New international guidelines for vessel traffic services. Revision of imo resolution a.857(20)


  • Àfrica Uyà Juncadella
  • Francesc Xavier Martínez de Osés


The recognition of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 1985 and the publication of the first guidelines was a definitive stage for the Vessel Traffic Services (VTS). However, the last revised version of the Guidelines for VTS was published in 1997, Resolution A.857(20)[1], and has remained in force since then. A hiatus of 22 years has more than justified its urgent review. The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) has been working on the current revision of this Resolution through several sessions of the VTS Committee. After the main author’s participation in its last Seminar, this paper analyses changes to be introduced and how VTS Centres will be affected. This paper will examine some of the initial key changes to the system, including new definitions, such as “the VTS provider”, and the resolution’s aims to unify its diverse services within a VTS, leaving behind the three differentiated types: information, organization and assistance. The forecast for the next phase is that the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) will approve the proposal and the IMO Assembly on its 32nd session, will adopt it by 2021. Through this process, the new Resolution will be more concise and internationally adaptable, in accordance with our current needs. This paper will deal with the further revision and update of the Resolution that has initiated 4 years ago. Illustrating in one hand the slowness of legislation and the even slower nature of the maritime sector and in the other hand a suggested interpretation of the future requirements that international navigation will pose to the traffic management.