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Past, President & future

IHMA Member Highlight - Paul O'Regan

“My parents knew that if I went fishing, I’d not experience much of the world. It’s a way of life and you have to give everything to it. You don’t get many days of annual leave a year and must work to the weather as they say. They said, ‘If you want to go down that road, that’s fine, but go off and get some qualifications first’. After I’d finished school, they encouraged me to do Nautical Science – the first step towards a cadetship in Ireland.”

Not gone fishing

During his cadetship, Paul worked with OOCL in the Far East and North Atlantic and once qualified, he spent a few years offshore, working on tugs and other vessels.

“When I finished, my intention was always to go back and go fishing, but I was enjoying what I was doing,” he says.

On his return to Ireland, therefore, Paul took a job with Irish Ferries, first as a Training Officer, then as a Relief Master. At just 27 years of age, he’d covered a lot of ground in a short space of time. Eventually, a pilot position became available in the Port of Cork – a prized role.

“I did this for three years. This was unusual; usually if you land a pilot’s position, you keep it for life. But a competition opened up for Deputy Harbour Master in the port, so I applied and was lucky enough to get the role.”  

First contact

It was in this role, in 2012, that Paul first encountered the IHMA.

“My predecessor as Harbour Master in Cork, Pat Farnan, was a founding member of the IHMA. I developed a strong interest and went to a number of meetings around Europe when Pat was unable to attend. I found myself missing a council meeting one day and the next day I discovered I was on the council!”

“I always found the association a valuable form of collaboration and discussion. Back then, most of the members were older than me, but that didn’t matter; there was a feeling of ‘if you’re a Harbour Master, you’re a Harbour Master’. It didn’t matter what age you were, or what gender, it’s the profession you’re supporting,” he explains.

Any storm in a port

Such support, he says, is of vital importance, given the often solitary nature of the Harbour Master’s role.

Paul

“Many Harbour Masters draw the parallel of a Captain on a ship. In a lot of cases, the final decision will rest at your door. You’ll make your decisions based on the information you have, and with the best intentions of your port at heart, but if something goes wrong, you’ll be called out for it.

“You don’t have two or three Harbour Masters in a port, normally only one or a Chief Harbour Master in large ports with bigger teams. Therefore, a global network, and the opportunity to reach out to people in similar positions is very useful. You have access to colleagues experiencing the same challenges and the same pressure when making decisions. There’s a good chance that the situation you are facing will have happened to someone else in the past. The experience of other Harbour Masters gives you the insight to deal with a very diverse range of issues in a port and stops you from making fundamental mistakes. It gives a lot of confidence in tackling challenges.”

Succession

Given the amount of value he clearly places on the association, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Paul went on to become President of the IHMA. He didn’t, however, have the intention to do so initially.

“I didn’t have the ambition to become President,” he states. “A lot of founding members were coming up to retirement age, so that created the opportunity. I’d been on the Executive Council for several years and knew all the members and had their support. I also got a lot of support from the Port of Cork CEO & team– I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Paul believes that the role of President includes working towards the success of the organisation, not just today, but for the future. With that in mind, he has developed a vision for how he would like to leave the association when the time comes to hand over the reins to a successor.

“IHMA came about when a group of like-minded Harbour Masters who understood the value of shared knowledge and experience came together to support one another. The result was a global network, not just of colleagues, but of friends.

“There’s a sense at the present time that we are entering a new generation. A number of founding members have retired, and their successors are now in position. Harbour Masters don’t tend to move on from their roles very quickly. One of the legacies I would like to leave, therefore, is a succession of Harbour Masters who have become both colleagues and friends for the coming years.”

Reaching out

One way he has gone about this has been to implement a broader approach to communications, both internally and externally, to promote the association and what it is doing. This includes increased activity on social media and the trade press, engaging with members and potential members around the world.

“The idea is, when Harbour Masters step into a room together, for example in Tangier in 2024, they will know each other and the ports they work in. It makes collaboration easier.”

He believes this focus on good communication can be of benefit, not only to the Harbour Masters in the association, but also to the Commercial Membership.

“Ports cannot work without good service industry support, whether it’s technology, equipment, expertise or advice. IHMA has done a good job of maintaining a network of commercial members. It doesn’t matter where the port is, the number of suppliers in our industry is not huge and we frequently end up working with the same suppliers. A lot of the value lies in understanding what the supplier can bring to the port and the port needs from the supplier, shared experiences can assist in making sound decisions.”

Expert practitioners in action

Another legacy Paul wants to ensure is the continued relationships that the IHMA has with industry bodies such as the IALA, IAPH and IMO, especially as the industry undergoes the changes that it is currently faced with.

“IHMA is very well regarded as a not for profit organisation which can contribute to topics such as safety and sustainability. IHMA has within its membership expert practitioners who understand what implications proposed legislation has for a port. The expertise of a Harbour Master is taken as a valuable contribution for forming guidelines and regulations. After all, it will be down to the Harbour Master and their teams to manage things when they come into force.”

Next gen network of global inclusivity

Paul is also keen to safeguard the association’s approach to inclusivity, seeing this as a vehicle for increased relevance internationally in the future.

“The IHMA has always been a very inclusive organisation and we want to make sure it continues on this track. The addition of the African Harbour Masters Committee in 2021 was fantastic. Recently, we had the first member from Vietnam joining and more new members from South America, where membership is currently underrepresented.”

Paul concludes, “These are all positive steps towards bringing the next generation of Harbour Masters together in a structure that can support them in their roles. We need a level of engagement from all members that will get the network moving and I think we have that.”

paul o'regan
Pictured: Paul visiting his former primary school in Castletownbere, Co. Cork, Ireland.

