Greek shipowners yesterday sounded the alarm over the shrinking contribution by the merchant marine to the Greek economy as a result of the lack of specialized staff and the emigration of vessels to foreign registers. Losses of more than 30 percent from the Greek register in the last five years, the permanent tendency – with some exceptions – to avoid sailing under the flag by a large part of the Greek-managed fleet, the dramatic lack of officers to man vessels, especially the new units, are negative factors that gradually cut off the merchant marine from the country, said a joint statement issued after a top-level meeting in Piraeus of the Union of Greek Shipowners and the London-based Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee. The two bodies said the incomplete implementation in Greece of the EU’s Kinnock directives on merchant marine ultimately favored competitors. They also called for a concerted and long-term effort to attract young people to the profession, pointing out that no more than 500 had shown interest in applying for 1105 places in merchant marine academies this year. They nevertheless noted that the Greek-managed fleet was undergoing an unprecedented wave of modernization, with its orders for new vessels representing 21 percent of total global tonnage under construction in the last two years. Extending trade and waiting for New York to open convinced investors that the reality did not match the rumors.