ECASBA was invited by the European Commission to participate in a major conference on e-Maritime held in Brussels on 22nd/23rd November and to present its views to one of the sector-specific workshops that were held on the second day of the event.

ECASBA’s presentation was entitled “The Port Agent, the Centre of the Port-Ship Operation” and had two main aims. Firstly we set out to demonstrate to the audience both the pivotal role of the ship agent in the efficient and effective progress of the port call and, with the advantage of being the only party to see the whole picture, the agent’s ability to add further value o the call through a proactive approach to scheduling and the provision of port services to the best advantage of the master, owners and indeed the whole port community.

The second aim was to express the view that by itself, the introduction of a regime to allow the electronic transmission of data between the ship and shore would add very little value, primarily because the current system of data dissemination, effected by the agent and (in many ports) the port community systems, already worked very efficiently. We therefore argued that the main thrust of the programme should be aimed at reducing the volume of information that requires to be exchanged, a point of view that was amply demonstrated in an earlier presentation by the master of a Maersk E-class container vessel who detailed the number and variety of documents he is required to produce on a run of five calls along the coast of Europe.

We also called for the application of single market procedures to the ship reporting function and at the end of our presentation issued a challenge to the authorities present at the meeting that can best be summarised as: “Come up with a valid reason why you need this particular piece of information we are giving you or stop asking for it!”

All the presentations were recorded and are available here.