Industry sources have indicated that port state control (PSC) is now being physically implemented within the ports of the UAE. Inspections are already under way and reports of non-compliance are being submitted to interested parties.

This unilateral step within the Gulf is being welcomed by the local maritime industry as a brave move by the UAE, which will set a clear example to all other administrations within the area, who have been slow to even plan the implementation of port state control despite discussions last February on a memorandum of understanding on PSC between several Gulf states.

Capt. Mohammed Alaa Farag, marine affairs consultant to the Ministry of Communications, confirmed that the initial process is underway, but would necessarily take several months to complete.

He said it must be done properly and emphasised the need to ensure that ships entering and leaving UAE waters were fully compliant with international standards of safety and environmental control.

To this end, the UAE government was keeping its pledge, made last February, when it was announced that the UAE would enforce PSC by the end of the year. That announcement followed several marine incidents in UAE waters.

They included the sinking of a 42-year old Honduras-flagged tanker, Al Jaziya 1, off the coast of Abu Dhabi on January 24, which released several hundred tonnes of fuel oil into the sea. Three weeks later, on February 10, a Belize-registered offshore supply vessel, Ghareb, sank in the Umm Dalkh oilfield, killing the chief officer.

The introduction of PSC will certainly help to police “maverick” operators who generally flag their vessels with less than reputable flags of convenience and are often not classed or are affiliated to non-IACS organisations of dubious standards.

PSC is a “safety net” to be utilised as an additional assurance that standards are maintained to protect our seafarers and our environment.