Global Marine Standards Harmonization Initiative moves forward

ANNAPOLIS, Md. and SURREY, England – A third meeting between representatives of the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC), the British Marine Federation (BMF), the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA), the International Marine Certification Institute (IMCI) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) was recently held to continue the work on the comparison of ABYC and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards to determine and document any variances or differences between the standards, ABYC reported in a recent statemet.

At the November 2006 meeting, the decision was made to focus the first comparison on fuel systems documents (ABYC H24 / ABYC H33 / ISO 10088 / ISO 21487) to pilot the process.

As a result of this latest meeting, where the primary focus was on the review of the fuel systems documents, the group decided the best way to provide guidance for builders who wish to evaluate what standards they are compliant with was to provide a tool that can explain the differences in the standards, as well as provide information on how to comply with them.

Therefore, a set of two “Compliance Appendices” (guidelines) that can accompany either the ABYC and ISO standards will be published. One appendix will be created for builders who are familiar with the ABYC standards and the other will be developed for those familiar with the ISO requirements. The first topics addressed in these appendices will include fuel systems, as well as capacity, liquid propane gas (LPG) and reboarding means, which are the next series of topics to be reviewed.

An aggressive schedule has been set to have the initial four Compliance Appendices published by the 2nd International Marine Standards Summit, which is being hosted by the BMF, the trade association for the United Kingdom’s leisure marine industry, in London on June 5, 2007, ABYC reported. Details on how to obtain these appendices will be released upon the first set’s completion.

“Both ABYC and ISO standards have review cycles,” stated John Adey, ABYC’s technical director. “Because ABYC and ISO review their standards at different times, it prevents us from addressing any possible changes or updates to the currently published standards right away. Therefore, we feel having these appendices will help builders to address and deal with the differences between the documents on both sides of the Atlantic until the document comes up for its regular review, at which point, any changes or updates can be made.”

This process originally began as a result of the International Marine Standards Summit held in May 2006 that was hosted by ABYC in Annapolis, Md. It was recognized that the primary purpose of boat industry standards is to achieve an acceptable level of safety in a product while contributing to the international trading of goods. Recognizing the significance of the international dimension of our industry, all parties recognized that to date a globally adopted set of standards does not exist. Therefore the objective of this Standards Harmonization Initiative is to achieve one globally accepted specification for use by all stakeholders. ABYC and ISO have started the process, but others are encouraged to participate. The outcome of this initiative will be to deliver either a harmonized standard or revised ICOMIA/ABYC set of Global Conformity Guidelines, ABYC reported.

“While there were differences in the past on how to go about developing standards, as a result of the 1st International Marine Standards Summit, there continues to be a strong desire and cooperation among the standards writing bodies and industry to work towards co-recognition and/or harmonization,” said Tony Rice, Secretary General of ICOMIA. “This is something the builders have been asking for, and we are at a point in our history where we have the technology and communication channels to make it happen.”

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