Future visions during European Maritime Day

European Maritime Day in Turku, Finland, served a plate of various topics this year. Environment, informatics and digitalisation, maritime spatial planning, as well as collaboration and gender was on the agenda during the workshops and discussions.

Cruising and effective solutions for growth

Tom Strang Senior Vice President, Maritime Affairs at Carnival corp. and Chair of the Cruise Line International Association, Europe Environment, Safety and Security Subcommittee said that environmental issues are being put high on the agenda.

- Environmental sustainability is important and we need to work together, Tom Strang said.

Anna Petersson, head of Environment section, Swedish Transport Agency, gave several key messages to the audience.

- Our common goal is sustainability for the region and we therefore need to collaborate on a regional level with broad involvement of all relevant stakeholders from an early stage. It is also important to investigate possibilities and incentives for voluntary application prior and beyond regulations. We need to ask ourselves “how can we create economic advantages for early movers?”, Anna Petersson said.

Kirsti Tarnanen-Sariola, Deputy Director of the Finnish Port Association (tbc) / European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), suggested that long-term commitment and new solutions might be needed for sustainable businesses.

- What if we for instance turn waste management into circular economy? Kirsti Tarnanen-Sariola said.

Autonomous vessels, digitalisation and big data

Unmanned and autonomous vessels as well as digitalisation was a clear trend on the agenda on this year’s European Maritime day. At least three stakeholder workshops where entirely dedicated to the subject and almost all discussions identified the subject as a way to solve challenges in the maritime sector.  For instance, big data and connectivity were portrayed as great possibilities for the future, both for shipping and maritime spatial planning.

Esa Jokioinen, Head of Blue Ocean Team, Rolls-Royce Marine, saw several possibilities with the new technology for autonomous vessels.

- The technology can lead to reduced crew costs, utilisation of the crews’ full potential, better working conditions, ship efficiency and improved safety, Esa Jokioinen said.

With regards to safety, Esa Jokioinen said that the new ships will be safer than before with fewer accidents, human error, no piracy victims and remove humans from dangerous zones.

The trend and prognoses that were presented predicted that reduced crew members with remote support and operation of certain functions and remotely operated local vessels will happen already 2020, remote controlled unmanned coastal vessels 2025, remote controlled unmanned ocean going ships in 2030 and autonomous unmanned ocean going ships in 2035.

According to Jonne Poikonen, Senior Research Fellow, University of Turku Technology Research Centre, the technology needed for future development already exist; the challenge is to combine the technology with reliability and cost effectiveness.

Facilitating joint action

Collaboration was another buzz word used by almost all speakers. The workshop “Facilitating joint action” brought up the importance of connecting, aligning and create commitment between stakeholders.

- To be able to connect, instruments for cooperation are important, for instance road-mapping, value-chain and capability mapping. When it comes to alignment, it concerns alignments between EU-level and regional and industry strategies where cluster organisations and a need for smart specialisation is important. Committing concerns leadership, joint vision and motivation as well as incentives, Jan Larosse, Senior Policy Analyst, Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission, said.

Gender diversity

Gender diversity was another subject on top of several persons´ mind, both concerning the maritime sector in general and during the European Maritime Day itself. For instance, the gender ratio showed that only 1 in 5 speakers were women, which created a debate on social media, and the audience argued the need of bringing up more women in leader positions. “You cannot be what you cannot see” was stated by the audience and gender diversity was also discussed by the leadership exchange panel as something that the sector will work further with.  

Text and photo: Carolina Kihlström