The Company of Master Mariners of Sri Lanka (CMMSL), a professional organisation of Sri Lankan ship captains, jointly with the Organization of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka (OPA), held a seminar at the OPA Auditorium on 9 February on the theme ‘IMO Conventions and Maritime Regulations in Sri Lanka’.
Introduction by OPA President Ruwan Gallage
The seminar commenced with an open address by OPA President Ruwan Gallage. CMM Secretary Capt. Rohith Fernando introduced each speaker and the CMM President Capt. Nirmal Silva chaired the Question and Answer session. The vote of thanks was delivered by Capt. Ranjith Weerasinghe.
There were two presentations; one by Capt. Upul Peiris who is currently a Government Ship Surveyor of the Merchant Shipping Secretariat. He himself is an ex-ships officer who sailed as Captain before finally coming ashore. He is a member of CMM SL and OPA was enumerating the International Maritime Conventions of IMO the country has signed and to be signed and the importance of them for the country to be maritime-active as an important port state and to facilitate as an effective and efficient flag state for Sri Lanka Flag registered vessels.
He pointed out there are six new important conventions the country is expected to accede to in the near future. They are on air pollution (MARPOL Annex 6); ballast water management which restricts discharge of seawater water carried in ballast tanks by ships during ballast voyage (no cargo voyage) from one port to another introducing invasive marine species; limitation of liability on maritime claims; bunker conventions on marine fuel supplies; oil pollution prevention response; and control and hazardous noxious substances protocol.
The other speaker, Chandaka Jayasundera, a learned LLM holder specialised in Commercial Law with special emphasis on Maritime Law Transport Law and Intellectual Property Law and Arbitration, suggested the need for a new maritime regulatory regime in Sri Lanka to deal with ships’ regulations, which the country has been lacking for a very long time, ever since Merchant Shipping Act No. 52 was enacted in 1971.
He pointed out that although the country has signed as many as 20 odd IMO conventions and there are more to be signed, hardly any of them are properly legislated in the country to be law. Except in one convention related to seafarers’ training and certifications, no regulations are ever promulgated to execute the required provisions of those conventions even if they are made laws in the country, he noted.
He also revealed as heard from the Merchant Shipping Secretariat that the Director General of Merchant Shipping is making a lot of efforts to have the Ministry ready to bring into the statute the required maritime laws and promulgate regulations the country lacked in the last 46 years but is apparently still encountering difficulties.
He recommended a few ways of enacting the required laws to give effect to those country-acceded IMO conventions and to promulgate necessary regulations thereof to deal with internationally trading vessels and special local regulations independent of IMO conventions for those vessels operated solely in Sri Lankan Waters as non-convention vessels. It summarises as: An enabling Act be enacted either as a Special Provisions Act to the Merchant Shipping Act; or as an amendment to the Merchant Shipping Act; or as a new standalone Act.