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Wednesday, October 3, 2018  (Comments: 1)

Speaking at an Intercargo dinner, held at Trinity House, London on 1 October, Chairman John Platsidakis said that although shipowner organisations like Intercargo welcomed the principles of environmental regulations, all too often rules are introduced without thinking through the consequences, leaving shipping companies and shipowners to shoulder the blame.

“Are we managing ships or are we managing regulations?” Platsidakis asked. “We were supposed to do the first but I am afraid we are mostly doing the second.”

He continued: “I cannot emphasise more that we welcome regulations which are practical, possible to achieve and which take into consideration the way ocean going tramp shipping performs. We are highly supportive of the role of IMO… and want it to be the only entity to regulate our industry as opposed to the ones which tend to have a vague view of the modus operandi of shipping.”

However, how well IMO comes up with practical and achievable regulations, is open to question. Platsidakis said that most of the representatives of its 174 member states have a highly inadequate knowledge of shipping operations and tend to vote for regulations which are out of touch with reality.

He cited the Ballast Water Convention as one example. When it was approved in 2004 there was hardly any technology to back the rules, so it is questionable whether or not the rules were realistic – and by the time it came into force in 2017 things were little different.

Similarly. The 0.5% fuel sulphur cap was introduced with little grasp of the availability of low sulphur fuel. Although Intercargo’s members do not object to it, they all heartily wish we could have the means to achieve it smoothly.

He continued by examining the reduction of CO2 emissions. Again, a good idea, but Platsidakis said: “In most cases it is the charterers who dictate the trade pattern of the ships, from where to where to go and at which speed. Distance and speed determine the CO2 emissions, not the ship, i.e. the shipowner.”

Platsidakis believes that in the eyes of the uninformed public, it is the shipowners who are guilty of environmental pollution. “It is about time to stand up and explain… public that shipowners are not the ones to blame. We own and operate ships, we do not build ships, we do not manufacture engines, we do not produce bunkers. I would like to send a very clear message to the regulators: Make the best ones available and be sure that we will be the first ones to applaud them and adopt them. We have to stop giving the impression to the unaware public that we are guilty.”

Platsidakis pointed out that shipowners invest substantial amounts of money in a capital intensive industry, because once the rules are passed, they have no option. “We transport 90% of world trade in the most cost and safe effective way, we contribute a lot to the high standards of living, which societies enjoy as compared with the past, and in no way we can be the scapegoats.” 

Reader Comments (1)

I have worked for one Marine Radio Company at sea and two ship management companies. One culturally a management company, both at sea and ashore. The other culturally an owning company despite their third party management business. (Perhaps subjective but a very definite impression). The approach with respect to constructive engagement with the regulators in all three was different. It is not only a matter of how the press/public portray us (I very much agree with the speaker's view) but also how we lobby and how even those interests within our industry may compete to the detriment of the whole. The 'management' company engaged constructively with the regulators through the Chamber of Shipping at every level. The 'owning' company's engagement was of a markedly less enthusiastic and we did seem to be more interested there in understanding and applying new regulations than in criticising them in anyway. Both, of course, had expert individuals invited to special interest groups. Not quite the same thing. CIRM, of which I am sure my first employer was a member, has a vested interest in the development and mandatory introduction of new technology - not all of it, we might think, industry lead. "Playing for the other side" might be suitably pejorative in the last case, at least some of the time.

By David Varley on Monday, October 8, 2018

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