MARITIME officers from seven Pacific countries are to join their New Zealand counterparts in the Kiwi capital Wellington to participate in a training course delivered by the International Maritime Organization.

The course is to prepare the countries for an audit by the IMO. Countries signed up to IMO conventions are required to submit to an IMO audit once every seven years. The audits, conducted under the IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS) are comprehensive and cover the organisation’s conventions.

Maritime NZ chief executive Keith Manch said the training was an opportunity to improve maritime safety standards across the Pacific, but preparing for an audit requires significant time and investment for any country.

“But for some Pacific nations, with limited capacity in terms of personnel or local expertise, it is particularly difficult,” he said.

“During this course, two IMO auditors will take the participants through their processes and help them understand what will be required of their country‘s maritime departments when it is time for them to undergo the IMSAS audit.

“It is an opportunity for each country to identify what it needs to focus on over the next couple of years. Participants will gain a clear understanding of the procedures for the member state audit and their reporting requirements.”

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Mr Manch said the course was also an opportunity for collaboration as all participants can share expertise and experiences

Maritime NZ technical officers will be participating in the course, as the organisation prepares for New Zealand‘s audit, due in late 2020.

The course is being funded by the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme, a New Zealand Aid funded programme administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and delivered by Maritime NZ.

One of the programme‘s key areas of focus is to help Pacific countries develop their maritime regulations and capacity to implement them. Mr Manch said the course would support the strengthening of the regulatory frameworks in each of the countries.

Representatives from all seven Pacific Maritime Safety Programme countries – Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu – will participate.

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