Although weather forecasting has greatly improved, ships continue to be caught in extreme weather at sea resulting in damage and loss of life and property. WMO and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) jointly held the first Symposium on Extreme Maritime Weather: Towards Safety of Life at Sea and a Sustainable Blue Economy.
The event, which took place from 23 to 25 October at IMO headquarters in London, brought together approximately 200 public and private sector stakeholders from the shipping industry. These included freight operators, passenger ferries and cruise liners, as well as offshore industries, ports and harbours, coast guards, insurance providers and the met-ocean community.
The symposium was a key platform for WMO and IMO to identify best practices and improve services for safety and risk reduction, emergency response, sustainable shipping practices and greater collection and sharing of ship observations.
Participants identified the urgent need to close the gap between met-ocean providers and users in the maritime industry, with recommendations made in four priority areas:
- Education, awareness and training at the policy level
- Data exchange between parties with validation
- Portrayal and communication of weather impacts
- Better applications to use weather data
Participants also agreed that formalized collaboration between WMO and IMO on extreme maritime weather issues would help achieve these goals, while ad hoc entities might be needed to solve specific issues.