Educate governments and investors about industry achievements

Conferences, Seminars, Forums, Environment, Flags, Politics and Government — By on June 3, 2014 at 8:33 PM
Clay Maitland

Clay Maitland

Educate governments and investors about industry achievements  — Clay Maitland speaking at Capital Link Shipping Forum  event at Posidonia,  by James Brewer

One of the shipping’s most experienced practitioners has urged the industry to help educate politicians and financial lenders to recognise its ‘green’ achievements and the challenges it faces.

Clay Maitland, managing partner at International Registries Inc, was speaking during the first session of the 4th Posidonia Analyst & Investor Day Capital Link Shipping Forum.  The session was entitled Sustainability and the Changing Face of the Shipping Industry.

He said that many people think that sustainability simply means making a profit. “That is part of it. It is also concerned wth the environment.” Recalling that the first Posidonia he attended was more than 30 years ago, he said: “If you had talked about sustainability in 1976, no-one would have known what you were talking about.”

Mr Maitland defined sustainability as the ability to carry on a business, with government support, with the support of regulators, with counter-parties, with the public and with those who work alongside you, particularly your seafarers… and finally with your lenders, the financial community.

He declared: “The Greek shipping community is every bit as vibrant as in 1976 — even more so. It is very dynamic, forward-looking and it is growing, but the fundng for the Greek shipowner today is very different.” He said that in 1976 very few banks had a good idea of what it took to run a ship. “Today, that is less and less the case.” Factors such as the Erica casualty and the role of the European Union had made it more expensive to run a ship. Ballast water management, and emissions considerations had come on the scene, but some investors still did not know about them, and that was “a bit alarming” because shipping is a much more expensive business than in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr Maitland said: “Sustainability carries with it a price, and it is very important to remember that the Greek shipping industry has been strong for 2, 000 years because they know how to make money. They can factor in the cost of operation. Greek shipping has always prospered because it can do that. The problem we have is to bring our lenders, our financial community, along with us.

“Although the Greek shipping industry will be resilient, we need to educate the new people in the industry who do not recognise that we are in an entirely new climate.”

Greece was probably the pre-eminent shipping country in the world, and there were major implications for its shipping community in terms of relationships with Brussels “that go far beyond what you read in the newspapers. to the extent that it will fundamentally affect the ability of the government and the owners to run their own ships in a sustainable way.” He asked his audience to remember that marine environmentalism “began here” with the creation of Helmepa, and subsequently Namepa. “The shipping industry is very environmentally committed. The majority of owners have done a great deal for cleaner seas, and that message has to be spread around to Brussels.”

Mr Maitland said that “Brussels’ heart is in the right place, but we also need to make sure our regulators learn a great deal more about what [owners] do for the shipping industry.”

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