Platsidakis laments lack of Greek shipowning voice over regulations

Greeks may control 20% of the world's global fleet and be a dominate player in most aspects of sea transportation but the country has minimal influence in the politics which are increasingly influencing the way the industry is expected to operate, says a leading member of the Greek and international shipping industry.

Despite Greek shipping being a dominant maritime power, John Platsidakis laments "the political weight of the country is minimal and its opinion and vote is lost in the unanimity of voting in the IMO and in the European Union".

Indeed, Platsidakis director of Greece’s largest owner, the Angelicoussis Shipping Group maintains the "flood of regulations which affect our shipping industry, leads one to wonder, are we managing ships or are we managing regulations?".

Platsidakis, who is also md of Maran Dry Management Inc and the just retired chairman of Intercargo, told the Marine Money's 18th Annual German Ship Finance Forum in Hamburg, that although "90% of the world trade is estimated to be transported by ships in a hugely efficient and cost effective way with respect to the safety of the crews, the cargoes and the environment", one wonders why shipping is in "the spotlight as being detrimental for the environment" especially when one has "an objective look at the performance of other sectors of the world economy".

Hear from leading Greek shipowner George Procopiou, chairman of Dynacom Tankers at the Sea Asia Parliamentary Debate in Singapore - "This house believes too much is expected of the shipping industry on environmental matters"

When it comes to tramp shipping, Platsidakis said: "My opinion is that tramp shipping does not have the political weight other industries have like the car industry, the airline industry, the mining industry, the energy industry and so on."

Platsidakis went on: “Regulators, driven by environmental NGOs and the media which have very little practical understanding of the shipping industry, blame the ships as being the responsible party," adding "Part of the blame though is on us, as the shipping companies and their respective organisations have adopted a defensive position apologising for the performance of the ships and showing a guilty attitude.

"I am shocked to read statements from well respected personalities of our industry saying we will comply with the regulations at a time they do not have a clue of how they can do so. It is unfair to the shipping industry and unfair to the general public which has a very shallow view of how the ships and the shipping industry operate.

"We have to stand up and tell them that we, certainly, want to comply with regulations but have serious reservations about them as the needed means to do so do not exist. We have to stand up and tell them that because we operate in a fiercely competitive environment we do not have another option but to buy what is the best available in the market and that those are our limits.

"We do not build ships, we do not manufacture engines, we do not produce bunkers. We simply buy what the various industries and technology offer to us. We do the same when we buy a car. We buy what is available in the market. Why not have the same understanding when we buy a ship?"

Platsidakis said: "It is regrettable regulators first vote regulations and, after they do so, they try to figure out how the regulations can be met. It should have been the other way around if we want to be determined to really make the difference.”

Posted 04 March 2019

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David Glass

Greece Correspondent, Seatrade Maritime

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