Marine Surveys: FEMAS alters course

Bruce Verweij, Verweij & Hoebee and Henk Arntz, Arntz Expertise & Consulting argue “Marine surveying and consultancy is a classic example of an international profession.”

Bruce Verweij“Marine surveying and consultancy is a classic example of an international profession. And that is why promotion and quality assurance must be international, too,” argue Henk Arntz, the owner-director of Arntz Expertise & Consulting and the Technical Secretary of IVR, and Bruce Verweij, the director of the adjustors and surveyors Verweij & Hoebee. They believe that both these areas are ideal for FEMAS, the Federation of European Maritime Associations. This European alliance for the marine survey and consultancy sector was established in 1993. Henk is currently the treasurer and a member of the board, while Bruce has been nominated to succeed the current president, the Italian Nicolò Reggio, next year. They also argue for a stronger focus on promoting ERS, the claim registration system developed by IVR, and for the establishment of an international response team for
maritime claims on the lines of the team established by the NIVRE in the Netherlands in the context of the Dutch Disasters and Serious Accidents (Compensation) Act.

FEMAS has certainly adopted an active approach to PR. Henk Arntz explains: “The organisation has expended a great deal of effort and energy on putting FEMAS into the
spotlight. That has been a challenge, particularly in the area of lobbying the European Union, is which is where the most important legislation and regulations are made relating to our profession. In that respect, we have made some changes and - as they say in the jargon - changed our PR course to bring it more in line with the two sector organisations, the IUMI (which represents transport insurers) and the IMO, the international organisation of the UN that deals with safety, the environment and prevention for the global shipping
sector.

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Bruce Verweij insightERS and emergencies

He continues: “At both organisations, we want to focus in particular on the area of claim adjustment, surveys and registration, consultancy, damage prevention and statistics. And of course on the benefits of our ERS (Engineering Registration System), a database for and by surveyors/insurers for the registration of maritime claims. I also think FEMAS could benefit by closer relationships with our sister organisation FUEDI, the European alliance of loss adjustment experts in the field of fire, CAR/Technical Insurance and liability. Despite the differences between the two organisations and their areas of activity, they also have many things in common, such as protecting the profession of loss adjustment and promoting our profession.”

Bruce Verweij adds: “In addition, it would be a good thing, as the surveying sector under the auspices of FEMAS in Europe, to establish an organisation for joint claim registration in
the case of cross-border and other large-scale emergencies, something that would have been an option in the past during, for example, the hurricane that hit Saint Martin. We could consider an approach on the lines of the NIVRE Disasters and Projects Foundation in the context of the Dutch Disasters and Serious Accidents (Compensation) Act. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel: I believe an emergency response organisation like this would be a powerful driver, not only in terms of raising the profile of the profession, but also as a seal of quality for marine surveyors.”

Mission
FEMAS was established in 1993. The main objective is of course to represent the interests of the member organisations and the affiliated marine surveyors. The website – www.femas.info – sets out, in nine bullet points, the objectives of the organisation. They include protecting the profession of marine surveyors and maritime consultants,
quality assurance and representing the profession and its practitioners by talking to politicians at the European and national levels, government organisations, supervisory
authorities, insurers, business and organisations in the shipping sector, and other stakeholders. The organisation also believes it has an important duty in terms of supplying
information about claims, claims statistics and prevention, and in terms of raising awareness of the FEMAS issues and objectives, as well as of the benefits provided by the marine surveyors it represents. In that way, it can exert an influence where possible on existing and planned legislation and regulations at the levels of both the European Union and the various countries.

Protection and quality assurance 

Bruce Verweij sees the maintenance of high quality standards for surveyors as one of the chief FEMAS objectives. “That results in strict quality requirements and a code of conduct has also been drafted at the international level with which surveyors and their employees are required to comply. That is a requirement because we are still a free, unprotected, profession. It almost beggars belief that hairdressers in Europe have to meet all sorts of requirements to do their work but that complete cowboys can just walk into our field. 
That is why FEMAS is right to want to protect the profession of Marine Surveyor and Marine Consultant.” He also believes that it is indispensable for the organisation to keep a close
eye on possible legislation and regulations that may sneak into the market. “For example, France may be introducing a law that sanctions lower quality demands for surveyors and
consultants. That does not benefit uniformity and it may even result in unfair competition”, he explains, stating that he is primary goal as chairman next year will be to work on quality assurance, awareness-raising, greater harmonisation between the various countries and the establishment of an international emergency-response team under the FEMAS flag. “After having worked for more than 10 years as the chairman of the NIVRE Shipping & Technology sector group, I think this position is a fantastic new challenge.”
What benefits does NIVRE provide for Dutch surveyors and consultants? Henk Arntz is quick to reply: “It does a fantastic amount: it make sure that we can exercise our profession
freely without being restricted by national barriers, and it protects our profession both in the Netherlands and in other countries. Registered surveyors and consultants, and the companies they work for, are also entitled as members of NIVRE and the Shipping & Technology section to use the FEMAS logo in their letter heads and to use the words
‘Registered by FEMAS’ on their business cards. That can be a great help, particularly on international assignments, and it also means that they raise the FEMAS profile. Last but not least, they have the Engineering Registration System (ERS), a database managed by IVR for and with surveyors/insurers for the registration of maritime claims. When surveyors come up against a particular technical claim, they can use this system to find out quickly whether there have been similar claims elsewhere in the world in the past, how often, and what the ultimate causes were according to the reports (which are anonymised). Obviously, that is very useful information for both surveyors and their clients, particularly in the case of losses that occur more often and structurally so that manufacturers can be asked to provide explanations.”

Article was originally published in NIVRE.

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