JIS News

Caribbean transport ministers have agreed to ork together to develop a regional policy for maritime transportation.

The move was among measures to come out of the Regional High-Level Symposium on International Maritime Developments held last week in Montego Bay.

Development of the policy will ensure that the Caribbean maritime industry operates in a sustainable manner.

Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Koji Sekimizu, who spoke to JIS News after the closing session on Friday, February 22, hailed the move.

“This is significant. What they have achieved today was a sort of collective willingness to achieve sustainable maritime in the Caribbean region,” he stated.

He noted that the Rio+20 summit held in Brazil last year had established the way forward in terms of environmental sustainability, but “you cannot talk about sustainable development without shipping.”

“We therefore want to ensure that the shipping itself will be sustainable,” he added.

The IMO head, who was visiting Jamaica for the first time, said he was delighted at the outcome of the discussions and the level of commitment by the ministers.

“I am looking forward to further collaborations among member governments of the (International) Maritime Organization in this region,” he told JIS News.

The high-level meeting, held over four-days at the Iberostar Beaches Hotel, brought together ministries and senior officials from the Caribbean maritime sector to discuss critical developments that will affect their countries’ reputation as responsible maritime states.

Among issues looked at were opportunities for capacity building, and the maritime labour convention.

Minister of Transport and Works, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, told JIS News that the delegates examined ways in which the region could meet the requirements, which have been established by the IMO for various countries.

He said that Mr. Sekimizu was “impressed with where we are and is now very cognizant of what our needs are to bring all our countries up to international standards.”

He noted that there are some challenges for the smaller countries and Jamaica has offered to assist in helping them meet their obligations.

The IMO Secretary General’s attendance, he said, was indicative of the region’s growing importance in the industry and the extent to which Caribbean nations are providing trained personnel to work in the sector.

Dr. Davies, who is the Chairman of the Caribbean Transport Ministers, marshalled the discussions and guided the participants into completing the draft Jamaica 2013 symposium resolution, which will determine the way forward for the industry.

According to the resolution, the agreement for the development of a Caribbean maritime policy is in recognition of the importance of “safe, secure, environmentally sound and efficient maritime transport services for the movement of goods and people, and the socio-economic benefit, to states and territories, of a clean marine environment to the livelihood and well-being of their inhabitants and the growth of their fisheries and tourism industries.”

As such, the participants committed to: “providing the necessary means and support at the national and regional levels for adequate marine environmental research, monitoring and evaluation, in order to maintain the ecological integrity of the marine and coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea, given its critical socio-economic and environmental importance to member states.”