Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
The Finnish Harbour Masters´ Association is thought to be the oldest national association in Europe and perhaps the world. It was established in 1936, followed by the Dutch in 1949, the Belgian in 1971, the French in 1992, the United Kingdom in 1993, and the German and Polish Associations in 1994. Overseas Harbour Master Associations were subsequently founded in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
European Harbour Masters’ Association (EHMA)
In the early 1950s Harbour Masters from major northwest European ports met on an occasional basis to discuss matters of mutual interest and to get to know each other better. After a break in the early 1970s, biennial congresses of the north European Harbour Masters were held in different ports of northwest Europe. Eventually the European Harbour Masters’ Association (EHMA) was created as a non-funded association on the 30th of May 1985, during a Harbour Masters’ congress in Cork, Ireland. A biennial congress and working groups, which dealt with matters of importance to Harbour Masters, were at the heart of the Association. In due course, the Association was recognised as a highly professional and reliable association within the shipping and port community, with its advice sought on many occasions. Close co-operation with other organisations, such as IAPH, IMPA, and IALA followed.
In 1992, during a Congress in Bristol, it was evident that the association had to alter its status from being a non-funded to a funded organisation. A working group was established to examine the possibilities and it soon became apparent that an association that included harbour masters world-wide could bring advantages, both in terms of meeting the Association’s objectives and providing a more assured financial footing. The European association became a funded organisation and steps were taken to assess the possibility of expansion into an international organisation.
During the 5th EHMA Congress at Marseilles in 1994 the EHMA constitution was changed accordingly and an International Harbour Masters’ Association Founding Group was introduced. The Executive Committee of the EHMA took on the challenge of developing a proposal and constitution that would be accepted by European and Overseas harbour masters. This was achieved on the 21st of June 1996, when all members of the European Harbour Masters’ Association attending the 6th EHMA Congress in Reykjavik voted unanimously to establish an International Harbour Masters’ Association (IHMA), whilst retaining the European association as an integral part of it.
In 2006, the EHMA ceased to be a separate entity with its own management team and became the European Harbour Masters’ Committee, a regional grouping within the IHMA.
The aim of IHMA is to unite those responsible for the safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sound conduct of marine operations in port waters into one professional body to further the objectives of IHMA.
Consistent with its aim, IHMA's Objectives include:
The Association strives to bring together all those who hold a managerial position in aspects of the control of Marine Operations within a port or its approaches, whatever their job title.
The Association seeks to develop and foster good relations between its members world-wide through its regular communications and meetings for members, and by representing the professional views of its members.
The Association has developed professional contacts with sister organisations within the Marine/Port Industry. We have Memoranda of Understanding with the International Maritime Pilots' Association (IMPA), International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), The Nautical Institute (NI) and the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC).
The Association has non-governmental, consultative status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and sends representatives to meetings which impact on the work of the Harbour Master.
Expert Adviser Port Operations
Port of Quebec, Canada
Vice President, Operations and Harbour Master
Saint John Port Authority, Canada
Senior Harbour Master
Transnet, South Africa
Port of Vysotsk, Russian Federation
Port of Cork, Ireland
Member of 2018 Congress Papers' Committee
Port of Kokkola, Finland
Belfast Harbour Authority, UK
Ports of Marseille, Marseille-Fos, France
Port of Gothenburg, Sweden
Harbour Master, Bonny/Port Harcourt
Nigerian Ports Authority
Port of Ghent, Belgium
Vice President Marine Operations and Harbour Master
Head of Marine, ABP Humber
IHMA establishes projects and working groups to address specific subject areas with terms of reference approved by ExCo. The EHMC participates in EU sponsored research projects.
Nautical Port Information Project
Director Nautical Developments, Policies & Plans
Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands
Project Officer IHMA
Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands
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A biennial brochure and report providing news and information for members is published to coincide with each IHMA Congress and OGM.