Ferry Business - Spring/Summer 2018

International Cruise & Ferry Review Ferry Business COMMENTARY 106 n these days of activism where everyone is armed with access to social media, it does not take much effort to summon up a lot of collective outrage. A growing amount of this angst is swirling around the shipping and port industry where ships meet the shore. There is an historic irony here; so many great seaside cities began their lives precisely because they were a good place for ships to anchor, or eventually, to berth. The wharves were the reason the cities flourished, but try telling that to local activists who complain about the noise, dust, dirt, traffic and the emissions that tend to be associated with all kinds of maritime trade. Even the vessels themselves are seen as offensive, particularly if a vast cruise ship or ferry blocks the view from expensive condominiums sold precisely because of their aspect. Sometimes the offence isn’t personal, with people citing alarmist studies about the ‘diesel death zone’ and the tens of thousands of premature deaths allegedly caused in heavily trafficked port areas. There is a great deal of vested interests in commercial property development where companies are very happy to ally themselves with the angry residents and agitate to banish the port and the ships so they can add enormous value to freed-up waterfront land. This growing problem can be found all over the world, from sensitive environments like the pristine Norwegian fjordland and its small cities, or UNESCO World Heritage sites like Venice, Italy, where the procession of multi- decked monsters looming over the architectural treasury ashore have the population in revolt. In the port of Auckland, something of a citizens’ revolt has empowered the incoming New Zealand government to put the port’s expansion plans on hold. Across the Tasman Sea, there has been an ongoing furore over the Station Pier cruise and ferry terminal, where the port of Melbourne, Australia first began 200 years ago, with the local inhabitants of what is now a very desirable neighbourhood in a state of continuous rage over the cruise ship calls and the year-round exhalations from the Tasmanian ferry. There was even more of an uproar when the ferry blew off the berth in a storm and caused an emergency. Unless people actually earn their crust in the ferry terminals, the trucks and traffic surging through their town are a source of annoyance, not pride. From Australia to Spain and the beautiful havens of the Adriatic – it seems that nobody anywhere wants ferries and cruise ships to call, except the not inconsiderable number of people whose businesses benefit from their visits. But, if all are able to agree that trade and tourism are necessary adjuncts to prosperity, might the shipping and port industry be able to do anything to smooth these increasingly ruffled waters? Could technology have some of the answers? A small symposium in London recently provided evidence that there is reasonable awareness of the public concerns about ships and sensitive environments and a willingness to confront the problems. None of this is going to be easy, or cheap. As cruise ships and ferries tend to be built to last 30 years and upwards, there is a lot of old technology forming a legacy that will have to be dealt with before new and more advanced tonnage takes over. There has been some spectacular progress. There is a great deal of exciting Scandinavian activity in the Making passenger shipping more popular Ferry lines, cruise companies and ports must work together to quell public concerns about the environmental, health and tourism impact of large vessels Michael Grey Michael Grey is a master mariner turned maritime journalist and has edited both Fairplay and Lloyd’s List during his 60-year career ”There’s a great deal of exciting Scandinavian activity in hybrid or LNG-fuelled ferries”