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Much ingenuity required merely to survive

Much ingenuity required merely to survive
Overtonnaging, charterers with financial problems not making good on their contractual obligations, and the lack of the finance shipping requires to continually renew itself creates instability in the industry.

This results in "much ingenuity being required not just to prosper but merely to survive" says Haralambos J. Fafalios, chairman of the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee (GSCC).

In the GSCC's 81st annual report, Fafalios also saw the European Commission’s investigation into Greece’s application of EU Guidelines on State Aid to Maritime Transport and DGCOMP as “one of the major dark clouds on the horizon”. Fafalios argued any alteration to the existing legal framework that is “guaranteed by the Greek constitution” would be very damaging to Greek shipping and to the Greek economy.

"Shipping’s inability to exist within its present framework would irretrievably damage one of the main pillars of the Greek economy and not allow Greece itself to survive and prosper,” said Fafalios. “The present position of the Greek shipping industry is not unlike most other European countries, and any attack on it would be to make maritime transport uneconomical within a European framework," he said.

Fafalios noted the Greek fleet continues to grow and diversify with the average age falling as newbuildings enter the fleet and older vessels are sold or recycled and stressed seafarers and officers will be required to handle the sophisticated requirements of today and tomorrow. "We urge the government to continue to support the maritime education sector and permit private industry to also run training institutions. Without a young generation of shipping professionals, the long term viability of Greek shipping cannot be guaranteed," he said.

He pointed out the Greek maritime cluster is of paramount importance to Greece and should not be marginalised in any manner. "Most importantly, we hope the situation in Greece normalises itself in a positive manner. Whatever the outcome, the government must not forget how vital a healthy shipping industry is to Greece’s long-term future and we must take every step to encourage its continuity devoid of any constitutional changes," said the GSCC chairman.

Fafalios urged caution "in not increasing the heavy legislative burden that is being placed on the shipping industry" before claiming the tantalising close Ballast Water Management Convention "is not well thought out” and “many countries that have ratified this convention would like to withdraw their vote if so allowed as they see the futility of this scheme".

"This monumental white elephant proves future legislation should be properly discussed with all stakeholders and not act in the interests of minorities," said Fafalios.

Regarding monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of CO2 he said "it's imperative we proceed via the Imo's more thoughtful and comprehensive methodology, rather than the EU’s regional and skewed system". "If we do not approach this subject thoroughly, we will end up with a system that puts EU shipping at a disadvantage and reduces our competitive position," he warned.

He said the GSCC has always supported harmonised common structural rules and a higher set of standards in the construction of ships.

Meanwhile, he called on governments to act in a way to ensure any ships involved in humanitarian missions such as picking up refugees at sea, will be able to hand over their passengers rapidly, with a minimum of delay to ships and migrants, whilst always securing the safety and well-being of ships' crews.