The impact of irregular shipping services on the sustainability of small island states has continued to dominate the transport agenda of the Forum Island leaders and Small Island states (SIS) leaders meetings.
Acknowledging that shipping is a key driver for socio-economic development, the Central Pacific Shipping Commission (CPSC) was launched in October 2010 with the intention of controlling competition to provide sustainable commercial shipping services to SIS. The commission comprises of the Governments of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu with an open invitation to Wallis and Futuna.
Since the launching of CPSC, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has noted a significant trend in the interest shown by shipping companies to provide services to the Central Pacific SIS. A number of new shipping companies have also shown interest in servicing all the Central Pacific SIS. In essence, the objectives of the CPSC are being achieved even without the actual operations of the CPSC.
Whilst this would be ideal to let the market forces operate freely thus allowing the CPSC to monitor its development, the Commission has agreed that it would be in the interest of all to initially regulate the services. As the sub-regional market develops, the Commission may decide to shift from a regulating role to a monitoring role.
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the CPSC scheduled for 18–20 September 2013 is expected to pass an endorsement for CPSC to become fully operational and assume a regulatory role by 2014.
The meeting will be organized by the SPC’s Transport programme at its Suva Regional Office. Expected to be in attendance are the Central Pacific SIS transport ministers who are the CPSC Commissioners, technical committee members, respective heads of missions in Fiji, shipping companies, governments, and other state and non-state actors.
The AGM starts on Wednesday, 18 September with a Technical Committee Meeting followed by the AGM of Commissioners on Thursday, and the official launch of expression of interest to interested shipping companies on Friday. After the selection of approved carriers and the issuance of their respective Entry Assurance Certificate/Licence, the shipping companies are expected to commence operation under the new condition in January 2014.
The CPSC is modelled after the Micronesian Shipping Commission (MSC) and is based on its predecessor, ‘Trust Territory Executive Order 113’ which, in turn, was based on the United States Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). This was formally established by the signing of the MSC Treaty on 21 November 1997 with the intention of controlling competition to provide sustainable commercial shipping services that best meet the needs of the Micronesian people.