 

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The International Harbour Masters Association (IHMA) is pleased to announce this year’s award winners, celebrated at the 14th IHMA Congress in May.

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Brought to you by OceanWise and Brewzone Africa - Join the first Charting Water Workshop entitled “Harnessing Environmental Data for Hydrography" which is running on the 15th - 16th April 2024 at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel Lagos, Nigeria.

Bringing hydrography professionals together from all over West Africa, this intimate 2-day workshop will provide you with practical knowledge, guidance and best practice. You will enjoy a mix of presentations, round table discussions and training. Our expert speakers will guide you through the latest developments, technologies and methodologies used in hydrography, helping you understand the importance of accurate marine environmental monitoring data to support marine operations and national infrastructure. We will also have a number of key real-world case studies and local experts in attendance to provide some best practice and recent hands-on experiences.

Full details of the developing programme and registration can be found here on our Eventbrite page

Registration is now open. Spaces are limited so please register now to secure your place.

What will it cover?
This workshop will provide you with practical knowledge, guidance and best practice. You will enjoy a mix of presentations, round table discussions and training. Our expert speakers will guide you through the latest developments, technologies and methodologies used in hydrography, helping you understand the importance of accurate marine environmental monitoring data to support marine operations and national infrastructure.

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This is for professionals with an interest in Hydrography based in, or working in, West Africa.
Ideal for individuals from a variety of industries including Ports, Harbours, Inland Waterways, Oil and Gas, Education, Navy, Maritime Authorities, Research and Development etc etc
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Harbour Master & Towgae Conference

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Navtech Conference, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Navtech Conference 2023

Attention deep water and ocean towing masters, pilots, fleet management administrators, regulators and navigation operations professionals!

Join us in Fort Lauderdale for the maritime industry’s premier annual navigation forum!

Navtech, 5th and 6th December 2023, Hollywood Beach Marriott, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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Tanger Med Port Centre, Morocco
IHMA Congress 2024

Join us on a marine adventure in Morocco. The 14th International Harbour Master Congress will take place at Tanger Med Port Centre from 21-24 May 2024. This year’s theme is The Marine Adventure – Evolving and Adapting to Change in Today’s Ports. You are welcome to come along for three days of presentations, deliberations and discussions covering every step of the port call process. On the fourth day, you can enjoy a guided tour of the Port of Tranger Med. To learn more, or to register for the event, please visit the IHMA Congress Website.

 

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

CONTAINER TRAFFIC: SURPASSING TEH 8 MILLION MARK

In 2023, Tanger Med Port processed 8,617,410 TEUs*, marking a growth of 13.4% compared to 2022. This remarkable achievement, equivalent to 95% of the port's nominal capacity, was accomplished 4 years ahead of targets.

The outstanding performance is attributed to the successful operations of terminals TC1 and TC4, managed by Maersk-APM, and the continuous development of terminal TC3, operated by Tanger Alliance (A joint venture owned by Marsa Maroc with a 50% stake, in partnership with Eurogate holding 40% and Hapag Lloyd holding 10%). Additionally, 2023 witnessed record productivity levels, surpassing monthly peaks of 800,000 TEUs handled.

RO-RO TRAFFIC ON THE RISE
In 2023, 477,993 trucks were processed, representing a 4.1% increase from 2022. Industrial product traffic saw a significant surge of 14.3% compared to the previous year, offsetting a 7.7% decrease in agribusiness product traffic.

INCREASE IN NEW VEHICLE TRAFFIC
The two vehicle terminals in the port complex handled 578,446 vehicles in 2023, reflecting a 21% increase from 2022. This traffic primarily includes 341,758 vehicles for export, produced by Renault factories in Melloussa and SOMACA in Casablanca, along with 176,208 vehicles exported by the Stellantis plant in Kénitra.

RISE IN SOLID AND LIQUID BULK TRAFFIC
Liquid bulk traffic experienced a 6% growth compared to 2022, a total of 9,838,157 tons of handled hydrocarbons. Simultaneously, solid bulk traffic witnessed a 44% increase from the previous year, totalling 581,042 tons processed.

PASSENGER TRAFFIC: RETURN TO NORMAL
In 2023, Tanger Med Port Complex welcomed 2,700,747 passengers, marking a 30% growth from 2022. This traffic has returned to pre-COVID-19 crisis levels.

GLOBAL TONNAGE: SUBSTANTIAL GROWTH
Tanger Med Port Complex handled 122 million tons of goods in 2023, reflecting a 13.6% increase from 2022, with 21% in Import/Export. This recorded global traffic is highest at the Strait of Gibraltar and across the Mediterranean. This traffic also represents more than half of the total tonnage handled by all ports in Morocco.

MARITIME TRAFFIC ON THE RISE
In 2023, a total of 16,900 ships called at Tanger Med Port Complex, marking a 17% growth from 2022, including 1,113 mega-ships (over 290 meters), representing a 16% increase from the previous year.

These results underscore the relevance of the vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI for this strategic project.
Tanger Med remains firmly focused on the future, ready to face new challenges and strengthen its position as a major logistics hub in Morocco and the Euro-Mediterranean region.

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AMPI

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.

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Latest News & Events

18 June 2024

The International Harbour Masters Association (IHMA) is pleased to announce this year’s award winners, celebrated at the 14th IHMA Congress in May.

The key theme of the 2024 event was The Marine Adventure – Evolving and adapting to change in today’s ports. Tanger Med Port Authority hosted the congress at the Tanger Med Port Center.

Steve Rushbrook never predicted he would become a Harbour Master, let alone in one of the southernmost ports in the world. His career pathway to becoming a Harbour Master for New Zealand’s Otago Regional Council shows what is possible for those with less conventional backgrounds.