Paris, France– The Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) conference program held in Paris October 3-5 illuminated the many challenges facing the maritime industry today. This annual gathering of WISTA members in locations around the world is augmented by industry leaders who participate in the three day event as both speakers and delegates. This year a record 283 attended the event from 34 countries. The event was hosted by WISTA France under the chairmanship of its President, Beatrice Witvoet.
The conference was kicked off by Peter Hinchliffe, Secretary General for the International Chamber of Shipping. Mr. Hinchliffe stressed the need for the international regulatory community to look for rational approaches to effecting change. Regarding compliance with the upcoming Ballast Water Management Convention, “The shipping industry is being asked to meet a costly and impossible time scale, ” he stated. “We need to extend the timeframe.” Another hot button was a panel discussion of “New regulations and new challenges for shipping” which included Juan Riva, President of the European Community Shipowners’ Association; Jeanne Grasso of Blank Rome Maritime on US regulations who commented that “Whistle blowing is an emerging business model for seafarers”; Danella Wilmshurst of HWL Ebsworth on Austrailian regulations, highlighting a “New regulation making charterers liable for oil spills”; Jean-Francois Minster of Total on oil and gas energy supply; and Beatrice Buffon of EDR Energies Nouvelles on emerging technologies.
In addition to regulations, the condition of ship finance today was discussed in a panel led by Kathy Haines of Heidmar, with Vincent Pascal of BNP Paribas and Madelon Bangma of Ernst & Young describing the realities of this sector today. Additionally, Raymond Vidil, President of Armateurs de France pleaded for answers: “Bunker fuel is now 50% of operating costs, followed by vessel cost/debt service. Owners need some relief!” In a session on leadership, Birgit Liodden, General Secretary of YoungShip International observed: “The younger generation is looking for value-based role models who have a globalized awareness and expectation of development.”
Frederic Cuvillier, the French Minister for Transport, the Sea and Fisheries closed the conference, which was followed by a reception at the Hotel de la Marine.
The following day’s Women’s Sea Congress opened with Francis Vallat, President of the Association of EU Maritime Clusters and the French Maritime Cluster, who observed: “Maritime is late in recognizing the contributions of women and their talents of dynamism and solidarity. This imbalance will change within ten years”. On the industry, he stated: “We need a balance between maritime safety and competition. The freedom of the seas needs to be guaranteed, but too much may impair environmental integrity.”
Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) is an international organization for women in management positions involved in maritime transportation business and related trades worldwide. It is a major player in attracting more women to the industry and in supporting women in management positions. With networking, education and mentoring in focus we can enhance members’ competence and empower career success.
WISTA is growing and currently counts over 1.600 individual members in 33 National WISTA Associations (NWAs).