Regulatory Challenges And Industry Perspectives at The Tradewinds Shipowners Forum

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During a riveting opening panel session of the Tradewinds Shipowners Forum at Posidonia 2024, Harry Conway, Chair of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), engaged in an in-depth discussion with senior representatives of the shipping industry on regulatory issues ranging from shadow fleets to alternative fuels, according to an article published on their website.

Navigating Regulatory Challenges 

“We should be concerned by dark fleet activity because of the safety of vessels and crew, as well as the protection of the marine environment. If elements within the industry circumvent the rules and regulations, we have a problem. Dark fleet vessels have no accountability because they operate under the radar; they don’t respect the rules, and the IMO is taking measures and actions to tackle the issue.”

Michael Parker, Global Industry Head of Shipping & Logistics at Citi, agreed that the problem is profound. He said, “I am concerned, but we have to call it out; we are at war, and until the war is over and issues are resolved, it won’t be easy to find solutions. The IMO is powerless to enforce various things to improve transparency unless others are willing to take more impactful steps. Sanctions are not proving to be effective, but I am optimistic that we are in an age of regulation and transparency, and climate change and data are going to drive positive change. It’s a question of enforcement. We hope peace will bring the restoration of more normal behavior. We cannot allow the creation of shadow fleets to happen again.”

Christopher J. Wiernicki, Chairman and CEO of ABS, said that the industry is in the early innings of a decade of uncertainty. “A new age of safety, commercial compliance, and government accountabilities is here. This is a shared responsibility; the onus should not be just on the commercial side. The shadow fleet is a matter of concern. It has a different perspective compared to the rest of us; they have old vessels, poor inspections, lack insurance, and are riddled with mechanical failures and oil spills, which they simply regard as collateral damage. But as we move forward, environmental regulations are going to be global shipping shapers, so as we move forward, environmental regulations will be a big part of commercial decision-making.”

Wiernicki added, “Our industry is divided into three types: the leaders who are taking decisions and placing bets today; then we have the fast followers, those doing some piloting and experimenting around fuels; and we have the very many who are doing nothing, waiting to see what will happen.”

In response to his remarks, Dr Conway said that there is indeed a greater sense of a common mission, even though there is still a polarisation between those who act and those who aren’t doing so much.

On the themes of decarbonization and alternative fuels, the shipping industry seems to be in unison around the main challenges it is facing and the necessity of effective and impactful incentivization policies for the energy transition in maritime to be successful.

The conference also addressed the future of energy shipping, which globally accounts for 38 percent of shipping volumes, and in Greece is even higher, reaching almost 50 percent. As peak oil remains at least a decade away, with other estimates projecting it much further into the future, Evangelos Marinakis, Chairman & Founder of Capital Maritime & Trading Corp., who controls a fleet of more than ten million deadweight tons, is optimistic about the future of energy shipping. This optimism is fuelled by continuous global population growth and the ongoing modernization of the developing world.

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Source: Posidona