Two images. One of shipping companies that are at the forefront and are investing in environmental and sustainability work. This is what we in the “industry” see and convey. Then we have the other, another side of reality. When a boost in education is needed to make shipping more sustainable, this must be included as well.
“We interview students at the maritime academy who have been out on internships. They tell horror stories about what really happens. Over half have been involved in oil spills or dumping garbage, plastic and other things overboard and so on. Nobody talks about it loudly,” Kjell Larsson, professor of maritime science and a member of the Lighthouse program committee, says.
At maritime conferences and in branch magazines, the good examples are often highlighted – the Swedish shipping companies that have taken their responsibility and works towards a sustainable shipping present their latest findings and achievements and try to inspire others.
“They may represent 50-100 vessels in total. But then we have 8,000 others who were in the Baltic Sea and the waters around Sweden last year. And we have more than three times as many vessels from gray and blacklisted countries than we have Swedish-flagged in our immediate area. About 800 oil spills in Swedish water have also been confirmed by the Coast Guard over the past five years. There is a difference between the image and what happens in reality at sea,” Kjell Larsson says and continues:
“So how do we solve that problem? Sure, there is a need for regulations, but that’s not enough. In order to get a marine engineer to optimize the system, he or she must have the knowledge that the measure actually benefits the environment. With knowledge, attitudes change.
Kjell Larsson believes that there are shipping companies and others in the shipping industry who actually want to get better, who want to protect the environment, but who have not really had the opportunity, time and knowledge to be at the forefront on sustainability work. This group is especially important to reach with new knowledge and the pre-study Education for an environmentally sustainable shipping will create the conditions for this. Kjell Larsson and Kent Salo lead the project, which is done within the framework of the Swedish Transport Administration’s industry program Sustainable Shipping.
“It is not really a pre-study in the ordinary sense. It will not lead to a research project, but will propose new types of education. The underlying idea is that more knowledge will change attitudes and that this in turn will lead to changes on a broad front.”
The purpose is to investigate how maritime training and continuing education courses can be changed – what are the needs?
“It’s very hands on. Step one is to inventory what courses are available. Then we do interviews with government and industry representatives. What needs do they see?”
It is not obvious that further environmental initiatives should be placed on university programs. These are very strongly governed by the STCW Convention (the international regulations governing the training of seafarers) and the room for change is small, explains Kjell Larsson.
“But the universities also provide training courses and assignment training courses. And there may be other players on the market who provide courses, or exchange of information. We are open to other than academic courses.”
This spring, the pre-study (which is a collaboration between Linnaeus University, Chalmers, RISE, VTI, the The Swedish Mercantile Marine Foundation and Swedish Shipowner’s association will be completed.
When can you expect that there are courses with new tools of environmental knowledge?
“If we can only find out what is being asked for, then such courses should be offered soon. This project is about what we can change in the near future,” Kjell Larsson says.