The maritime shipping industry should not forget the human element as it recovers from the global pandemic and faces new environmental challenges according to Panos Kirnidis, CEO of the Palau International Shipping Registry (PISR).

“The overwhelming message from the COP26 is that failure to act on environmental issues will affect real people but it is people that will lead the charge to recovery and environmental compliance in the global shipping industry.”

COP26 has shone a light on the need for greater co-operation between nations and Panos Kirnidis sees this as a call to the shipping world to recognize that even in a digital environment, there will still be a need for the human element.

“We have been developing our online operations over the past five years so that we are fully digital and able to respond to the requests of ship owners and operators in real time. But we also understand that ship owners need a real person to talk to at times. It’s about confidence and the ability to offer experience, knowledge and guidance on issues related to their operations.”

The recent announcements from some of the world’s largest shipping lines suggest fully digital operations will become the normal method within 20 years. Panos Kirnidis believes this will cause issues for many small to medium-sized ship owners who will not have the resources to operate a full digital service.

“The shipping world is committed to achieving global environmental compliance in line with the targets set by the IMO and yet this will require greater investment from ship owners regardless of size. For the smaller operators this will only be achieved by combining digital technology in their operations with a human blend. People who understand the global shipping industry; partners who can offer advice, support and online services will be an asset for the smaller fleet owners.”

Palau International Ship Registry is celebrating five years of growth that has seen the registry nominated as the fastest growing in the industry and one of the leading digital providers. This ongoing investment in online operations, human partnerships and new technologies will be the right combination to achieve environmental compliance for the shipping world in the next decade according to Panos Kirnidis.

“We have ship owners looking for information and guidance on the new regulations and being able to discuss these with a real person is often a welcome interaction. In January 2023 the IMO’s new EEXI and CII regulations are coming into force. EEXI is a framework for determining the energy efficiency of in-service vessels over 400 GT that fall under MARPOL Annex VI. This affects our ship owners and so will the CII which is an operational measure of how efficiently a ship transports goods or passengers.

“These are both complex regulations and will be central pillars of the IMO’s aim to reduce emissions from vessels by 50% by 2050. The technicalities of these new regulations will see more ship owners looking for guidance. This is why having someone to talk to will be vital to reduce the stress experienced by many ship owners as they struggle to operate in this new shipping environment.”

Since 2017 PISR has launched its own unique Deficiency Prevention System helping to keep vessels operational and in compliance; electronic certificates for almost instant delivery to ships and an online registration and payment service operating in real time. It is part of the registry’s long-term plan to reduce the paperwork and time impositions on ship owners. Panos Kirnidis has defended ship owners in the ongoing debate about their commitment to the environment and believes the majority are fully behind the new regulations. “The shipping world has not ignored the calls for changes and actions to reduce the environmental impact of global maritime operations. In fact, the ship owners we talk to are fully behind the drive to achieve compliance with the current and future regulations. Our view is that experience, knowledge and the need for future planning can only be achieved by combining people with technology. This will benefit smaller fleets and individual ship owners and operators. By doing this, it will also ensure compliance in the drive to reducing the overall impact of shipping on the global environment.”

At COP26 last week as he addressed world leaders His Excellency Surangel S. Whipps, Jr, President of Palau stated “as large emitters with their insatiable appetite for advancement are continuing to abuse our environment, threatening our very survival. COP26 must light the fire.

Excellencies, we must hold each other accountable; it is incumbent upon the parties of this convention to concentrate on radical action, consistent mobilisation, rational outcomes as such Palau expects the set of rules guiding the implementation of the Paris Agreement be finalised as a priority outcome of COP26.”

President Whipps stressed that as Pacific Islanders, protectorates of the world’s largest ocean and carbon sink Palau established their national marine sanctuary in 2015, urging formal integration “of the ocean into the UNFCCC Process through the global stock take as a fundamental priority outcome of COP26. Frankly speaking, there is no dignity to a slow and painful death you might as well bomb our islands instead of making us suffer only to witness our slow and fateful demise.

President Whipps ended his statement referring to the Palauan legend of Uab, asking us to think of our future generations. “Bold, unified action, led to transformation, we must act together, we owe this to each other, and we owe this to our children.”