Enhancing regional cooperation for knowledge sharing and fostering a culture of safety and security among maritime stakeholders
1. Introduction
International Maritime Organization was established as an autonomous organization, under the aegis of the United Nations, in 1959. The affair of carnival and aegis at sea has consistently been analytically important and the emphasis on this has varied extremely from time to time. IMO has sought to bring focus on this issue and has tried to boost the level of awareness in all member countries by advising and making regular reports and through holding regional workshops and conferences on this subject from time to time. Without any doubt, it is now the major issue for the security agencies. Regulations and oversight at sea affect every individual country and in this global environment, joint efforts on the part of the nations involved is the only solution of effective implementation.
The task of the IMO has been to promote the objectives of these regulations by designing, implementing regulatory measures and developing policies, which may vary based on resource, technology, and cultural disparities between countries involved in the maritime industry. Simulation has been a central component in shaping policies and reporting systems, but it is only recently that sophisticated decision tools have been developed and are starting to get attention as a viable way to improve communications between countries for the purposes of achieving the regulatory work. Coming up with appropriate differential action to deliver the desired results will be an ongoing challenge but the solutions developed have to be flexible and easy to administer in both the regions requiring improvement as well as the resource-rich developed regions. This conference will focus on the methodologies and results of recent work involving the use of class of service action models and related decision tools to analyze the impact of regulations for countries represented in IMO.
1.1 Background
Enhancing regional cooperation for knowledge sharing and fostering a culture of safety and security among maritime stakeholders, a research project funded by the Ministry of Transport of Japan through the Overseas Coastal Area Development Institute of Japan (OCDI), was officially begun in February 2006 by Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The project that is focusing on sharing knowledge among the three countries, implemented in some strategic areas including the shipping and shipbuilding industry, maritime education and training, and safety prevention that in the long term is expected to foster a culture of safety and security in the maritime sector in the region, has come to its closure at the end of March 2009. This research is focusing on the third strategic area, which is safety prevention.
The background of this research is an agreement to continue the efforts that had been started on the previous project, particularly on establishing a common maritime culture to support sustainable safer shipping by the Enhancement of the Tripartite Agreement on Cessation of the Seaborne Hostilities (ETACS). The ETACS itself was a continuation of the Post-Conflict Reconciliation and Rehabilitation (PCRR) between the three countries, which both initiatives are the results of serious efforts to reduce tensions and prevent conflicts that could jeopardize the safety and security of shipping in the region. While we consider that the implementation of ETACS has given some impacts toward safer shipping in the region, however, on the other hand, the shipping industry itself has contributed unsafe acts through ignorance of some safety procedures to reduce costs, and a matter of fact, there are external pressures from various shipping stakeholders that could threaten the safety and security of ships in the region.
1.2 Purpose of the research
The final part of the thesis is focused on changing the safety and security culture in the shipping industry, which is the long-term objective of the current implementation of regional agreements. The research identifies the current safety and security culture in the industry and the cultural traits of previous incidents involving safety and security. Following this, the research seeks to understand what the desired safety and security culture looks like and identifies the gap analysis to reach this desired state.
The thesis will also look at the importance of knowledge sharing among regional agreements in an attempt to develop a shared understanding of the safety and security risks involved. This will include the potential benefits and barriers that come with sharing information and the different methods in which shared information can be processed.
The research is aimed at understanding the safety and security risks the shipping industry currently faces and identifying the potential gaps in the project of enhancing regional cooperation. This will be done through examining past incidents that have occurred involving safety and security from various maritime information sources. Understanding the human factors and the process of decision making involved in the collaboration of the regional agreements and outlining the best possible practices involved in a successful regional cooperation agreement.
1.3 Research objectives
– To identify institutional and political bottlenecks that hinder knowledge sharing and development of a safety and security culture in the maritime sector through a survey of national government departments/ministries and maritime agencies. A sub-objective is to identify best practices from other sectors (aviation, oil and gas) that could be applied to the maritime sector. The survey will also identify the role of external factors such as the global regulatory environment and local socio-economic and political conditions.
