General Statistics of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF)

Our Achievements in 2018

The IMRF has continued to support the global search and rescue (SAR) community, preventing loss of life by connecting people and organisations around the world and influencing improvements in maritime SAR capacity and effectiveness.

We have shared knowledge, skills and resources, and over 2018 we have:

delivered 12 regional SAR training courses across Africa to over 160 delegates
facilitated three Africa SAR Regional Development Meetings and one SAR Regional Development Meeting in Europe
assisted with a World Bank research project to improve SAR capability around Lake Tanganyika
conducted a SAR assessment survey for Africa on behalf of the IMO and helped to establish an operational MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) in Guinea Bissau
run three Mass Rescue Operations (MRO) workshops in Malaysia, Uruguay and Bangladesh, attended by more than 200 delegates
delivered a second MRO Subject-Matter Expert course with 27 participants from 15 countries taking part
organised the 7th European Lifeboat Crew Exchange involving 69 people from 12 countries
co-hosted the East Asia Summit Maritime SAR workshop in partnership with China MRCC 
co-organised the 4th IMRF Asia Pacific Regional Development Meeting in partnership with Donghai Rescue Bureau
presented details of our SAR capacity building work to the IMO Technical Cooperation Committee
launched the IMRF’s Basic Rescue Boat Operators Manual, endorsed by Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the IMO who contributed the foreword
signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with The Nautical Institute to work together on projects to improve safety at sea.

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Our Global SAR Development

With over 110 member organisations in more than 51 countries, the IMRF is leading and supporting SAR development around the world.

In Africa

Over the last year, the IMRF has:

delivered 12 regional SAR training courses across Africa, with more than 160 participants taking part
facilitated two Africa SAR regional meetings in Morocco and one in Kenya, enabling expert knowledge and best practice to be shared and leading to the enhanced development of Government-led regional maritime SAR plans
participated in a World Bank funded fact-finding mission on improving SAR capability around Lake Tanganyika
conducted a SAR Assessment Survey examining current provision across Africa, at the request of the IMO
through the Country SAR Development Plan, assisted with the establishment of an operational MRCC in Guinea Bissau
ensured that maritime SAR capabilities across Africa continue to grow and strengthen.

Visit Global SAR Development & Africa Pages

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Across the Asia-Pacific Region

The IMRF Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (APRC), based in Shanghai, China, was established to develop maritime SAR resources and capability across the Asia-Pacific region. 

Over the last year, the IMRF’s APRC has:

delivered the keynote speech at the 7th International Search and Rescue Conference, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
co-hosted the East Asia Summit Maritime SAR Workshop, in partnership with China MRCC 
held the 4th IMRF Asia Pacific Regional Development Meeting, in partnership with Donghai Rescue Bureau
coordinated the donation of 2,000 lifejackets to Bangladesh fishermen and presented the lifejackets at a Distribution Ceremony in Dhaka, Bangladesh
contributed to the draft of China MRCC's Mass Rescue Operation Guiding Plan for Cruise Ships
translated a series of IMO Guidelines and MRO Case Studies and promoted them to maritime SAR professionals across the Asia-Pacific Region.

Visit the Asia Pacific Regional Centre (APRC) pages

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Our Regional Meetings

In 2018, the IMRF held four SAR regional development meetings: one in Europe (hosted by the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue in Horten, Norway), and three in Africa (two in Morocco and one in Kenya). These meetings provided valuable forums for the exchange of ideas and best practice on how maritime SAR can be improved in each location.

The outputs from these meetings included:

the development of regional maritime SAR plans
embedding the practice of holding regular table-top and/or live SAR exercises, to ensure that these regional SAR plans remain fit for purpose
the development and delivery of training for SAR administrators, mission coordinators and on scene coordinators.

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Our Advocacy and Advice

As the international voice of maritime SAR, the IMRF plays a significant role in the development of international maritime SAR regulation and policy.

Over the last year we have:

contributed to the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), particularly the SAR Working Group
delivered a presentation about the IMRF’s capacity building work around the world to the IMO’s Maritime Safety and Technical  Cooperation Committee
actively represented the IMRF at the annual meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)/IMO Joint Working Group on SAR
advised and contributed to IMO’s technical cooperation and development work in SAR, particularly in Africa

The IMRF’s online open-source MRO resource library continues to grow and is recognised as one of the leading sources of information on this specialist subject. It was visited 29,514 times in 2018.

