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  A short history of the Paris MOU


The Paris MOU, is an administrative agreement between the maritime authorities of twenty-seven European countries and Canada. In 1978 the ‘Hague Memorandum’ between a number of maritime authorities in Western Europe was developed. It dealt mainly with enforcement of shipboard living and working conditions, as required by ILO Convention no. 147. However, just as the Memorandum was about to come into effect, in March 1978, a massive oil spill occurred off the coast of Brittany (France), as a result of the grounding of the supertanker ‘Amoco Cadiz’.
This incident caused a strong political and public outcry in Europe for far more stringent regulations with regard to the safety of shipping. This pressure resulted in a more comprehensive memorandum which covered:
— safety of life at sea
— prevention of pollution by ships, and
— living and working conditions on board ships.
Subsequently, a new, effective instrument known as the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control was adopted in January 1982 and was, initially, signed by fourteen European countries. It entered into operation on 1 July 1982. Since that date, the Paris Memorandum has been amended several times to accommodate new safety and marine environment requirements stemming from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as well as other important developments such as the various EU Directives which address marine safety.

In 1982 the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control was signed by 14 European countries. Since then, the Paris MOU has expanded to 27 maritime Administrations.
The geographical scope of the Paris MOU region does not only consist of European coastline, but also covers the North Atlantic by including the east coast of Canada.
The operation of the MOU is based on several principles. Some principles are of an administrative nature, while others are directed at the operational aspects of port State control.
Only internationally accepted conventions shall be enforced during port State control inspections. These conventions are the so-called “relevant instruments”.
Flag States which are not a Party to conventions shall receive no more favourable treatment
Ships are selected for inspection according to the Paris MOU targeting system.
The results of each inspection are recorded in the central database, which is located in Saint Malo, France.
Port State control is carried out by properly qualified Port State Control Officers (PSCO’s), acting under the responsibility of the maritime authority.
The Port State Control Committee is the executive body of the Paris MOU. The Committee deals with matters of policy, finance and administration.
A port State control visit on board will normally start with verification of certificates and documents.
Documentation of crew members has to comply with international and flag State standards.
When serious deficiencies are found, the ship shall be detained. The captain is instructed to rectify the deficiencies before departure.
The day-to-day administration of the Paris MOU is carried out by the Secretariat. The Secretariat prepares the necessary meetings and serves as the focal point for information.