As news headlines underscore the quality and flexibility of the bulk sector fleet in meeting the challenges of current trade disruptions, Dimitris Fafalios, Chairman of INTERCARGO believes that now is the time to re-evaluate the image of the bulk carrier sector and recognise the commitment of INTERCARGO members to a safe, efficient, high quality and environmentally sound dry bulk shipping industry.
Bulk carriers employ hundreds of thousands of seafarers and carry more cargo deadweight to more diverse ports than any other shipping sector. They deliver essential goods even to the most isolated and distant ports and adapt their tramp trading patterns as demand dictates.
Speaking at the organisation's semi-annual meetings in London last week, Fafalios highlighted the importance of seafarers in the supply chain, and the role that they play in easing the strain on world trade. "This is a complex global issue but there is no doubt that we are relying on properly vaccinated, mentally and physically fit seafarers to contribute to the solution.
"Universal commitments for collective action are imperative to resolve the seafarers' humanitarian crisis and to keep global trade moving," Fafalios said. "Coordinating a worldwide vaccination programme for seafarers is an urgent priority. While the efforts of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and global maritime bodies must permeate every area of the shipping industry, urgent action outside the maritime sphere is needed by government leaders at the highest level, ultimately leading to the recognition of seafarers as key workers. We must hope that the global press coverage that we are seeing will facilitate that."
INTERCARGO's Annual General Meeting, Executive Committee and Technical Committee met both virtually and in person in London over two days, with the meetings presided over by Chairman Dimitris Fafalios, Vice Chairman Spyros Tarasis, Vice Chairman Uttam Kumar Jaiswal, and Technical Committee Chairman Tom Keenan.
Top of the agenda was the need to urgently resolve the humanitarian crisis faced by seafarers under COVID-19. Issues debated also included initiatives for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the ESG agenda; the implementation progress of DryBMS as the quality standard for the dry bulk sector; the safe carriage of cargoes; bulk carrier design standards; the investigation of bulk carrier casualties; ballast water management; implications of the sulphur limit on fuels; and piracy threats.