05 June 2018

Shipping industry fights back on over-zealous eco-regulations

Major shipping companies complain they are legislative guinea-pigs unfairly targeted for over-zealous eco-regulations.

Major shipping leaders, including BIMCO, ECSA, Intertanko and Intercargo, took their fight to regulators over what they see as a regulatory zeal in Europe at the Posidonia 2018 biennial industry conference. A flurry of new rules, including the 2020 sulphur cap and the ballast water management convention, were cited as evidence for unfair targeting of the shipping industry. Industry leaders affirmed their regulatory commitments, but set out their complaints in front of International Maritime Organization (IMO) secretary-general Kitack Lim and the EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc.

Legislative guinea pigs
Intertanko chairman Nikos Tsakos said ‘I believe that shipowners have been guinea pigs for a very long period of time for all sorts of experimental legislation.’ Ecsa chairman Panos Laskaridis chimed in, ‘because of the competitiveness of European fleet and importance of environmental issues we want to ask European politicians to stop denigrating shipping, to stop pointing fingers at shipping and to stand behind shipping, support shipping because after all, it is Europe’s most important international asset.’ In defence, Ms Bulc said, ‘we have a responsibility to make sure that our shipping sector remains safe, sustainable, competitive that offers many good jobs both on-board and onshore. The EU is your partner all the way.’

Disproportionate responsibility
Citing the importance of shipping for global welfare, Theodore Veniamis, President of the Union of Greek Shipowners, stated ‘It is important that this is recognised by societies and lawmakers alike, as shipping is often held disproportionately responsible for meeting environmental standards compared to other industries.’ He explained shipowners ‘have no say in the manufacturing of the ships’ engines, nor are we responsible for the quality of the fuels that we have to use. It is obvious that, while the links in the chain of responsibility are many, it has so far proved to be more expedient, at a political level, to solely focus on shipowners, a choice that is misguided and practically ineffective in the end.’