INTERCARGO, the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners is growing at a rapid pace, as it seeks to raise its voice on various issues surrounding the future of the shipping industry, like emissions, port reception facilities and the implementation of the Ballast Water Treatment Convention. The association recently held its Technical and Executive Committees in Athens and hosted an exclusive interview with Dr. Kostas G. Gkonis, the Secretary General of INTERCARGO. According to Dr. Gkonis, the industry is voicing its concerns – now turned reality – regarding the difficulty of compliance with BWM convention, expecting that in one year’s time, seminars will still be organized to understand how to overcome issues with the installation and operation of ballast water treatment systems.
Commitment towards quality and environment:
Dr Kostas G. Gkonis is the Secretary General of INTERCARGO, the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners, which voices shipowners, managers and operators of dry cargo vessels and represents this shipping sector at international fora. INTERCARGO’s Membership is committed to a safe, efficient, high quality and environmentally-friendly dry cargo shipping industry. Dr Gkonis has more than 15 years of experience in industry and academia and holds a PhD in Maritime Transport from the National Technical University of Athens.
INTERCARGO recently held its Technical and Executive Committees in Athens. Many topics were raised, chief among which the implementation of the BWM Convention. Which is the Organization’s position on the practical matters raised?
Indeed one the topics that remain high on INTERCARGO’s agenda is Ballast Water. The reason is that following the entry into force of the Convention in September, we expect a number of operational problems to be faced by our Members, as evidence already collected indicate. We anticipate in one year’s time that seminars will still be organised to understand how to overcome issues with the installation and operation of BW treatment systems. Our organisation will be using the experience gained from Members to propose practical solutions aiming at the effective implementation of the regulation – unfortunately we are afraid that will be on concerns that we have already voiced and that the industry will be confronting from now on.
Ballast Water was yet not the only issue that kept us busy during our recent bi-annual meetings in Athens. Casualties Investigation, Port Reception Facilities, Corruption, and Emissions were some of them.
Emissions and the Ballast Water Management Convention are bound to share the future course of the shipping industry. How do you expect these issues to be dealt by shipowners? Which is the feedback you’re receiving from members?
Shipowners are practical and responsible decision makers; they are market players that are ready to make significant commitments, and adapt to what the market, technology, and the environmental sustainability dictate. Along with our Members we are examining practical solutions that make sense and can be realistic for the benefit of our industry, international trade, the environment, and the causes they serve, beyond political short- (or long-) termism. As I put it, the shipping industry should take responsibility, where it should, rather than being taken as irresponsible, by making irrelevant promises or theoretical exercises on paper.
Do you feel that the above will speeden up the renewal process of the global fleet?
Regulatory initiatives should avoid “messing” with the market dynamics. They may of course have an impact, but any direct one should be avoided for the good order; our industry is a very efficient one and does not need any visible forcing hand to manipulate it. In view of this, I do not wish to express myself on your otherwise relevant question.
Another major issue appears to revolve around Port Reception Facilities. Can you elaborate on this particular subject?
INTERCARGO has been assisting bulk carriers in complying with Annex V and especially the proper treatment of Harmful to the Marine Environment (HME) cargo residues and hold washing waters. Feedback from members have raised a number of issues: Port States need to provide incentives in order for ports and terminals to increase investment in the provision of adequate Port Reception Facilities (PRFs); floating plants could be arranged in ports such as barges, in order to reduce discharge times rather than relying on trucks and portable tanks; HME washing water treatment plants need to be located as close as possible to ports or PRFs. INTERCARGO also proposed recently to IMO a “model port reception facilities” concept with the purpose of assisting IMO and its Members to have a more consistent and complete idea about adequate PRFs.
The quality of Intercargo Members’ fleet is of primary importance. Which are the criteria for membership entry and how fast has the Intercargo fleet grown over the past year?
Important criteria for membership acceptance are the Port State Control record of the entered fleet and its general performance over the last three years at least. INTERCARGO in the first three quarters of 2017 has seen the number of its registered ships increasing by 48%, passing the 1,500 ships threshold with a total tonnage of 138 mil. dwt, and its number of Full members increasing by 32%, passing the 100 threshold. The criteria for accepting new members have remained high, while the Secretariat will continue monitoring the performance of the INTERCARGO registered fleet and maintain it at the desired levels.
Where do you attribute this major growth?
The pace of regulatory developments have made shipping companies more interested in getting adequately informed on time and more involved in these developments, influencing them to the capacity at least of our Association. INTERCARGO is for example an accredited NGO at IMO, a member of the Round Table of International Shipping Associations, and participates in relevant international shipping fora. Despite membership fees remaining arguably modest and unchanged in the previous and coming year at least, the dry bulk market improvement and external parameters have been positive for our growth. I have also given priority on promoting to all directions the work produced by the Secretariat with the significant support of our Members.
Which is the biggest initiatives undertaken by Intercargo over the past 12 months and which will the main interventions you’ll be pushing through during 2018?
The safe carriage of dry bulk cargoes and bulk carriers’ Design & construction standards are always reference topics for INTERCARGO, other than the ones mentioned earlier, i.e. Casualties Investigation, Ballast Water Management, Port Reception Facilities, Corruption, and Emissions. The implementation of the 0.5% sulphur cap from 2020 is an imminent drastic evolution surrounded by a lot of uncertainty and we are promoting the consideration of the relevant transitional issues. Further down the timeline, the introduction of new technologies is already in the radar of our industry.
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Source: Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide