A representative of Seaman Solutions has been present at several events of the London International Shipping Week of which 2 events have been highly enlightening for the author. We gladly provide you with the main takeaways of these 2 events:
- Organizer UKHO Navigating the changing maritime landscape
- Organizer BIMCO Roundtable on microplastics in shipping
The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) is world-leading in marine geospatial data to support secure, safe and thriving oceans. The changing maritime landscape consists out of the following topics according to UKHO:
- Implementation of S-100 (by UKHO) being a new data standard that will support the next generation of navigating solutions eg. improving ECDIS to better situational awareness for marine shipping;
- Decarbonization in shipping industry
- by the use of the S-100 new data standard technology allowing ships to be ‘just-in-time’ in the ports. The problem is currently that ships have to wait for anchor in ports as they arrived to early or late for goods handling. The waiting for anchor leads to unnecessary loss of carbon energy
- by re-inventing ship structures, by use of other energies as hydrogas/sun/wind energy and by use of technology such as AI (eg. calculating the safest route around weather storms which will allow the ship to safe gasoline as well)
- Growth of autonomous shipping
- The first test with the 1st generation of autonomous ship was done with the small ship Mayflower. The outcome was not successful as it did not reach its objective, going from one to the other shore on the other side of the Atlantic ocean.
The learning process is still steep for the first generation autonomous ship. A difficulty was for example that the ship received an algorithm based order that he had to choose the safest place and route to get to the other side of the ocean. The ship decided that the safest place for him was to not sail but to stay at the harbor where he was anchored. Smart thinking of the machine !
- The evolution depends as well of the global communication network improvements which is linked to project ‘Starlink’ or ‘One-Link’ of Elon Musk who plans to place 42.000 new satellites in the earth orbit to make this a reality;
- Machine learning thanks to AI – autonomous shipping will improve when the new generation of autonomous ships will be put into real situations and can learn from this.
- Work with AI as new technology to have great information feeds
The conference was as well interactive as regular polls had been taken with the participants. Eg. regarding the topic of autonomous shipping, 2 poll questions with the highest % answer from the participants:
- When do you think autonomous vessels will be commonplace within domestic and international shipping? 39% of the participants responded that this will already be the case in 2035
- What is the biggest obstacle to the widespread deployment of autonomous vessels?
54% of the participants consider this to be ‘Trust – lack of confidence that they can operate safely and efficiently’
BIMCO – Roundtable on Microplastics in shipping
The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) is a non-governmental organization and the largest direct entry shipping organization with 1,900 members in 120 countries with the mission to provide expert knowledge and practical advice to safeguard and add value to their member’s businesses.
The knowledge on the subject of microplastics was introduced by Professor Pennie Lindeque, Head of Science: Marine Ecology and Biodiversity and head of the Marine Microplastics Group at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and by Dr. Peter Kershaw, marine environmental Consultant.
Microplastics have been found in all marine life and are infecting the entire food chain, from zooplankton to whales. Larger plastics have been mistaken by mammals as food source and have caused starvation resulting in death stranding at shores all over the planet.
A recent research suggests that there is a staggering 8-14 million tons of microplastics on the seafloor, being 35 times more than the estimated weight of plastic pollution on the ocean’s surface.
The sources of microplastics from shipping are:
- Commercial shipping: accidental loss of pellets
- Cruise Ships: PCP’s through wastewater treatment containing microplastics from toothpaste, chemical from variety of skin products, …
- Shipping in general: paint particles loss due to hull cleaning and operational losses
Other ship-based sources of microplastics are the loss of microplastics from empty containers at ports and the (illegal) marine litter discharge on sea.
A separate point added by Professor Pennie Lindeque indicated that nanoplastics are worse than microplastics as they have been found in the flesh and organs of the fishes which is highly harmful as the damage of releasing the energy footprint is done within the structural body of the fish.
The roundtable discussion that followed after the enlightening theoretical introduction brought different actors from the industry together and an interesting discussion emerged concluding to a wide range of proposed solutions:
- IMO/UN policy changes
- Port Authority negotiations resulting to regulations/agreements regarding waste policy
- The use of bio-degradable plastics is not a solution, countered by the Professor and Doctor as these have also an harmful impact on the marine biotope. The reason being that we do not know yet if these are less harmful than the 100% non-degradable plastics. Also The question remains in how much time the plastic will degrade.
- Country decisions by Flag states regarding the topic
- Educational training of seafarers (advanced by the representative of Seaman Solutions):
- Creating educational awareness on the consequences of marine litter discharge by interactive educational courses
- Opening up courses to all seafarers and not limiting to certain ranks eg. IMO 1.38 Marine Educational Awareness which is required only for officers
- A number of other solutions
We hope you enjoyed the read!
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