Port state control

Port Control Problem ment Port Control is the most effective tool at present but it tends to be reactive.
Main Body
Today, nearly 50% of the world’s shipping sails under a flag of convenience. While some flags of convenience, or open registries, do a better job than national flags in enforcing international standards on the ships they flag, it is clear that others are less concerned with the requirement of Article 91 of the Law of the Sea Convention that there be a "genuine link" between the state and the ship. In these cases, flag of convenience registries collect fees to flag ships and license masters and crews but fall short in their efforts to uphold internationally agreed-upon standards.
In reality, however, about two-thirds of the member states of the IMO contract with a classification society of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) to employ trained surveyors to check the compliance of their ships with international standards. Generally speaking, governments possess neither the inspection expertise required to uphold international standards nor the worldwide network of surveyors needed to ensure compliance. Contracting for the assistance of private actors indicates an effort to comply with international standards. But it might be asked whether some of the states attempting to pursue a survey and compliance regime on their own have an adequate infrastructure to fulfill their treaty obligations. The IMO presses on and multilateral efforts to improve the overall performance of flag states will undoubtedly bear some fruit. Nevertheless, it appears that effective global governance of shipping safety in the foreseeable future will rely heavily on the actions of responsible port states, working unilaterally and in groups, and on the industry’s reactions to port state control efforts. (IMO, 295)
The right of the port state to take action against a vessel when it violates port state regulations established in accordance with internationally agreed-upon standards is well established in international law. However, port state authority remains a secondary enforcement system, subordinate to the notion that the flag state should be the primary enforcer of the international standard. As a backup system, it has developed over the past two decades into an array of enforcement structures that reflect the frustration of port states with the failures of too many flag states. As port state control procedures have evolved, they have pressured the industry toward greater safety efforts and have been enveloped into the IMO’s view of a more complete international safety structure. This paper projects that the port state component of the international shipping safety regime will be the cornerstone of improvements in shipping safety in the early decades of the new millenium. Regional port state initiatives will begin to share information more effectively, and the transparency initiatives of port state governments and industry will be harmonized, creating database webs that make it harder than ever for substandard ships to survive.
While the United States is not a signatory to any of the Port State Control MOUs, it cooperates with each of them and will, in the near future, have an enhanced technological capacity to share information between its Port State Control Exchange database and the various MOU databases. Perhaps the U.S. Coast Guard’s most important contribution in port state control has been the development of a boarding decision matrix that allows the service to prioritize foreign vessels for boarding based on past data about the ship, its flag state, and the classification society classing the vessel.( Rodney, 33) This approach to the substandard shipping problem has proven effective as a method for the best employment of scarce inspection resources, and it has been adopted by other port states, most notably in the European Community.
So it can be concluded that Port state Control is the most effective tool at present but it tends to be reactive, because the major actors in the system want the standards set at the IMO. Port State Governments Employ Transparency Techniques to Highlight Substandard Shipping. Predictions about a future in shipping safety led by port state control efforts are rooted in the present day reality. The global objective is to make it more difficult for substandard ships to thrive in the global market. While flag states, port states, and industry make up a three-pronged attack on the substandard shipping problem, at present the efforts of port states are having the greatest effect. One can visit the U.S. Coast Guard’s Port State Control Exchange database, or those of the three major regional MOUs (Paris, Tokyo and Vina del Mar–Latin America), to glean recent data on ship inspections broken down by flag state and classification society. As suggested above, the level of information sharing between these regional bodies will increase as data-sharing possibilities are exploited.
Works Cited
IMO, Maritime Safety online at http://www.imo.org/convent/safety/htm and Boisson, supra note 6, at 295.
Rodney, Carlisle, Sovereignty for Sale: The Origins and Evolution of the Panamanian and Liberian Flags of Convenience (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1981), 33.