Hyde Marine’s Mark Riggio reflects on the changes taking place globally and calls for greater unity across the ballast water sector
The world looks very different today than it did just four months ago. Back then we were talking about fuels, CO2 limits, and ballast water treatment. Today we are talking about quarantine, social distancing, and radically altered cargo markets. Times of dynamic change like this bring danger and risk, but they are also times of great opportunity.
The ballast water treatment industry is at an inflection point. We no longer question when the convention will come into force. We no longer wonder how the implementation cycle will play out. Each of these things have been set.
We also know what approvals are needed; not only US Coast Guard approval, but also the new IMO Ballast Water Management Code approval. We have a good idea of which companies will make it to the end of this market.
Now there is a new disruption: COVID-19. Already, we have seen a manufacturing hub for ballast filters impacted. Manufacturers across the globe are finding new ways to produce systems, but with less efficiency and speed than before. Travel is all but impossible, as is the servicing and commissioning of systems.
These are daunting challenges for a mature industry, let alone one just reaching adolescence.
Now more than ever we need to band together as an industry to meet the challenges that we all face. We need to look our customers in the eye and speak from a place of honestly and respect for each other.
Competition is the nature of business and each manufacturer has its own unique value proposition. At Hyde Marine, we pride ourselves on having a product built to the highest standards and featuring the latest technology to improve the user’s experience. We strive for simplicity in operation, ease in servicing, and to drive the industry forward through sharing our experience.
When we took part in the formation of the Ballast Water Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (BEMA), we became part of a group of manufacturers that wanted to build up our industry. I am very proud of that group and the many companies that participate in BEMA.
It is a good start, but that work must continue and it must be continued by others in the industry. We can be competitors, but in times like these it is critical that we are an industry first.
I design and market ballast water treatment systems because I believe in the importance of protecting the marine environment. Aquatic invasive species are not something the average person considers. Today, though, we are all living in a world that mirrors the one I am trying to protect.
In our world, an invasive virus has been spread across numerous geographical barriers by transportation means – both ships and aircraft – and is spreading wildly in an environment with no natural protection or immunity. The same scenario that we protect against for the oceans of the world.
We can all agree that if there was a device that could be installed on a plane that could detect infection then the airlines would be required to install such equipment. We are very effective at doing just that for the ships we serve.
I am proud to be in this industry and proud of the 16 other manufacturers that have joined with me to move ballast water treatment forward. Come, join us, and together we can take this adolescent market all the way to maturity, regardless of the challenges we may all collectively face.
Mark Riggio is president of the Ballast Water Equipment Manufacturers Association (BEMA) and senior market manager, Hyde Marine