According to a new report commissioned by The CSL Group, the dynamics and challenges of Short Sea Shipping (SSS) industries around the world are fundamentally different from those faced by traditional trans-ocean shipping. The most important difference is that unlike a trans-ocean ship, a SSS vessel competes with other modes of transport, namely road and rail.
Recent regulations passed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and by its Member States that are insensitive to SSS’s role as a safer, cleaner, and more fuel-efficient alternative to land-based transport, have resulted in the unintended consequence of promoting a modal shift from marine to road and rail.
As indicated in the report presented this week to the IMO and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the importance of SSS to global trade and to the efficient movement of a country’s goods and services – whether it is within one’s borders or as part of a regional import/export infrastructure – is not being fully utilized. Moreover, not only is SSS essential to a country’s industrial strategy, it also plays a key role in reducing Greenhouse gas emissions and congestion problems.
Despite a global presence counting approximately 16,000 vessels with a combined deadweight tonnage of 77 million tons, SSS is often overlooked by the IMO and governments worldwide as a significant contributor to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of nations. SSS is often overlooked because the interests of international shipping tend to drown out the SSS voices at the IMO and other significant international shipping bodies.David Martin, Owner and Director of The CSL Group
Produced by the Research Traffic Group, Define, Defend and Promote demonstrates the economic relevance of the SSS sector and recommends five immediate actions:
- The IMO should establish a common definition of short sea shipping to better focus and consolidate the sector’s interests globally.
- IMO member administrations should establish a mechanism to evaluate and protect SSS prior to adopting international conventions that may include the sector. The SSS industry must be consulted by their national governments.
- A mechanism must be developed within the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) to ensure the interests of SSS at the IMO, exclusive of administration representation.
- Short sea shipping nations should implement as policy a defense of domestic SSS interests when adopting international marine conventions and subsequent national regulations.
- National Shipping Associations must do a better job of providing relevant socio-economic and environmental data to governments to ensure they are updated on the full value of promoting the SSS sector and can avoid the unintended negative consequences of applying trans-ocean rules to the sector without modification.
To foster environmentally-sustainable, socially-responsible and competitive cargo shipping, CSL is also calling on the SSS sector to unite and engage with international organizations and regulatory bodies to promote the industry.