Combating illicit activities - amendment to FAL Convention adopted
The Committee adopted a new amendment to the FAL Convention which aims to address the need to combat illicit activities in the national facilitation programmes of Governments.
The amended recommended practice 7.11 says that "Each Contracting Government should consider establishing, in close cooperation with the maritime industry, a national maritime transport facilitation programme based on the facilitation requirements of this annex and ensure that the objective of its facilitation programme should be to adopt all practical measures to facilitate the movement of ships, cargo, crews, passengers, mail and stores, by removing unnecessary obstacles and delays, taking into account the need to combat illicit activities."
The amendment is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2025.
Supporting implementation of the Maritime Single Window (MSW)
The Committee adopted a resolution on recommended actions to accelerate the implementation of the maritime single window. The establishment of maritime single windows will be mandatory from 1 January 2024.
The resolution stresses the benefits of the implementation of single windows in the ports of Member States and:
Urges Governments to adopt, implement and effectively apply the maritime single window concept to ship and port clearance processes;
Invites Governments advanced in their maritime single window implementation to share know-how and experiences with States seeking assistance in developing their own maritime single window;
Calls on Governments to share the lessons learned and expand from build on the benefits of implementing maritime single windows, such as improving safety and efficiency of maritime operations, strengthening supply chain resilience and reduction of emissions;
Encourages Governments to utilize the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business when developing electronic information exchange systems as far as practically possible to ensure harmonization and interoperability across systems and stakeholders; and
Invites Governments to provide detailed information on their implementation of the single window concept in GISIS to facilitate the access to best practices by interested Member States/parties.
The Committee was updated on initiatives taken by the IMO Secretariat to support Member States in implementing a maritime single window, including information on two events organized by the Secretariat in partnership with IAPH and BIMCO to raise awareness of the deadline for implementation of the MSW and to share hands-on experience from Member States in the implementation process (a webinar in October 2022 and a symposium in January 2023).
An open access e-learning course on MSW implementation is being developed and is expected to be available from June 2023 on the IMO e-learning platform.
Review of Explanatory Manual to the FAL Convention
Following the adoption of amendments to the FAL Convention by FAL 46 (May 2022), the Committee commenced a review of the Explanatory Manual to the Convention.
The Manual provides guidance on interpreting the legal text of the provisions of the Convention and gives examples of best practices for the implementation of Standards and Recommended Practices.
A correspondence group was established to further review the Explanatory Manual, focusing in particular on the new or substantially amended provisions, harmonizing some elements and terms and checking cross references; review comments from other organizations on the relevant sections of the Manual, if received; and submit a report to FAL 48.
Other organizations the work of which is relevant to the FAL Convention include the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).
Revised IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business
The Committee approved a revised version of the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business.
The IMO Compendium is a tool for software developers that design the systems needed to support transmission, receipt, and response via electronic data exchange of information required for the arrival, stay, and departure of the ship, persons, and cargo to a port.
By harmonizing the data elements required during a port call and by standardizing electronic messages, the IMO Compendium facilitates the exchange of information from ship to shore and the interoperability of single windows, thereby reducing the administrative burden for ships linked to formalities in ports.
The IMO Compendium consists of an IMO Data Set and IMO Reference Data Model agreed by the main organizations involved in the development of standards for the electronic exchange of information related to the FAL Convention, i.e. WCO, UNECE and ISO.
The revised version includes additional e-business solutions and new data sets, developed during the sixth and seventh meetings of the Experts Group on Data Harmonization (EGDH) which were held in May and October 2022, respectively.
Four new data sets cover the following subjects: "IMO data set related to Ballast water arrival reporting", "IMO data set related to Waste delivery receipt", "IMO data set related to Verified Gross Mass (VGM)", "IMO data set related to "Advance Passenger Information (API)". Additional data elements for the "Just-In-Time arrival sub-model" were also developed.
The Committee approved the revised priority list of data sets and the EGDH terms of reference for the next two meetings.
Guidelines for harmonized communication and electronic exchange of operational data for port calls
The Committee approved Guidelines for harmonized communication and electronic exchange of operational data for port calls, providing guidance for the implementation of an electronic and automated exchange of operational data between ship and port.
To facilitate a uniform way for implementing, for example, the Just In Time (JIT) arrival from port to port, the guidelines can be used as a port agnostic implementation guide, on the basis of which local processes can be developed.
The Guidelines are port and trade agnostic. Benefits of JIT arrival concepts extend to vessel traffic service centres, to ensure safe and efficient traffic flows, and will also assist the port industry to better plan and organize port operations, and eventually to the complete logistic chain.
Development of Guidelines on Port Community Systems
The Committee established a Correspondence Group on the Development of Guidelines on Port Community Systems (PCS), to develop guidance while ensuring alignment with existing guidelines developed by the FAL Committee, in particular with the Guidelines for setting up a maritime single window (MSW) (FAL.5/Circ.42/Rev.3); and consider the interoperability between MSW and PCS to adhere to the "reporting once only" principle. Port community systems allow for exchange of information.
The Committee endorsed the view that the PCS Guidelines should complement the MSW Guidelines and should not stipulate any preference on the scope of the MSW since this may vary depending on a country's implementation.
The Committee noted information on cases of stowaways reported to the Organization. In 2022, 64 cases involving 131 stowaways were reported. The total number of reports up to 31 December 2022 was 4,964, involving 15,222 stowaways.
Regulatory scoping exercise for the use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS)
The Committee considered the report of the first session of the Joint MSC-LEG-FAL Working Group on MASS (MASS-JWG).
The Committee endorsed and agreed to the holding of a hybrid five-day meeting of the MASS-JWG from 17 to 21 April 2023; that the MASS-JWG could meet before all three Committees had considered its report(s), bearing in mind that the meeting dates of the three Committees, which advanced their work on MASS at different speeds, would have an impact on the work of the Group and the scheduling of its meetings; and authorized the Group to meet twice in each calendar year until decided otherwise by the three Committees, subject to endorsement by C 129 (July 2023).
The Committee noted that seminars related to MASS legal issues and technological advancements were effective means to communicate with academia, regulators and the industry and to enrich IMO's deliberations.
Following discussion in a working group, the Committee endorsed the roadmap on addressing MASS issues related to the FAL Convention, which would see any necessary FAL Convention amendments developed by 2024 and adopted in 2025.
An IMO/INTERPORTPOLICE Symposium on "Addressing law enforcement challenges in the maritime supply chain to improve facilitation of international maritime traffic" was held during FAL 47, on 16 March 2023.
It provided information on a range of criminal activities related to ports and shipping, including corruption, fraudulent documentation and illegal wildlife trade; and considered, through interactive discussions, ways to better address law enforcement challenges in the maritime supply chain, in order to improve facilitation of international maritime traffic.