With an estimated 100 merchant vessels under blockade in Ukrainian ports, it was time for reflection as INTERCARGO members, Executive Committee and Technical Committee met at the Association’s spring semi-annual events, held in London last week.
The meetings were presided over by Chairman Dimitris Fafalios, Vice Chairman Spyros Tarasis, Vice Chairman Uttam Kumar Jaiswal, and Technical Committee Chairman Tom Keenan. Members had the opportunity to meet both face to face and virtually. Dimitrios Fafalios said: “During our meeting today, we could not help but be aware that the vast majority of the ships trapped off Ukraine are bulk carriers carrying essential cargoes, such as grains and coal required to meet energy needs. “We know that there are also many seafarers unable to be with their loved ones at the centre of the conflict or facing yet more crew change issues due to the impact of sanctions. It is doubly unjust for the seafaring community that this situation should come so hard on the heels of the pandemic, a time when our crews were tested to the full and are still only recovering from the hardships endured.”
The Executive Committee discussed concerns raised by members both for the wellbeing of seafarers - Ukrainian and Russian – and for the very serious challenges facing operators and managers. Dimitrios Fafalios confirmed INTERCARGO’s commitment to joint industry initiatives, such as the Industry Task Force, established earlier this year.
Concerns were raised that the situation in Ukraine had pushed COVID off the industry agenda and that seafarers worldwide were still facing major issues with crew change, port entry and changing vaccination requirements. The Association continues to maintain dialogue with governments at the highest level to keep the situation top of the agenda for national governments.
Together in Safety & ESG
INTERCARGO reiterated its support for the Together in Safety initiative, developed by a coalition of likeminded top level shipping associations. Safety in the bulk carrier sector continues to be a priority for the Association as it strives to keep issues such as cargo liquefaction, the fuel oil sulphur limit and vessel design and construction, high on the industry’s agenda. Secretary General Kostas Gkonis said that “safety is a key component and driver of the ESG framework, a topic we have been looking into with great attention”.
The issue of GHG emissions was once again at the centre of discussions, with the operational challenges associated with the IMO roadmap, paths to compliance and the industry’s decarbonisation ambitions for 2050 featuring as key topics for debate. The meeting highlighted the need for an acceleration in the commercial development and availability of relevant technologies, fuels, propulsion systems and related infrastructure to meet these aspirations. Delegates agreed to support the IMO in its efforts to urge governments to adopt the necessary measures to accelerate R&D of zero-carbon technologies and expedite their deployment.
At the session members were encouraged to debate key issues affecting their daily operations. The secretariat provided updates on developments with DryBMS – a quality standard for the dry bulk sector, casualty and incident reporting, and the dry bulk market outlook, while the agenda also included the latest developments on piracy and cyber security issues, as well as on ship recycling. The Association will hold its next semi-annual meetings in October 2022.