“How has the shipping sector been impacted by the war in Ukraine?”

“The shipping sector has been significantly impacted by the war in Ukraine. First of all, it is important to mention the severe impact the war has had on the safety of our seafarers. At the time of writing, 500 seafarers remain stranded on over 100 vessels in Ukrainian ports, down from 2000 at the start of the war. Seafarers have been killed or injured since the start of the conflict.

In addition, the different sanctions regime worldwide and the fast pace at which they are being rolled out creates operational challenges as vessels and companies strive to comply and adapt to new rules. To give some examples, challenges include providing Ukrainian and Russian seafarers with access to their paid wages, organizing crew changes, and of course ensuring sanction compliance with import and export restrictions.”

“Is ESCA able to assist/guide its members through this complicated period and, if yes, how?”

“ECSA had been active on this topic since the start of the war, providing regular updates on the discussions at EU level and detailed analysis of the sanctions against Russia. As ECSA is an active partner to the European Commission on transport, trade, financial issues, and other topics and has been able to clarify questions on the implementation of the different sanction packages. Most importantly however, ECSA is able to channel the views and concerns of the sector to the institutions in view of finding solutions that would ensure full compliance with the sanctions and would limit the impact on seafarers. As an example, we have worked together with the European Transport Workers Federation and have initiated a dialogue with the European Commission on ways to facilitate the opening of bank accounts in Europe for Ukrainian seafarers currently on-board vessels.”

“How has the sector been adapting to relaxations to pandemic protocols in some parts of the world?”

“While the pandemic caused a severe disruption in international trade flows and Shipping logistics, causing financial pressure on Shipping, it kept operating and providing its high standard and essential services to the world, by adapting its operations and addressing successfully the challenges associated with the pandemic restrictions. As such, the current relaxations to pandemic protocols create positive prospects for the Shipping Industry, to return to its normal operation and therefore continue and reinforce its important role in the world trade and economy. However, the shipping sector’s priority and concern from the start of the restrictions globally regarding the uninterrupted and safe movement of seafarers is still there since parts of the world are going on lockdown in view of rising pandemic cases in countries.”

“The digitalization of the shipping sector is well underway. How has staffing been affected? Will some jobs eventually become obsolete as, perhaps, new ones are created?”

“The Shipping sector plays a vital role in the world economy, carrying 90% of world trade. Increased expectations and demand from customers put more pressure on Shipping, to become more efficient, greener, and cost-effective.

Human resources are the backbone of our industry through this digital transformation path, the key to maintaining an industry that continues to grow and evolve in a sustainable way is to provide the shipping personnel with the proper training to adapt to the new digital reality. As Shipping becomes digitalized, it would shift dynamics in the manning of ships but not necessarily in a negative way. Making ships greener and smarter, could also create new job opportunities, skilling and reskilling the human element in Shipping.”

“Has there been progressing on the chronic challenge of attracting top talent to the shipping sector?”

“Attracting highly educated and trained professionals is still a challenge and is crucial to overcoming it not only for the Shipping Industry itself but for the entire Cyprus Maritime Cluster, which in turn is vital to the economic and social interests of Cyprus. Within this framework, we should emphasize the importance and the need to create an even more diversified and inclusive working environment to attract first-rate maritime professionals, despite gender or cultural background. We also need to work harder to educate and train young people who have a keen interest in professions linked with the maritime sector, as well as the need to urgently recognize that modern maritime training is the key that will provide talented professionals to the shipping sector and to be able to maintain its pace of progress and expansion.”

“Returning to technology, what steps are being taken to combat related concerns such as cybersecurity?”

“The Shipping sector has grown more cautious about cyber risk over the past years as operations are largely dependent on computer networks and information technology solutions. The increased frequency of cyber-attack attempts has forced the industry to give more emphasis and invest in developing contingency plans and precautionary measures to prevent a bigger issue from arising later. The most important factor in the success of these precautionary measures is the proper training of their employees for implementing the required security practices. Investing in cybersecurity awareness training and improving employees’ skillset can create a robust security-aware culture and prevent attacks.

Developing a contingency plan in place is also extremely important when it comes to maritime operations security and safety. Being prepared and constantly updated on the type of threats and having a set of security procedures in place can prevent massive damage and reduce recovery time.”