Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers
London & South East Branch

Problems ahead for ship operators

by Richard Scott FICS, member of London & South East Branch Committee, 23 October 2020
Numerous problems facing ship operators in the years ahead are visible, now overlaid by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. An informative discussion and analysis of the various challenges has just been published.
On 1 October the International Chamber of Shipping published its Annual Review 2020, with a cover sub-title of ‘Heroes at Sea’. The Chamber describes itself as the principal global association for shipowners, focusing on regulatory, operational, legal and employment matters. Members are national shipowners’ associations from 37 countries.
(International Chamber of Shipping, 1 October 2020)
According to Esben Poulsson, chairman of the Chamber “it is difficult to exaggerate the challenges facing ship operators, in particular with respect to the health and welfare of ships’ crews”. The difficulty encountered in organising crew rotations has been an intractable aspect of the pandemic.
Beyond the immediate problems for the international shipping industry, which also include piracy in West Africa and migrants in the Mediterranean, longer term issues persist.
In particular, reducing the shipping industry’s CO2 emissions remains a priority aim. A whole section of the Chamber’s latest review is devoted to the topics of accelerating research and development of zero-carbon technologies; IMO carbon emissions measures for the existing world fleet of ships; and the European Union’s proposal to extend the EU emissions trading scheme to international shipping. 
The Annual Review also draws attention to the opening by the International Chamber of Shipping late last year of a new China Liaison Office in Hong Kong. This new venture is initially aimed at increasing mutual cooperation and understanding about longer term global regulatory issues.
Other topics covered which may be of interest to Institute members and students include: an assessment of how the IMO 2020 sulphur cap regime has unfolded and deployment of scrubber technology; implementation of the ballast water convention; and defending the global pollution liability regime.