To enhance situational awareness of safety and security threats and incidents at the national level through data collection and information sharing. This will include an analysis of the usefulness of different information and intelligence sources and how information is shared both vertically between government and industry and horizontally between countries. An important focus will be assessing the extent of under-reporting of incidents and the reasons behind this with a view to developing confidential reporting systems.
To develop a comprehensive understanding of the human factors which influence safety and security related decisions in the maritime sector. This will involve a study of organizational safety culture in different sectors of the industry and an analysis of the incentives and disincentives for safety and security compliance by both industry and government actors. A related objective is to identify the roles and interrelationships of the various stakeholders in the maritime sector with a special focus on how government policy and actions affect industry behaviour.
To investigate the role and impact of regional maritime cooperation initiatives, agreements and regulatory frameworks on safety and security in the maritime sector. This will include an analysis of the specific security measures contained in UNCLOS and the ISPS code and their impact in different regions and an assessment of the success and failures of regional cooperative activities in the aftermath of specific incidents. The research will assess the attitudes and opinions of industry and government stakeholders towards these initiatives and identify areas where further action is desired.
2. Regional cooperation in the maritime sector
Regional cooperation in the maritime sector is vital in maintaining safety and security across the shipping industry. Most incidents at the root of breakdown in security are beyond the control of any single country to prevent. Regional cooperation offers a platform for nations to work together, share information and devise strategies to combat the complex and interlinked threats to security. It is a cost-effective and efficient way to design and implement security policies as it enables countries to pool resources and information, avoiding duplication of efforts and minimizing gaps and overlaps. Regional cooperation is equally important in preparing for and responding to any security threats. It ensures that there is a coordinated and coherent approach to identifying threats and risks, and should an incident occur, it will facilitate a quick and efficient response to minimize the impact on international shipping and trade. Measures to enhance security taken by individual countries that are not part of a wider regional strategy are unlikely to be effective and can even result in a displacement of the security threat to other areas. In no other sector is the interdependence of states and their common security so evident, making regional cooperation an imperative for the safety and security of international shipping. This is even more important in developing countries where resource constraints often limit a state’s ability to provide effective security by itself.
2.1 Importance of regional cooperation
With the phase-in of the ISPS Code, it is expected that regional cooperation will increase, due to the Code’s provision for flexibility in implementation to accommodate varying threat perceptions, vulnerability, and impacts upon different states. States can work together to share information on the conduct of security assessments and audits, develop security regulations and contingency planning tailored to regional conditions, and organize joint exercises and training. Regional cooperation can also enhance the cost-effectiveness of the Code’s implementation through the sharing of expertise, best practices, and resources. At the same time, the Code has generated some criticism for potentially creating a global ‘two-tier’ system of port security, so regional cooperation should monitor against any relative decline in security standards between ‘ISPS’ and ‘non-ISPS’ ports and work to minimize discrepancy.
Globalisation has been marked by fragmentation of the world into numerous regional units. This trend has reinforced the role of regional cooperation as a means for integration in the global economy. In the maritime sector, regional cooperation can be an effective vehicle for policy coordination, capacity building, and creating shared understanding to address a wide array of issues. Regional cooperation is often viewed as a ‘middle ground’, as it is less binding than formal treaties and less constraining than global regimes. It is a pragmatic and flexible option that can accommodate the wide diversity of political, social, and economic conditions found among states. Often the complex and fragmented nature of the maritime sector hinders effective policy implementation, and regional cooperation is an effective means to translate intentions into actions.
