On 1 January this year, the Central Pacific Shipping Commission (CPSC) became operational. Work to achieve this began after the governments of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu signed a regional agreement on international commercial shipping in 2010.
CPSC is an initiative born out of the call of leaders in Pacific small island states to have reliable, affordable and sustainable shipping. SPC provides secretariat services for the commission.
A two-day (25–27 March) special meeting, called for by the shipping companies that hold an Entry Assurance Certificate (EAC) to service the Central Pacific region, is currently under way at the Novotel Hotel in Nadi, Fiji. Also attending the meeting are the CPSC commissioners – the ministers for transport of the member states – and the CPSC Technical Committee, comprising the permanent secretaries responsible for transport in these governments. The purpose of the meeting is to address various issues raised by the shipping companies. In addition, the meeting deliberated on applications from new shipping companies seeking to join the commission.
The Commission Chairman, Honourable Thomas Heine, the Marshall Islands Minister for Transportation and Communication welcomed all EAC holders and thanked them for their support in making CPSC a reality and a success he wished them well in the future.
‘CPSC, which is a Pacific solution to a Pacific problem, has been in operation for about three months. Feedback from member states and stakeholders has been encouraging. Some have made suggestions to further improve and broaden its operation. The commission realised from the outset that there would be teething problems and these have been addressed accordingly,’ said SPC Shipping Adviser, John Rounds.
The meeting noted that, since the commission’s commencement, there have been changes in circumstances for some of the EAC holders. Some industry stakeholders had expressed concern that the names used by the various shipping agents were different from the list of approved EAC holders. In addition, some port cargo-handling equipment was reported to be operating at a lower level, which has affected performance. Stakeholders wanted more information on the service provided by other EAC holders. They also supported the suggestions that new entrants would provide specialised services and that all special project cargoes would be transported by EAC holders. These issues are being looked into by CPSC in a way that will ensure that the requirements of the regional agreement are appropriately met, thereby reducing any confusion that may arise.
In order to effectively monitor and evaluate the services of the commission and to better coordinate the broader maritime transport sector, the commission has decided to set up a national shipping council in each member state. This council will play a key role in the annual performance review of the EAC holders.
It is intended that the council will comprise representatives of government agencies with port and shipping functions, ports authorities, shipping companies, chambers of commerce, border control personnel and shipping agencies.
The shipping companies that currently provide services to Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu are Matson, Neptune Pacific Line, Pacific Direct Line and Swire.
For more information, contact John Rounds, Shipping Adviser, EDD, SPC, Suva, Fiji