Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 22, 2017 (SKNIS):The pace of economic growth and development in St. Kitts and Nevis and the wider Caribbean region can be attributed to the ongoing role and contribution of the international shipping industry, according to the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Ian Liburd.  In that process, he said that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) continues to play a vital role.


Minister Liburd made the comments at the opening ceremony of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Regional Workshop on Flag and State Inspections being held at the Ocean Terrace Inn in St. Kitts and Nevis from August 21-25.  Over 20 flag and port state inspectors from Maritime Departments across the region are participating in the workshop.


The transport minister believes that the value of international shipping to the socio-economic development of small developing states such as the Caribbean cannot be overlooked.


“As it continues to sustain economic growth, IMO member states in the region must, in spite of the many technical difficulties and challenges in the implementation and application of IMO conventions, we must continue to do all in our power to fulfill our obligations as responsible flag and port states,” he said. This includes the need to ensure that each regional member, or each regional member state establishes well developed maritime administrations and maritime authorities from which highly trained, qualified, skilled and competent flag and port state inspectors can effectively implement and enforce the various IMO instruments to create a safe and secure marine environment – clean and free of pollutants.


The IMO is the United Nations (UN) specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.  Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry.


Minister Liburd explained that governments that formed the membership of the IMO are required to implement and enforce these international rules, and ensure that the ships which are registered under their national flags comply.  He added that principal responsibility for enforcing IMO regulations concerning ship safety and environmental protection rested with the flag states. However, flag state enforcement, he said, is supplemented by what is known as port state control, whereby officials in any country that a ship might visit can inspect foreign flag ships to ensure that they comply with international requirements.


“As a result, it is therefore incumbent on flag and port states in the Caribbean to protect and safeguard this sector. International Shipping, as you know or as mentioned, has not only facilitated the increase of our cruise ship sector. If our wonderful region was not so appealing in particular seasons, we would not have so many cruise ship arrivals and so many cruise ship visitors. In our case here in St. Kitts, we anticipate this cruise ship season alone we will have 1.2 million passengers and it’s going to grow, I can assure you, as we do intend to build a new cruise ship pier starting any time now,” Minister Liburd said, adding,“…it has also been responsible for the transport of bulk raw material, the import and export of affordable food, manufactured goods and a myriad of other commodities necessary to support economic activities across the region.”


According to the International Chamber of Shipping, around 90 percent of world trade is carried by the international shipping industry and without shipping the import and export of goods on the scale necessary for the modern world would not be possible.