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Mega-ships to drive shipping the way of the dinosaur?

South Korean Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Yoo Kijune has warned that the trend towards mega-ships could drive out small-medium-sized shipping companies to the detriment of industry in the longer term.

Speaking at the Danish Maritime Forum in Copenhagen Minister Yoo drew a parallel with the extinction of the dinosaurs as containerships push to the 20,000 teu in capacity and beyond. Commenting on the move of containerships to become mega-ships he said, “In reality the market is becoming concentrated to a small number of large shipping companies.”

He said that the Forum came at a “critical time for the community to deliberate the consequences of mega-ships and overcapacity”. South Korea's two main container lines Hyundai Merchant Marine and Hanjin Shipping are yet to order ultra-large boxships, and have struggled with the difficult market conditions in recent years.

Yoo saw a difference between the long-term and short-term benefits of current trends in ship sizes. He said that in the short term it might seem beneficial to shippers but in the longer it would drive out small and medium companies.

“This should remind us of the mammoths and the dinosaurs who died out due to a shortage of food.”

Ironically South Korean shipyards have been the largest builders of mega-containerships.

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