While the standards of Hong Kong shipowners and operators remained high, with prominent names such as Anglo Eastern Ship Management, Fleet Management, Pacific Basin Shipping and Orient Overseas Container Line figuring among the outstanding performers in port state control for the years 2015 to 2017, Cheng did express concerns about the lack of manpower in the industry.
“One of the major concerns of the maritime industry is the problem of manpower shortage,” she said. To this end the Maritime and Aviation Training Fund (MATF) which was set up in 2014 has played a key role in developing local talents, she said, adding that as at the end of 2017 over 2,700 students and maritime practitioners had benefitted from the fund, which had disbursed some HKD31m ($3.9m).
Meanwhile in terms of the Hong Kong flag, the Hong Kong Shipping Register (HKSR) exceeded 116m gt as at April, Cheng said. “As a result of the joint effort of ship owners, operators, staff and recognised organisations Hong Kong-registered ships are also among the best performers in the world,” Cheng said, noting that the average detention rate of Hong Kong-flagged ships was about 0.7% last year compared to the global average of 2.95%.
Marine Department is also making efforts to address the issue of recruitment difficulties in recent years. It is reviewing the marine officer and surveyor of ships grades with a view to implementing a new system to attract younger staff.
The award for the ship owner with the highest tonnage on the HKSR as well as having placed the most tonnage under the Hong Kong flag in 2017 went to China Cosco Shipping Corporation.
Awards were also presented to the master and crew of Ocean Longevity Group’s MV Ocean Pacific and Sinotrans Group’s MV Great Song for bravery.