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Mongolia – for the first time – was the location for a workshop on safety issues for non-conventional vessels supported by the IMRF.

The two-day workshop, held at the beginning of July, covered a range of issues including the development of maritime and domestic water transportation; the use of water resources as well as current SAR activity on the rivers and lakes of Mongolia.

The meeting was attended by the IMRF Chairman, Udo Fox, as well as over 150 participants including representatives from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Ministry of Roads and Transport, Mongolia Maritime Administration, National Emergency Management Agency, Civil Aviation Authority of Mongolia, General Agency for Specialized Inspection, Local government officials and Environmental Protection Agency.

The Mongolia Maritime Administration (MMA) hosted the workshop at Hatgal on the southern end of Khuvsgul Lake which is located in the northwest of Mongolia near the Russian border, at the foot of the eastern Sayan Mountains.

Increasing waterborne activities on the Mongolian lakes has led to the Mongolian Maritime Administration setting up legislative, preventive and responsive measures intended to raise awareness and get a commitment from all stakeholders.

Udo Fox made a keynote address on maritime search and rescue operations and set out the role and purpose of the IMRF. He highlighted the importance of considering not just the prevention of loss of life but also the capacity development of rescuers.

During the seminar comprehensive discussions took place on issues around maritime SAR services and Udo Fox urged the need for special agencies, like the Mongolia Maritime Administration and National Emergency Management Agency, to foster cooperation through an enhanced partnership.

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He also applied lessons learned specifically to the Khuvsgul Lake where, due to the lake’s size and beauty, tourism is continuing to grow with over 60,000 visitors per day. Some of the other suggestions that came out of the workshop are as follows:

The setting up of a regulatory framework;
Developing internationally recognized standards for licensing boats/boat operators on the lake;
Development of standard safety procedures for boat operators including reporting/tracking;
The setting up of a SAR Safety Net by using mobile VHF on commercially used boats allowing them to call each other for assistance/help;
The provision of basic safety/first aid courses to locals;
The enforcement of safety regulations through permanent presence of relevant officials;
The carrying out of audits by MMA officers on the lake during the ice free season;

letterCamping is also now becoming increasingly popular along the lake’s shores and the remoteness of the area means that any SAR system needs to be set up primarily on preventive measures and on the principle 'helping people help themselves,” concluded Udo Fox.

"This was a tremendous opportunity for the IMRF to understand the challenges faced by the developing maritime search and rescue services in Mongolia and to impart our knowledge about SAR best practice," says Bruce Reid, IMRF CEO.

Following the workshop, we were delighted to receive a letter of appreciation from Enkhbaatar Khuushaan, Director of Mongolia Maritime Administration.

The IMRF could not agree with the director more and we look forward to working with the MMA in the future and as Bruce Reid summarised "We commend the Mongolia Maritime Administration for organising this event and we hope it will lead to a strong relationship moving forward, which will enable us to share information about technology, SAR techniques, communication and co-ordination thereby enabling us to save more lives in their waters and elsewhere."

Photos: Courtesy of the Mongolia Maritime Administration

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