The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF) held their Annual General Meeting in Athens, from 19-21 May, at the invitation of the Union of Greek Shipowners. The representatives of national shipowners’ associations from 40 countries discussed a number of important issues:
Reduction of Shipping's CO2 Emissions (and Support for MARPOL Annex VI ‘Part B’)
The world's national shipowners' associations confirmed their commitment to work with the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) in the delivery of practical solutions for reducing the carbon dioxide emissions of the 50,000 ships engaged in transporting around 90% of all global trade.
Significantly, the meetings confirmed their support for the rapid development of a new and separate section to Annex VI of the IMO MARPOL Convention – a so called ‘Part B’ to address carbon emissions – which would provide the fastest means of bringing a global maritime CO2 regime into force, but without delaying the introduction of new IMO rules on sulphur emissions which are expected to be adopted, again with full industry support, in October 2008.
ICS/ISF Chairman/President, Spyros M Polemis, explained:
"The critical IMO meeting on Green House Gas emissions in Oslo, at the end of June, must make real progress on developing a global framework for ships, in order to present a coherent maritime package, with realistic and practical solutions, to the next major UN Climate Change Conference, in 2009, which will debate the post-Kyoto regime.
Shipping is already the most carbon efficient form of transport, but the international industry will evaluate carefully all proposals put forward by governments at IMO and will submit its own ideas - for the moment we have ruled nothing out. However, our current focus is on exploring both short term and longer term operational and technical solutions - to reduce our emissions still further - that might be applied to both existing ships and those built in the future. Although alternative fuel sources and innovation must play their part, our meeting confirmed that the focus of the shipping industry's immediate attention should be means of reducing fuel consumption in continuation of our longstanding search for efficiency. With bunker prices as high as they are today, this is also a matter of enlightened self-interest."
Human element and seafarers' Training Standards
The meeting discussed various human element issues including progress with regard to the ratification by governments of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention, and preparations for important ILO meetings in September that will develop Guidelines for governments on flag state and port state control procedures for the new Convention governing seafarer’s employment standards.
The meeting also considered the manpower shortage and the current IMO review of the STCW Convention governing seafarers' training and certification standards.
Mr Polemis commented:
"In addition to updating these important STCW rules to take account of new operational developments, it is important that the review, to which ISF is contributing on behalf of maritime employers, also looks at means of ensuring that governments only issue certificates to seafarers who actually meet the standards of competence prescribed by IMO. This is especially important in view of the global shortage of qualified and competent ship officers.
The IMO review of STCW is vital for maritime safety. However, at a time when the demand for shipping services means that high calibre seafarers, in the numbers required, are in short supply, it is a tragedy that many seafarers, particularly from developing countries, are in effect unemployable because their training does not yet meet the rigorous IMO standards introduced ten years ago."
100% container scanning
The meetings discussed the unilateral United States’ requirement for 100% security scanning, by 2012, of each and every in-bound maritime container, to be conducted at the port of loading overseas.
Mr Polemis remarked:
"Industry and governments alike are extremely concerned about the practical implications of this US measure, and its serious potential to disrupt the flow of world trade. Apart from the huge costs and logistics involved in scanning every box loaded on a ship, such a measure would almost inevitably exacerbate port congestion, which at several container terminals around the world is already near crisis point. We recognise that security is a very serious priority, but this can be achieved far more effectively by the US continuing to support the “risk based” approach which has been adopted by the international community at the World Customs Organization.
Communication with governments
The meetings also confirmed the importance of communication and dialogue between ICS, ISF, and their member national shipowners’ associations with governments on all issues that might impact on shipping, in order to influence the outcome of regulatory discussions at IMO, ILO and other bodies such as the European Commission.
Mr Spyros M Polemis was re-elected for a further two year term as Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping and as President of the International Shipping Federation.
The meetings also elected Mr Robert Ho (Hong Kong) and Mr Lars Vang Christensen (Denmark) as ICS Vice Chairmen, and Mr Luis Ocejo (Mexico) and Captain Dirk Fry (Cyprus) as ISF Vice Presidents.