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Date [ 2015-10-15, 06:13 ]

Hydrographic survey to be conducted to enhance Straits’ safety

Heads of delegations from three littoralStates and IMO representative

(Singapore=Koreanpress) Park So-jin = Mrs. Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, opened the 8th Co-operation Forum at the Resorts World Convention Centre, Singapore. It was held from October 5 – 6, 2015 and hosted by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). This Co-operation Forum is one of the three pillars under the Co-operative Mechanism on Safety of Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (“Co-operative Mechanism”).

In conjunction with the 8th Co-operation Forum, a hydrographic survey of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) was conducted by the three littoral States – Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore – together with Japan, on October 6, 2015. This initiative was one of the key recommendations that arose from a study conducted by OMC International Pty Ltd commissioned by the littoral States of the SOMS in 2013 on real-time monitoring of under keel clearance in the SOMS. 

The data yielded from the survey will be used to produce large-scale Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) that complement existing ENCs of the SOMS, which would provide the shipping industry and authorities with high resolution bathymetry information relating to the depth of waters. Such information would enable better voyage planning and greater navigational safety while sailing in these areas.

The Co-operation Forum is the main avenue for the littoral States of the SOMS, user States, the industry and other stakeholders to engage in dialogue, exchange information and share their valuable perspectives on important issues relating to the SOMS.

It also facilitates concrete and practical co-operation between them in the maintenance of safety of navigation and environmental protection in the Straits. Hosting of the Co-operation Forum is rotated among the three littoral States on an annual basis.

Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, delivered a keynote speech titled “Keeping The Straits of Malacca and Singapore Safe and Clean:  A Triumph For Cooperation.” Professor Koh chaired the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) from 1980 – 1982, and played an instrumental role in bringing UNCLOS into being in 1982 after close to a decade of negotiations.

In his address, Professor Koh highlighted that of the 116 straits used for international navigation in the world, the SOMS is the only one which has implemented Article 43 of UNCLOS.  Professor Koh went on to share the negotiating history behind Article 43 and how it came to be implemented in 2007.

The forum was chaired by Mr. Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA, and attended by about 150 participants from over 40 countries and organisations, an increase of more than 50 participants from 28 States and organisations when the Forum was first launched in 2008. Also present were Mr. Tan’s regional counterparts, Captain Bobby R Mamahit, Director General for Sea Transportation, Directorate General of Sea Transportation (DGST), Republic of Indonesia and Dato’ Hj Baharin Bin Dato’ Abdul Hamid, Director General, Marine Department, Malaysia.

Mr. Tan said, “The SOMS is one of the world’s busiest and most important shipping lanes in the world. It will continue to grow in significance as maritime trade flourishes. To support this growth, it is essential to ensure continued safety of navigation and protection of the marine environment within the SOMS.

The Co-operative Mechanism and the Co-operation Forum remain highly relevant as they provide an effective platform for our partners from governments, the industry and other stakeholders to come together, pool resources as well as exchange expertise and ideas. The joint hydrographic survey of the SOMS to be conducted by the littoral States and Japan is a positive outcome which epitomises the mutual cooperation and collective will to enhance the continued safety and efficiency of vessels that ply these waters.” 

At the Forum, participants exchanged views on the new and emerging challenges faced by the maritime sector in the constantly evolving landscape. These include cyber security and the trend towards a sustainable global maritime transport system. The discussions will promote effective and practical cooperation to advance the objectives of enhancing navigational safety and environmental protection in the SOMS.

The second and third pillars of the Co-operative Mechanism are the Aids to Navigation Fund (A