Interferry continues to grow as the global voice of the ferry industry with a “Stronger Together” strategy that has driven our mission since I became CEO last April. By joining forces on issues of common interest, we believe our members are better placed to grasp opportunities and meet challenges such as safety, security and the environment.
Progress in 2017 confirms that this message is hitting home. We welcomed 41 operators and suppliers worldwide as new members, while attendance at our 42nd annual conference broke all records for the event.
Several current initiatives underline our belief in the value of shared knowledge. We have launched a Security Committee, including security officers from a dozen operators, to facilitate experience-sharing and develop a best practice guide for members. While not anticipating any new international regulations, the exercise aims to help members in discussions with local and national authorities on voluntary measures.
Our cooperative vision extends far beyond the direct interests of members. We have also formed a Domestic Ferry Safety Committee to support developing nations in addressing issues related to the safety of passengers and crew. Domestic routes account for 93% of recorded accidents, with two-thirds of these occurring in seven countries. Improving the safety record of domestic operators will help the ferry industry overall. The committee will produce a risk assessment and action plan before approaching other collaborators and funding partners.
Meanwhile, Interferry’s regulatory affairs director Johan Roos was in Guangzhou, China, in December for the first ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on Ferry Safety. It was especially encouraging to note that new regulations are being enforced in the Philippines, a country that has experienced ferry accidents in the past. The measures link the domestic code to the international SOLAS Convention that requires IACS class for imported ships, which will be limited to a maximum age of 20 years. In offering our knowledge network to the ARF, we look forward to more countries adopting relevant but reasonable regulations and enforcement.
Elsewhere, in close liaison with the European Maritime Safety Agency, we are reviewing ro-ro deck fire protection. Incidents in recent years suggest that the major concerns are cargo – notably the electrical connections for reefer units – and the effectiveness of detection and extinguishing systems. Alongside this work, Interferry members are developing new internal measures for circulation in 2018 as the second version of our fire safety best practice guidance.
Environmental issues are another major area of Interferry activity. Our consultative status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has enabled us to intervene on proposals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, achieving sector-specific amendments that protect not only the planet but also the operational and therefore financial viability of ferries.
Working together has resulted in significant wins for Interferry and the ferry industry worldwide. I look forward to continuing to strengthen this collaboration and welcoming new ferry operators and suppliers to Interferry’s ranks.
Online version in the Ferry Business section of the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review: http://digital.tudor-rose.co.uk/icfr/2018/issue52/#84