|I was in Athens last week speaking at two events (US Regulatory Update and SAFE4SEA). Both generated a lot of discussion, both enlightening and concerning. Despite the nearly daily introduction of new products and services designed to make shipping more efficient, there still seems to be a lack of adoption of these innovations. Part of that is due to money—since we are still in a shipping recession, there is a natural reluctance to spend money even if it will save money. But by doing so, we are leaving our industry vulnerable to many risks.
The world is accelerating its advancements at an unprecedented pace, and we must keep up. With the logistical expertise perfected by the likes of Amazon and Alibaba, society’s expectation is for highly efficient delivery systems. While the maritime industry is the most economically and environmentally efficient mode of bulk transportation, we must continue to improve our efficiencies in order to maintain our viability. Those that say shipping will never be replaced are ignoring the potential for our industry to be absorbed by external entities that will do it faster and cheaper. We MUST adapt, not only to retain our commercial viability, but also to attract future generations to our wonderful profession. We cannot afford to be complacent.
Another area of vulnerability is our public awareness. Next January will bring potential impacts to domestic supplies of fuel with the implementation of Sulphur2020 which may have an impact on consumers at the gas pump. There is a strong possibility that fingers will be pointed at the shipping industry- especially with a Presidential election in the United States. We need to get ahead of this story by communicating the value proposition of shipping, while at the same time emphasizing our compliance with newly implemented environmental standards.
Last week in Athens, I was walking in the center of the city near the Hilton Hotel. It was broad daylight, near a busy roadway, with people around when a man silently ran up from behind and grabbed my purse. Unwilling to relinquish my passport, mobile phone, credit cards and cash, I hung on while yelling for help. Our struggle ended with me on the ground and him running into the park empty handed.
I did not consider myself vulnerable to attack, but I had become complacent. I was walking purposefully with what I thought was domain awareness. I was wrong and can only credit my shouting for my deliverance from harm.
The shipping industry is vulnerable. Let’s take the necessary steps to ensure we can meet the demands of tomorrow.