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Maritime experts discuss key issues

Abu Dhabi, October 5, 2011

Leading maritime experts put spotlight on the critical issues affecting the commercial health and reputation of the maritime support services sector on the last day of the 'Middle East Workboats 2011' expo in Abu Dhabi.

'This is the first time we’ve mooted concept of an industry question time and the debut session definitely raised some pertinent points as well as providing thought-provoking comment on issues affecting the future commercial potential and reputation of the sector,” remarked Emma Hamilton, ME marketing manager at Seatrade, event organisers.

An interesting panel-led discussion that challenged the industry to challenge itself was a major highlight of the three-day event.

Chaired by Gary Dockerty, executive general manager – Middle East & Africa, P&O Maritime Services, the two-hour session featured an impressive line-up of industry experts including Bo Damsgaard, head of Marine Service, Maersk Oil Qatar AS; Rashid Ali Al Qahtani, chief operating officer - DP World UAE region; Robert G. Allan, executive chairman of the board, Robert Allan Limited; Jasamin Fichte, managing partner, Fichte Legal Consultants; and Jarle Lonning, business development director, Topaz Energy & Marine.

The topics prompting panel debate included sustainable business models, piracy and seaborne terrorism, risk management and the legal ramifications of corporate responsibility (CSR).

Commenting on the delicate subject of CSR and whether it should be legally or ethically driven, Jasamin Fichte, of Fichte Legal Consultants, argued that, due to high levels of unregulated activity in the Middle East it is impossible to drive CSR commitment through legislation.

“There have to be ethical standards in place, but we need to understand that there will always be companies here who don’t care about the reputation of the industry; therefore all levels of the industry need to be involved and take ownership of CSR,” she said.

The issue of reputation and risk management was also taken up by Bo Damsgaard, who cited Maersk’s redefined approach to driving an incident-free operation as a potential role model for the industry.

“As a company, we recognised that what we are doing with risk management and safety simply isn’t good enough; effecting positive change isn’t possible if we just keep looking at the numbers when we talk about an incident-free work environment.”

“Maersk has implemented a number of initiatives and is taking small steps to make this a behavioural change across the company. As a result, we are seeing increasing numbers of our people, across the company speak up and flag safety issues,” he added.

For Fichte, companies will only reap the reputation-enhancing benefits of ROI into training and safety in the long term.

“It’s very important to have role models for our industry, and for companies to gain this kind of ground and drive worldwide recognition is fantastic but, realistically, companies can only expect to see ROI in five to 10 years, and so this commitment must be driven from the top down,” she said.

The industry question time initiative is sponsored by P&O Maritime Services.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: panel | Middle East Workboats | maritime expert | support services |

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