Maritime EMS - a Discussion
EMS (Environment Management System) within maritime context is, according to US EPA.gov (2019) a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency. While this is a legal requirement, there surely exist people who are skeptical of EMS therefore, it is worth mention and discussion online; from positive and negative aspects leaving my readers to draw their own conclusions about it.
To begin, it is important to note that ports reflect not only national/cultural heritage but also management and business practices alongside commercial and legal attitudes as ports are a long-term investment of financial resources; representing local economy and logistics. Any professional knows that ports are meant to facilitate cargo and ship traffic also facilitating supply chain logistics. However, as ports are at focal point with shallow waters where ships converge; making ships more vulnerable to an accident. Another problem would be theft of cargo as the concentration of valuables is high; damage to cargo is also more likely.
EMS is important for those venturing into ship management; after starting a study on delays and longest port stays as they can become costly, especially for cargo vessels which have a penalty and liability on them; creating problems for owners and charterers. Other issues, like with any other maritime installation or operation involve existing environmental policies controlling emissions, storage, and handling of incoming materials.
Possible Negatives of EMS
While keeping a check on waste disposal and emissions is important as failure to do so results in damage to the surrounding ecology as well as the personnel who work in the port; (obviously, legal repercussions too) it is also important to consider side-effects of having an EMS. The most obvious drawback of having an EMS are extra operating/standard procedures accompanying anything which comes under its jurisdiction; making a process more complicated and time-consuming. In a port, time-consuming processes have a bad effect on docked vessels since owners, as mentioned above, will get penalized for their delay which was itself caused by port EMS - some fines and penalties may follow.
EMS usually means the addition of new procedures and new staff members to ensure they function correctly; making any infrastructure, not just a port more productive with new employment opportunities which in-turn can reduce unemployment in the local community and represent the port since it does represent local attitudes to business. However, employment of any individuals may not always benefit a company since most employees won't be satisfied with their current salaries or conditions, therefore, will be prone to rioting or striking; effectively adding another challenge to management. This will be a sudden shift which will warrant big changes to accommodate; complicating matters further.
Complications and Considerations
More complications arise when hazardous cargo is handled by inexperienced personnel which can lead to fatal injuries or even death among employees inspecting or handling said materials. Though this can be averted with proper guidance, there is only so much an overseer/brigadier can do with the number of employees rising.
EMS, while an essential part of port management it receives almost excessive attention while the port's infrastructure doesn't receive as much. An example of such an aspect is ignoring easily-exploitable loopholes which themselves leads to facilitation of smuggling, human trafficking, and even piracy. Loopholes are discovered with time and known by insiders, they are discovered sooner if the infrastructure receives enough attention. After the discovery, appropriate measures would be taken to fix the loophole.
To create an EMS, operation and port activity outcome trends must be investigated alongside trends in legislation and commerce. Research is a demanding investment concerning the time and effort required to deliver the useful, most accurate information. Hiring a research specialist is not as expensive, coming in at approximately 1000$/month; however, the expenses can add up further down the process if not planned properly. Hiring an experienced researcher does fix some problems as someone with experience saves money on training and can train others if more are hired for the task.
Conclusion and Personal Takeaway
Finally, it is also important to look at your port activity and see if your EMS needs an overhaul, to begin with. Maybe your port activity does not produce environmental damage worth of a policy. Therefore, such an approach may not be needed. Also, your port's location plays a role - sea space prone to piracy and human trafficking reports needs more focus on security rather than environmental matters. Another important takeaway is that environmental impact receives too much attention from many organizations even outside the maritime sphere - involuntarily adding loopholes inside non-environmental matters.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Jake Clawson