Gibraltar Shipping: Interview with European Maritime Safety Agency Executive Director Markku Mylly

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January 19, 2018

Photo: By Rawi Rochanavipart / Shutterstock

Interview by Paul González-Morgan (Gibraltar Shipping) – Interview by Markku Mylly is Executive Director at the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), responsible for providing technical and scientific assistance to the European Commission and Member States in the proper development and implementation of EU legislation on maritime safety, pollution by ships and security on board ships. Markku started his maritime career in the Finnish Merchant Shipping in 1973, sailing on Finnish ships until 1987 when he joined the Finnish Maritime Administration (FMA), where he gained extensive high-level experience until 2010. Markku was then appointed CEO and Managing Director of Finnish Port Association in 2010, serving in this position until he was nominated Executive Director of The European Maritime Safety Agency in 2012.

Markku Mylly

Please talk to us about your role as Executive Director at EMSA:

The Executive Director is the legal representative and public face of the Agency and is accountable to the Administrative Board. I am responsible for leading and managing the Agency and taking overall responsibility for its operations ensuring the achievement of the Agency’s objectives.

The Executive Director’s specific responsibilities include for example to achieve Agency’s objectives in line with the multi-annual strategy plan and responsibility to develop and maintain effective and efficient cooperation with competent European Commission services, Member States, relevant third countries and stakeholders.

The Executive Director is also responsible for carrying out day-to-day management of the Agency, recruiting the Agency’s staff, in compliance with the EU Staff regulations and fostering a good team spirit and positive working environment.

What are the main functions of EMSA?

To ensure a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety, maritime security, prevention of, and response to, pollution caused by ships as well as response to marine pollution caused by oil and gas installations.

EMSA is responsible for technical and scientific assistance to the Commission and the Member States in the proper development and implementation of EU legislation on maritime safety, maritime security, and prevention of pollution by ships.

The Agency is also responsible for the verification and monitoring of the implementation of EU legislation through visits and inspections, and supports capacity building through training and cooperation and tools such as the STCW Information System (STCW-IS), which provides information on maritime administrations and maritime education and training establishments in the EU, including maritime programmes, number of students and graduates as well as numerical information on certificates of competency and endorsements issued by the EU Member States; the European Marine Casualty Information Platform (EMCIP) which is a repository of data and information related to marine casualties involving all types of ships and occupational accidents and enables the production of statistics and analysis of the technical, human, environmental and organisational factors involved in accidents at sea; THETIS and its modules, RuleCheck and MaKCs which are tools facilitating and supporting uniform implementation of EU maritime legislation and enhancing the capacity of the Member States. EMSA also provides operational assistance to Member States and the Commission in the field of preparedness and response to at-sea pollution caused by ships and oil and gas installations. In addition, EMSA facilitates technical cooperation between Member States and the Commission in the field of vessel and port reporting and for maritime surveillance at sea. A number of systems (e.g. SafeSeaNet, CleanSeaNet, Long Range Identification and Tracking) are maintained and developed in order to offer government-to-government maritime information services; this includes a platform for integrated maritime information services, tailored to user requirements.

Please tell us about the main challenges of EMSA in terms of the maritime industry today:

EMSA will continue to support Member States and the Commission by visits and inspections also in the coming years. We will continue inspections of Recognised Organisations and Maritime Training Institutions in third countries.

EMSA will continue the work related to REFIT exercise of passenger ship safety, STCW, PSC and Marine Equipment and we continue to work together with the Commission in security inspections. Supporting PSC & Flag State enforcement is further an important task of the Agency and EMSA will continue to enhance this work in order to further reduce the inspection effort and to maximise the time in which the ship can be commercially exploited, whilst continuing to ensure high safety standards. The Agency continues providing Integrated Maritime Services to Member State Authorities and EU bodies executing functions in the maritime domain. The list includes: EU Naval Forces in Horn of Africa area and Mediterranean area, European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), the European Border and Coastguard Agency (Frontex), and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N). Services will be refined and further developed in line with evolving operational needs based on feedback from users, including discussions which take place within the framework of user fora e.g. Integrated Maritime Service (IMS) Group User Consultation Meetings. Provision of services to other EU/MS entities will be explored and developed as appropriate. Supporting simplification of reporting formalities and more maritime transport efficiency is an important task of the Agency. We continue to work with the Commission and Member States to develop EMSW (European Maritime Single Window) to minimise the administrative burden on board the vessels in creating EU Maritime space without barriers.

Are all EU Member States on par with the implementation of EU legislation relating to maritime safety, pollution prevention and maritime security?

Verification of the implementation of the EU maritime safety and security legislation remains an essential task that the Agency performs to support the European Commission. There are several reasons for verifying how this legislation is implemented in practice, including: detecting gaps in the overall safety system, promoting a harmonised approach across the European Union and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the measures in place.

EMSA has been conducting this task for more than 15 years and the methodology for the visits to Member States was updated by the Administrative Board in 2016. The level of Member States implementation of safety, security and environmental protection legislation is on a very high and uniform level today.

How important is it that each Member State exchanges national practices?

