International shipping must comply with international regulations to ensure safe and clean practices. While national and European laws and regulations do exist, global regulations are the most important for the worldwide shipping industry.
For vessels, this is primarily coordinated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and for seafarers, through the International Labour Organization (ILO).
It is the responsibility of the government of the country of where the ship is registered to oversee compliance with the numerous laws and regulations. However, not all countries treat this task as seriously as others; this risks the possibility of dangerous situations resulting in potential environmental damage.
Furthermore, meeting the required standards of international regulations costs shipping companies money. As such, ships on which standards are not adequately met can offer lower rates to their clients, thus disrupting the level playing field.
To improve this situation, it has been agreed at an international level that ports are allowed to inspect arriving foreign vessels for compliance of internationally applicable standards. If any discrepancies are discovered that would impede safe navigation or risk environmental damage, then the vessel can be preventing from leaving. Any outstanding issues would have to be resolved before the ship is allowed depart.
At a global level, many neighbouring countries have signed Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) in order to improve Port State Control. This increases the scope of enforcement, making it harder for unscrupulous shipowners to operate. Such cooperative arrangements also support a level playing field.
Interestingly, many MOU regions keep records of the number of ships’ detentions as well as the amount of regulatory discrepancies per flag state. This allows ships originating from well-performing countries to be inspected less (and vice versa). Statistical data such as these can also be used by parties such as financiers and clients to make key business decisions.
The KVNR strives for a strong position of the Dutch flag in these statistics – after all, this illustrates the quality of the Dutch register.