The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tze said that life passes by with the speed of a galloping horse. That saying has great resonance for me as yet another year flashes by, and we reach the conclusion of 2018. It is hard to believe that we are about to enter the final year of the second decade of the 21st century.
It doesn’t seem like very long ago that many of us involved in the world of maritime transport, and other vital transport sectors, were listening to warnings around the “Millennium bug” and whether vital computer systems would be compromised as we entered the year 2000. The world seemed to cope relatively well with that particular threat, but as we head towards 2020, environmental sustainability seems to the risk that is front and centre in the shipping industry, with the IMO’s 0.5% cap on sulphur applying in little over 12 months time (0.1% in emission control areas).
It will be fascinating to see how the industry rises to the challenge, with the increasing requirement for exhaust gas cleaning systems (“scrubbers”) and the move away from heavy fuel oil to marine gas oil; and it will also be intriguing to observe how compliance will operate from 1 January 2020 which is an absolute deadline for the new requirements.
In many ways it is commendable that the maritime sector sets new standards to reduce pollution and minimise its environmental footprint – it highlights the ability of the industry to move with the times and acknowledge the impact it makes on the world around it. It is certainly a very positive vision for the year 2020.
However, I can’t help but contrast this ability to rise to the challenges of the modern world with the continuing breaches of safety and regulation in some parts of the world, as most recently demonstrated with the tragic sinking of the ferry Nyerere in Tanzania – as covered in the recent edition of Sea Breezes. How awful it is to report that a ferry with the capacity for only 100 passengers capsized with the loss of 228 people. Amidst all the positive changes in the world of shipping, it is completely unacceptable that such disasters still occur.
As always, can I take this opportunity to thank our readers and contributors for your continued support to Sea Breezes. We wish you and yours a very happy festive season and look forward to continuing to report the good, the bad, the old and the new events in the world of shipping in 2019 – a year which will see us celebrate the 100th anniversary of this historic magazine.
HAMISH ROSS, EDITOR