This is very important for all the Member States and EMSA encourages Member States to exchange best practices and to implement those practices in their own actions and functions.

EMSA prepares for the Commission a report of every visit to Member States and after the full cycle of visits EMSA prepares a horizontal analysis of all the visit findings. This horizontal analysis can be used to benchmark the best practices among the Member States. Member States’ authorities are regularly trained by EMSA and through these trainings also the best practices are discussed and shared between them.

How effective is the European cooperation of Coast Guard functions?

European Coast Guard Function is a huge challenge and the three European agencies – the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and EMSA are progressing well. Coast Guard functions are performed, both at national and European level, by different organisations focusing on one or more areas of activity. Synergies can be achieved for example during joint operations focusing on multiple objectives (border control and illegal activities, fishery control, etc.).

A permanent cooperation framework with a clear legal and operational focus is enhancing the EU maritime surveillance capabilities whilst respecting the Agencies and their mandates, but strengthening cooperation and creating synergies.

This kind of cooperation framework is not adding overhead or a governance layer, but creates a framework which facilitates cooperation between EU Agencies enabling to better fulfilling their respective mandates.

What projects is EMSA currently working on?

EMSA is currently starting the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) or drone services, which we have developed to assist Member States authorities conducting so called coast guard functions, such as (1) maritime pollution and emissions monitoring; (2) detection of illegal fishing, anti-drug trafficking, and illegal immigration; and (3) search and rescue operations, etc.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) can be used as aerial platforms for sensors such as optical cameras in the visible and infrared (IR) spectral range for night and day maritime surveillance, IR sensors for oil slick detection and analysis, radar for maritime surveillance, and oil spill detection, and gas sensors (“sniffers”) to measure the amount of SOx in a plume emitted by a ship to be able to calculate the percentage of sulphur used in the fuel burned by the ship. Additionally all RPAS are equipped with AIS sensors to have a complete picture of vessel movements and distress sensors to be able to react in emergencies.

In 2015, the EU Commission launched the e-Manifest pilot project, with the support of EMSA, and in consultation with Member States and the shipping industry. The main objective is to demonstrate the way in which cargo information required by both maritime and customs authorities can be submitted together with other reporting formalities required by Directive 2010/65/EU in a harmonised manner, and via a European Maritime Single Window (EMSW).

EMSA has been providing technical assistance to the Commission in relation to GHG emissions from ships, in particular in following up ongoing international developments. The Agency has developed a new module in THETIS, namely THETIS-MRV, in support of Regulation (EU) 2015/757 for the monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from maritime transport.

The system will be taken in operation in 01.01.2018 and it is really unique and innovative, since for the first time EMSA has developed a system to facilitate the shipping industry and not only authorities from Member States. Through this web-based application all relevant parties foreseen by Regulation (EU) 2015/757 for the monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from maritime transport (owners, managers, verifiers, Member States) will fulfil their monitoring and reporting obligations in a harmonised way.

As part of the projects for technical assistance funded by the European Commission, EMSA offers cooperation and assistance in the fields of maritime safety and security, prevention of pollution from ships and marine environmental issues to North African countries (SAFEMED IV-project) and Black and Caspian Sea countries (BCS-project).

Where do you see EMSA in 5-10 years?

EMSA has shown to be very effective and valuable Agency for the Commission and Member States in supporting their work in enhancing Maritime Safety, Security and Environmental protection in EU waters. I believe that EMSA has a very bright and challenging future to further enhance maritime related issues in EU domain. I would like to see EMSA’s role also to support more industry in providing them information and data which is collected by EMSA in our data bases. Of course there has to be clear rules on how this data can be shared with different stakeholders respecting the data protection rules and different type of business rules.

Please tell us about your memorable shipping experience:

I think my most memorable shipping experience happened in 1974 on the route from Amsterdam to Pulau Sambu (Indonesia). I was an ordinary seaman on the handy size Finnish tanker “Tramontana”. We passed the equator and of course there was a big celebration to those who passed the line for the first time. We stopped at Cape Town for bunkering and took some provisions and then continued our voyage towards Indonesia. In the Indian Ocean our vessel started to crack on starboard side and before Mauritius we had a big hole, approximately 4 meters high amidships. We had to look for shelter and we headed to Mauritius and Port Luis. When we arrived at Port Luis a hurricane passed over Mauritius and we had both anchors down and the engine running ahead to keep the vessel in position. We cleared the storm and afterwards we were moored to the mooring buoys in outer roads where we stayed for seven weeks for discharging the cargo and temporary repairs. The cargo was discharged to another vessel and our starboard side was strengthened so that the classification society gave us permission to sail to Gadani beach in Pakistan were the vessel was then scrapped.

Do you have a favourite ship?

Yes I do have a favourite ship. When I was working in Finnish Maritime Administration (FMA) we had an old steamship which we used for representation purposes. She was and still is an extremely beautiful vessel, built in 1894, only burning wood and the entire interior is renovated to us much as possible for original condition. This vessel is a historical masterpiece of shipbuilding and a beauty in one package.

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