Photo caption: The CPSC Technical Committee (comprising permanent secretaries responsible for transport in Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu) sign the meeting outcomes statement at SPC’s Suva Regional Office, Fiji on 23 May 2013.
The Central Pacific Shipping Commission (CPSC) – an initiative born out of Pacific small island states’ calls for reliable, affordable and sustainable shipping – moves steadily towards donning its much awaited role of regulating shipping in the central Pacific region later this year.
The CPSC Technical Committee, comprising permanent secretaries responsible for transport in Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu, met at SPC’s Suva Regional Office, Fiji from 21–23 May to begin preparatory work for the upcoming meeting of CPSC commissioners (ministers of transport) in mid-2013.
Once the commission begins operation, companies vying to provide a shipping service to the central Pacific countries will be required to register with CPSC and allowed to operate in the area only with the commission’s approval.
Shipping companies that currently provide service to Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu include Matson, Neptune Pacific Line, Pacific Direct Line and Swire.
‘Countries such as Nauru and Kiribati get a supply of cargo once a month and the critical service that shipping provides is best appreciated when these nations literally run out of food when a ship does not arrive as scheduled,’ said SPC Shipping Adviser, John Rounds, who is heavily involved in CPSC work.
‘The CPSC Technical Committee was encouraged by the discussions they had with Matson, Neptune Pacific Line and Pacific Direct Line during their meeting in Suva.
It was the first time CPSC had engaged with shippers directly to discuss the challenges shippers currently face when providing services in the CPSC region,’ John Rounds said.
For most ships, it is one-way traffic when it comes to servicing small island states; empty containers are shipped back due to limited exports. Then there is an added biosecurity/quarantine cost to ensure that the containers brought back are clean or pay around FJD 300 per container for fumigation.
Challenges that shippers face with regard to inadequate port infrastructure in Kiribati and Nauru will soon be a thing of the past. Port upgrade in Kiribati is almost complete and ships will now be able to berth and discharge cargo alongside the wharf.
Furthermore, Nauru, funded by Japan, is planning to build a new wharf, which is expected to reduce ship turnaround time from four days to one day.
Until the commissioners’ meeting, SPC will be working with the CPSC Technical Committee to operationalise the commission. A call for expressions of interest will be made after CPSC ministers of transport endorse all relevant operational documentation.
CPSC, comprising the governments of Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Nauru, was established in 2010 and has its secretariat functions managed by SPC.