THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) said it may implement stricter rules on the construction of wooden-hulled vessels based on a recommendation from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA recommended that the length of wooden-hulled ships be limited; construction of the keel strengthened; frames for reinforcement added with stainless brackets; an air intake cowl on top of cabin be placed; and floaters installed. There are 2,503 units of wooden-hulled transport craft of various sizes and categories. Marina said its ship regulations office has prepared a preliminary standard ship designed for wooden-hulled vessel. The agency sought JICA funding after two passenger-carrying ships-one a wooden-hulled and the other steel-hulled-collided on May 25, 2003, killing 23 passengers. Marina said the incident raised issues on the safe operation of bancas, especially when carrying passengers. Last May, when typhoon Caloy ravaged Luzon, M/B Mae Ann sunk off Masbate killing 27 passengers. The vessel was a wooden ferry with outriggers and could seat 60 persons. The incident prompted Marina to inspect all wooden-hulled vessels in the country for cracks in the hull and other damages. JICA, in its earlier report, said the Philippines still has a backward shipping industry, despite being an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands.