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A life on the water

Carita Ronnqvist

Retired Harbour Master Carita Rönnqvist followed her dreams to enjoy a long career at sea and in port. Here she talks about her experiences during an era of change in the maritime world.

Carita Rönnqvist, a retired Harbour Master from Finland always wanted to go to sea – like her father did before her. She grew up hearing wonderful stories of faraway places and wanted to see for herself. 

There was just one problem, she explains. “It was 40 years ago. A woman could not go to sea, it was not possible.”

Thwarted in her ambitions – at least temporarily – Carita instead followed a linguistic path, gaining proficiency in English, Swedish, French, German and Russian alongside her native Finnish. With these skills, she became a teacher of languages at a local high school. She never gave up on her dreams, though and, ten years later, things had changed.

“I was pretty much on my own in my class. It was very rare for women to go on board a vessel at that time.”

“There came a time when there was a lack of people available to perform certain functions. Things began to relax a little with regards to women. All of a sudden, they could join the military or go to sea.”


Carita seized her chance and, leaving behind her academic work, enrolled at seaman school. 

“Everyone was a lot younger than me of course, as I had already begun my career. These boys were all 16 and I was 26. I had been a teacher though, so I was used to younger people. It would have been harder for me if I had been younger. I just looked on it as a sociological study,” she smiles.

“I was pretty much on my own in my class. It was very rare for women to go on board a vessel at that time.”

“In Finland you have to start from the bottom and work your way up. I'd come from an academic job and, suddenly, I found myself cleaning toilets for a living!”

Even though, the maritime sectors were progressing, things were still not always easy for women graduating as sailors at the time.

“Even if you'd been to school, it wasn't easy to find work. I remember phoning 30-40 companies before I found a job. After my first job on a super tanker, though, this changed. It was very easy to get the next job because I had the experience.” 

Not that gaining that experience was all plain sailing, she relates. 

“In Finland we don't have a cadet system. You have to start from the bottom and work your way up. I started on deck. I'd come from an academic job and, suddenly, I found myself cleaning toilets for a living! But I found it nice to be on board and do the deck jobs. You had to do these things in order to become an ordinary seaman.”

“It was unusual. There were not many female Harbour Masters at the time.”

From here, Carita gradually progressed, going first to navigation school and then to master's school to become a Captain in 1996. Finally, in 2004, having juggled her career with raising a family for several years, she decided to come ashore, taking up the role of Harbour Master in the Port of Kokkola – a position she held for 18 years.  

“This was also quite unusual. There were not many female Harbour Masters, largely because not many women at the time had had a career at sea.”

“I was a Harbour Master in a small port. I was the only one there who had been to sea. At the IHMA I got to meet colleagues who had had the same experiences and faced the same challenges.” 


Soon afterwards, Carita was introduced to the IHMA for the first time. 

“I was a member of a dry bulk terminal group, and, in that capacity, I attended an IMO meeting. It was there that I first met someone from the IHMA. A short while later, I received a call from the President of the organisation asking me if I would like to join the IHMA council. They were looking for someone with language capabilities and connections to the IMO. From here, after a while, I was asked to join the executive council (EXCO).

“It has been really interesting. I was a Harbour Master in a small port. I was the only one there who had been to sea. At the IHMA I got to meet colleagues who had had the same experiences and faced the same challenges as I had.

“I had the opportunity to work within every field where a marine expert was needed including the environment, security, safety, sales and marketing, infrastructure, quays, fairways, legislation, dealing with pilots, tugs and icebreakers, military drills and other things. It brought a lot of diversity to my work.”

“The IHMA has always been very open. They don't ask me questions because I'm a woman. They ask me questions because I am a Harbour Master. It doesn’t matter where you are from, what gender you are. What matters is that you are dealing with the same issues as a Harbour Master.”

Back then, when the maritime industry was only just beginning to open up to wider gender diversity, Carita says that the IHMA was very forward thinking. 

“The IHMA has always been very open. They don't look at what gender you are. They don't ask me questions because I'm a woman. They ask me questions because I am a Harbour Master. The IHMA sees that the more diversity you have in the organisation, the more experience you get. What I've experienced in the organisation is that it doesn’t matter where you are from, what gender you are. What matters is that you are dealing with the same issues as a Harbour Master.” 

Though now retired from her role as Harbour Master, Carita continues to sit on the IHMA EXCO, having been re-elected to her position in June last year. She intends remain involved in the organisation as long as possible and will complete her final term in 2024. 

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Venue To be confirmed
IHMA Congress 2024

IHMA has chosen, ‘THE MARINE ADVENTURE - Evolving and adapting to change in today’s ports’ as the theme for the 14th International Harbour Masters’ Congress which will be hosted in Morocco by Tanger Med Port Authority from 21 to 24 May 2024.

The four-day Marine Adventure will dedicate an entire day to each part of the port call process: Arrival- In Port -Departure, followed by a tour of the port on the final day.

Introducing Tanger Med

Tanger Med is the 1st port in Africa and in the Mediterranean.

It’s a global logistics gateway located on the Strait of Gibraltar and connected to more than 180 ports worldwide with handling capacities of: 9 million containers, exports of 1 million new vehicles, transit of 7 million passengers and 700,000 trucks on an annual basis.

Cargoes handled


In 2021 7,173,870 TEU were handled in Tanger Med port complex, up by 24% compared to 2020. This traffic results from the steady increase of Tanger Med 2 port after the successive commissioning of the terminals TC4 in 2019 and TC3 in 2021.

This result confirms the leadership of Tanger Med in the Mediterranean and Africa, and consolidates the position of this major hub for global maritime alliances led respectively by Maersk Line, CMA CGM and Hapag Lloyd.


In 2021 101,054,713 tons of goods were handled for the first time in Tanger Med port complex, an increase of 25% compared to 2020. Indeed, the tonnage handled by Tanger Med port complex represents more than 50% of the overall tonnage handled by all Moroccan ports.


The port complex handled 407,459 trucks in 2021, a rise of 14% compared to 2020. This traffic was mainly driven by the resumption of industrial exports as well as by the good performance of the agricultural season and agro-industrial exports.


Regarding new vehicles 429,509 were handled at the two vehicle terminals of Tanger Med port in 2021, an increase of 20% compared to the previous year. The traffic included: 278,651 Renault vehicles including 250,532 for export. A rise in exports of PSA vehicles totalled 100,030 cars.

Liquid bulk

Liquid bulk traffic has increased by 9% compared to 2020. It recorded a total traffic of 8,744,900 tons of hydrocarbons handled.

Solid bulk

Solid bulk traffic recorded a total of 342,804 tons processed, an increase of 13% compared to 2020 driven by the traffic of steel coils, wind blades and grain.


Growing maritime traffic saw 10,902 vessels calling at Tanger Med in 2021, up by 12% from 2020. Over the past year, the port complex has welcomed nearly 929 mega-ships (over 290 metres loa).

The position of Tanger Med

This performance above accomplished during 2021 affirms the position of the port complex as a major strategic hub emphasising its role as a key logistics platform serving the nations logistic competitiveness.

Achievements are the result of the continued collaboration of all partners of Tanger Med port complex, particularly ship owners, concessionaires, local authorities and administrations.


Crown Towers, Perth, Australia

For 25 years AMPI has been recognised as the professional body for developing, setting and leading in the evolution of industry standards, safety management protocols and advising regulatory bodies on matters related to Marine Pilotage.

As a globally recognised organisation and partner of the International Maritime Pilots Association (IMPA), we directly contribute to the work of the International Maritime Organisation. With over 260 active pilot members, we have the experience and know-how to develop widely recognised industry guidelines including initial and continual pilotage training standards. AMPI continues to influence the development of world-leading practice and in doing so brings a higher level of safety to the ports and regions where our members operate.

Mayflower Park, Southampton, UK
SeaWork UK 2023


The 24th edition of Europe’s largest on-water commercial marine and workboat exhibition, is a proven platform to build business networks. Delivering an international audience of visitors supported by our trusted partners, Seawork is the meeting place for the commercial marine and workboat sector. 

Seawork encompasses 12,000m2 of undercover halls featuring 600 exhibitors and over 70 vessels and items of floating plant & equipment on the quayside and pontoons

Features include:

  • The European Commercial Marine Awards (ECMAs) and Innovations Showcase.
  • The Conference programme helps visitors to keep up to date with the latest challenges and emerging opportunities.
  • The Careers & Training Day on Thursday 15 June 2023 delivers a programme focused on careers in the commercial marine industry.
  • Speed@Seawork on Monday 12 June at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes offers a sector specific event for fast vessels operating at high speed for security interventions and Search & Rescue.

