Shipping must go green – IMO SG

The IMO can do more to improve safety and security at sea, while ensuring cleaner seas IMO Secretary General Efthimios Mitropoulos has said.

In his opening address at the organisation’s 25th session, attended by 1,000 delegates from the 167 member states, the Secretary General highlighted the progress the organisation has made over the past decade during which maritime safety had increased three-fold and oil spills have been reduced to one third.

The next big challenge, he noted, was climate change. The IMO has already taken measures to tackle marine pollution, he said, adding that further action was required to reduce pollutants, better manage ballast water and cut greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions from ships.

Environmental issues would be forming part of the organisation’s action plan for 2008-09, said the Secretary General, who is up for re-election for a second term.

The Assembly elected Egyptian Ambassador Gehad Madi as President of the Assembly; Greek Ambassador Vassilis Pispinis was voted in as First Vice President, with Chilean Ambassador Rafael Moreno as Second Vice President. The Assembly also elected Jørgen Hammer Hansen, Director General, Danish Maritime Authority, to chair Committee 1 and Neil Ferrer of the Philippines Embassy to chair Committee 2.

The inaugural IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery was presented to Second Officer Mustafa Topiwala and Captain Zvonimir Ostric, who risked their lives to save others in a dramatic rescue operation.
The Greek Ambassador announced a donation of US$1 million to protect the piracy-prone Straits of Malacca, backed up by a commitment from the littoral states to adopt a framework to enhance security in one of the most critical sea passages.