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Speech by the Director of Marine, Ms. Carol Yuen
at the Seminar of Nautical Institute Hong Kong Branch
for the 50th Anniversary of the Nautical Institute

Capt. André LeGoubin, the President of Nautical Institute, Capt. Aalok Sharma, the Honorary Chairman of Nautical Institute Hong Kong Branch, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning!  It is my great pleasure today to join the celebration for the 50th Anniversary of the Nautical Institute, and take part in the seminar organized by the Nautical Institute Hong Kong Branch, where nautical professionals around the world will share their profound insight and explore new opportunities together for the longer term development of the maritime industry.  As the world is returning to business and reviving from the impact of the pandemic, the celebration signals the steadfast and ongoing support of the Institute for the maritime profession in the past 50 years, and the Institute’s valuable contribution to the promotion of nautical excellence.

Maritime transportation is crucial to worldwide logistics and international trade.  The Hong Kong Port and our maritime professionals have experienced enormous challenges in recent years.  The prolonged pandemic and the changing economic landscape globally have led to various disruptions to established practices and norms.  The maritime community has been facing unprecedented and tremendous changes.  We are also confronted with new demands set off by the drive for decarbonization and the rapid development of information technologies.  We are in an era of change. In the coming decade, we are expecting more changes.

We have to respond to the changing environment at all times in order to maintain and enhance our port efficiency and the smooth operation of our fleet.  Taking crew change as an example.  Crew change is essential for seamen’s well-being and for effective ship operations.  To safeguard the rights of repatriation of seamen under the Maritime Labour Convention, Hong Kong was one of the few ports that facilitated crew change during the worst time of this global pandemic.  By securing a balance between quarantine requirements and operational needs, Marine Department formulated workflows and deployed resources to facilitate crew change.  We are grateful for the trade and our nautical practitioners, who reacted to the rapidly changing pandemic situation and quarantine requirements in various parts of the world proactively, efficiently and professionally.  With the Government-industry cooperation, thousands of seafarers had joined ships or were repatriated via Hong Kong in the past two years.

We are going to face more demanding and longer term challenges in the coming decade.  Like the late 19th century when maritime industry transited from sail to steam, we shall participate in a historical transition across the globe from fossil fuel to sustainable green energy.  In the face of technological breakthrough and continuous changes in rules and operational practices, people is the key.  We need talented maritime practitioners to formulate new practices, and highly educated seafarers to operate ships with new technologies.  The Hong Kong Government has been promoting maritime career to groom local talents for high value-added shipping services, professional sea-going deck officers and engineers, as well as local vessel crew to raise the overall competitiveness of the Hong Kong Port.  In his recent Policy Address in October, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong announced that the Government is going to launch a Maritime Services Traineeship Scheme that will assist maritime services employers in training young professionals.  We are committed to supporting young seagoing officers and maritime professionals, to fully capitalize on our position as an important maritime hub in the region.

To attract young people to the local vessel industry, the Maritime Aviation Training Fund has also supported the Hong Kong Sea School to run an enhanced maritime curriculum to nurture a new generation of coxswains, who will operate new local ferries with brand new technology in the future.  The Marine Department has been working closely with the Hong Kong Sea School to ensure the maritime curriculum is tailor made to deliver local coxswain training, that would meet our examination and certification requirements.  This initiative has received strong support by parents and the local vessel trade.  We look forward to seeing a rejuvenated local vessel industry with a continuous supply of fresh blood.

As the world is advocating smart and green shipping, it is imminent for the Hong Kong Port to catch up with the trend.  The Marine Department will implement in phases the use of electronic certificates / licences / permits by Hong Kong registered vessels under the Hong Kong Shipping Register and local vessels with a view to enhancing marine services.  Phase I will benefit Hong Kong registered vessels and is expected to be implemented in mid next year, while Phase II will cover all local vessels and is expected to be implemented in 2024.  As an international shipping centre, Hong Kong will also continue to promote the development of “green port” through different measures, and encourage the industry to adopt more sustainable shipping initiatives.  We are committed to ensuring that the local legislation is in compliance with the environmental protection requirements of the International Maritime Organisation.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Marine Department will continue to work closely with maritime professionals to sustain the long term development of the industry.  There is no doubt that with collaborative efforts, the Nautical Institute including the Hong Kong Branch will continue to scale new heights and embrace new challenges ahead.  I wish the seminar today a great success.  Thank you.

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16 February 2024
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