In 2018, the IMRF published the Basic Rescue Boat Operators Manual, endorsed by Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the IMO, which provides information on essential skills, knowledge and guidance for SAR organisations with limited access to equipment.

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Migration and SAR

The movement of asylum-seekers and economic migrants across large areas of sea – in inadequate boats with resulting loss of life - continues in several parts of the world.

The IMRF continues to advocate action at an international level to address this issue and defends the fundamental principles of maritime search and rescue, as well as the humanitarian principle of non-refoulement implicit in the SAR principle of delivery of anyone in distress to a ‘place of safety’.

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Sharing Our Maritime Mass Rescue Operations Expertise

A mass rescue operation (MRO) is defined by the IMO as being “characterised by the need for immediate response to large numbers of persons in distress such that the capabilities normally available to the SAR authorities are inadequate.”

MROs are major life-threatening events beyond normal SAR service capability, and can have widespread negative effects, not just on those who are victims of the incident, but also on the responders facing a highly traumatic situation.

The IMRF’s maritime MRO project works to raise awareness amongst the maritime community of the absolute vital importance of planning and training for such extraordinary events.

In 2018, the IMRF:

ran three MRO workshops, in Malaysia, Uruguay and Bangladesh, which were attended by more than 200 delegates
delivered a presentation to the ANZSAR (Australian & New Zealand SAR) Conference in Australia on the work of IMRF and its maritime MRO activities 
ran a second MRO Subject-Matter Expert course in co-operation with Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden and IMRF member The Swedish Sea Rescue Society. Twenty-seven senior personnel with emergency planning responsibilities from 15 countries attended
continued to enhance and update the IMRF’s open-source MRO resource library (

Visit the Mass Rescue Operations (MRO) Pages

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Cooperation, Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: The European Lifeboat Crew Exchange

For the last eight years the IMRF has organised this popular event, bringing together volunteers from different European lifeboat organisations to ‘swap places’ and train together.

Each participating organisation devises its own week-long programme of training, demonstrating the specialist activities they carry out and the best practice training methods appropriate to their climate and circumstances. The exchange offers a perfect platform for crews to experience simulated SAR exercises, learn new operational techniques and skills and exchange knowledge all with the common aim of preventing loss of life in the world’s waters.

In 2019, 72 people from 14 countries, hosted by 10 different organisations, took part in the IMRF’s popular and highly rated European Lifeboat Crew Exchange programme. All of those who took part said they would recommend it to their organisations and crews.

Over the last seven years:

over 500 participants from 19 countries have taken part in the European Lifeboat Crew Exchange
the vast majority of the participants have rated the programme ‘excellent’ and felt they learnt something new.

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IMRF Membership Statistics

Below a table showing how many of our member organisations are in which country (2018).

  Europe Middle East/Indian Ocean/Asia-Pacific Africa
  Belgium (1) Australia (3) Cape Verde (1)
  Bulgaria (1) Bangladesh (1) Ghana (1)
  Croatia (1) China (7) Ivory Coast (1)
  Cyprus (1) India (1) Kenya (1)
  Denmark (3) Iran (1) Liberia (1)
  Estonia (4) Malaysia (2) Morocco (1)
  Finland (4) New Zealand (3) South Africa (2)
  France (3) Sri Lanka (1) Tanzania (1)
  Germany (7) United Arab Emirates (2) Uganda (1)
  Greece (2)
  Iceland (2) North, Central & South America
  Ireland (3) Antigua & Barbuda (1)
  Italy (3) Brazil (3)
  Latvia (1) British Virgin Islands (1)
  Malta (4) Canada (4)
  Norway (3) Chile (1)
  Poland (1) Curaçao  (1)
  Portugal (1) Sint Maarten (1)
  Russia (1) United States (3)
  Spain (2) Uruguay (2)
  Sweden (5) Venezuela (1)
  Switzerland (1)
  The Netherlands (2)
  Turkey (1)
  United Kingdom (7)

Do you want to know who our IMRF Members are? Click on the following link to explore the "Our Members" pages.

If you want to become a member, check out the "Membership" pages today.

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