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Bahamas re-elected to IMO council

The Bahamas will have another two years to directly influence global maritime affairs through its re-election to the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London last week.

The country landed one of 40 council seats on the 170 country-member IMO – a specialized agency of the United Nations charged with the safety and security of shipping and prevention of marine pollution by ships.  There is stiff competition and considerable lobbying for the 40 seats, according to Ian Fair, the chairman of Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA).

He said the accomplishment attests to this nation’s reputation in the international maritime arena.

“We are very pleased to report that we were re-elected to the council,” Fair told Guardian Business.  “The Bahamas is well regarded in the IMO for the positive contributions it makes.  To be one of the 40 [elected for the Council] represents the high regard of The Bahamas in the maritime sector.”

The bid for an IMO Council seat is the most important international candidature for The Bahamas, Fair told IMO members ahead of the vote Friday.

The Council is the executive body responsible for supervising the work of the organization, under the authority of the assembly.  The Bahamas will serve for the 2012-2013 biennium of the council.

The IMO breaks-out three different categories of membership on the council.   Members in category A, for which 10 seats are allocated, have the largest interest in providing international shipping services.   Category B is for member states with the most significant international seaborne trade interests, with 10 seats on the council.

The Bahamas was eligible under category C, for which there were 20 seats.  It’s open to member states that were not elected under the other categories, have special interests in maritime affairs, and will help to ensure all major geographical areas are represented on the council.

Breaking out the vote, Fair said 26 countries vied for a category C council seat, The Bahamas being the eleventh to secure its place.  The country garnered 118 votes from the 155 eligible voting states – five more that it did in its last successful bid for council membership two years ago.  Fair explained that each voting country could cast 20 votes in category C.

The vote took place at the 27th assembly of the IMO held November 21-30 at IMO headquarters in London.  The assembly generally holds a regular session once every two years to elect a new president and council, approval of the IMO’s work program, and to vote the budget.

The lobby effort was well supported by the contributions The Bahamas has made to the IMO, recently with representation on all of the organizations committees and subcommittees.  High Commissioner, Paul Farquharson, is the permanent representative of the IMO, and served as vice president of the assembly these last two years.

In presentations at the assembly last week, Fair said The Bahamas was an archipelago and a nation of seafarers “intrinsically linked to the sea and the real marine environment”.  He reported over 56 million tons of ships on the register – from cruise ships to bulk carriers to high-tech advanced dynamic position ships used in mineral extraction from the seabed.

The Bahamas has the fourth largest ship registry in the world.

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