Leaders of the Round Table of International Shipping Associations – BIMCO, INTERCARGO, International Chamber of Shipping and INTERTANKO – met virtually last week to debate key issues facing the maritime industry today. At the meeting, the associations affirmed the industry’s commitment to universal recognition for seafarers, the decarbonisation of shipping and addressing the threat to shipping from piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
High on the agenda was the continued lack of universal recognition for seafarers as key workers. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a raft of issues, including lack of access to medical services, the need for an efficient, consistent and prioritised worldwide vaccination programme, and the ongoing need to resolve the crew change crisis in preparation for a global reboot of the world’s economy.
Dimitris J. Fafalios, INTERCARGO Chairman, and chair of the meeting said: “It is time for UN Agencies, governments and global organisations to coordinate a worldwide vaccination programme for seafarers in line with the timescales recommended by the World Health Organisation.
“Government leaders must commit to collective action and take to task their counterparts who fail to appreciate that the welfare of seafarers is not only a humanitarian issue, but that the world’s seafarers are responsible for keeping global trade moving.
Addressing the climate emergency and reducing emissions remains a key priority for the industry. Members of the Round Table highlighted the importance that the shipping industry places on its environmental stewardship, and on controlling and reducing its GHG emissions. They also, stressed that a large-scale investment in research and development is paramount for real progress towards a zero-carbon industry by 2050.
To this end, members also confirmed their commitment to the industry-wide Maritime Research and Development Board (IMRB) initiative to accelerate the introduction of zero-emission technologies for maritime transport. Decarbonization can only be achieved with the immediate acceleration of the development of zero-carbon fuels and technologies, and the IMRB is a crucial vehicle for driving the progress needed to build a zero-carbon shipping industry.
The piracy threat in the Gulf of Guinea continues to escalate. It was recognised that Nigeria has invested in law enforcement capabilities, but these are likely to take some time before having a significant effect. Effective maritime law enforcement in both territorial and international waters in the region is long overdue, and enforcement by able and willing naval forces is needed urgently to counter the deadly threat to seafarers. Members of the Round Table were unanimous in their agreement to continually review options and to take all necessary actions to reduce the Nigerian piracy threat.