Covid-19 impacts ability to properly debate dry bulk sector quality scheme

INTERCARGO tells SMI the time is not yet right to launch a quality self-assessment scheme for the sector

INTERCARGO is prepared to launch an industry wide consultation process prior to implementation of a dry bulk sector quality self-assessment scheme, DRY-SAS, which, it says, will enjoy universal support, embrace best practices and key performance indicators, and raise the bar on safety, environmental and operational excellence.

It first considered such a scheme a few years ago and has been consulting with members and industry experts since 2018 with the aim of developing a risk based, tailored scheme which can be effectively utilised regardless of the size of a company and widely adopted by the dry bulk sector. So why haven’t we heard more?

“The timing simply isn’t right,” says INTERCARGO Chairman Dimitris Fafalios. “With Covid-19, the shipping community is today facing a set of unprecedented challenges which impact on every aspect of the way we work. Any truly universal industry scheme requires a robust period of consultation and debate across all stakeholders in the dry bulk sector, and this simply is not the right time to do that.

“Safety is the benchmark of our industry, and any dry bulk scheme must have the credibility of, for example, the Oil Industry Standard TMSA. Development of a suitable structure for our own industry cannot happen behind closed doors but must be a transparent process open to the scrutiny of all interested parties. This is the way to develop a truly robust scheme with the buy in of those that the industry relies upon to implement and support it.”

It is no secret that RightShip, the maritime risk management and environmental assessment company, publicly announced the creation of its own scheme, DBMS, earlier this year, developed by a working group of six companies and dubbed “our gift to the industry’ and yet by others as a potential “licence to trade”. INTERCARGO is clear that there is not room in the market for two parallel schemes.

“Under the present extraordinary circumstances, the timing of opening for public consultation a self-assessment scheme for the sector has indeed been unfortunate and has not been initiated by INTERCARGO,” adds INTERCARGO Vice-Chairman Spyros Tarasis.

“Throughout 2019 and up to the DBMS consultation launch, our Association made repeated efforts to achieve synergy with RightShip and contribute constructively to their work stream with our active participation. Our wish and objective was that of merging the two into a single scheme that would be launched for industry wide consultation in due time.

‘We recognise that our sector would not welcome multiple separate schemes with any associated duplications.  Finding merit in any initiative that would respect our values and principles, INTERCARGO is open to collaboration with other industry bodies and organisations. Any scheme should be transparent, widely consulted upon and accordingly accepted by the industry, as offering the best service for the dry bulk sector.; it needs to be driven by our sector to ensure equality within the sector.”

INTERCARGO has not yet announced the timing for the industry-wide DRY-SAS consultation process to  begin, but it is understood that this will take place in the near future when INTERCARGO believes that its members and the sector as a whole will be able to give the scheme the attention it deserves.