Q1 What are the major developments and highlights for NAMEPA over the course of the last 12-18 months?

Inevitably, we face challenges in the industry at large, but what NAMEPA seeks to do more than anything else, is to make honest actions for the maritime industry towards raising general understanding of the importance of the marine environment. With effect from July, I am taking over as a Chairman of NAMEPA from the incomparable Clay Maitland, who along with Carleen Lyden-Kluss (who remains executive director) originally founded NAMEPA nearly 10 years ago. I have very big shoes to fill. NAMEPA has made an enormous contribution to the world of marine environmental protection over the last ten years and I should try to bring the torch forward bearing in mind the enormous amount of whether it’s been done in the past. Once I take over, there will be much business as usual, but I hope to be able to make even further progress over the years.

Q2 What are currently the biggest safety/environmental challenges in shipping? Is there an incentive to enhance safety/ environmental performance onboard and ashore? Which best practices you would recommend from your perspective?

Obviously from a regulatory point of view, there are a slew of new regulations that coming into effect in the relatively near future. The interest of politicians and regulators generally in issues of maritime operations has increased dramatically in recent years. I entered this business nearly 40 years ago, in the late 1970’s. In that time there was obviously a degree of regulation concerning, marine environment protection and so on, but nothing like on the scale that we have now. And that is not only in global terms, but also in relation to what the Europeans are doing somewhat independently. Sometimes people think of what IMO is doing and of course the legislation and other regulation that goes on the Unites States in parallel.

Therefore, I think the greatest challenges are keeping up with the changes and the demands that are made on ship owners with regard to environmental protection through these new regulations and laws and also in parallel with that, making absolutely certain as a matter of operation of ships, that your crew and your shore side staff are completely on side when it comes to buying in and being very much part of the loss prevention and good risk management practices that are undoubtedly necessary now to a degree that is far greater than it was in the past.

Regulation will continue to grow and the fact that responsive ship owners are making sure that proper safety culture is maintained all times, is equally important on the other side of the equation.

Q3 This year, IMO World Maritime Day theme is "Shipping: indispensable to the world". What could we do towards sustainable shipping? How your organization may contribute to a more sustainable future for the shipping?

Shipping is utterly indispensable to the world. There was a book written a couple of years ago, called “90% of everything” which referred to the invisible industry that puts the shirt on your bag, the food on your table and the gas link in your car. Unfortunately we are something of the invisible industry (as the title of the book implied) to the rest of the world at large but it is vitally important to keep the whole level of civilization that we are used to in our world these days, actually running in the way that it is intended to run.

From the point of view of the environment and the marine environment, shipping more than anything else represents everyone involved in shipping. Those should regard themselves as the principal stakeholders of the global maritime environment. I said that for two reasons. Firstly because as human beings and the inhabitants of this planet,  we are all very relying to keep a healthy ocean environment which affects the ecosystem of the entire planet. Secondly, in conjunction with that, as people involved in the shipping industry, the oceans of the world are the pathways to our prosperity. We have a very special responsibility to maintain high environmental standards and ensure that the marine environment is globally kept in a very fine and pristine condition.

Q4 What is the main message for Posidonia this year?

I’m encouraged by Posidonia this year, very much as I detect a sense of greater optimism now about how the shipping industry may develop over the forthcoming years. I think we are probably at the bottom of the worst of the cycle as we have seen it since 2008. People are getting a little bit more rapid; I think they want to see that it may be light at the end of the tunnel and in parallel with that, of course, everybody is very conscious of. We need to ensure that everything of the shipping industry, in terms with the profile within the global economy and the global public perception, is maintained at the very high level that is needed to have in order to secure a very prosperous future for it. Shipping is never going to go away. If two thirds or more of the surface of the earth is covered by ocean, it is just inevitable; it is just the simple truth that shipping will be always with us. Greece will always be at the forefront of it. There will be cycles, but we must work together, which is obviously NAMEPA’s main purpose; to ensure that we preserve the environment and the process of doing so.

Above text is an edited article of Joe Hughes, CEO, The American P&I Club/NAMEPA video interview at Posidonia 2016, June 6-10, Metropolitan Expo, Athens

You may view his video interview by clicking here

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of  SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion  purposes only.

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