NAMEPA’s Marine Environment Protection 2020 Conference and Awards Event Looks at Today’s Problems with Today’s Solutions
Challenges of the Present and Looking Forward to 2023 Hot Topics
November 6, 2020––NAMEPA’s (North American Marine Environment Protection Association) Annual Marine Environment Protection Conference was held on Thursday including a Leadership Roundtable panel and NAMEPA’s annual Awards event. The Roundtable consisted of senior individuals from the Award recipients, including MSC Cruises, Port Everglades, the International Chamber of Shipping for its work on behalf of seafarers, and Matson for Environmental Innovation were among the eight recipients of NAMEPA’s 2020 Marine Environment Protection Awards.
The conference began with an overview from the USCG’s RDML Richard Timme on the state of play today and continued with a focus on issues that concern the industry into 2023. Participants spoke on the growing urgency to get moving on practical, short-term solutions to meet the demands of 2023.
“The past year has been rife with change; the world has been confronted by a pandemic that has altered every aspect of our lives, a remote working environment, a crisis for mariners, a financial recession that looks to continue, and this week the US elections” stated Joe Hughes of The American P&I Club and NAMEPA Chairman. “On top of that, we have reached a time in our industry when societal voices are driving rapid change. Where regulations are being implemented to address environmental impacts—with more on the way in 2023. Throughout it all, the maritime industry needs to continue operating at the highest levels of efficiency with the lowest impact on the environment. We need to govern ourselves in a manner that is transparent, as well as take care of our mariners and our staff. We need to be looking not only at how to address today’s challenges but also identify strategies for embracing the future. Hence the conference theme, ‘Looking ahead to 2023: State of Play Today and Preparing for the Future.’”
The conference program consisted of CEOs, ship owners and maritime lawyers, among others. A theme throughout the conference were the difficulties that lie ahead for the industry and the need to take a closer look at dynamic ways of problem-solving. Ingrid A. Irigoyen, Deputy Director of Aspen High Seas Initiative, spoke on pathways to decarbonization, noting that “there are viable pathways to zero.”
“You’re not alone in this journey,” Irigoyen said. “There are lots of great initiatives underway to help.”
From discussing technology that could benefit today’s industry and environment to the ongoing crew change crisis to balancing of regulation and enforcement, panelists focused on the new approaches they must take to face issues at hand.
“This is a new battleground,” Cynthia Hudson, CEO HudsonAnalytix, said in reference to cyber security. “This goes from top to bottom and side to side. We have a continuous need for reassessment and revisits.”
The COVID-19 pandemic was also a talking point throughout the conference as speakers praised NAMEPA in making members feel connected with one another in a virtual space, allowing for debate and discussion on important issues. Some speakers also noted that, despite the damage the pandemic has caused, it has also acted as a catalyst for change in the industry. During the Leadership Roundtable, Linden Coppell of MSC Cruises spoke of the importance of creating a sustainability agenda, noting that the pandemic has “highlighted the fragility of the planet.”
“We need to pay global attention to our oceans,” said Mary Crowley, Founder of Ocean Voyages Institute, continuing “…that the ocean is most in trouble is concerning since it provides us with two out of every three breaths we take.”
Along with emphasis on the environment, another sentiment echoed throughout the Roundtable discussion was that people will be as essential for the industry in becoming more sustainable as technology. Liz Burdock of The Business Network for Offshore Wind noted that without the proper crew, workers, coders and engineers, the industry would get nowhere.
NAMEPA’s panelists showcased the kind of pressure the industry is under as it moves towards meeting IMO regulations for the coming decades. Though there was a sense of urgency and intense focus from the panelists on issues and their solutions, there was also a sense of optimism as they affirmed their dedication towards decarbonization and sustainable practices.
“There are a lot of challenges and a lot to look forward to,” Guy Platten of International Chamber of Shipping said. “Through it all, we must remember that mariners are the backbone of our industry.”
The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) was officially launched in 2007. NAMEPA is a marine industry-led organization of environmental stewards preserving the marine environment by promoting sustainable marine industry best practices and educating seafarers, students and the public about the need and strategies for protecting global ocean, lake and river resources. For more information, go to www.namepa.net.