A Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) study has called for tighter regulation of shipping on a global basis that will take practical and pragmatic steps to enhance the environment.
The study also sought more concerted action to suppress piracy and an end to persecution of seafarers involved in environmental accidents.
BIMCO, an NGO trade association of shipowners, managers, brokers, agents and other stakeholders with vested interest in 65 per cent of the world's tonnage, said: "The association acts on behalf of its global membership to promote higher standards and greater harmony in regulatory matters. It is a catalyst for the development and promotion of fair and equitable international shipping policy. BIMCO holds observer status with a number of United Nations organs and is in close dialogue regulatory institutions in the EU, the US and Asia," its website said.
Its report, "Reflections 2011," sees the need to stimulate domestic demand in Asian nations. It forecasts four per cent GDP growth worldwide - similar to that of 2011- but warns about the significant oversupply in shipping tonnage in all three main sectors, and concludes there is "no short-term comfort discernible, recommending the traditional remedies of idling and recycling to control this tonnage glut."
It predicts the container sector will face a "challenging year with another 50 per cent increase in the number of very large containerships entering service. Nevertheless, owners are urged to learn from past lessons of "expecting the unexpected" with India, perhaps starting to fulfil its import potential during the coming year," a statement said.
BIMCO is also urging in the report that important international conventions are ratified and that regional alternatives be rejected.
The report also focuses on the further development of the Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships built after January 1, 2013, this being seen by as the industry body as a "significant key to international progress on atmospheric emissions". It also hopes to see movement on the important Ballast Management and Recycling Conventions in the coming year.
"The fair treatment of seafarers, especially those who might become enmeshed in the aftermath of environmental incident, is seen as an important part of the organisation's human element agenda, when viewed against a trend that clearly identifies the continuing injustices of a presumption of guilt in such cases. BIMCO also highlights the growing demand for a better trained and educated industry workforce, which has encouraged the organisation into becoming, with its eLearning Diploma Programme, a major educational hub for the industry," said the report.
On piracy, BIMCO was disappointed by the lack of political will to confront the realities and to recognise the harm being done to international trade. Public opinion also needs to be galvanised over the many outrages, which face shipping operating in pirate-infested areas, it said.
"While providing practical assistance with the development of standard contracts for armed guards on ships BIMCO calls for a new strategic approach to combating piracy, noting that the industry continues to bear the brunt of international failure on the political front. The New Year will see BIMCO addressing political leaders directly, calling for a new approach and emphasising the significant threat to world trade represented by piracy on such a scale," the study said.