Today, 24 September, is World Maritime Day.
Today is a day to think about the benefits that ocean shipping has brought to all the peoples of the world, no matter how far they live from the sea.
Many people are surprised, shocked even, when they learn that the ocean shipping industry globally carries about 80 per cent to 90 per cent by volume of world trade.
Here in Australia, being an island nation, that figure is much higher – it’s 95 per cent or more.
So just how does all this trade move about the planet?
… through the labour of seafarers
Today is also a today to think, just for a moment, about the seafarers who bring us our foodstuffs, our medicines and our vital goods.
Seafarers labour in terrible weather conditions. Seafarers labour long hours. Seafarers labour for months upon months at a time without returning to home and family. Seafarers labour while sailing across sometimes brutal and relentless seas. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, many seafarers are trapped at sea and cannot go home.
… through the daily work of a vast invisible industry
A massive, near-invisible, industry labours around the globe in the cold of the Arctic and Antarctic and through the head of the equator, and at every latitude in-between.
Millions of people on the planet are employed in the business of helping ships sail all the seas of Earth. The economic value in jobs, trade and optimal value is colossal. Millions of people would be directly unemployed without the ocean-shipping industry. And all of us would be much poorer.
… through the operation of high-value, technological marvels
Fantastically expensive and technologically-advanced ships criss-cross the great oceans. They take raw materials, part-finished goods, and finished goods to places where they have an optimal value. Yet, at the same time, these fantastically expensive ships, calling at incredibly valuable ports, drive down the cost of goods and the cost of living for ordinary families all around the globe.
Day and night, weekday and weekend, month to month, the shipping industry labours. It is truly an amazing industry.
… through sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet
Amazing though the industry is, vital though the industry is, value-adding though the industry is, ocean shipping rightly recognises the legitimate demands of society that shipping must be sustainable.
This day, Thursday 24 September, on World Maritime Day, the International Maritime Organization declares that the 2020 World Maritime Theme is “Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet“.
IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, has said that “shipping activities must be balanced with Safety of Life at Sea and the long-term health and diversity of the oceans. A major part of IMO’s role is to ensure that shipping continues to make its contribution to the global economy without upsetting nature’s delicate balance”.
Why not visit the IMO’s website to find out more about this year’s theme of Sustainable Shipping?
And, as the IMO says, this year’s theme is also an “excellent opportunity” to raise awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Sustainability and Shipping Australia’s members
There are many sustainability initiatives that are being taken by Shipping Australia members.
Commenting on the imperative for sustainable shipping, Melwyn Noronha, Deputy CEO of Shipping Australia says: “through the IMO’s regulatory framework, Shipping Australia’s members continue to transition towards a sustainable future. They are developing measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reducing sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil, implementing ballast water management systems, reducing marine litter as well as improving the efficiency of shipping through the electronic exchange of information to meet the challenges of the digitalization of shipping”.
Ocean carrier MSC supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It assesses the potential impact of its activities to minimise, prevent and avoid negative externalities. In Brazil, there was a land area adjacent to a port that had been heavily contaminated from decades of use as a dump. An MSC subsidiary and its joint venture partner took over the land and cleaned it up to build a new container terminal. Part of the non-contaminated area has been preserved to ensure conservation of a sustainable mangrove ecosystem. The mangroves will help stabilise the coast and will preserve biodiversity. More recently, in July this year, the company announced that it is pioneering large scale use of up to 30% biofuel blends for its ships.
Shipping line Maersk has a net-zero carbon dioxide emissions target and is using a variety of sophisticated software tools to optimise fuel consumption in pursuit of that goal. This year Maersk also volunteered the use of 300 company-owned ships to take part in collecting data to boost research into ocean and atmospheric science.
Ocean carrier CMA CGM has helped set up an international coalition to help speed up the energy transition in transport. Among other things, that coalition is looking at ways to develop green hydrogen procurement and to replace fossil fuels with green energy across the supply chain.
Container line Evergreen is a signatory to the Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative, which is part of the carrier’s “avowed commitment to plan a completely sustainable life cycle for its vessels from design, construction, operation and ultimately to decommissioning.”
Joint venture container shipping line “ONE” has ISO 14001 environmentally certified by an independent third party. It has been certified for some years now. It is also a member of a variety of bodies working it the area of sustainability including clean cargo transport, protection of Blue whales, and decarbonisation of the shipping industry.
There are far more sustainability initiatives that are underway than can be detailed here. To find our more about our members sustainability initiatives, please visit our list of full members and our list of associate members for links to their webpages.
Source: Shipping Australia