Wed | Apr 1, 2020

Caribbean Shipping Association’s 49th AGM starts in Punta Cana

Published:Tuesday | October 8, 2019 | 12:22 AM
Marc Sampson, vice-president of the Caribbean Shipping Association at the 49th AGM, Conference and Exhibition in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, delivering the opening address.
Delegates at the opening session of the Caribbean Shipping Association’s 49th AGM, Conference and Exhibition in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The Caribbean Shipping Association’s (CSA) 49th Annual General Meeting, Conference and Exhibition started yesterday at the Barcelo Bávaro Palace hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The event is being hosted by the Asociacion de Navieros de la Republica Dominicana.

Vice-President of the Caribbean Shipping Association, Marc Sampson, addressed the more than 300 delegates during the opening session. He began his remarks by directing delegates’ attention to the harrowing tragedy still unfolding in The Bahamas.

Here are some excerpts of his speech:

“More than a month after Hurricane Dorian unleashed unprecedented devastation on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, the scope of what has been described as ‘one of the greatest national crises’ in the country’s history has come into clearer view. The destruction in the areas hardest hit by this Category 5 storm is staggering – communities have been reduced to rubble, key infrastructure has sustained heavy damages and lives have been lost.

“The CSA would like to extend our deepest sympathy and solidarity with the people of The Bahamas. We share your anguish and sorrow, and our thoughts and prayers are with the grieving families and all those adversely affected by this disaster. In the midst of the ongoing large-scale debris removal and search-and-recovery efforts, we encourage all Bahamians to remain strong and hopeful in this time of turmoil.

“The task of picking up the pieces will be daunting, and it is perhaps useful at this time to draw parallels with the experience of Antigua and Barbuda and the colossal damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma two years ago. Barbuda bore the brunt of the hurricane’s assault, with 90 per cent of its properties suffering irreparable damage and all of its residents relocated to Antigua. The government has so far managed to rebuild half of the damaged homes in Barbuda and bring back 60 per cent of the original residents. The country’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, recently noted that there is still a lot to be done for Barbuda to regain any semblance of normalcy. The recovery cost is estimated at approximately US$220 million, but only US$20 million has been pledged. Of that total, only US$10 million has been provided to date.

So as we bear in mind that the recovery process will be a slow and difficult one for hurricane-ravaged territories, let us also be mindful that by combining our efforts and working together, we can overcome the challenges.

“In keeping with our long-held ethos of supporting our member states and regional neighbours in times of need, the CSA stands ready to join the relief effort of the donor community to provide assistance to the people who need it the most. We have already started the process of mobilising our membership to contribute in any way they can, and we are committed to helping as many people as possible during this difficult period.

“It is clear that extreme weather events such as Hurricane Dorian are increasing in frequency, as 2019 marks the fourth year in a row that the Atlantic basin has witnessed at least one Category 5 hurricane. The brightest scientific minds in this field are of the view that our changing climate is having a tremendous effect on the pace and intensity of the storms of today. As global temperatures climb to record highs, hurricanes are becoming more powerful and devastating.

Reducing carbon footprint

“The onus is on every industry to reduce its carbon footprint, and shipping is certainly not exempt from this. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is currently leading a global initiative to cut emissions generated by shipping by 50 per cent below 2008 levels by 2050. It is also implementing the ‘IMO 2020’ rule, which will require ships to cut the sulphur content in their fuels from 3.5 per cent to 0.5 per cent as of January 2020.

“The CSA has always been an advocate for reducing the vulnerability of the region to marine pollution. It is our firm belief that the future of the shipping industry must be a sustainable one, where health, environmental and natural disaster risks are aggressively mitigated. Going hand in hand with the idea of sustainability is resilience, which is no longer optional for the countries of the region. We are now in an unprecedented era of climate change, so it is absolutely imperative that we plan for the worse and develop a response that is built on long-term resilience. We must build the kind of resilience we need by using all existing technology and innovation to ensure that we can better weather the storms of the future. In addition to building more resilient infrastructure, this effort also calls for the bolstering of institutions, systems and regulations to adequately address vulnerabilities.

“The CSA’s commitment to championing these issues is evidenced by our ongoing work with the Caribbean Marine Environment Protection Agency and our cooperation with the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre Caribbean. We have also partnered with the Inter-American Committee on Ports of the Organisation of American States on a project to improve disaster risk management in regional ports.


“It is quite timely that one of the main themes at this year’s event is sustainability. The sessions on ‘Oceanic Awakening: Sustainability and Stewardship Actions’ and ‘Climate Change: Game Changer for Caribbean Ports’ promise to deliver keen insight on reframing our approach and priorities through the lens of sustainability and developing strong responses to crises in the future.

Also high on the conference agenda are digitalisation and cybersecurity. The former topic will explore how digitalisation will define the future of the shipping industry. Issues related to workforce transformation and the combination of new technical skills that will be required by maritime workers should make for interesting discussion. This area is closely linked to training and development, which is of significant importance to us. The CSA continues to build the human capital of our membership with various training initiatives. In addition to the Monica Silvera Scholarship Programme, we have held four training sessions and one presentation to SADR on branding. We are proud to have hosted a total of 200 participants, and remain committed to strengthening the qualifications and professionalism of our members..

“With digitalisation comes the threat of cyber breaches, and this important issue will receive the thorough examination it deserves during the maritime cybersecurity roundtable. According to news reports last month, researchers at Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 threat intelligence division identified a cyberattack campaign by hackers using previously unknown tools to target shipping and transport organisations with custom Trojan malware. The shipping industry cannot afford to be complacent in this area, and it is vital that we implement the necessary cybersecurity practices and protect our operations with the appropriate security tools.”

The three-day event will end on Wednesday.