Influential Shipping Industry Forum Formed to Tackle Image Crisis

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Shipping’s lacklustre image is to be tackled head on by the formation of a new global forum of maritime leaders.

Launched at this week’s successful 2nd International Ship Management Summit in Limassol, Cyprus, the pan‐industry image forum will include ship owners and managers and seafarers’ representatives.

The Forum is already planning its inaugural meeting in London, to be chaired by ship management association InterManager, and European Commission funding could be on the cards when the group produces an effective business case soon.

It will be made up from key shipping industry leaders including: INTERTANKO, InterManager, the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Shipping Federation. The International Transport Workers’ Federation and other associations are being asked to join.

Welcoming the proposal, which emerged from a high‐level round table discussion at the Cyprus summit, InterManager General Secretary Guy Morel (pictured) said: “Shipping provides a vital service on which the world’s economy and people’s welfare depends. And yet, for the majority of people, the industry has an unfavourable image.”

The shipping industry needs to lobby actively for its rightful role on the global stage, he explained. “We’re creating this group in order to improve the image,” he said.

Welcoming the formation of the Image Forum, Dimitrios Theologitis, Head of Unit, Maritime Transport & Ports Policy, Maritime Security, European Commission DGTren, said the group’s initiatives need to be ‘far‐reaching and ambitious’. “I think that, from our side, we would be very positive towards such an initiative,” he said.

Industry leaders came together in Limassol to discuss how to resolve shipping’s image crisis and consider whether shipping can really be a career of the future. Delegates heard how the industry suffers from negative publicity associated with high‐profile accidents and from recruitment shortages caused in part by young people’s concerns over onboard conditions and career progression, together with fears of isolation from their families.

But higher salaries, modern communications technologies, improved standards of living onboard ships and better training are helping the shipping industry to improve recruitment, the conference agreed. Now the international image of the industry needs to improve to better reflect shipping’s role on the global stage. Indeed delegates underlined that shipping carries some 90% of world trade and is more environmentally friendly than the majority of other forms of transport, accounting for a proportionately low level of carbon emissions.

Peter Swift, Managing Director of INTERTANKO, who chaired the first day of the Summit and took part in the second day’s Round Table discussion, said the Forum will tackle shipping’s image concerns at company, national and international levels: “The image of the industry shapes the business and legislative environment and our ability to attract resources. We need to highlight the good and remove the bad,” he said.