Just about all industries are changing in the face of digitization and globalization, with new technologies and stricter regulations to consider. Maritime is not left out of these changes and in review of 2018, it seems the industry made some big waves this year. Facing changes and new challenges has pushed the maritime sector to take on a new approach which in turn has led to a whole range of successes. Here we have selected a few highlights that signify the biggest issues that affected the maritime industry this year.
MEPC tackles greenhouse gases
In April 2018, the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted an initial strategy for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from ships. The strategy outlines short, to mid, to long term measures that aim to achieve a 50% reduction in GHG by 2050. It is a comprehensive and ambitious strategy and its approval from the IMO is a great achievement.
EU clears the way for cleaner oceans
A significant legislation was passed by the European parliament in October this year that will ban single-use plastics such as drinking straws and plastic fishing gear. 80 to 85% of marine litter is plastic, of which 70% is single use. The European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs described the directive as a “clear signal that Europe is ready to take decisive, coordinated action to curb plastic waste.” While the ban brings new considerations for maritime industry, and the fishing industry in particular, it also offers promise of benefits for the whole sector. Damages caused to vessels by marine litter, for example, will decrease and it should lead to healthier populations of marine species.
Studies into autonomous shipping underway
The UK Hydrographic Office has worked together with autonomous tech company L3 ASV on a study to support the development of autonomous vessels. The study will be used to better understand how navigational and geospatial data can be used by unmanned autonomous vessels to operate safely. This could provide more knowledge on the subject which the global maritime industry can benefit from.
Better connectivity for crews
A survey taken in 2018 showed internet access for seafarers has dramatically increased and even tripled in some areas of shipping. Connectivity is an important part of welfare, allowing ship crews to contact home while at sea.
Startups gaining significance
Lloyd’s Register Safety Accelerator held its first startup selection event, at SMM Hamburg in September. Finalists pitched cutting-edge solutions and products at the huge maritime event to show how safety on-board could be improved. The “Dragons’ Den” style set-up demonstrates how the marine industry could use the potential of startups to shake off its traditional image and invest more in upcoming talent.
We look forward to seeing what’s next for the industry in 2019. In the lead-up to the 2020 global sulfur limit we hope to see significant breakthroughs in environmental efforts.