2.2 Current challenges and limitations
Challenges and limitations that hinder regional cooperation in the maritime sector are as follows. First, the absence of a strong impetus to initiate special time-bound projects involving different stakeholders on a sub-regional or regional basis. The absence of an identified need by stakeholders for regional solutions, and unwillingness to allocate resources – financial or human – toward regional solutions is a key constraint. Second, lack of awareness on the relevance of regional work, and the benefits to be derived, coupled with a lack of understanding of what regional work entails is a common constraint. This comprises of a mixture of misunderstanding about basic concepts between the different levels of regional cooperation ICT than the overall IUU project for example, and a lack of awareness of what is already being done. In some cases “lack of political will” is cited, but this is often a catch-phrase covering some of the other constraints mentioned. Third, competition by member states for the same resources, either multilaterally such as JPOA implementation funds, or bilaterally by their development partners, can obstruct the sharing of knowledge and best practices.
Decision making within RFOs has sometimes been cited, albeit there is significant variation between RFOs. Those with a consensus-style decision making process for example have occasionally been frustrated with their inability to utilise a majority decision to force action by a non-complying member. This has led some organisations to work outside of the legal framework such as with the FFA. In such cases a lack of legal authority or conflicting mandates may hinder official endorsement of the regional work for some sectors, for example earlier work on maritime surveillance has been endorsed by the Forum Foreign Ministers, and not the FFC, and therefore may not be taken up by SPC. Finally, high staff turn-over within national and regional organisations results in loss of corporate knowledge and experience, and can minimize the long-term commitment demonstrated by the stakeholders’ engagement with regional solutions.
2.3 Best practices and success stories
ReCAAP covers the entire Asian region. It is a non-legally binding agreement that was put into place in 2006. Its aim is to increase cooperation and information sharing between affected countries with specific regards towards incidents on piracy and armed robbery. As of April 2008, it has 14 member countries which include Japan and China. While the code of conduct has not received the attention compared to other regional cooperation agreements, incidents by member countries had fallen by an average of 25 percent since the implementation of the ISPS codes. This can be attributed to the code of conduct which encourages ratifying countries to inform and share details of any incidents regarding piracy and armed robbery. This, in turn, allows the member countries to collate information and determine crime patterns and hot spots. This information is then fed back to the affected countries and also the shipping and cargo industries.
Since the implementation of the ISPS code, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (ReCAAP) and ASEAN Regional Forum are widely seen as successful stories. The ISPS code was to provide a standard for security of ships and port facilities. Despite the mandate, Somalia and Nigerian pirates continue to take advantage of existing insecurity in the Gulf of Eden and in the South China Seas. However, the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre, two years before the implementation of the ISPS code, provided a working platform for sharing information which led to the ratification and active enforcement of legislation by several ratifying countries. This, in turn, reduced the number of incidents in those particular areas.
2.4 Opportunities for improvement
Overarching the existing regional initiatives, many of these responses lack coordination within the local maritime community engagement and fail to prioritize key issues with the wider impact on safety and security. The regional agreements have often resulted in “technical assistance” for the implementing of international instruments, which while is important is not directly addressing the issue of safety and security culture through the development of shared understanding, attitudes, goals, and commitment to improvement. Although there is potential for improvement with the collective Community of Practice, this is usually made up of mid to lower-level public officials and is rarely on the maritime industry level, and the extent and impact varies significantly. The regional cooperation is reliant on the external funding from extra-regional sources and often the political will and commitment of various agencies can be short-lived. This has been exacerbated by the recent global economic downturn where maritime safety and security is not considered a priority and public funds have been directed elsewhere.
There is an indication that regional approaches could achieve stronger cooperation with the wider international maritime community through coordination between existing agreements and understanding of the wider international legal instruments and standards. To do this, it is essential that there is active participation in the form of leadership from key governmental and non-governmental maritime organizations. This would involve steering the direction and protection of the common interests of maritime safety and security, knowledge sharing and development, and effective facilitation with a result-oriented attitude. The avoidance of duplication of work from other regional or international agreements should be considered, and resources should be allocated to the most effective means of achieving safety and security culture improvement. High-level agreement leaders need to recognize the importance of safety and security as a global public good in the protection of local and international interests and implement proactive strategies with a view to not only prevent but to be prepared to cope with incidents through continued cooperation.
