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Port St. Maarten officials return from CSA Executive Committee Meeting

POINT BLANCHE, St. Maarten – Port St. Maarten – A delegation from Port St. Maarten recently attended the 13th Caribbean Shipping Executives Conference (CSEC) that was held Miami, Florida.

The conference was hosted this year in collaboration with the Port of Miami at the Marriott Biscayne Bay.  It brought together shipping industry executives from the Caribbean, Latin America, North America and Europe to discuss key issues affecting the industry.   

High on the agenda was an update on the Panama Canal, which has recently been embroiled in disputes over funding and delays.  An agreement is to be signed soon that would allow for construction to restart and the new date for the completion of the expansion is January 2016.

The Panama Canal connects 144 trade routes.  The main users are USA, China, Chile, Japan, Colombia and South Korea.  The canal contributes to the lowering of costs of transportation of goods as well as delivery time of products.  If the canal did not exist, cargo vessels would have to navigate around the South of Chile and vice versa which would mean considerable higher costs for international trade. 

Additional topics discussed included the new marine gas era, securing ports impact of International Ship and Port Facility Security/Maritime Transportation Security Act on shipping companies as well as a cruise industry update.

Port St. Maarten officials also listened keenly to a presentation about trends and developments related to power solutions for ships plying the oceans of the world as well as trends in the energy markets.  Wartsila did a presentation about ‘New Marine Era for Gas.’  Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is seen as the gas of the future.

Alfredo Di Palma, Chief Commercial Officer of Maersk/Sealand, gave a presentation on his company’s plans for the Caribbean.  Sealand is expected to start its Caribbean operations in January 2015.

Another topic was how maritime domain awareness affects ports and shipping, by William Lusk.  Lusk emphasized on the involvement of non-traditional stakeholders as Port security is everybody’s responsibility and others such as fishermen, boaters and environmental groups should be brought together in a consultation forum to provide their input.

Other topics ranged from the benefits of advanced level training in the maritime industry; an overview of marine sector insurance and a presentation by the Port of Miami, Juan M. Kuryla, port director under the theme, ‘Looking at The Caribbean as Latin America and the Caribbean make up Port of Miami Largest Trade Region.’  The Americas and the Caribbean make up 54.3 per cent of trade and Asia-Pacific 34.8 per cent.

Kuryla emphasized that the key to their port success is that partnership is key not only with various port departments, but also with lines and their respective agents.

Port St. Maarten has a cruise ranking of number four, and this is due to the strong strategic relationships that have been built with the cruise lines and other stakeholders.  On the side of cargo, Port St. Maarten management continues with its endeavours of becoming a top transhipment operation in the North Eastern Caribbean.

President of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Michele Paige made a presentation entitled, ‘The Cruise Industry: Know the Benefits in Order to Appreciate and Seize the Benefits.’  Paige was very adamant that ports needed to put the WOW factor back into cruise destinations and officials needed to create more AWESOME experience tours, and cruises go where passengers want to go.

During her presentation, Paige referred to St. Maarten several times pointing out the manner in which the destination was able to keep on top for both cruise passengers and crew.    

Port St. Maarten delegation comprised of Supervisory Board members Humphrey Mezas, Chairman of the Board, Renald Williams, board member, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo, Roger Lawrence, Manager Terminal and Cargo Operations, Hector Peters, General and Governmental Affairs, and Phil Laplace, St. Maarten Harbour Shipping Consultant.

PHOTO CUTLINE:  L to R, Hector Peters, Mark Mingo, Grantley Stephenson, President of the CSA, Humphrey Mezas, Renald Williams, and Roger Lawrence.

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