Transas’ Frank Coles slams regulation’s stifling effect on technology uptake while Tototheo’s Andreas Chrysostomou questions its fragmented nature.
Lloyd’s List SMM Business Briefing raises regulatory concerns as industry focuses on the fragmented take-up of technology and dated approach to tackling industry issues.
ADOPTION of technology in maritime is being held back by regulation which is failing to set clear standards and has led to a fragmented and often ineffective results, an industry audience heard at the Lloyd’s List SMM Business briefing held in Hamburg on Thursday.
Genuine efficiencies through technology necessitate a complete reexamination of the current model and require discussions on standardisation, according to the outspoken critic of the current regulatory regime Transas chief executive Frank Coles, who warned that these will take time to achieve.
Speaking during the panel debate focussed on technology and efficieny in shipping, the Transas chief highlighted loose specifications around the mandatory use of ECDIS as an example of flawed approach which has generated numerous vendors and individual systems that do not allow crew to become properly familiar with the technology from ship to ship.
“You cannot keep laying technology on top of all business process. You cannot keep sticking equipment on board not training [crew] to use it properly, not supporting the provision of the equipment without changing the business model or without changing the attitude. And it really starts in the grassroots in my view. And by that I mean it starts with how we regulate and what requirements we put around the regulation,” he said.
Mr Coles’ damning assessment was met by a strong defence of the International Maritime Organization by Tototheo Maritime chief strategy officer, and former IMO committee chairman, Andreas Chrysostomou.
“There is no way you can live without regulation. Self-regulation is pie in the sky,” he said.
But Mr Chrysostomou did not hold back from venting his frustration at the nature of regulation-making, claiming that the process is stuck in 1948, by setting goal based standards.
“They have done that and the equipment manufacturers could not deliver. A good example is my favourite convention, the Ballast Water Management Convention,” he said.
Despite first being adopted in 2004, and ratified twelve years later, the BWMC has been plagued by complaints that the ballast water management systems are not good enough. The IMO issued a two year reprieve of the implementation of the convention for the existing fleet in 2017.
Unlike frequent critics of the IMO, such as Mr Coles, Mr Chrysostomou has direct lineage to the organisation; he represented Cyprus at the IMO, served as chairman of the Marine Environment Protection Committee and was nominated for IMO secretary general.
And while Mr Chrysostomou acknowledged the industry faces too much regulation, the more concerning aspect as far as he is concerned is the confused nature of the approach between regulations.
While safety rules fall under one convention, International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, environmental regulations are scattered across multiple ones such as MARPOL for emissions, the Ballast Water Management Convention and the anti- fouling convention.
Mr Chrysostomou said that regulation today is crafted in isolation producing contradictory results; rules targeting nitrogen and sulphur oxide reduction can exacerbate carbon emissions, a concern shared by some in the industry.