Ferries, the safest form of transportation in North America and Europe, can be the agents of catastrophe in some developing nations. Over the past decades there have been numerous incidents in which hundreds have died. The international ferry community, under the leadership of Interferry and the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association, working with IMO support, has embarked on a comprehensive 10-year plan to reduce ferry fatalities by 90 percent. This article describes the first research task needed to achieve the ferry safety goal of devising a framework to determine the responsible parties for ferry safety across the full social fabric, including ferry owners, local and national ferry authorities, national trade associations and international business and regulatory associations. This framework is intended to inform and be used as a guide to mobilize the relevant sectors of society to achieve reduction in ferry fatalities.