Connecting ships, ports and people - Solomon Star News

Connecting ships, ports and people

10 October 2017

Dear Editor - World Maritime Day (28 September) has been marked around the world in a series of events and celebrations led by International Maritime Organization (IMO) from its London headquarters. Seafaring nations, coastal states and the shipping industry staged conferences, seminars and public events under the 2017 theme “Connecting Ships, Ports and People”.

At the heart of Honiara where the Solomon Islands Maritime Safety Administration (SIMSA) and the Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) are located next to each other, the traditional diplomatic reception was preceded by short forum organised by SIMSA for maritime actors, relevant stakeholders and at the same time pulled in together two diplomatic powers of Australia and UK for celebration of the World Maritime Day and the signing of the historic Hydrographic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Australia Hydrographic Services (AHS) and the Solomon Islands Maritime Safety Administration.

Inside this MoU signed on Thursday 28 September has a variety of good collaborations to hydrographic services between Australia and Solomon Islands and the foremost be to establish, coordinate and enhance cooperation in hydrographic activities between the Australian Hydrographic Service and the Hydrographic Unit of the Solomon Islands Maritime Safety Administration especially on matters associated with the need for safe navigation and at the standards suitable for international shipping and many more important objectives beneficial to both countries.

The maritime sector, which includes shipping, ports and the people that operate them, can and should play a significant role helping Solomon Islands to create conditions for increased employment in our local seafaring community, prosperity and stability ashore through promoting trade by sea; enhancing the port and maritime sector as wealth creators both on land; and through developing a modernize maritime tourism and sustaining blue economy at sea.

Other way of improving our economy is by focusing on helping our local shipping industry remain afloat and moving, improve better freight rates through review existing legislations on taxes, rates, and marine levies, draw up policy guidelines with clear directions and reforming national maritime administration for implementation of maritime strategies to invest in a joined-up, interagency approach that addresses the whole range of issues, including the facilitation of maritime transport, and increasing efficiency to sea transport , navigational safety, protection of the marine environment, and maritime security.

In this way, Solomon Islands will be contributing to achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are a broad response to the challenges facing the world today – increasing world population; climate change; threats to the environment; unsustainable exploitation of natural resources; threats to food security; societal threats posed by organized criminals and violent extremists; and instability leading to mixed migration.

International trade has evolved such that almost no nation can be fully self-sufficient. Every country relies, to some degree, on selling what it produces and acquiring what it lacks: none can be dependent only on its domestic resources.

Shipping is the only truly cost-effective and sustainable means by which this can be fulfilled. Today, people all over the world rely on ships to transport the commodities, fuel, foodstuffs, goods and products on which we all depend. Maritime transport is the backbone of national and international trade and the global economy.

The truth is, shipping affects us all. No matter where you may be in our island provinces from Ontong Java in the North to Rennell-Bellona in South and Anuta Island in the far East to Shortland Islands of the West, if you look around you, you are almost certain to see something that either has been or will be transported by sea, whether in the form of raw materials, components or the finished article.

Yet few people have any idea just how much they rely on shipping. For the vast majority, shipping is out of sight and out of mind. But this does a huge disservice to the industry that, quietly and efficiently, day and night, never pausing and never stopping, keeps the islands as nation and turning and keeps the people of the world fed, clothed, housed and entertained.

Thank you.

Derek Saru