London, 14th May 2014. The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) has successfully registered its Asia Pacific regional centre (APRC) in China, giving it formal legal status and providing a timely boost to maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) development in the region.
Registration means that the IMRF, which has operated an office in Shanghai since 2011, can advance its activities without the limitations of Chinese law places on non-registered organisations. As a legal entity in China the IMRF can now operate a corporate bank account, engage in formal contracts and agreements and receive funding support from within China and from external funders.
The Chinese Government sets a high bar for the registration of non-profit organisations. The IMRF is one of the first to register under a new regional registration system. This recognition will be particularly helpful in enabling the charity to fulfil its objectives in the Asia Pacific region.
"The IMRF wants to help improve maritime SAR response, co-ordination and co-operation in the Asia Pacific region. Having a regional office registered in China will allow us to work more freely, make it easier for funders to support our initiatives and allow us to put in place the right staffing structure to manage the regional requirements," says Michael Vlasto, Chairman of the IMRF.
With the maritime SAR spotlight on the Asia Pacific region as a result of the tragic sinking of the South Korean ferry SEWOL and the disappearance of Malaysian Airline flight MH370, rescue organisations are looking closely at their systems and processes. This is an area the IMRF can assist with.
"Events such as the SEWOL disaster put the spotlight onto the maritime rescue services and force organisations to question their preparedness," adds Vlasto. "One of the key projects for the region that we now want to advance with urgency is a series of workshops, seminars and training on maritime Mass Rescue Operations (MRO). The APRC will be the driver of these initiatives and can do so much more effectively and quickly as a registered organisation."
The IMRF is grateful for the support and sponsorship of registration by China Rescue and Salvage, Donghai Rescue Bureau and the Shanghai Urban Construction and Communications Commission.