The Hong Kong Shipowners Association’s senior consultant, Arthur Bowring yesterday hit out at the European Commission and its propensity to bow to public pressure when regulating the shipping industry.
Mr Bowring was speaking to maritime executives at the Marine Money Conference in Hong Kong when he declared: “We are under attack by environmentalists and by pressure groups that are looking at the way we do business and comparing the [shipping] industry, especially in the matter of carbon emissions, with countries, which is entirely wrong.
“They are trying to find fault in an awful lot we do.”
Mr Bowring said a lot of the environmental organisations were based in Europe and were funded or partially funded by the European Commission, which was then prompted to issue regulations against shipping. “Ships in global trade are easy targets. Ships do not belong to the ports they visit. They are foreign. It’s always easier to impose regulations on foreigners than your own constituents,” he added.
Mr Bowring insisted that the days where regulations may first take effect on newbuildings could largely be a thing of the past.
“Ships have been built to last 20 to 30 years but the general public want improvements to be made now. They don’t want to wait 30 years. They want ships to be improved now. They want the way we operate ships to be improved now. What we will see that increasingly regulations will apply to existing ships. There will be few opportunities for grandfather clauses in future regulations,” he said.
Less combatively Mr Bowring insisted that the shipping industry likes regulation. “It gives is a level playing field, he said.
“But it must be technically achievable. It must resolve the issue it is intended to address. It must not involve an increased administration burden. It must be developed through a proper cost benefit analysis. And it must sanction those who do not comply.”
On that most imminent of regulations, the 2020 Sulphur Cap, Mr Bowring was absolutely certain that it would not be delayed. He also made clear that there will not b e a phase in period post 1 January 2020. Rather, there will be a phase in period prior to 1 January 2020. While there are on going efforts to encourage Port State to relax the enforcement period it was not a given.
Mr Bowring’s address is likely to have been his swansong at the HKSOA after 20 years as managing director of the Association and a further 18 months as senior consultant Mr Bowring will retire in May this year.