Caribbean maritime leaders meet to discuss industry trends, challenges and opportunities
Representatives from all aspects of the maritime shipping industry met in Cocoa Beach, Fla., May 16-18 for the Caribbean Shipping Associations’ (CSA) Shipping Executives Conference.
Attendees include shippers, ship owners, port authorities and terminal operators, and non-vessel owners, such as brokers.
A major theme of the conference was the close relationship between Florida ports and the Caribbean markets.
“Florida ports have had a long relationship of trade with the Caribbean nations, and are proud to count them as some of our most valuable partners,” said Doug Wheeler, president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council.
The CSA conference focused on the emerging market opportunities represented by the opening of Cuba to commerce, as well as the widening of the Panama Canal. Other issues discussed included big data, the current state of the financial markets and the impact on shipping, and the importance of correct container weights for proper loading and safe ship operation.
The program underscored the Caribbean’s dependence on maritime commerce. Eduardo Pagan, Tote Maritime’s vice president and general manager for the Caribbean, said his company is very much engaged with the regional shipping community. “We’re a U.S. company, but we operate in the Caribbean, and we want to support the maritime business in the region.”
“Although volume is much less than a decade ago, Puerto Rico is still very much dependent on the sea for imports and exports,” Pagan says. “We also transship cargo to the U.S. Virgin Islands, with scheduled service.”
The conference also focused on resilience of Caribbean nations and the maritime entities that serve the region, and the requirement to be able to respond promptly and appropriately when natural disasters or man-made crises occur. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, wildfires, pandemics, terrorist activity and cyber-attacks can have a devastating impact, especially on smaller nations such as those in the Caribbean region, which is already prone to hurricanes and tsunamis.
Rick Murrell, president and CEO of Tropical Shipping, discussed the importance of industry leaders to be prepared to help their companies and their families to help the Caribbean mitigate any kind of suffering as a result of a major disaster, and ensure the continuity of government, services and commerce. Murrell says a company’s most important resource is the families of employees. “They must have from-the-heart trust that their company will take care of them and their families.”
The shipping executives’ conference was hosted by Port Canaveral, a Florida port with important cruise and cargo service to the Caribbean.
Established in 1971, CSA represents private and public sector interests across the entire Caribbean area, including South, Central and North American ports to facilitate development of an efficient, viable Caribbean shipping industry.
Since then, CSA has become the voice of the region's shipping industry, and has represented its membership in relevant regional hemispheric groupings, associations and organizations - governmental, multilateral and private sector; and maintains observer status with leading Caribbean multilateral bodies CARICOM and the Association of Caribbean States.
CSA membership includes 12 national shipping associations and over 100 individual member entities, including port authorities, terminal operators, shipping agents, shipping lines, tug and salvage companies, consultants, freight forwarders, leasing companies and others.
CSA’s General Manager Fernando Rivera says the Caribbean nations all share a common maritime connection and have a shared interest in safe and secure commerce.
According to Rivera, the exchange of information and ideas is essential to development. Helping members to improve efficiency, production and output, is the association’s function. “For this reason, CSA provides training, mentoring, and opportunities to visit other ports in the region to learn best practices to develop the people involved in the Caribbean shipping industry.”
“We’ve been doing this for 46 years,” says Rivera. “As in the past, there is a great deal of valuable networking going on here for our members.”
CSA will hold their 2016 annual general meeting in Trinidad and Tobago Oct. 17-19.
The Caribbean Shipping Association's membership is divided into the following four groups:
1. Ships Agents and Private Stevedore Contractors Group (Group A)
Membership of this group consist of National Associations or individual agents who perform an agency function for any or all classes of ships and private Stevedore Contractors.
2. The Port Wharf and/or Terminal Operators Group (Group B)
Membership of this group include those members who are port, wharf and terminal operators and Port Authorities.
3. The Ship Owners/Operators Group (Group C)
Group C consists of those members who are owners and operators of public passenger or cargo vessels.
4. The Ocean Transportation Intermediaries Group (Group D)
Group D is comprised of those members who are either an Ocean Freight Forwarder or a Non-vessel Operating common carrier (NVOCC).