumed that some auditors are listing findings related to non-reporting under initial actions and some are listing them under communication of information. If this is correct the overall percentage of findings under initial actions may be slightly less, but if so, the findings under communication of information must be higher. However this arises, the total of findings under both initial actions and communication of information come to 52 out of the total 191 of findings in the common areas and flag state area making tis combined set of findings come to 27%.

All the conventions have some element of reporting attached to them. SOLAS requires a quite considerable amount of reporting and in particular it requires at Article III that:

The Contracting Governments undertake to communicate to and deposit with the Secretary-General of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (hereinafter referred to as "the Organization"):

(a) a list of non-governmental agencies which are authorized to act in their behalf in the administration of measures for safety of life at sea for circulation to the Contracting Governments for the information of their officers;
(b) the text of laws, decrees, orders and regulations which shall have been promulgated on the various matters within the scope of the present Convention;
(c) a sufficient number of specimens of their certificates issued under the provisions of the present Convention for circulation to the Contracting Governments for the information of their officers.

Then throughout the convention there are additional reporting requirements for example to, report exemptions, the details of specific responsibilities of delegated authority, equivalent arrangements, etc. MARPOL has similar provisions for reporting including, action on pollution incidents, notification of arrangements for dealing with pollution incidents, lists of reception facilities, and an annual statistical report on penalties imposed for infringements. STCW requires reports on all dispensations, and a 5 yearly independent evaluation of compliance. If the conventions are read carefully the list of reporting requirements is quite long.

The aspect of promulgating information to those who need it is, seemingly simple, but in practice can be complex. What is expected is that all the RO’s, the flag state’s own surveyors, any inspectors appointed to make inspections, and all the state’s shipowners and their seagoing are made aware of the state’s requirements and how they change as well as the details of how amendments to the conventions are transposed into national law. This is a fundamentally complex administrative process and one in which it is very easy for an auditor to locate a finding.

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