The New Board Meets

Posted in LIFELINE October 2015 - English

Photo at Top: The IMRF’s new Board meets in Berlin - (L-R:) Jorge Diena, Udo Fox, Rikke Lind, Dean Lawrence, Mohammed Drissi, Zhang Rongjun, James Vaughan, Matthew Fader.

CEO Bruce Reid also attended – and not just to take the picture! He writes:

The 1st October 2015, Berlin, Germany was the dateline for the first meeting of the new IMRF Board of Trustees, elected at the Quadrennial General Meeting held in June in Bremerhaven. It was a really great meeting, which confirmed the IMRF’s strategic framework for the next four years, with intensive discussions on not just where we are going but how we are going to get there.

Key Points from the Meeting

Work over the first day was focussed on identifying the strengths and roles of the new Board, and reviewing the IMRF Strategic Plan 2015-2019.

Determining and agreeing the role of the Trustees was teased out by facilitator Tom Banks of Castlefirth in the UK who had volunteered his time to help run the first part of the two-day meeting.

The group identified the following key parts of their role:

o Provide leadership and strategy
o Set strategic priorities
o Provide the secretariat with the right support and resources
o Monitor performance against the strategy

Chairman Udo Fox summarised that taking the time to understand the variety of skills now present on the Board had been an important exercise. Identifying how we can best use these skills within the agreed role of the Trustees has been a good step in making the Board effective.

IMRF Strategy 2015-2019board

The outgoing Board provided a new Strategic Plan for their successors to consider, focusing on how the organ-isation can build on the successes and evolution of recent years.

The incoming Trustees reviewed and reaffirmed their support of the strategy that was supported by the IMRF Members when proposed at the QGM in June.

Main points of the strategy are listed below. See also the June and August editions of LIFE LINE, available in the newsletter archive on the IMRF website.

Our Purpose and our Vision remain: to prevent loss of life, to promote safety, and to provide relief from disaster at sea and on inland waters throughout the world.

Globally, deaths at sea and safety issues tend to be defined around:

o transportation (ferries etc)
o labour (working on the water)
o personal safety

The international maritime SAR system is designed for the assistance of anyone in distress at sea. The IMRF should be similarly compre-hensive in outlook and activity.

What Will the Future IMRF Look Like?

The IMRF will be representative of the global SAR sector, a more widely-known and respected organisation able to influence policy at all levels.

Built on a foundation of knowledge and expertise, the IMRF will provide significant maritime SAR consultancy and support services.


Representation, advocacy, influence; support & development; sustainable funding; commercial services: an effective IMRF.

Having a strategy is one thing, but having a plan to implement the strategy is another. There was significant discussion at the Board meeting on how to appropriately resource the IMRF secretariat to meet the current demand and future requirements.

The IMRF vision is one of preventing loss of life in the world’s waters by:

o promoting cooperation, exchange of information, research and development, advice and consultancy between the maritime SAR services of the world;
o encouraging and promoting the formation and development of maritime SAR services throughout the world;
o promoting public education and awareness regarding safety on water.

The new strategy is held up by the five pillars of sustainable funding; representation, advocacy & support; SAR development; commercial services; and an effective IMRF.

The Trustees looked at each of these pillars in turn to help establish a common understanding of the challenges and responsibilities, and how delivering in these areas will build the IMRF from where we are today, making us more effective and increasing our value to our members and the maritime SAR sector.

An exercise of isolating each of the pillars was done. Each area was discussed at length to determine who the customer is and what value is derived. The outputs from this exercise will be used to build the implementation plan for the strategy.

Priority in the discussions was given to sustainable funding.

Funding of the IMRF has traditionally come from our Member organisations through membership fees and additional donations from a small number of donors. The growth in membership has not kept up with the increasing activity and demand on the IMRF, so it is time to change and build a more sustainable and diverse funding strategy.

At present the secretariat is not resourced to address funding strategically, with a requirement to generate funds now to support activity already underway. The Trustees working with the CEO have agreed that the development of the fundraising strategy is a priority and assistance would be provided to free up the CEO to focus on this.

The Chairman, Udo Fox, summarised that it takes time to make change and that the IMRF is only now being recognised by many in the wider global SAR community as being able to deliver value. Building support for the secretariat is essential and is a key priority for the Trustees.

As a footnote to these discussions the membership does continue to grow. An increasing number of governmental organisations are choosing to join, in recognition of the value the IMRF provides at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in particular and the increasing amount of SAR development activity the IMRF is involved in.

daytwoDay Two discussions

Key discussions on the second day of the meeting focussed on the continuing pressure on SAR services by the mixed migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

The trustees were given overviews of current and planned activity in the Mediterranean by Rikke Lind, Matthew Fader, James Vaughan and Mohammed Drissi, all of whom have had direct involvement in the region.

The IMRF now has eight member organisations involved operationally so discussion focussed on whether there is a role for the IMRF to play in helping coordinate. It was agreed that the first activity needed to be a discussion with all our Members either already involved or with potential to be involved in the future, to establish common areas that could benefit from coming under the IMRF banner. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to be part of this discussion.

Our members are engaged at both governmental and non-governmental level so there is no common model of engagement at present. The IMRF has kept engaged in discussions at IMO and with UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). We have also relaunched the Members assisting Members website, which is already helping support the SAR members in the region.  See MOAS Prepares to Expand its Mission, UNHCR Urges States to Help Avert Bay of Bengal Boat Crisis, and Member Focus: Supporting Global SAR Development.

The Trustees noted that we need to be careful to not lose sight of the other big issues facing us. Over 357,000 people drown each year. The current crisis in the Mediterranean is commanding our attention – but there are also an estimated 24,000 artisanal fishermen lost annually and over 1,000 lives are lost on average each year in ferry accidents. (See ‘SAR Matters’.)

There is no doubt that we have to continue to play a role in responding to the Mediterranean crisis – and maybe an expanded role – but it is important that we continue to advance the work being done in Africa, the Asia-Pacific, the Americas and the rest of Europe too.

Governance Post-QGM 2015trustee2

The Board agreed that the World Maritime Rescue Congress in Bremerhaven in June had been a great success, and noted the results of the IMRF’s Quadrennial General Meeting too, which had immediately followed the Congress (see the August edition of LIFE LINE for reports of both).

It was agreed that holding the two events at the same time and venue is very beneficial, as it enables more IMRF Members to participate. However (and even with the great support provided by our hosts and an enthusiastic team of volunteers) the workload placed on the IMRF secretariat was immense, and the need for careful review is clear. The Board began by reviewing the QGM processes: in particular, following feedback from Members, the IMRF Board election process.

The secretariat have been asked to review the process and provide initial suggestions for future elections, bearing in mind the changing composition of the membership and possible constitutional implications of this; and voting allocations, including proportional representation concepts. With the next election four years away the prioritisation of this work will be subject to secretariat workloads, but we will, of course, keep the membership advised.

Contact Info - RBG

International Maritime Rescue Federation
50 Allardice Street
AB39 2RA
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0) 1569 767405

E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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