Pandemic Requires a More Intensive Digital-Collaboration between Shipping and Port Communities

International Maritime Organization (IMO) is calling for more intensive digital and virtual collaboration among the maritime-related sectors, especially between shipping and port communities.

According to IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, the importance of collaboration between all maritime sectors has been thrown into the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic and will be needed more than ever in the recovery phase.

However, the pandemic has led to intensive collaboration on a digital and virtual basis between the shipping and port communities, as well as with and between Governments and international organizations. Many Governments had acted in collaboration with shipping and ports to address crew change and other issues, but more needed to be done.

“I would like to encourage all Governments to pay attention to these issues, which impact not only on shipping but also the global economy and the global supply chain,” Mr. Lim recently told a webinar on ship-shore relations as quoted in the IMO Press Release.  

The webinar on Improving ship-shore relations in the post COVID-19 era. Ports and shipping working together on decarbonisation, trade facilitation and automation was organized by  the IAPH World Ports Conference 2021. IMO Secretary-General Lim participated alongside Ley Hoon Quah, Chief Executive, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, and Guy Platten, Secretary-General, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).   

He also highlighted ongoing challenges, including the need for crew changeovers for some 150,000 seafarers who need to leave their ships.

The webinar speakers agreed that the pandemic situation has highlighted the relevance of digitalization and new ways of working, which should continue beyond the immediate crisis situation. One example is electronic data exchange, for information which needs to be exchanged between ship and shore.

Electronic data exchange is mandatory under IMO’s FAL Convention. IMO is looking at ways to support countries to fully implement electronic data, exchange and the recommended single window approach, whereby all data is sent through a single portal. For IMO’s regulatory work, the way ahead may mean holding virtual meetings to ensure the work on important agenda items, including action on climate change and safety issues, is advanced.   

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