The globalization of the shipping industry, just like globalization in other sectors, has, on the whole, not contributed to human security, the protection of the environment, and the fortunes of the poor. Suffice it to remember that about 70 percent of the globalized fleet is registered in open registries issued in Panama, Liberia, the Bahamas, Cyprus, and half a dozen other states, often with loose standards, if any, for labor conditions and for the environment. Globalization has contributed to the plight of seamen from poor countries and to the marginalization of weaker economies and countries off the mainstream of shipping and transport developments.
Shipping requires a huge capital investment. … The best laid company plans can be made to look foolish by sudden collapses in the market. (Vassilis Constantakopoulos)
Shipping is in its own knowledge crisis. Recognition and understanding of the industry is low. In many cases, the shipping community itself is growing disheartened. Professionals quit the industry, taking their precious knowledge with them. (Vassilis Constantakopoulos)
And, as Edgar Gold points out, the number of well-trained seafarers is also dwindling, for a variety of reasons, thus contributing an additional dimension to the “crisis of knowledge.”
Elisabeth Mann Borgese*