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Editorial comment

For Palau International Ship Registry (PISR) environmental concern and green shipping are living issues. As one of the fastest growing registries in the shipping world it recognises there is a distinct connection between the vessels in its fleet and the concerns over pollution. The maritime sector and, in particular, ship owners and operators have been at the forefront of new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations regulating the emissions from bunker fuels used in ships.

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The IMO global 0.5% sulfur cap is less than two years away but we welcome it.

The concerns over the fuel oil ships have been burning for decades has finally come under strict controls that will benefit the environment and can only be welcomed in that context. The discussions centre on the need to reduce harmful sulfur emissions. The maritime world seems divided by financial and practical concerns about the cap but we believe it is a significant step forward in protecting the environment and, ultimately, the viability of the shipping industry.

Over the past few years, the shipping world has seen a fall in demand and a drop in freight rates for certain industries, such as coal, due to a lack of available vessels and stricter regulatory controls that start in port and spread across the voyages and final destination operations. I accept that new regulations are needed and they have to be supported by the shipping world.

The main concerns are about atmospheric pollution, bilge waters and oil spills. What shipping can sometimes be accused of is not caring enough about the waters we sail on. From our point of view and most other reputable registries, there is intense concern about this and we go to great lengths with our internal inspections, those of our fleet vessels and those wanting to be part of the registry, to ensure we now do and will adhere to the regulations on ballast water and the forthcoming sulfur cap. The shipping sector has invested heavily to improve emissions and this will continue as we approach 2020.

Port State Control (PSC) is an internationally agreed regime for the inspection by PSC inspectors of foreign ships in ports other than those of the flag state and it can have serious implications for vessels failing to adhere to regulations. But the regulations can only go so far and out on the oceans there are concerns that some ships will not adhere to the environmental rules now in place. We see this as more alarmist than reality.

The job of a registry is to ensure the vessels in its fleet act in accordance with regulations and can continue to operate accordingly. These scare stories about dumping waste water at sea and ignoring oil spills are often used to hinder the shipping industry but, in truth, they are largely untrue. Ship owners and mariners are well aware of the consequences of such actions and we ensure a tight control over our fleet in these matters.

PISR is planning to introduce its ‘Blue Certificate’ in 2018 which will, in conjunction with the Annual Inspection of the vessel from the registry’s certified inspectors, provide a clear and demonstrable commitment to certain environmental criteria. This is just one of the new initiatives PISR is making as a realistic approach to environmental concerns.

Everyone connected with the shipping world needs to make this sort of effort to help reduce the environmental impact of the industry. To be fair, most other registries are making similar commitments and we will also be offering 5% discounts to ships holding our Blue Certificate and, in addition, we will be charging every invoice we draft a flat fee of US$5, which we will transfer to the Palau’s Marine Sanctuary fund. These little things will all help as long as all of those in shipping adhere to these regulations and address the concerns; we can make a real contribution to the industry which is vital to world trade.