Friday, 1 November 2012, will go down in history as the day Pacific regional ship-owners united to form the Pacific Islands Ship-owners' Association (PISA) in order to jointly address longstanding domestic shipping issues that have to some extent hampered the socio-economic development of our region.

The ship-owners and ship-owners' representatives from Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) were in Suva attending the International Maritime Organization (IMO)-funded Pacific Domestic Ferry Safety Forum, which was co-hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. A major outcome was the decision to integrate national ship-owners and their representatives in all PICTs into a single entity. This is a significant milestone for the shipping community in the Pacific.

Pacific Island ship-owners have been exploring the concept of integration for some time. 'We believe in and recognise the benefit of joining forces and working together to advance ship-owners' interests. PISA will serve as the link to the regional and international ship-and ship-operators movement', said Papalii Willie Nansen of Samoa Shipping Corporation Ltd., who was elected Chair of PISA. Captain Viliami Vi, CEO of the Friendly Islands Shipping Agency Ltd (FISA), was elected Vice-Chair.

The objectives of PISA are:
* to foster, develop and maintain close cooperation and coordination among members on shipping policies and other relevant matters of mutual and/or collective interest;
* to assist any member on request, consistent with PISA policies and capability;
* to formulate a common stand on national, regional and international matters concerning PISA members, especially in creating a balance of rights and responsibilities between the developed and developing countries in maritime transport;
* to assist shipping services in order to achieve equitable, adequate, efficient and economic carriage of goods and passengers, particularly in the Pacific region, and promote the optimum growth of national, regional and international trade; and
* to represent the members in their collective dealing with any government, organisation, shippers' council and port authority.

Mr Milhar Fuazudeen, Head of the Maritime Training and Human Element Section of the Maritime Safety Division of IMO remarked, 'The desire to seek solutions outside the accepted norms in the region led to the formation of the Pacific Islands Ship-owners' Association during the Forum, which will always be remembered as a beacon of the spirit of this Forum. Certainly, IMO hopes that this collective spirit will permeate deeper to achieve success in your endeavour to find practical solutions to the region's shipping concerns.'

Mr Stuart Ballantyne, CEO Sea Transport, added, 'I support the formation of PISA as it is an important player in tackling ferry safety in the Pacific.'

Mrs Stephanie Dawson, from Sea Transport, commented, 'I congratulate PISA, as their combined voice will be a more effective means of addressing domestic ferry safety issues in the Pacific region.'

Mr David Penny, Manager, Maritime Operations, Maritime Operations Division, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, said, 'PISA will be a start of something good for the region.'

Work is in progress to formally set up and register PISA, along with the necessary documentation and processes required for its operations. The Transport Programme of SPC's Economic Development Division (EDD) will act as Secretariat to PISA and will provide technical assistance to address the domestic shipping issues facing the region.