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ICOMIA: The Global Organisation Seeking To Break Down All Barriers To Trade

ICOMIA: The Global Organisation Seeking To Break Down All Barriers To Trade

The International Council of Marine Industry Associations – ICOMIA – brings together national boating federations in one global organisation and represents them at an international level, presenting a strong and united voice when dealing with issues challenging the industry.


No less than 34 national federations across the world are full members of ICOMIA today. Its members include the vast majority of the industrialised countries from North America across to Japan and China and from Finland to New Zealand.


ICOMIA also has two members in Australia: the marine industry association, Boating Industry Association (BIA) – the national body for recreational and light commercial boating industry in Australia –

and the Australian International Marine Export Group (AIMEX) – representing the Australian marine export and superyacht industries.


They say ‘there is strength in numbers’ – and together with its worldwide membership, ICOMIA has proved there is truth in the expression.


“Our membership is what makes and defines ICOMIA”, says Udo Kleinitz, ICOMIA’s Secretary General. “I like to think of our organisation as one big community. We face any difficulties we might encounter together and we always try to help each other out. It is the way it has always been. This is why ICOMIA is absolutely crucial for the future of our industry”



It was in early November 1966, at Avenida Palace Hotel in Barcelona, ICOMIA was formed by members of the International Federation of Boat Show Organisers (IFBSO), representing the USA, UK, France, Netherlands and Sweden.


At the following year’s IFBSO/ICOMIA Joint Congress, held in Stockholm, 32 delegates representing 16 countries (from Europe and the US) approved ICOMIA’s organisational plan and mission statement:


“To promote boating as a leading international recreational activity by establishing the medium for the exchange of information on all matters related to the common interest, such as safety, quality, and marinas, so as to stimulate the sale and usage of boats and their equipment”


To this day, these focus-points remain the foundation upon which a successful boat friendly environment is built: Safety, Infrastructure and Awareness.


During the next 50 years, ICOMIA honoured its mission, spearheading numerous beneficial improvements within the marine industry – not least the work on the EU’s Recreational Craft Directive (RCD).



ICOMIA championed the development of the RCD in the 1990s, which was fundamental to opening the EU market and other markets to accept EU-certified boats, and it continues to advise on its development today. The RCD is a European Union Directive setting out minimum technical, safety and environmental standards for the manufacture, import, distribution and trade of boats (between 2.5m and 24m), personal watercraft, marine engines and components on the EU single market as well as Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland (as part of the European Economic Area/European Free Trade Association), and Turkey (candidate EU member).


Since 18 January 2017, obligations and responsibilities of all economic operators and distributors have been further defined in a new Directive. It requires boat, personal watercraft and engine manufacturers to keep a technical file on all relevant data, and to officially declare the compliance of their product using a declaration of conformity template (DoC), to affix the CE marking to it, and to inform users about safe use and maintenance. Importers and Distributors have an obligation to ensure these processes are completed before placing on the EU market and Importers will need to add their name, trademark and contact details to the craft or product.


In anticipation of the new Directive, ICOMIA together with EBI produced the ‘RCD Guide’ applicable to boating professionals intending to manufacture, import, distribute and sell RCD compliant products.


The Guide, which is currently available in nine languages, is free for ICOMIA and EBI members and available for purchase as a downloadable App on both Apple and Android tablets (for only €3.99) and as a PDF (€2.99) supported by any device. Further details can be found at or by visiting and clicking the banner.


In addition, ICOMIA has launched a new RCD compliance tool called the Technical File Generator. Currently, Annex IX of the new RCD states that technical documentation relevant to the assessment of the craft – known as the Technical Construction File – must be readily available and contain a detailed description of the craft and all its systems. Plus, as many ISO standards have been updated to reflect the new RCD, the Files of all existing boats and products must also be updated. This creates a sizeable administrative burden on the industry, which the new one-of-a-kind ICOMIA Technical File Generator can ease.


The ICOMIA Technical File Generator (ICOMIA TFG) is a low cost, web based, easy-to-use tool. Users simply enter the key statistics of the craft into the software and instantly obtain a list of all applicable standards as well as the detailed requirements of each of these standards. The ICOMIA TFG will also carry out complicated calculations required for stability and buoyancy as well as allow users to upload external information, for example Declarations of Conformity from suppliers for steering and bilge pump components. The software then generates a bespoke Technical Construction File for each craft, providing only information relevant to that individual craft.