For more information and to register to attend see:

2023 Dates & Times
09:30 - 17:30 Tuesday 13 June 2023
09:30 - 17:30 Wednesday 14 June 2023
09:30 - 16:00 Thursday 15 June 2023

Exhibition Address
Mayflower Park
SO14 2AN, United Kingdom


Commercial Marine Sales Team:
Tel: +44 1329 825 335
  Exhibition Manager:  Fay Reeve
  Tel: +44 1329 825 335
  Press, PR & Social Media Team:
  Tel: +44 1329 825 335

MILLAN PICAZO AUDITORIUM - Paseo de la Conferencia s/n 11207 Algeciras
port of algeciras spain

11th Biennial European Harbour Masters' Committee (EHMC) Seminar

EHMC Seminar

Over the next few years, new IMO and EU legislation will impact the current fleet of ships, but just over 95% of this fleet will transition to alternative fuels only after the ship's lifespan. nevertheless, legislation will oblige them to cut emissions while at the same time, new fuels will soon become available for the leaders of the future fleet.

This will be the subject for the next EHMC seminar which will take place on 4 and 5 May 2023 - the fuel transition phase and avoiding a gap between obligations on ships and what ports can offer them.

Host Port

The seminar is hosted by Algeciras Port Authority, which is leading the green transition in southern Europe.


The Port of Algeciras, Millán Picazo Center, 11207 Algeciras, Spain


Registration is now open and can be done via the link below.


IMO: International legislation and incentives for voluntairy action;

EC: Legal EU requirements for ships and ports;

DNV: Energy Transition Outlook / Maritime forecast to 2050;

Caterpillar Marine: Ship owners choices for new ships and engines;

Availability of new fuels: production and trade;

Fuel Readiness Level: International tool to measure how ready ports and harbourmasters are for alternatively fueled vessels and bunkering;

The green strategies from the ports of Algeciras and Rotterdam;


A discount rate is offered by hotel Globales Reina Cristina, a 7-minute walk from the venue. The hotel has sufficient parking place for those who rent a car at f.i. the Malaga airport. Registration via Discount code: Master 26790 – Autoridad Portuaria.

TT Club Webinar - Port and terminal risks: single person incidents

TT Club’s Loss Prevention team is pleased to invite readers to join a webinar  discussion on single person incidents including slips, trips and falls. ( )

Single person incidents make up 5% of TT’s port and terminal claims. This may seem like a small percentage, but it is the sixth most common claim seen and a single injury claim has the potential to be extremely costly.

According to TT’s claims data, 94% of bodily injury claims in the ports and terminals the Club insures are caused by operational human factors. This means that implementing procedures to reduce human error could drastically reduce these types of claims, which is what TT Club will be covering in its upcoming webinar.

During the session the following topics will be covered:

  • TT Club claims statistics
  • Identifying poor practices
  • Risk assessment
  • Incident prevention
  • Behaviours
  • Training

Guest speakers

Laurence Jones

Risk assessment director  TT Club

Laurence’s role in the TT Club covers advice and support in underwriting decisions and claims assessment, he works proactively with clients and industry to identify areas where risks may be reduced. Laurence is based in Sydney and travels to TT Club global offices and client sites on a regular basis. He is Deputy Chair of ICHCA International.

Richard Steele

Chief Executive Officer, ICHCA International

Richard is a safety and skills professional with a Masters in Training and Development who has been involved in the ports industry for 21 years. Prior to ports, Richard worked in the nuclear industry on safety and skills provision. Richard was the Learning and Development manager for Associated British Ports for 10 years and has led Port Skills and Safety for 11 years. He was appointed CEO of ICHCA in July 2021.

Mike Yarwood

Managing Director Loss Prevention, TT Club

Mike joined TT Club in 2010 as a Claims Executive providing advice to transport operator Members globally, having previously held operation management roles within the logistics industry for 13 years. Mike is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Logistics and Transport, a Technical Specialist Member of the Institute of Risk Management and a Member of the Chartered Insurance Institute.


For further information and to register, readers are invited to see here:,7ZV8G,8TBRJW,WP8MU,1

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IHMA is pleased to introduce its newest Commercial members Xanatos Marine

Build inspiration in the transport and logistic industry by sharing excellence!