Officers needed for growth

The shipping industry will need to find around 40,000 qualified officers to cope with a potential doubling of the fleet over the next 15 years and expected growth in seaborne trade, warns International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu.

Related map

View the full map

Speaking at the closing session of the Danish Maritime Forum in Copenhagen, Sekimizu said the industry faced a "significant challenge" if it is to train enough seafarers to IMO's international standards of competency by 2030.

The forum, a Davos-style gathering of more than 200 stakeholders in the industry, including top shipping company executives and government ministers from several countries, had already heard predictions of world trade doubling and with it demand for ships by that date.

The IMO leader urged the industry to generate interest among younger people to enter shipping by highlighting the industry's importance and by providing real, tangible benefits for those recruited.

Sekimizu talked about the need for politicians to understand the value of international shipping but rather than asking them to support the industry it should go directly to their constituents, the general public, to get its message across.

'Ambitious' goal

Asked about his vision for shipping going forward, Sekimizu said part of it was "growth," and while a doubling of capacity by 2030 may be a little ambitious, historically seaborne trade had quadrupled every 40 years.

The implications of fleet growth was an element "we really need to think about."

Sekimizu conceded that the industry was in a period of "adjustment" after the post-2008 crisis and absorbing overcapacity would probably take 10 years.Similar to the period it took to get to grips with the overhang of tonnage from the 1970s and 1980s.But the difference now from 40 years ago was the need to reduce emissions and to achieve that slow steaming could imply an even larger fleet requirement.

However, the impact of  EDI energy efficiency would ensure growth in emissions would only be half the rate of fleet growth."This is a significant potential contribution to the current issue of greenhouse gases," said Sekimizu.

Greenhouse gases study

He disclosed that last week he heard that IMO is to release this year a greenhouse gases study. In 2007, shipping accounted for 2.7% of global CO2 emissions but by 2012 it had fallen  to 2.2%, a "significant" reduction of more than 20%.

This was not down to regulation but slow steaming and tonnage overcapacity, but "nevertheless I am sure this trend will continue" and by the year 2030  shipping could account for below 2%, said Sekimizu.

"Again the IMO and international shipping is a good model for other industries," he  claimed.