This reduces an unknown quantity of complex standards to a tailored list of specific requirements and technical details, allowing users to navigate compliance quickly and efficiently.


“The revolutionary ICOMIA Technical File Generator allows users to tailor their Technical Construction Files, in precise detail, to boat size, design category and installation” explains Udo Kleinitz.


Quick and easy access to relevant information is a crucial factor in mitigating the risks associated with non-compliance. The ICOMIA TFG allows manufacturers to achieve this easily and cost-effectively, it’s set to become the industry standard for a Technical Construction File – saving the boatbuilder time and money. To access the ICOMIA TFG visit



Linked to the RCD is the development of over 60 ISO (International Organization for Standards) Standards for small craft; spearheaded by the ISO Technical Committee for Small Craft Standards (TC 188) – the committee dedicated to small craft under 24 meters. TC 188 was established over 25 years ago and develops standards for all aspects of small craft design and construction, including safety-equipment, systems and handling. ICOMIA funds the processing of developed and revised Standards within the TC 188 secretariat.


ICOMIA remains committed to developing additional ISO standards for the recreational marine industry, to prove their acceptance not only in Europe, but in a global context. To this effect, ICOMIA has produced a ‘Small Craft Standards Bulletin’, providing industry stakeholders early notification on changes to existing standards and modifications to production methods; as developed and maintained by TC 188.


ICOMIA’s Small Craft Standards Bulletin – a free resource for all the industry – clearly defines the current stage of an ISO Standard depending on whether it is in: Committee, Enquiry, Approval, or Publication. “On completion, Standards that support the RCD requirements are referenced in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU)” explains Patrick Hemp, ICOMIA Technical Consultant. “This step leads to a ‘harmonized standard’ which in turn provides a presumption of conformity for a certain legal requirement. A sensible transitional period is determined during which both the revised standard, as well as the superseded version provide the presumption of conformity”.



Conformity is and always will be a challenge for those operating internationally. For years, US companies interested in exporting boats to Europe and European companies wishing to export to the US had found themselves in a difficult situation due to the different sets of standards used on the two continents and the requirement to comply with them both. A globally adopted set of standards did not exist.


In the US, the standards used have been developed by the American Boat and Yacht Council’s (ABYC) Project Technical Committees. Each Project Technical Committee is made up of members from all segments of the marine industry including manufacturers, surveyors, boatyards, repair facilities, the US Coast Guard and the general public. Mainly derived from the US Code of Federal Rules (CFR) and other domestic laws, the ABYC system uses the local US approach to defining boat standards. ABYC is also a point of reference for any boat builder unclear about the application of standards.


In contrast, the ISO standards’ approach is global and the standards are meant to be self-sufficient. Their use is promoted by the RCD but applicable to all types of boat construction and design, including commercial boats. The two standards systems have different requirements for the construction of boats, which are based on separate calculations and criteria.


Any boat builder interested in exporting overseas faced a severe challenge in trying to comply with both standards’ systems. Initially the comparison was made between the ABYC and ISO standards, but other standards are also being considered.


It was with this in mind that ICOMIA decided to form a dedicated standards’ harmonisation working group in 2007.

Made up of partners from ABYC, British Marine, ICOMIA, the International Marine Certification Institute, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the working group meets twice a year to compare the different aspects of the two standards’ systems in order to develop universal guidelines in order to help boat builders comply with both systems.


For many years, boat manufacturers selling to the global community have had to independently figure out the differences between their own domestic standards and ISO standards developed to support the RCD.


Nine universal guidelines have so far been published by ICOMIA, but many more are in the pipeline.

The launched guidelines include Fuel Systems and Fixed Fuel Tanks (Guideline 1), LPG Systems and Appliances (2), Electrical (3), Windows, Portlights and Hatches (4), Powering (5) Man Overboard Prevention (6) and Boat Capacity Labels (7), Ventilation (8) and Field of Vision (9).


The Global Conformity Guidelines are aimed at boat builders with previous experience of either the ABYC or ISO standards. They are not meant to replace or guarantee compliance with either standard system, but to act as a guide for the user. The guidelines are available for download from in the ICOMIA Online Library (, as annexes to the ABYC standards or for purchase from



Another of ICOMIA’s most popular initiatives to bridge the gap between boatbuilders and RCD compliance is its Scantlings Calculator; a calculation method to assist builders comply with ISO Scantling standard 12215 Part 5.


