Jamaica launched its bid to be re-elected to Category ‘C’ of the International Maritime Organization on Thursday, February 2 at a ceremony held at Jamaica House.

The IMO is one of the UN agencies that works continuously throughout the year and is responsible for supervising the work of the organization. Its global reputation and recognition is extensive and member States are actively engaged in its work. This specialized Agency is governed by an Assembly which meets once every two years; in the intervening period, the affairs of the Assembly are conducted by the Council which is divided into three categories – A,B and C. Categories A and B have 10 members each consisting of states that have largest shipping fleets and major interests in shipping respectively. Category ‘C’ to which Jamaica is seeking membership are elected members which represents other states globally.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking in a video presentation, hailed the move, noting that the decision to launch the candidature comes against the background of the importance of the maritime sector to Jamaica’s economy.

“Jamaica is heavily dependent on the sector for much of our supply of consumer goods, energy, rolling stock, including vital transportation requirements, raw materials for our factories and for the export of our products to overseas markets,” the Prime Minister said.

Meanwhile Transport Minister L. Michael Henry said that the Government, through the provision of massive investments in maritime and ports infrastructure, maritime education and training as well as a qualified work force, deserves a place on the IMO Council.

Continuing, Minister Henry said, “We are a Coastal State, a reality which means that Jamaica’s maritime space is about twenty times that of our land space; secondly we are a Flag State which means that we have a Ship Registry that registers ships all over the world and thirdly: we are a port State – meaning that we have the right through the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, to inspect foreign flagged vessels (known as Port State Control) that come to our ports to ensure that sub-standard ones do not ply our waters and damage our pristine marine environment. ”

The Minister argued that Jamaica’s bid to be elected to Category ‘C’ of the IMO was a strategic move in order to raise the maritime profile in the governing body.

For her part, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said that Jamaica’s aspirations for membership in Category ‘C’ of the Council was in keeping with the country’s strong desire to support at the highest level possible, the oversight role of the Organization in the management of the global maritime industry.

“As a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), with a large maritime space, Jamaica takes a keen interest in the protection and preservation of the maritime environment. The Caribbean Sea, with its fragile eco-system , relies on international regulations and the adherence to such standards for disposal of ships’ waste, to prevent, as far as possible, the introduction of alien invasive species often carried in ships’ ballast water,” Minister Johnson Smith declared.

The elections will take place at the staging of the IMO Meeting in London between November and December, this year.