Rising to the challenge

IMO Secretary-General on key compliance issues
Rising to the challenge

By Michele Witthaus |

ICFR: Which do you regard as the most interesting technologies and designs emerging to meet emissions reduction requirements in the cruise and ferry industries?

KS: The EEDI regulations are non-prescriptive and provide a green light for innovation, imagination and blue-sky thinking; and there is already ample evidence to suggest that naval architects also share this view.

In general terms, ship designers and engineers are already developing design innovations that they can draw on to meet these new challenges. Propeller technology continues to move forward, for example; hull features such as ducts, bulbs and fins are all being actively explored with excellent results; and aerodynamic superstructures are also increasingly utilised.

On the machinery side, engineers are far more willing than ever before to consider alternatives to the conventional solutions; thus we see increasing use of diesel electric propulsion, electronic engine controls, waste-heat recovery and alternative fuels such as LNG. Even highly unconventional technologies, such as kites and rotors, are now attracting serious interest.

As far as the passenger ship industry is specifically concerned, LNG as fuel, onboard energy management, together with optimised route planning and speed optimisation may be the most relevant choices.

ICFR: What kind of feedback are you getting from the passenger shipping industry regarding the future impact of the EEDI for new vessels?

KS: Work is ongoing to develop suitable EEDI frameworks for passenger ships but this work will not conclude for another year or two. When relevant indicators are in full effect, new passenger ships will have to be built accordingly. But at the moment, it is too early to say what, if any, particular challenges there will be for the passenger ship sector.

ICFR: Some in the cruise industry argue that Emission Control Areas penalise cruise shipping more than other marine traffic as cruise lines are obliged to spend most of their time close to shore, where the ECAs apply. Can you comment on these concerns and how they might affect decisions by owners and operators in future?

KS: ECAs apply to ships of all types, and the second IMO Greenhouse Gas Study, in 2009, found that 75 per cent of all ships above 400gt are within 200 nautical miles of the shore at any given time. So it is questionable whether cruise ships are any more subject to ECAs than other ship types. In any case, it could reasonably be argued that, as cruise ships are increasingly sailing in sensitive areas to give their passengers a particular experience of nature, so they have also a special obligation to protect such areas for future generations, bearing in mind that we are all just visitors to this wonderful planet we call our home.

ICFR: Ballast water management is a complex subject that is currently provoking much debate within the global shipping industry. What are your thoughts on the way forward in this regard – in particular for cruise ships, with their ever-increasing size and growing passenger numbers?

KS: Aquatic invasive species are the second largest threat to marine biodiversity and may have devastating impacts on marine ecosystems and coastal economies. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention), adopted by IMO in 2004, is the result of more than 15 years of negotiations among the Member States and represents a balanced approach to address the environmental threats and the needs of the shipping industry.

Cruise ships are in a better position when it comes to the effective implementation of the BWM Convention as they do not need to handle large quantities of ballast water compared with tankers or bulk carriers. A variety of ballast water management systems using UV treatment, ozone or electro-chlorination have been developed and are commercially available. I am confident that the ballast water treatment technologies available to date can successfully attend to the needs of the cruise industry and it is just a matter of taking up the challenges and adopting a proactive and responsible approach.

IMO will remain committed to supporting the development of international measures to reduce and possibly eliminate the detrimental impacts of marine invasive organisms; however, to succeed in this global endeavour, the international community, including the cruise industry, needs vision, foresight, purpose and strength of will.

ICFR: What key ‘green shipping’ messages can you share with our readers following your participation in the recent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20)?

KS: Twenty years ago, the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio adopted Agenda 21, which included a set of recommendations related to shipping and the role of IMO. IMO’s responses have been both multifaceted and robust.

At Rio, IMO hosted a side event, in conjunction with the shipping industry. Together, we took the opportunity to highlight how, through its regulatory and technical co-operation work, IMO plays a critical role in creating the conditions in which shipping will be able to play its part in a future green economy, and provides the ideal institutional framework for sustainable maritime development.
I strongly believe that establishing a sustainable maritime transportation sector is essential to the sustainable development and growth of the world's economy as we move forward.

To achieve sustainable development in shipping, it is important to establish a coordinated and integrated approach to maritime policy and programmes. Energy efficiency, new technology and innovation on maritime security, maritime education and training, maritime traffic management and the development of maritime infrastructure are key elements of sustainable shipping, but these must be underpinned by global standards – standards developed and adopted by IMO.
Under such a concept, Governments, the shipping and maritime industries and the world community at large should work together to take necessary actions to ensure that shipping can continue to be environment friendly, properly supported and protected from security and other risks.

Shipping’s quest for sustainability was placed under a bright spotlight at the Rio +20 conference, in June and, with IMO, it pledged a renewed commitment to sustainable maritime development.

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