3. Knowledge sharing among maritime stakeholders
Knowledge is increasingly recognised as an important resource to an organisation’s success, and the management and sharing of this knowledge has become a critical issue. This is no less relevant in the maritime industry, and the nature of the industry will mean that the sharing of knowledge between stakeholders will be of even greater importance. Knowledge can be found within the industry’s data on safety and security, but also within the experience of individuals and organisations, and also in academic research. This knowledge has to be translated into safety and security improvements in the form of best practices, and the more rapid the dissemination and application of these best practices, the more rapid the benefits to safety and security.
The benefits of knowledge sharing have been widely discussed in the literature and research, and are widely accepted by researchers and practitioners alike. For safety and security improvements, faster and more reliable improvements and reductions in accidents will be a major goal, which can be achieved through the faster dissemination of best safety practices, and knowledge sharing is directly related to this. A study in the healthcare sector has shown that for common safety related problems which are known to have effective solutions, the average time taken for the solution to be applied is 17 years. This is largely a result of the dispersed nature of knowledge and best practices, and research has shown that most of the variation in safety between high and low risk industry sectors can be attributed to differences in the implementation of known safety practices, rather than the discovery of new practices. Other potential benefits of knowledge sharing include the avoidance of ‘reinventing the wheel’, and cost savings through economies of scale.
3.1 Benefits of knowledge sharing
Decision making within the maritime industry, in particular the risk assessment process, could be greatly improved through shared knowledge on past experiences of accidents and near-misses, and the lessons learned from these experiences. Often, this is information that does not filter down beyond individual organizations, and so a culture of secrecy is maintained, and the same mistakes are repeated. COMCHS member Maritime New Zealand has identified the benefits that shared information can bring to the decision-making process in their paper on a risk management framework for maritime safety. They identified a lack of a comprehensive information base from which to identify and assess risks, and a need to learn from past experiences. This ultimately led to research in New Zealand waters to identify where and why maritime accidents were occurring.
Knowledge sharing can be defined as a planned and controlled exchange of information between persons, groups, or organizations. Its benefits can be seen in improved decision making, learning, and increased innovation, with the overall result being improved organizational performance. Moving this to more specific maritime terms, knowledge sharing has the potential to greatly affect safety and security measures and enhance the general level of cooperation between various maritime stakeholders.
In developing effective safety and security measures in the maritime community, knowledge sharing is often seen as a redundant and unimportant activity. Often, it is difficult to assess how sharing has benefited an organization. To overcome this mindset, it is important to identify how knowledge sharing can be used to affect change and to encourage stakeholders to recognize and utilize the benefits of shared knowledge.
3.2 Barriers to effective knowledge sharing
Lack of awareness and appreciation of the benefits of knowledge sharing, and fear of competitive disadvantage are two critical barriers identified in the literature. This suggests that cultivating a culture of safety and security is not only about improving the availability of safety and security related knowledge and its application, but also demands a transformation in mindsets towards a more collective and less individualistic orientation. Various other barriers have been suggested including legal and liability issues, an unsupportive organizational culture, lack of top management leadership, inadequate resources, and the most fundamental barrier – deficiencies in the knowledge itself in terms of its availability or its relevance to the user’s needs. Mapping these various barriers and their inter-relationships is important to understanding the complexities of the knowledge sharing process and to identifying points for intervention. This can help avoid a common tendency in the past to oversimplify the process and assume that by improving IT capabilities, knowledge sharing will improve. An integrated strategy taking into account the socio-political as well as technical aspects of knowledge sharing may be more effective.
