ASA AGM highlights increasing weight of regulation

The Asian Shipowners’ Association held its 27th Annual General Meeting on 15 May in Hong Kong.

Among the issues discussed was the protection of seafarers in abandonment. The 2014 amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 entered into force on 18 January 2017. This requires a financial system be in place to secure compensation for seafarers in the event of abandonment.

However, a study by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) shows that a joint ILO/IMO database recorded 55 cases of seafarer abandonment from 18 January 2017 to 17 January 2018.

Rigorously condemning these abandonment cases, the ASA urged further ratification of the Convention and acceptance and enforcement of the 2014 amendments to assure the protection of seafarers.

The ASA pronounced the 2020 sulphur cap one of the industry’s “most defining moments”.

“A great deal of work has to be done at IMO to determine how the sulphur cap will be regulated and enforced so as to ensure a level playing field.

“In view of the global sulphur cap, refiners and bunker suppliers must ensure that compliant and suitable fuels are made widely available well in advance of the implementation date, so that ships can bunker the new low sulphur fuel.

“Adequate fuel standards will be instrumental to achieve this. In addition to owners, charterers and fuel purchasers will need to be made aware of the technical and operational issues,” an ASA spokesperson said.

Addressing the maintenance of international conventions the ASA lashed out at France and Spain for passing judgments or laws contravening the statutes of the CLC and Fund Conventions, despite the two countries being part of the said Conventions.

“Such actions are clearly in contravention of international law and the Conventions, and will greatly affect trade and there would be costs to trade with these countries, due to uncertainties caused by their recent decisions,” the ASA warned.

On trade protectionism, the ASA cautioned its members of the growing threat of protectionism in the world including the new Indonesian cargo reservation regulation and the US Bill to restrict the transportation of certain energy exports.

Mr Yuji Isoda, chairman of the SPC, said: “The ASA has grave concerns regarding recent protectionist developments in the world.” He emphasized the importance for the shipping industry to keep long-standing international practices and maritime free trade principles.

With China recently deciding to refuse foreign ships for scrapping, and given the location of the ASA AGM, it was entirely appropriate that the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships should be a topic of discussion.

The ASA reaffirmed the necessity to increase the number of yards compliant with the Hong Kong Convention to meet the steady demand for ship recycling globally. ASA welcomed improvements at the Alang yards in India, where 70% are HKC-compliant, and others to be improved by Japanese Government ODA.

Ratification of the HKC by both India and Japan is expected within the year and with the hope that China will similarly ratify in the near future.

The ASA said it would proceed with joint action with global shipowner associations in ensuring early enactment of the HKC.

It is understood that a meeting is planned in Hong Kong next year to progress the Convention. Details of the attendants and organizers have not yet been revealed.

The ASA AGM was hosted by the Hong Kong Shipowners Association at the Kerry Hotel in Hung Hom, Kowloon.

Ahead of discussions Mr Jack Hsu, the 27th ASA president, and chairman of the HKSOA, called on members of the ASA to proactively work together to strengthen existing relationships with key regional and international stakeholders, to promote sustainable international shipping, and to take a leading role in international maritime matters affecting Asian shipowners.


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