IMO General

A Stronger Voice for the Ferry Industry

In 2003 Interferry was granted Consultative Status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This status allows Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) the opportunity to attend all IMO meetings, to engage in debate and make formal submissions. Voting on regulations is the sole responsibility of the Member States. Since 2003 Interferry has been represented at every meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) as well as many sub-committee and working group meetings.

Interferry’s Regulatory Office

In 2011 a group of five major Interferry operator members approached the Board of Directors with a proposal for further strengthening the voice of the ferry industry. This group had concluded that in order to take full advantage of Consultative Status at IMO it was necessary to have a full time staff position devoted to regulatory and policy affairs and based near IMO headquarters in London. These discussions resulted in the opening of an Interferry office in Brussels in 2012 and the recruitment of Johan Roos from Stena as the Director of Regulatory Affairs. The group of five operators agreed to cover the start-up and operating costs of the Brussels office for the first three years. The funding group was subsequently increased to eleven members. The initiative has been a success and now Interferry has a full-time Director of Regulatory Affairs.

Before Interferry undertook to strengthen its voice at IMO, it was not uncommon for regulators and even other shipping associations to overlook the impact of rules aimed mainly at deep sea shipping on short sea operations like ferries. This has changed. Interferry has proven the value of of a strong voice as illustrated by these major successes over the past three years:

  • The Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) as adopted by the IMO originally included ferries together with deep sea shipping. Interferry was successful in convincing IMO that this would create severe difficulties for the ferry industry. The result was a revised EEDI specifically tailored to the characteristics of ferry operations.
  • The rules for ballast water treatment are another issue where the regulatory focus was on deep sea shipping. Interferry has been successful in promoting simplified exemption rules for ferries travelling on short routes where the spread of invasive species is not a practical threat.
  • The IMO and other agencies have been studying the possibility of imposing new damage stability regulations on ferries. Interferry has had success in promoting a balanced approach which combines consideration of both technical solutions (e.g. more bulkheads) and the human element/operational practices to ensure that new rules do not lead to the extinction of the RoPax concept.
  • The battle was lost on the reduction of fuel sulphur content in Emission Control Areas (ECA’s). Nevertheless Interferry has had some success on thespecification and testing of sulphur scrubbers and also with regard to government assistance in financing the industry’s mitigation efforts
  • Less visible are all the would-be-issues that have been dropped by the IMO at a very early stage because Interferry’s input helped member states understand that more regulation is not always necessary.