Athens issues call for universal maritime cooperation at IMO

LONDON – Greece believes that regional or unilateral measures are not in line with the international nature of shipping, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said in London yesterday on the sidelines of the 25th meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Greece’s vision for the sector, said Voulgarakis, is safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly shipping. To this end, he stressed, all IMO member states must cooperate. Voulgarakis also announced that Greece will give the IMO fund $1 million (-682,000) to improve security in the Strait of Malacca in Malaysia, through which 30 percent of the world’s trade passes, as a contribution to measures proposed by the countries in the region. The Greek minister expressed the hope that other countries would follow Athens’s example. The meeting examined issues concerning IMO’s shipping policy, the protection of the marine environment, the improvement of the image of shipping and the attraction of young people to maritime professions, the contribution of shipping to the fight against the planet’s overheating as well as issues relating to ship safety and the combating of piracy. Voulgarakis said that shipping was facing a number of challenges that will require efforts to improve the sector’s image and attract skilled youth to maritime professions. International shipping requires trained professionals, able to work at sea, he said, adding that he would welcome a radical revision of the maritime education system. Voulgarakis made special reference to climate change and the need to examine shipping’s share of responsibility in pollution: «We can draw some safe and reliable conclusions through scientific research accompanied by statistical data. We must take into account policy choices, such as the ongoing revision of Annex VI of MARPOL,» the minister said. On the fringes of the meeting, Voulgarakis also met yesterday with his Turkish opposite number, to discuss ways of improving maritime transport between the two countries and other issues of common interest. He also met with his Japanese counterpart.