Port investment, skills shortages, environmental regulations and digitalisation discussed at European Tugowners Association event
European towage leaders discussed the key industry topics at the 56th annual meeting of the European Tugowners Association (ETA) in Limassol, Cyprus, hosted by Vasiliko Terminal Services.
ETA members discussed how future port investments, environmental regulations, labour force shortages and technology innovations will affect harbour towage.
More than 120 participants among ETA full and associate member delegates and guests attended the annual meeting. During the three-day event, ETA members reinforced their business and personal relationships as they discussed the European towage sector.
Delegates addressed the impact shipping developments and EU policies have on the industry, particularly the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation and its possible repeal. Furthermore, ETA presented its new video on efficient and safe harbour towage operations during the annual meeting, which was produced in co-operation with the European Maritime Pilots Association.
The ETA annual general meeting approved the appointment of a new chairman of the association. After two productive years Leendert Muller (Multraship Towage & Salvage) handed over the ETA baton to Kimmo Lehto (Alfons Håkans), who will be chairman for the next two-year term. His previous position as deputy chairman will be taken by Vicente Boluda Ceballos (Boluda Corporacion Maritima).
This year´s annual meeting conference addressed the challenges and trends in European shipping and ports. The speakers, ranging from Cyprus deputy minister for shipping Natasa Pilides, to the president of FEPORT, Günther Bonz, provided different perspectives on the main threats and opportunities impacting the shipping sector. In this regard, speakers focused on the increasing impact megaships have on ports and the towage industry, and highlighted skills acquisition and adopting digital solutions to keep the EU leading the sector.
“The European towage industry is a key player in the logistics chain, has proven flexibility and ambition to adapt to these new shipping challenges,” said ETA chairman Kimmo Lehto. “Nowadays, ETA members own the greenest and most technologically advanced tugs and continually strive to offer the best service.
“In spite of the enormous challenges caused by the expansion of megaships, the European tug fleet can and will be efficient by adhering to the highest safety standards,” said Mr Lehto.
ETA represents the tug sector at a European level and is composed of 88 full members in 25 countries. They own or operate a combined fleet of over 900 tugs in European ports. ETA membership ranges from major towage companies operating more than 100 tugs worldwide to family businesses and port authorities with very small-to-medium-size tug fleets.
ETA’s work during the next year will focus on consolidating its relationship with shipping industry stakeholders at EU level, and strengthening contacts with tugowners and shipping associations worldwide.