3.3 Strategies for promoting knowledge sharing
It involves information availability (ensuring that knowledge resides with access to those who need it), access to knowledge (when the right information is in the right hands at the right time), being able to comprehend the knowledge received and lastly, use the knowledge in a way that improves the organization’s performance. Improvements in any of these areas would have a positive effect on shipping safety. Firstly, organizations need to identify the potential sources of knowledge available to them, be it from within the organization or outside. After this, it is a case of maximizing the effectiveness of these information sources. This might involve encouraging employees to attend an industry safety seminar (accessing external knowledge), or building a database of near-miss incidents which can be referred back to at a later date by employees (accessing internal knowledge). It would be preferable to store this information in a manner that is easy to understand, yet still maintain a high level of detail. This may involve rewriting complex information in a simpler form, or employing categorization for easier retrieval. The clearer the information, the more likely it will be understood. Lastly, ways in which to encourage the use of this information must be considered. An employee may need incentive to refer back to an information source, so it must be made clear why this is beneficial. A change in company procedures to include the newly found knowledge would also reinforce this.
3.4 Case studies on successful knowledge sharing initiatives
Case studies of effective knowledge-sharing initiatives can yield insights into the elements of a successful campaign, and potentially teach those who seek to design similar campaigns within the maritime community. A review of such initiatives in other industries also may provide ideas or tested strategies for the maritime community. Since the mid-1990s, the oil industry has been an environment for several large-scale initiatives to promote knowledge sharing among the operators of oil and gas installations and contractors. This interest was stimulated by a dramatic increase in the outsourcing of technical and operational support services, and the related growth in the number of joint ventures and alliances between operating companies. All of these have involved complex webs of relationships, and it was increasingly recognized that the success or failure of such ventures often hinged upon the effectiveness of knowledge sharing at all levels and in all functions. Step-change was a joint learning initiative involving 6 major energy companies and all of their North Sea assets, with the aim of making a significant and measurable improvement in safety and efficiency. An independent body, the Step Change Steering Group, was established to coordinate the initiative and to evaluate its impact. Step-change had a positive impact on safety performance indicators, though the extent to which this was due to explicit learning activities, rather than changes in industry attitudes or external factors, is difficult to isolate.
4. Fostering a culture of safety and security
Fostering a culture of safety and security in the maritime sector is essentially targeting to create a professional environment, where best practices are followed as a matter of routine, and whereby all staff are motivated to avoid accidents and malpractice through a shared understanding of the importance of safety and security, and through the existence of a sound reporting and learning culture. This can be contrasted with an ‘amateur’ environment where the emphasis is on avoiding rules and regulations in the pursuit of short-term economic benefit, and where safety and security are seen as a cost or constraint. Unfortunately, the latter is a fair description of the maritime sector in much of the Asia-Pacific and is particularly true of the domestic maritime sector. High profile accidents involving ferries and domestic passenger ships are an all too regular occurrence in the Asia-Pacific and the human cost in lives lost is enormous. Moreover, in terms of economic cost, it has been estimated that there are more shipping-related deaths in the Western Pacific than the rest of the world’s oceans combined, and the vast majority of these occur in the domestic shipping sector. Despite the IMO’s best efforts to improve standards, shipping remains one of the most dangerous industries in which to work. The IMO in a recent study estimated there are 1000 total losses of ships and 2500 deaths of seafarers per year.
4.1 Understanding the importance of safety and security
Considering the majority of work to enhance the maritime sector comes under the umbrella of capacity building of developing states, it is important to address that their time and financial investment will often be focused on issues that are more tangibly beneficial to their own situation. Life-threatening situations involving accidents or acts of piracy, slavery, or terrorism will be of no benefit to their situation, and therefore it is essential to instill an understanding that addressing safety and security issues is the best policy for all stakeholders.
It is important to understand why safety and security are of greater importance than other conditions. In general terms, safety is “the state of being free from danger or injury” and it is often linked to security. But in this instance, security is defined as “the state of being free from danger or threat.” Conditions such as poverty, ill health, or low education diminish the quality of life for individuals and societies but find themselves at the bottom of the hierarchy of needs in comparison to life-threatening or career-threatening situations.
