The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), with project leaders and sponsors, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the World Bank Group (WBG), commenced on Wednesday, 01 December 2021, the nationwide study on the domestic passenger ship safety and energy efficiency in the Philippines.

The study aims to enhance domestic ferry safety by targeting all components of the safety system and the whole feasible spectrum of Risk Control Options, while incorporating the energy efficiency aspect in order to identify the most practical and cost-effective options to reduce the carbon footprint of the domestic shipping sector.

“The Philippines is privileged to have been selected as a beneficiary of this study. With the maritime transport landscape continuously evolving, the implementation of the ‘Study on the Safety and Energy Efficiency of Domestic Passenger Ships in the Philippines’ is timely and relevant.” Engr. Ramon C. Hernandez, Director of the Shipyards Regulation Service (SRS) and the national focal person for the implementation of the project said in his opening remarks during the virtual inception workshop.

He added that the Philippines, with the MARINA’s lead, “[aims] to strengthen [its] efforts to enhance ferry safety in the Philippines, while treating safety of life at sea and environmental considerations with utmost priority.”

MARINA committed to reducing maritime casualties, joining global efforts to mitigate climate change effects

MARINA Deputy Administrator for Operations Engr. Nannette V. Dinopol, on behalf of the MARINA and the project’s implementing agencies the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), assured the international bodies and the industry stakeholders that the MARINA commits itself to the study.

In the MARINA’s formal expression of commitment, Engr. Dinopol stated, “We will instill and sustain a culture of safety in the Philippine domestic shipping sector, to ensure that maritime casualty in the Philippines in the coming years is significantly reduced.”

Engr. Dinopol also guaranteed that the MARINA will prioritize the protection of the marine environment in domestic shipping activities, as the Philippines is an “environmentally aware nation.”
The MARINA has issued policies intended to address the environmental harm caused by the shipping industry. The latest and among the most critical is Memorandum Circular No. SR-2020-06 which mandates Philippine-registered ships plying domestic routes to comply with the Global Sulphur Cap, also known as ‘IMO 2020.’ This regulation requires ships to use fuels with only 0.5% m/m Sulphur content.

Support from international community assured

The IMO, the WBG through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Maritime University (WMU), and the University of Strathclyde (UOS) expressed their full support for the implementation of the project. Recalling the hazard identification (HAZID) exercise conducted for the MARINA in 2015, Xiaojie Zhang, Director of the Technical Cooperation Division of the IMO, said in his message that “there has been a noticeable decline in the number of accidents involving domestic ferries” after HAZID. The next step, then, is to undertake the Formal Safety Assessment (FSA), which is part of this study.

Meanwhile, WBG’s Practice Manager for Transport Benedict L. J. Eijbergen underscored the significance of this undertaking in the employment sector. “Apart from lives lost, this also impacts the tourism sector which employs millions of Filipinos as these mishaps had often prompted other countries to release travel advisories warning their citizens visiting the Philippines against taking interisland ferries,” Eijbergen said.

Bekir Sitki Ustaoglu, Head of the Asia and Pacific Section of the TCD of the IMO and Jean-Marc Christian Arbogast, Country Manager of the IFC for the Philippines both echoed Engr. Dinopol’s call for the safety of life at sea and emphasized the need of the Philippines for timely and continuous interventions in vessel safety especially because the Philippines and maritime transport are inseparable.

The study, which is funded by the IMO and the WBG, is implemented by the MARINA with its implementing partners the PCG and the PPA. It is guided by the project’s international consultants from the WMU in Sweden and the UOS in Scotland; and national consultants – Diana Factuar and Engr. Jerome Manuel.