Challenging times ahead says InterManager President in his New Year message

As the curtain falls on 2023 and we sail into a new year, ship managers can look back on some notable successes as we anticipate the challenges ahead in 2024.

Geopolitical unrest has impacted ship operations throughout 2023 and will no doubt continue to be a concern as 2024 dawns. Between us, InterManager members are the largest employers of seafarers and the safety of our crew is of the utmost importance to us. We have supported our seafarers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, piracy, criminalisation, and now we are experiencing attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea area. We cannot emphasize strongly enough that innocent seafarers must be allowed to work in safety as they deliver 90% of world trade.

The safety of future generations is at the heart of global climate change discussions. January 1st sees the launch of the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) which places new responsibilities on ship operators. InterManager engaged in high-level discussions with the EU over the past year to assist regulators in producing an achievable system, even seeking legal advice to ensure the scheme can be realistically enforced on a practical level, and our members have collaborated to identify workable solutions. We expect the first quarter of 2024 to be challenging as the new scheme is established and will be supporting our members and speaking out strongly where problems arise.

Ensuring the wider world understands the complexity of the global shipping industry is increasingly important. InterManager was present at the COP28 climate change talks in Dubai, engaging in discussions and helping to raise awareness of shipping’s role in world trade. The shipping industry must work closely with regulators across the world, including China, the USA, UK etc, to ensure decarbonisation goals are effective and achievable as we strive towards net zero. It is clear that shipping will also play a crucial role in delivering new fuels across the globe and we must engage with international transport officials to facilitate this.

Raising standards in our own sector has been a key target of InterManager this year and I was delighted to unveil our new General Principles of Conduct and Action in London this autumn. I am pleased to see our members embracing this bold move to ensure quality services in a transparent way. Our members are now working on their self assessments and I expect the majority of them to be completed by April.

The importance of ship managers speaking loudly with ‘one voice’ on core issues has never been more important than it is now in this changing world. We look forward to seeing as many of our members as possible at our Annual General Meeting at the IMO’s London headquarters on January 18th. Our meeting will be preceded by a hard-hitting panel debate between leading ship managers and ship owners. This discussion is open to guests – if you would like to attend please contact our Secretary General.

I wish all our members and industry colleagues a Happy Holiday Season. Thank you for your support and we look forward to greater collaboration in 2024.

Mark O’Neil
InterManager President


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