This section provides the foundation for developing a culture of safety and security both on an individual and organizational level. It begins with an explanation of why safety and security are important in comparison to other issues. It then explores why the maritime sector is inherently predisposed to a poor safety and security environment and addresses the issue of people’s attitudes to safety.
4.2 Challenges in establishing a culture of safety and security
Individuals may resist changing the way they view safety and risk, and this resistance can manifest itself in risky behaviors, as the perceived negative consequences of these behaviors are not as significant as the consequences of changing their routine. This is problematic for safety programs as unsafe acts are the primary cause of most accidents. Ingrained attitudes towards safety are formed over long periods and are often based on societal and cultural norms. A large number of seafarers come from seafaring cultures where the attitude to safety and risk may be different from the culture in western ship-owning nations. This can lead to a clash of safety values within a crew and with shore-side management. High levels of turnover and multinational crews can further fragment safety values within an organization.
An organization’s safety culture is reflected in its values, myths, rituals, and the extent to which its workforce internalizes safety as a personal value.
Leadership is essential to a successful safety and security program. Managers must be held accountable for safety and must play a proactive role in promoting safety and fostering a systematic approach to identifying and managing risks. This is a significant challenge for the maritime industry given its traditional ‘top-down, command and control’ management style. A shift to a more consultative and participative style of leadership has been shown to have a positive impact on safety performance in other high-hazard industries, particularly in relation to employee attitudes and safety behaviors.
The creation of a culture of safety and security is imperative for any organization and for the maritime industry, which is considered to be a high-risk industry. Fostering a culture that will enhance safety and security and thereby reduce the rate of accidents and incidents has become a challenge. Building a culture is a lengthy process, taking years to develop and will evolve through various stages. The concept of safety culture is complex and contested, with no single definition. It is seen as a multifaceted concept encompassing shared beliefs, values, and attitudes. It is based on these cultural factors that decisions are made in an organization, thus affecting the behavior of its members. When asking why safety is not a high priority in some maritime companies, the overall perception is often that safety is not as profitable as productivity, and only by changing this viewpoint can a real difference be made.
4.3 Promoting safety and security awareness
One notable example of a company successfully promoting safety awareness is Chevron Shipping Company. In an article published in Safety and Health magazine, the company’s president emphasizes their commitment to creating a safety culture where every employee takes ownership and works towards maintaining an incident-free workplace at all times. This demonstrates their innovative and persistent approach to making safety a top priority for all associates. Chevron’s success in transforming their safety culture is attributed to various methods they have implemented, which is a crucial lesson for other companies aiming to enhance safety awareness.
When promoting safety and security awareness, it is crucial to consider the importance of the message being delivered. A company’s safety culture refers to the shared values, practices, and beliefs regarding safety within an organization. Without prioritizing the well-being of employees and assets, it becomes challenging to market safety awareness. Unfortunately, in the maritime industry, safety is often given little importance. Many companies prioritize production over safety, considering it as an obstacle. As a result, the safety message fails to reach the workers, and they may disregard the safety procedures because they were not involved in their development.
4.4 Effective safety and security measures in the maritime sector
It is critical to establish a secure working environment in the maritime sector. The ISPS Code is generally considered to be the most important legislative framework to have emerged following the 9/11 attacks and serves to enhance the security of ships and port facilities. The 2011 Manila amendments to the STCW convention and code also developed more direct obligations in relation to maritime security training. Additionally, there are several specific regional programmes and initiatives to bolster maritime security. In South East Asia, piracy has been a significant security concern and this has resulted in the development of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP). A large number of East African states have similar issues and have recently drafted the Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships and the Development of an Integrated Regional Strategy. It is hoped that these specific measures will decrease the amount of maritime security threats. However, to be effective, all these initiatives to improve security culture in the maritime sector rely on effective knowledge sharing between all involved stakeholders.

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