Francis Zachariae, IALA Secretary-General/ Secrétaire Général.
According to Francis Zachariae, the 14th IALA Symposium in Rotterdam provides an ideal, global forum for review and discussion among peers engaged in a dynamic maritime traffic domain. In our conversation with him, he gives the maritime participant a glimpse into this combined VTS-ENAV Symposium. He underlines why you should not miss this symposium in the Netherlands at the end of May!
1. Why is the Netherlands an inspiring country when it comes to maritime affairs?
As a maritime nation The Netherlands has gained knowledge and experience in shipping transport logistics, port development, mariners’ skills and the advancement of safety of navigation over many centuries. Furthermore, as a vulnerable coastal State bordering one of the most extensively used sea areas in the world, the country is a world leader in marine spatial planning to the benefit of protection of the environment and the harmonious and expeditious conduct of multiple activities at sea.
It is not surprising that the Dutch lighthouse authorities were a driving force in the establishment of IALA, convinced of the need for an internationally coordinated approach to serve seafarers who, whatever the trading area of their ship in the world, need predictable standards in the provision of marine aids to navigation and shore-based maritime information services like VTS.
Port City Rotterdam hosting city for the second time
This is the second time the Port City of Rotterdam hosts the Symposium, which promises to be at least as successful if not more so than the VTS Symposium held in Rotterdam in the year 2000. The Port’s operations are supported by a widely recognized, sophisticated system of Vessel Traffic Services and Symposium participants will have the unique opportunity of a technical visit.
2. Why is the Enhanced Maritime Safety and Efficiency by Connectivity theme interesting when you look at it on an international level? What does the theme bring for new insights for the players in this market?
The Symposium’s chosen theme of “Enhanced Maritime Safety and Efficiency by Connectivity” appropriately addresses the importance of maritime digital transformation for the future efficiency and safety of navigation. This is indeed reflected in the decision to hold a combined VTS-ENAV Symposium. As VTS centers draw increasingly on the capabilities of e-navigation, this development is driving ongoing work, within IALA in close coordination with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), on the description of shore-based maritime information services in the context of e-Navigation and its global implementation.
Carefully selected technical programme
The Symposium’s carefully selected technical programme focuses on the increasing availability – and use – of new information and communication technologies and the unprecedented opportunities these technologies provide for enhanced, real-time interaction and information sharing between ships and shore-based authorities.
Shared end goal
However, these benefits can only be realized through the development of a common data infrastructure and digital communication standards that are globally accepted. The shared end goal is to ensure that the needs of users are well served by innovation, and this requires that digital connectivity brings tangible benefits for the continuous improvement of safety of navigation and protection of the environment.
3. Can you tell us something more about your quote “When we meet in Rotterdam, exciting developments have taken place in the VTS with the review of the IMO Guidelines”?
Achieving tangible benefits for end users has also been the principal intention behind the successful revision of the long-standing Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services, adopted by the International Maritime Organization in 1997 (IMO Assembly Resolution A.857(20)). There will be ample opportunity at the Symposium to learn more about this exciting development.
New set of guidelines
Following intensive work, over several years, by the IALA VTS Committee, with input from a wide range of maritime stakeholders, a draft revised text providing a modern, clear and concise framework for VTS was reviewed and agreed by the IMO in January of this year. The Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee is expected to give its formal approval to the new set of guidelines at its May 2020 session, which immediately precedes the Symposium. Publication of a new resolution is scheduled in tandem with the next IMO Assembly session in 2021.
Internationally recognized framework for VTS
The revision was needed because VTS systems continue to grow in both number and functionality, taking advantage of recent technological developments such as the Automatic Identification System (AIS), modern computing power, internet connectivity, high-speed communication networks, and refined decision-support tools and associated data sets. It is vital, therefore, that the internationally recognized framework for VTS is kept up to date and continues to meet its stated objectives and responsibilities, not least because seafarers rely increasingly on VTS for safety of navigation.
Harmonizing VTS worldwide
The new guidelines include provisions on VTS personnel qualifications and training. They also recognize that IALA Standard S1040 – Vessel Traffic Services provides the framework to harmonize VTS worldwide. At its 70th session in December 2019, the IALA Council approved two related new documents: Guideline on VTS Training for Deck Officers (G1149) and Guideline on Establishment of VTS (G1150).
4. Why do you think one should not miss the 14th IALA Symposium?
In view of the above observations, I view the participation in the Symposium as ‘a must’ for all concerned stakeholders engaged in a dynamic maritime traffic domain – be they digital ‘whizards’, scientists, equipment developers, manufacturers, maritime service providers, or other legitimate parties.
Ideal global forum
Together with the associated Industrial Exhibition, the Symposium provides an ideal, global forum for review and discussion among peers of ongoing research and development, lessons learned from the implementation of test beds, practical technology applications and their training implications, and evolving aids to navigation and VTS developments in different parts of the world.
Joined-up thinking and informed debate
The best – i.e. most practical – solutions for innovation in maritime information management can only be achieved through joined-up thinking and informed debate among knowledgeable and experienced people. I, therefore, look forward to welcoming a record number of enthusiastic participants from around the world in Rotterdam!