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Strengthen government links, says Jan Kopernicki, Shell VP

Lloyds List: Strengthen government links, says Kopernicki

“Jan Kopernicki, vice president of Shell International Trading and Shipping, launched his appeal on the opening day of IUMI after a year which has seen the European Union continue to set its own parameters for tightening measures against rogue shipowners and criminalisation of seafarers.”

Tuesday Sept 20, 2005

A CALL for governments and industry to work together to deal with the delicate questions of liability for disasters at sea came from a representative of one of the world’s leading shipping operators , writes James Brewer.

Jan Kopernicki, vice president of Shell International Trading and Shipping, launched his appeal on the opening day of IUMI after a year which has seen the European Union continue to set its own parameters for tightening measures against rogue shipowners and criminalisation of seafarers.

Although the EU has come under fire in the past for its ‘go it alone’ stance on some key shipping issues, Mr Kopernicki declared himself generally impressed with the tone of remarks at the conference by Christos Economou, head of maritime transport and safety policy in the commission in Brussels.

‘I think industry needs to look to itself to build dialogue with governments, with the EU through the IMO,’ said the Shell executive, who is also chairman of the Oil Companies International Maritime Forum.

Shell has a foot in two camps as a leading shipowner and charterer, and shipper of cargoes.

He said: ‘In order to have safe ships, the shipowners have to understand that they are responsible.’

He warned that the emphasis on criminalisation of ships was regrettable and diverted attention from important issues such as the development of the European Maritime Safety Agency, the revision of the international liability conventions and the initiative by the IMO to address piracy.

Mr Kopernicki was encouraged by the interest shown by the commission in the revision of the oil pollution conventions and its appreciation of the imbalanced position of oil receivers. He sought to encourage governments which wanted to revise the conventions, a move which would give an opportunity to improve safety and increase the balance of costs borne by shipowers, ‘and thereby their attentiveness to safety.’

He went on to back port state control measures and the IMO flag state audit initiative.

Mr Kopernicki stressed the importance of supporting governments addressing the issue of piracy. ‘I am hugely encouraged by the co-operation between governments of states around the Malacca Strait, and that must be further supported so that we rid that area of the piracy threat.’

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