Regulations and e-shipping are part of a new shipping environment
Andreas Chrysostomou, Acting Director of the Department of Merchant Shipping said that the government has already started the implementation of a study for the future of shipping in Cyprus, commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and Communications to enhance the competitiveness of the maritime sector. He said that the political will exists to develop and strengthen the role of Cyprus shipping in the international maritime scene at a more rapid pace.
He said that the second day of the Maritime Cyprus Conference in Limassol focused on “The New Shipping Environment” and how international bodies and new technologies impact the shipping industry
Tuesday’s second session examined some of the factors that influence the regulatory decisions in international shipping and addressed some of the key challenges the shipping industry is facing today in relation to the use of cyber-physical systems on board ships.
The debate was divided into two sessions, the first session focused on the subject “Do shipping people influence decisions?” while the second session focused on “e-Shipping”.
During the first debate, panellists focused on the regulatory decision making process, particularly maritime industry’s influence at the International Maritime Organisation and the European Union.
The panellists agreed that maritime industry can be influential in some cases depending on the nature of the debate and the political decisions taken, while they expressed concern about some of the environmental decisions taken in relation to shipping during the past years and questioned the methodology followed in order to reach those decisions.
The panellists further noted that the shipping industry should be proactive in adopting best practices. Additionally, they indicated that coordinated action should be taken to persuade public opinion that the shipping industry attributes great importance to environmental issues.
The discussion on “e-shipping” explored the impact of cyberphysical systems on board ships and how these systems affect navigation, seafarers, safety and security of the vessels.
Panellists indicated that e-shipping should be ‘user needs led’ rather than led by technologists or regulators. Furthermore, the panellists indicated that the success of “e-navigation” will rely heavily upon the proper involvement of all parties concerned and in particular the seafarers throughout its development and implementation.
Some stressed that the aim of “e-shipping” is not to replace the seafarers on board vessels, but to assist seafarers in taking more informative decisions thus making the ships safer and more efficient.
Concluding, the panellists indicated that despite the advanced technological developments, “e-shipping” has not yet matured and further studies are required especially with regards to maintaining the cyber security which is vital for the ship and the port facilities.
The maritime sector will get a facelift by next year, once the maritime strategic policy, drafted by the Ministry of Transport, is implemented in a bid to boost the shipping industry which contributes 7% to the island’s GDP, according to Transport Minister Marios Demetriades said.
The competent minister supervising the Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS) also said that this unit will finally get a new Director General, probably by the end of September, that will not change operations but will make things run smoother.
He said that the aim of the new strategy aims to promote the maritime sector despite the embargo which Turkey has been imposing on Cyprus-flag ships since 1983, ampers the island’s registry which ranks tenth in the world, third in the EU and a leader in ship management.
“There is no doubt that the Turkish embargo has a negative impact on our ship registry but this does not mean that there are no other issues to be tackled and this is what we shall do,” he said.
He added that the policy will include promotion campaigns but also new incentives regarding fees and taxes. Demetriades did not elaborate as these incentives are being assessed by various committees.
He said that as part of the Ministry’s restructuring plan, the DMS will also be overhauled so that it will be in a position to cope with the needs and requirements of the modern maritime industry.
“Quality, flexibility, immediate service and credibility will make up the Department’s new corporate identity,” he said, adding that the DMS will acquire a new website and the Ministry is examining the possibility to serve DMS clients through the internet and smartphones.
He announced that the Ministry will appoint the new DMS Director, a position which has remained vacant since 2012 because of a ban on public sector hiring and promotions due to the financial crisis.
Cyprus Shipping Chamber former Chairman Eugen Adami said that geopolitics are also hampering the global shipping industry, noting that although the shipping industry is not responsible for the geopolitical problems, the embargoes from and to Russia have paralysed trade in the Black Sea.
“We would only hope that geopolitically the world will come to a better balance so that consumption not only for the shipping industry but for the world will pick up and as soon as this happens the cargoes will flow again,” he concluded.