Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
~from the Tao-te Ching (translation by Stephen Mitchell)
The shipping industry is trying hard to reduce emissions from ships. Well and good. Global warming is bad enough without shipowners adding to the problem. But what about the excess of other things in the maritime world? The following are five examples. They need to be reduced in the name of moderation, one of the virtues prescribed in the Tao-te Ching, the classic of Chinese philosophical literature.
Conferences, particularly the two-day variety, are the bane of the maritime world. Just about every topic serves as the bone around which conference organisers try to wrap some meat. Why have these talkathons when experts’ papers can be uploaded to the internet for others to comment on? Ah, but that would mean no junkets for maritime executives.
Slogans and Speeches
These are twin epidemics for which no vaccine has been discovered. The source of the sloganeering sickness can often be traced to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) headquarters in London, where word-spinners always come up with something new for the World Maritime Day and the Day of the Seafarer.
Press releases are filling maritime news websites to the brim. Editors probably cannot be blamed for gobbling them up. Maintaining a pool of correspondents costs money. But enough is enough. Readers deserve more than paltry, self-serving press releases.
Just as plastics are filling the oceans, certificates are inundating the shipping world. Ship officers have a trunkful of training certificates, more than the number a medical doctor can dream of. Maritime companies are not exempt from the certificate mania. Despite it all, serious marine accidents are still happening.
Manning companies are not known to protect the rights and welfare of seafarers. On the contrary, many are patently anti-seafarer. They should be wiped out from the maritime landscape and replaced with union-operated hiring halls.
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