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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

POINTS OF VIEW

Too many of the outside influences on the shipping industry are based on perceived public opinion and on perceived political advantage, said Pandy Embiricos, Chairman of the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee (GSCC) at a lunch this week in London in honour of Manolis Kefaloyannis, Greek Minister of Merchant Marine. “Decisions must be taken for sound reasons, not for political considerations,” he said.

But he added that we should see a new leaf turned over now with Malta and Cyprus joining the EU and with a wave of new faces later this year at the top of the European Commission.

He praised the strong actions from the EU and from the IMO that have helped progress to obtain the release of the crew of the Tasman Spirit and the Tsavliris salvage crew from Pakistan. But he urged everyone not to forget Captain Mangouras, who is still detained in Spain more than 18 months after the Prestige disaster. “It is extraordinary that Spain behaves like this to an elderly and innocent seafarer,” he said, urging the shipping industry to raise its voice in support of Mangouras and against the criminalisation of seafarers (usually due to political expediency), and emphasising the damage that such treatment causes to recruitment.

In addition he asked those involved with the issue of double hulls for bulk carriers during the MSC78 discussions at the IMO this week and next to bear in mind that they are deciding on the design of bulk carriers for the future. “If a mistake is made, future bulkers will all be built to a faulty design.” He stressed that while moves are being made on this front with the best of intentions, they are largely based on theory and not on practical considerations. Some double-hulled bulkers (presumably the smaller sizes) could end up with a double hull less than one metre wide, he said. This space is not wide enough for inspections and, with routine damage to coatings, will experience corrosion over time which could lead to catastrophic failure. “Please be careful,” he urged, “or you will be condemning bulker transportation for years to come.”

He also stressed that the GSCC Council does not support revisions to the CLC oil spill compensation regime that the oil companies have been pressing for. These include increasing shipowner contribution limits and making it more difficult for shipowners to limit their liability. What is available to the injured party has already been increased and will not be increased any more, he added. The balance between the amount paid by the shipowners and that paid by the oil companies is said to have been disturbed, he went on, suggesting that the balance of payments by oil companies and shipowners could be ‘put right’ by voluntary agreements without revising CLC.

Contact: Bill Box