The Environment is Probably the Biggest Issue on our Agenda
Reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) from shipping industry is a significant issue that needs strong action. Moreover, Digitalization and potential threat of Cyber Attack should be addressed more than ever. In order to collect more on these issues and other important issues in the shipping industry, Payam Darya magazine has conducted an exclusive interview with BIMCO Secretary General and CEO Angus Frew. You will browse the transcript of this interview in the upcoming section.
1) As you well aware, Digitalization has received a lot of attention in the recent years, what are your plans for promoting it across the industry?
Digitalising the industry is one of the keys to unlocking efficiencies that can benefit the industry from both an economical and environmental perspective. BIMCO’s role is very much as a facilitator of projects and bringing the industry together.
We recently finished our role in the EfficienSea2 project, which was an EU-funded project. The overall project was to create and implement innovative and smart solutions for efficient, safe and sustainable traffic at sea through improved connectivity for ships.
BIMCO’s contribution – along with its partners - was the Maritime Reporting Model (MRM).
This prototype model aims to standardise communication between ships and shore. The key lies in ensuring each type of information a ship needs to share is associated with a unique name – a tag – that software developers must use.
Using a global standard for tagging information – such as the ship’s name or the number of crew onboard – in software systems can make sure that the information transmitted by the ship always ends up in the correct ‘box´ at the receiving end, no matter who the recipient is. In more technical terms, it is a harmonisation of data models used by maritime stakeholders.
Our prototype has shown that the MRM can reduce the administrative workload for ship masters by 80% in connection with port calls, so we will continue to pursue this standard.
In general, you can say we are very focused on standardization, as the shipping industry needs global standards to achieve the optimal results when digitalizing.
An example of that is our standard for software maintenance developed together with CIRM (Comité International Radio-Maritime).
The goal of the Standard on Software Maintenance of Shipboard Equipment is to make sure software updates happen in a secure and systematic way. It will increase the visibility of the software installed on board, ensure the effective planning of maintenance and facilitate effective communication between the different parties involved in maintaining the software. Keeping software up to date is also necessary to minimise hacking and malware problems.
We informed the IMO about the standard in December 2017 and BIMCO and CIRM have asked ISO to turn it into an ISO-standard to make it more robust. ISO has accepted the proposal and the work is on the verge of starting. BIMCO expects a working group to complete the standard in 2022.
Ultimately, we would also like to see digitalization and standardisation in the interface between ships and ports. Digitalisation should also lead to more effective port calls.
2) What plans do you have for fighting against Cyber Attacks?
BIMCO is mainly focused on the ship-side of cyber security because of the many onboard operational technical computers that needs to be protected.
On the IT side the shipping industry is – like any other industry– exposed to various forms of cybercrime, such as ransomware, or fraud committed using fake websites or emails.
Together with HIS Markit we are doing a big industry survey on the issue of cyber security. Information about how the shipping industry is affected is an important tool if you want to create the right procedures and countermeasures to protect against cyber-attacks.
The cybercrimes that are on commercial systems are however not BIMCO’s main focus, as other organisations and companies are specialized in that. BIMCO is instead speaking to ship yards and the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) about building cyber resilient ships in the future.
3) There is an increasing pressure for shipping to be greener and more sustainable, what strategies are you going to take in this regard?
The environment is probably the biggest issue on our agenda right now, and our strategy is to make sure that the rules, regulations and targets are realistic and practical. BIMCO is a very practical organisation, so we try to make sure our members have the information they need to make important business decisions. We also voice our opinion at the IMO to make sure the Member States get accurate information to help them make good choices on how to implement the decisions they are asked to make.
We are working hard to make sure there are practical rules and procedures in place for the upcoming 2020 sulphur cap. It is clear, that the industry has many concerns and questions on this issue, and we have several people working on drafting practical proposals for IMO. We are also collaborating with the other industry organisations, such as the International Chamber of Shipping, to make sure that we speak with a united voice on these issues.
The other major agenda point is Green House Gases. I think we can reach zero emissions in the second half of this century, and we are very satisfied with the Green House Gas strategy adopted by the IMO. IMO outlined a target to reduce GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, and we see that as ambitious, but not impossible. We think the industry can deliver on this target, even though we aren’t sure exactly how to do it.
I find it very encouraging that the shipping industry probably peaked its CO2 emissions in 2008. And we are in fact the only industry in the world with a fixed reduction target at this point. That said, the industry needs to invest in innovation and technology. We need more efficient ships, but I think ports have significant ways to improve the entire industry’s efficiency.
What is often overlooked is the performance and execution of port calls. Ships all too often speed up to arrive at a port on time, only to be instructed to await free berth at anchorages outside the port. This means that a lot of energy is wasted to power ships through water at too high speeds just to sit idle after arrival. It is about maximising time spent at sea executing a voyage with the lowest possible constant speed, BIMCO has calculated that this can reduce GHG emissions by as much as 20% on such voyages.
In light of the new US sanctions, we are taking advice on the necessary treatment of BIMCO’s members based in Iran. BIMCO is an international association with no legal entity or office in the USA; despite this, we believe that there will be some restrictions placed upon BIMCO and the services we provide to our members in Iran. We will continue to evaluate our approach and will notify our members in Iran at least a month ahead of the deadline of any actions that we will be obliged to take. Our members are of course always welcome to reach out and discuss their membership with us.