Hinchliffe on Shipping: final instalment

In the final part of an interview with the International Chamber of Shipping’s outgoing secretary general, Peter Hinchliffe, he condemns unilateral regulation and reflects on a 17-year career at ICS.

On unilateral regulation

 The ICS has witnessed a growth in unilateral regulation over the years, specifically in the US, Europe and Australia. It is all extremely unhelpful.

I think such actions are done with the best intentions, to protect that particular region or country. But it fails to help the industry to be environmentally compliant because what we do is on a global basis so therefore we can only respond cost effectively to regulation, which is applied on a global basis.

It’s really sad that these unilateral issues are growing. It should not be happening. There should be a better understanding among these countries that if they bring their issues to the IMO they will get a global solution. OK, it might take a couple more years but its better to get a good outcome rather than to get something that only applies to a proportion of the global fleet, which should on balance represent a level playing field.

On related governmental issues

National governments reacting at different speeds to new requirements are always a nuisance because you can end up with national requirements that differ from country to country.

A good example is the “Single Window”. We were looking to enable governments to receive information from ships on an automated basis. This was known as the Single Window. Unfortunately we have about 50 different single windows. Because some governments responded at different speeds we have ended up with myriad requirements. The upshot is the seafarer is no better off than he was ten years ago. We have yet to arrive at a good point where everybody is doing the same thing.

On stepping down from the ICS

I have decided that this is the right time to step down from the ICS. What I set out to do was to position the ICS as the go to organization. And I think that we have done that. As a team we have put ourselves in a place where governments do come to us to ask for information, advice or opinions. I think that is a good place to be and I’m very pleased about that.

Coinciding with my career at ICS, the industry has progressed. It has always been in the interests of shipowners to be compliant with regulations and be environmentally friendly. A lot of that has been formalized now.

The performance of the industry has clearly increased. If you look at the claims figures for ship losses and ship accidents, they are all trending in the right direction.

I worry a lot about how the industry is going to afford the regulations it now faces. All of these air emission reductions are extremely expensive. Ballast water management systems are very expensive.

There is also a danger that the CO2 discussion might look to technologies that will not be commercially available before there is a requirement.

At this moment I am really happy. I enjoyed this time of my life immensely. It’s been very satisfying.

One of the targets I set myself was to get the ICS CO2 strategy in at IMO. For about the first three days of the last MEPC [April 2018] meeting, I thought we were not going to be able to deliver that. I was pretty upset about that but at the end of the day we got it. That was good and I’m really pleased that has been done before I stepped down. A personal highlight? Absolutely!

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