Tonga was committed to carrying out its responsibilities under international maritime law, Minister for Infrastructure and Tourism ‘Akosita Havili Lavulavu said today.
The Minister also warned of the dangers of global warming and praised the International Maritime Organisation for regulating greenhouse has emissions in shipping.
She also praised the role of women in the international maritime industry.
Hon. Lavulavu said Tonga had improved its relationship with the International Maritime Organisation following an audit by the World Bank.
“The Technical assistance from IMO and development partners will always be welcomed and highly appreciated,” Hon. Lavulavu said.
The Minister acknowledged there were still many real challenges in complying with international maritime laws.
Despite this, safety, security and the role of ships’ crews in the orderly conduct of global trade were of paramount interest to Tonga.
A Government National Maritime Policy had been established, through technical assistance provided by the World Bank so that all maritime sectors work together.
“Customarily, maritime safety and navigation, port and infrastructure development, transport policy, environmental protection, fisheries, security, customs, maritime tourism and border control, fall within different departments and ministries and often there is little to no co-ordination,” the Minister said.
“We have since rectified the situation.”
She said sharing information and helped decision making and reduced the wastage of limited resources by preventing duplication.
Hon. Lavulavu praised the IMO for the theme ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.’
Tonga was committed to this theme He said the Ministry responsible for the maritime division, and the Permanent mission to the IMO were led by women.
Pacific Island states may cease to exist because of climate change, the Minister said.
He commended the IMO for taking a leading role on climate change, by regulating greenhouse gas emissions in shipping.
“Shipping companies and shipowners have risen admirably to the challenge in addressing climate change issues, in partnership with IMO,” the Minister said.
“Without their endorsement and assistance, IMO will face a greater challenge in achieving its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Tonga will enormously benefit from establishing global mitigation, and adapting relevant measures to address climate change, for our immediate survival.”
Tonga appreciates the IMO’s plan to be a ‘knowledge based’ organisation to meet the challenges and related modern technology issues, such as cyber security with transnational criminal activities, and autonomous vessels.
“No doubt, there will be changes in the Organization’s management practices and in working relationships with Member States,” the Minister said.
“We will meet the new and unexpected challenges head-on, and manage them successfully, and effectively.
“It is welcomed with perhaps, a sigh of relief, for Tonga (and other SIDS) that IMO has plans to improve the implementation of the existing regulatory regime.
“This is a comprehensive regulatory regime, that covers the whole life of a vessel, from start to finish, and its operational environment.
“We will stand together with other Member States in meeting our responsibilities, prescribed under international maritime laws.
“We will need all of the help in implementing the international maritime laws, and to comply with all requirements.”
Tonga was strongly committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and associated Sustainable Development Goals, the Minister said.
It supported the IMO’s plans to achieve those commitments.
“This is clearly reflected in the annual IMO’s World Maritime Day theme approved for 2020 – ‘Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet,” she said.
“A sustainable maritime sector will support Tonga’s trade and economic activities and at the same time assist in the fulfilment of its obligations on individual SDGs.”