I propose to take Questions Nos. 557 and 558 together.
Maritime Safety is a key priority for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS).
The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) was established on 5 June 2002 under section 7(1) of the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act, 2000 (the “Act”). It is an independent statutory body, funded through the Vote of the DTTAS.
The function of the MCIB, per section 7 of the Act,
is to carry out investigations and publish reports into marine casualties that take place in connection with the operation of a vessel in Irish waters or involve Irish registered vessels anywhere in the world.
The purpose of the MCIB’s investigations is to establish the cause or causes of a marine casualty with a view to making recommendations for the avoidance of similar marine casualties. It is not the purpose of an investigation to attribute blame or fault, per Section 25(2) of the Act.
All investigations of casualties are carried out by the MCIB’s panel of external investigators. The panel consists of personnel holding technical qualifications as naval architects, marine engineers or deck officers. The panel reflects broad based maritime competence and experience which are of relevance in undertaking independent investigations.
Safety investigations are conducted with the sole objective of preventing marine incidents in the future and they are not designed to determine liability or to apportion blame. Where appropriate the MCIB suggests safety recommendations (i.e. proposals for remedial actions to prevent future marine casualties and incidents). These recommendations may be directed to my Department or to any other parties that might be best placed to implement such measures (e.g. a Port or Harbour Authority, a vessel owner or ship management company, etc.).
Some safety recommendations lend themselves to early implementation upon consultation with the Marine Survey Office, which is based in my Department and has primary responsibility for the regulation and enforcement of the maritime safety sector, including ship and port security. For example, my Department may issue Marine Notices in order to bring particular safety information or advice to the attention of the maritime sector and the wider sea-going public. In other cases, recommendations are complex and require detailed assessment, consultation with interested parties and, in some instances, the introduction of new or amending legislation.
Other safety recommendations may also suggest amendments to DTTAS safety publications, such as the Code of Practice for Fishing Vessels less than 15 metres in length overall, the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft or implementation of an action under the Maritime Safety Strategy. Such recommendations are recorded in my Department and the amendments are taken under consideration by officials for inclusion during the next revision of the documents.
Additionally, my Department maintains a database of MCIB Reports, the safety recommendations contained in those reports and any follow up required.
Finally, where the MCIB makes a safety recommendation to a private party, it is a matter for that entity to review the recommendation(s) and take the necessary follow up actions.