In order to comply with the RCD, builders face challenges when self-assessing scantlings for craft of hull length less than 12m in all design categories. They use the Harmonised Standard which provides the Presumption of Conformity, however the complex nature of these documents often force them into hiring a consultant.


In response to these issues, ICOMIA’s Technical Committee initiated a study (sponsored by the International Marine Certification Institute), and with approval from ISO, commissioned Southampton Solent University to develop a series of spread sheets designed to be used in conjunction with this ISO standard. The team developed six modules which cover most of the scope of Part 5; with an emphasis on simplified data entry. A seventh spread sheet, ‘Core Helper’, provides a link between a number of common trade name cores.


The ‘Scantlings Calculator’ can be accessed for free to legitimate owners of Part 5 at Whilst the Keel Checker is a tool for assessing whether keel designs are within the parameters of ISO 12215 Part 9 and can also be accessed through the website.






The ICOMIA Environment Guide (IEG) – is FREE to members of BIA and AIMEX (otherwise just 300 Euros for latest edition plus one update) – and is updated regularly to provide readers with the very latest environmental information from the recreational boating industry, including:


  • Environment education and regulations
  • Industry guides on waste management, copper antifouling, deconstruction of end of life boats, life cycle assessment, minimizing fuel spill & evaporative emissions
  • Templates for accounting of solvents
  • New techniques developed for coatings application to reduce environmental impact
  • Executed sustainable boating research project on hybrid propulsion


The IEG features clear and concise outlines of the latest environmental legislation affecting the EU, US, Asia and Australia plus international organisations such as IMO. The IEG explains – in simple terms – what the legislation is; why it has been imposed; when it will take effect; who it may affect and how it may affect them. Whilst hyperlinks, highlighted within the chapters, direct readers to more detailed explanations and further reading if a particular legislation is of interest.


“The IEG provides user-friendly and dynamic guidance and is suitable for a non-technical reader wishing to learn about environmental legislation affecting their business activities” says Albert Willemsen “Making it an invaluable tool for businesses, associations and organisations operating in the global recreational marine industry”.



Equally important to mention are the ICOMIA industry statistics, which are produced annually with data from its global membership. ICOMIA’s statistics are widely acknowledged as the only authoritative and reliable source of information available on the worldwide recreational boating industry. Members of BIA and AIMEX can purchase the Book for a special 50% discounted price of only 400 EUR. The latest edition features:

  • 2016 global data snapshot
  • Detailed market analysis by IBI Consulting, a division of IBI (International Boat Industry) Magazine Group
  • Detailed national reports on the industry’s largest market countries
  • Global summaries of key product segments from 24 countries
  • Export/import data for international trade in boats from 41 countries
  • Marine engine statistics from ICOMIA’s Marine Engine Committee (IMEC)
  • International Boat Show statistics (courtesy of the International Federation of Boat Show Organizers)
  • The 2016 Superyacht Annual Report (courtesy of The Superyacht Group)
  • Industry articles selected by IBI

For half a century ICOMIA has sought to break down barriers to trade and support its members and industry in every way possible by giving recommendations and providing the necessary instruments needed to navigate bureaucratic choppy seas.  Plus the special relationship between ICOMIA and its parent association IFBSO is still thriving. The two organisations continue to hold their joint AGM Congresses in cities around the globe – the next one being hosted by BIA in Gold Coast, Australia!  This autumn, Queensland will play host to International Boating Week from 22 May 2017 and will feature some of Australia’s leading marine events including the Australian Marine Export and Superyacht Conference (ASMEX), the 2017 Australian Marine Industry Awards, the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show and the IFBSO/ICOMIA Joint Congress (25 – 27 May).  With ICOMIA monitoring emerging technical and environmental regulations, guiding the developments and revisions of standards and the RCD as well publishing statistics, it remains a leader in global developments across all sectors and is uniquely positioned to act as the voice of the recreational marine industry.  For more information on joining our Australian member associations and benefiting from a wealth of FREE resources please visit: 

For more information on the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, visit:

For more information on ICOMIA please visit or email

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