Government is taking steps at the policy and legislative level to build resilience in the shipping industry.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Ian Gooding-Edghhill disclosed on Friday that the Marine Transport (Emissions Control) suite of legislation is due to go before Parliament soon.
He said the legislation seeks to green the shipping sector by promoting energy-efficient systems and reducing carbon emissions and other gases that come from the combustion of fuels.
Gooding-Edghill made the announcement during his feature address at the presentation of the Minister’s Award of Excellence ceremony, held at One Barbados Place, Warren’s, St Michael.
He indicated that with the introduction of new approaches and the technologies available, the shipping sector can have a positive impact on the environment.
“We are all aware of the impacts of climate change on states such as ours and of Barbados’ call to mitigate such impacts on the international level. I am also convinced that Barbadians can contribute to the research and development of these new technologies, whether they are in maritime or other sectors,” he said.
With the evolving shipping industry being impacted by digitisation, decarbonisation and the introduction of autonomous ships and remote control centres, Minister Gooding-Edghill stressed that there is a need for industry workers who are increasingly skilled and trained to use modern technologies.
However, recognising that there is a deficit of human resource capacity in the maritime sector, he said his ministry has been in discussions with local training institutions to facilitate programmes that will equip Barbadians with the knowledge and skills to work on vessels as crew or onshore in areas such as port management and maritime-related regulatory services.
He said it is hoped that once trained, graduates will participate in the development and growth of new industries such as ship building and repair and shipping logistics.
Meanwhile, principal of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI) Ian Drakes, delivering remarks at the ceremony, said he hoped that legislation to further develop the maritime industry would soon become a reality.
He said the SJPI can only access the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) status to provide specialised training for prospective maritime workers if the necessary legislation is passed.
“I believe that we can have that legislation where I don’t have to turn to Trinidad or Jamaica to pay out our invisible foreign exchange and be able to have a certified institution that is STCW (Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping)-certified,” he said.
“I have harbourmasters and so on that provide the requisite training to all students and also, by extension, John Public who has that interest. This industry is exploding and there is a massive shortage of persons because of the [COVID-19] pandemic. So I am looking forward to that legislation being at the forefront as it relates to moving forward,” Drakes added.
The principal said other Caribbean countries have been showing interest in sending nationals to the SJPI to receive training in various areas in the maritime sector but he has had to turn them away because of the lack of necessary legislation.