Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
Speaking in Istanbul, Simon Bennett, Deputy Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) warned on 3 April that avoiding overcapacity and unsustainably low freight rates is still a major challenge ten years after the massive downturn of 2008.
Mr Bennett said: ‘In that time shipping companies needed to show restraint when ordering new ships, to prevent stifling recovery. Yet the dark clouds of protectionism and slowing growth in key economies mean that the avoidance of over ordering is now more important than ever.’
Addressing an audience of shipowners and operators at the Global Maritime Summit 2019, organised in conjunction with the Turkish Chamber of Shipping, Mr Bennett acknowledged that individual operators would legitimately make their own individual business decisions regarding new tonnage. Our accompanying illustration has been kindly provided by ICS and the Turkish Chamber in support of the Global Maritime Summit 2019 ©.
He added: ‘Opinion is still divided on whether the rapid globalisation that has been experienced in the last 30 years may have run its course, and whether the slower rate of trade growth seen since the 2008 crisis represents some kind of permanent structural change. Certainly in 2019, the outlook for the global economy and thus demand for maritime transport appears to be worsening.
‘Ship ordering (in deadweight tonnage) fell 14% in 2018, about 17% below the average since the 2008 downturn. This suggests that many shipowners may indeed be resisting the temptation to over order and in early 2019, the worldwide shipping order book appeared to be stable at around 10% of the fleet. However, the reluctance of governments in Asia, where the vast majority of ships are built, to address overcapacity in the shipbuilding sector remains a serious issue.’
He went on to explain: ‘As well as the temptation to over order, decisions about when to recycle older ships are also fundamental to the equation. The good news is that a number of important regulatory uncertainties which have complicated decisions about when best to dispose of older ships are finally being resolved.
‘In particular this includes the implementation dates of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. And while the precise cost of compliance with the IMO sulphur regulations is still unknown, the situation should become clearer after January 2020 now that IMO has confirmed that the implementation date of the global sulphur cap is irrevocable.’
In conclusion Bennett reflected: ‘Notwithstanding the risks of uncertainty in the immediate years ahead, in the long term there is always cause to remain optimistic. The UN has revised its projections for population growth upwards to an incredible 8.6 billion in 2030 from 7.7 billion in 2018. Combined with seemingly unstoppable demand for higher living standards in emerging economies, this indicates that long term demand for international shipping should continue to increase significantly.’
ICS is also encouraged by the decision in 2018 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to resume negotiations on an agreement to remove market distorting measures from shipbuilding that contribute to overcapacity. However, it remains to be seen whether China (which is not an OECD member) will take an active part.
A new IMO video puts the spotlight on how an IMO/EU initiative is helping cut maritime emissions in the Solomon Islands as part of a global project to help tackle climate change.
The illustration published here shows the new solar-powered LED lights erected in the port of Honiara, Solomon Islands. Their operation helps the port meet IMO maritime security requirements.
These lights are also an ideal example of how a global project, through regional centres, can help individual countries’ ports and shipping sectors improve energy efficiency, cut emissions and clean up local air quality. This was the approach outlined in a media briefing issued by IMO on 15 May.
Data sharing is a prerequisite to enabling the successful implementation of Just-In-Time (JIT) operations – which can cut the time ships spend idling outside ports and help cut emissions as well as save on fuel costs. This was the message in a media briefing by IMO in the first week of May
Participants at a roundtable meeting of IMO’s Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping (GIA) in London on 1 / 2 May, agreed that increased transparency of information through data sharing was imperative, while this should be achieved through standardized functional and data definitions.
IHMA Project Officer, Captain Ben van Scherpenzeel, (Port of Rotterdam) participated in this roundtable and is seen in the accompanying illustration at IMO HQ, fourth from right.
It was learnt that more frequent exchange of information would lead to better predictability of when a berth is available. Additionally, it was reported that the roundtable identified the need for a global, neutral, not-for profit data sharing platform, to allow frequent updates from terminals and vessel service providers on completion times.
At its meeting at IMO the roundtable also identified the potential benefits of regulating data sharing, while incentivising data quality.