News 22 Nov, 2007



In March 2007 at the IMO Facilitation Committee’s 34th session (Fal 34) a joint paper was presented by  Intercargo and Intertanko. They proposed that the IMO set up an "IMO Focal Point" (SFP) for a trial period of one year, the purpose of which would be to provide assistance through diplomatic channels  to facilitate communications between Governments to achieve the disembarkation of stowaways in circumstances where the usual procedures have not been efective.

As a result of the presentation the IMO has now established a SFP for a trial period, which will provide a point  of contact for such assistance. There are specific terms of reference for the trial period, including the following:-

1. Requests for assistance  - Member States, international organisations and non-governmental organisations may seek the assistance of the SFP, but the consent of the flag state of the vessel will be required where the requests are made by international organisations and non-governmental organisations. In this respect the IMO have indicated to the Managers that owners and P&I Clubs are not precluded from contacting the SFP directly, subject always to the requirement to obtain flag state approval.  Requests for assistance should be kept to a minimum and should be only be made when the circumstances of a particular case are such that such a request is warranted, for example, when the parties concerned have been unable to resolve the issue with the means available to them. The assistance provided by the IMO will be discretionary and will be dependant on the priority of other work assigned to the SFP at the time

2. The IMO SFP will be sent the information required in accordance with IMO Resolution A.871 (20) dated 1997.

3. The IMO assumes no responsibility.

4.  The SFP will operate 0900 - 1730 on IMO working days only, and availability will depend upon other duties assigned to the responsible official.

The IMO SFP contact is Graham Mapplebeck who can be contacted on telephone no. +44 (0) 207 587 3110 or by e-mail at:

Members are reminded that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is also able to assist in matters where the stowaway/stowaways are claiming refugee status.  Their contact number is +41 22 739 8111.

As usual, Members who have cover in respect of stowaways should in the first instance contact the Managers as soon as possible in the event of a stowaway incident.