Organised in partnership by the Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry, the Cyprus Shipping Chamber, and the Cyprus Union of Shipowners, this year’s conference was themed “Sea Change” with panels addressing a range of key themes in the industry including regulatory measures, protection of the environment and how technology affects the education and training needs of seafarers.
President Nicos Anastasiades who presented the opening address announced the introduction of a revised and more simplified pricing policy which includes the abolishment of the initial registration fees for ocean-going vessels and highlighted that initiatives undertaken by the Deputy Shipping Ministry which was established in 2018, have already led to an increase to the revenues from shipmanagement companies as well as to the gross tonnage of the Cyprus ship register.
The theme of the first panel discussion titled ‘Regulatory measures: a product of necessity or pressure” had H.E. Violeta Bulc, Commissioner for Transport, European Commission, addressing the conference via video link, where she highlighted the collaborative efforts achieved over the past five years to make maritime transport safer, cleaner and more connected. Views were presented on the importance of cooperation throughout the shipping industry, and the adoption of technology to increase productivity. It was widely agreed that the emissions impact of shipping has put a pressure to take actions and that regional regulations would not be effective, as shipping is a global activity and as such; it requires global measures.
Deputy Shipping Minister Natasa Pilides, in an interview that followed the first panel, highlighted the potential of blue growth, the importance of diversity and inclusion, and the prospects for digitalisation. She also highlighted the efforts undertaken towards a safer, greener, smarter and more inclusive shipping industry.
The second session of the first day concentrated on the issue of ‘Shipowners: The new landscape’. The discussion focused on emissions, the importance of shipping to Europe, freight markets and public shipping companies. Views were expressed that speed reduction would achieve emissions reduction immediately. It was further noted that we should learn from the technologies adopted in other industries.
The third panel of the first day explored the theme ‘Are there brighter days ahead for Shipping?’. It was suggested that decarbonisation and digitalisation are shipping’s key drivers. The shipowners’ widespread commitment to improving the industry’s impact on the environment was duly noted while the importance of the human factor and attracting talent were also emphasised.
The second day of the conference began with a panel discussion on the theme “Is competitiveness the price of environmental protection?”. The panelists suggested that environmental protection represents not only a challenge but also an opportunity to drive innovation. LNG’s features to meeting future environmental targets was discussed, while the panel concluded that consumer power will drive environmental change; and its influence is building quickly and aggressively.
The second panel of the second day was titled ‘Managing Change: Disruption or destruction?’. The importance of the human element was underlined, with acknowledgement that diversity and inclusion will be central to adapting to the challenges ahead. The panel shared the view that education of the younger generation is the starting point to ensuring the opportunities in shipping.
The final session of the day was an interactive one called ‘Register your Voice’ which provided young people with a platform to discuss their vision for the maritime industry, blue growth goals, career prospects and concerns, and to determine potential solutions to challenging issues.
On the last day, deliberations began with a panel discussion on ‘Seafarer to e-farer’ where the panel discussed how technology affects the education and training needs of seafarers and they stressed the need for continuous adaptation. Seafarers must have specialised training in all disciplines so that they are adaptive. And irrespective of the advancement of technology, the human factor and the sea experience remain as vital elements in shipping, they outlined.
The final session of the successful conference addressed ‘Raising finance: a whole new ball game’ which questioned the impact of ownership structures and considered the particular challenges for smaller shipowners.
Conference Chairman and permanent secretary at the Deputy Shipping Ministry Costas Iacovou, offered the concluding remarks to the conferences thanking all the delegates, participants and high calibre speakers, panellists and moderators as well as the conference sponsors and co-organisers, the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and the Cyprus Union of Shipowner and as the shipping industry often does, looked ahead and to the next Maritime Conference, set to be held in 2021.