The 48th Committee meeting of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (“Paris MoU”) was held from 18 until 22 May in the Netherlands.

The meeting was attended by members of the Paris MoU, the European Commission, EMSA, Montenegro, observers from the International Labour Organization, US Coast Guard, Viña del Mar Agreement, Tokyo MoU, Caribbean MoU, Mediterranean MoU, Indian Ocean MoU, Abuja MoU and Black Sea MoU.

During its Committee meeting, the Paris MoU has agreed on the inspection campaign for the Maritime Labour Convention (“MLC”) in 2016.

The MLC 2006 addresses a wide range of matters, including the obligations of shipping companies with respect to seafarers’ contractual arrangements, working hours, health and safety, crew accommodation, catering standards, and seafarers’ welfare. The MLC has been designed to become a global instrument that has become the “fourth pillar” of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping, complementing the key Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”) such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (“SOLAS”), the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, 1978, as amended (“STCW”) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 73/78 (“MARPOL”).

After the entry into force of the MLC 2006 on 20 August 2013 the Committee decided on carrying out Concentrated Inspection Campaigns (“CICs”) in 2016 to verify compliance with the Convention. The questionnaire and guidelines for these CICs have been completed and adopted by the Paris MoU Committee at its present session.

During the first twelve months after the entry into force of the MLC 2006, 113

ships were detained by the Paris MoU Authorities for MLC-related deficiencies. This represents 17.4% of the total number of detentions (649) in the Paris MoU regions during this period. During the first year 7.4% (3,447) of the total number of 46,798 deficiencies recorded was linked to the MLC, while 160 (4.6%) were marked as a ground for detention resulting in 113 detained ships.

The Committee expressed concern that during the CIC on STCW hours of rest, carried out between 1 September and 30 November 2014, 912 deficiencies were recorded related specifically to STCW hours of rest and that 16 ships were detained as a result of the CIC.

Regional Port State Control was initiated in 1982 when fourteen European countries agreed to coordinate their port State inspection effort under a voluntary agreement known as the Paris MoU. The organization consists of 27 participating maritime Administrations and covers the waters of the European coastal States and the North Atlantic basin from North America to Europe.

The current 27 member States of the Paris MoU are: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The European Commission, although not a signatory to the Paris MoU, is also a member of the Committee.

The mission of the Paris MoU is to eliminate the operation of substandard merchant ships in the region through a harmonized system of port State control. The Paris MoU is accomplishing its mission by inspecting the ships in the region risk based in order to ensure that the merchant ships in the region meet the international safety, security and environmental standards, and that crewmembers have adequate living and working conditions. Inspections are not on a random basis but risk based.

To that purpose the Paris MoU organisation maintains the THETIS computer database which informs national port State control authorities which ships are due for an inspection. Each ship in the THETIS database will be attributed a ship risk profile, in accordance with Annex 7 of the Paris MoU text.

This ship risk profile will determine the ship’s priority for inspection, the interval between its inspections and the scope of the inspection. Ships are assigned high, standard or low risk. This is based on generic and historic parameters. A ship’s risk profile is recalculated daily taking into account changes in the dynamic parameters such as age, the 36 month history and company performance. Recalculation also occurs after every inspection and when the applicable performance tables for flag and Classification Societies are changed.

Annually more than 18.000 inspections take place on board foreign ships in the Paris MoU ports. Basic principle is that the prime responsibility for compliance with the requirements laid down in the international maritime conventions lies with the shipowner/operator. The responsibility for ensuring such compliance remains with the relevant flag State. Port State Control is a means of enforcing compliance in cases where the owner and flag State have failed in their responsibility to implement or ensure compliance. The port State can require defects to be put right, and detain the ship for this purpose if necessary. It is therefore also a port State’s defence against visiting substandard shipping.