European Tugowners Association (ETA) celebrated the 50th annual conference in Opatija; Croatia

by Hans | June 4th, 2013

Hosted by local member JADRANSKI POMORSKI SERVIS d.d. from Rijeka, over one hundred delegates, representing a membership of 82 companies from 21 European countries gathered in Opatija, Croatia for the 50th Annual Conference of the European Tugowners Association (ETA).

Founded in 1963, the ETA is one of the oldest maritime interest organizations in Europe and represents the interests of towage operators large and small, whose tugs are present in all of the top fifty European ports. The ETA is the sole voice of towage in Europe, making representations primarily at the European Commission.

During the Annual General Meeting the members elected Peter Vierstraete from Smit Harbour Towage to succeed Richard Knight from JP Knight Group. Mario Mizzi from Tug Malta became the new Deputy Chairman. The conference coincided with the publication by the European Commission’s DGMove of a new legislative initiative on ports and ports services by way of a draft Communication and Regulation, the text of which you find at:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kallas/headlines/news/2013/05/doc/communication.zip  and http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kallas/headlines/news/2013/05/doc/regulation.zip

The Executive Committee of the ETA has launched a wide consultation among Members after circulation of the drafts, in order to assess the potential impact of this third “Port Package” which succeeds the two previous proposed draft Directives that failed to pass the vote in the European Parliament. Such consultation is vital, out-going Chairman Richard Knight commented, as in terms of legislation towage is often an after-thought and finds itself caught between conflicting directives. Circumstances vary widely from port to port and generic initiatives can cause competitive imbalance particularly at a national level. Mr Zdenko Antešić, Deputy of the Croatian Minister of Transport & Maritime Affairs, welcomed the delegates of members and associate members.

EU Ambassador Paul Vandoren, Head of Delegation of the EU to Croatia, addressed the conference as key note speaker. He described the challenges and opportunities attached to the forthcoming access of the hosting country Croatia designated to be formalized on 1 July 2013 subject to the last ratification by Germany of the Treaty on the access.

Vlado Mezak, Director of the Rijeka Port Authority described the ambitious plans of the port on its further development and the facilitation of hinterland connections by railway and other infrastructure.

Associate Member Anglo Belgian Corporation (ABC) based in Ghent, Belgium, area sales managers Jean-Pierre Props and Pieter Boeykens presented this 100 year old engine maker’s efforts on research and development of ecologically sound engines for tugs.

Lloyd’s Register’s Tony Field offered the audience a number of key requirements for successful MLC 2006 implementation, underlining that using common sense and being practical are the key elements.

Barry Griffin from B.A. Griffin Associates in Boston, Massachusetts allowed the European operators to assess how harbour towage operations are evolving in the United States by describing the evolution of tug types, their way of operating and by pointing at some very interesting and sometimes unusual possible future technical solutions to berth and unberth vessels “possibly with no tugs at all”, the speaker ironically brought forward.

The last speaker, Professor Dr Eric Van Hooydonk, advocate in Antwerp and Chairman of Portius, the world’s first ever international and EU port law centre, presented the book which he wrote on the ETA’s history, entitled “Fifty years of the European Tugowners Association, from London club to Brussels lobby” and handed out the first copy to chairman Richard Knight.

Drawn from the well kept archives, photographs and interviews with acting and retired officers of the ETA, the book describes the association’s and members’ activities since 1962/1963, when Sir William Crosthwaite, (founder of the British Tugowners Association in 1934), launched the idea of creating an international or European organization to act as an interest group for towage owners and operators.

Divided into two sections (the International years 1963-1988 and the European Years 1989-2013) the author pictures the evolution of the association upto today’s recognition by the European authorities as the sole representative lobby for harbour towage in the EU.

Quoting from his foreword, chairman Richard Knight said:

“… an unlikely association of widely differing interests united 50 years ago to find common ground and succeeded. The ETA finds itself at the European Commission’s table, perhaps a little low profile still, but always conscious of the industry’s primary raison d’être: to serve.”

The chairman thanked the hosts, Jadranski Pomorski Servis d.d from Rijeka and the sponsors Anglo Belgian Corporation, Damen, Redwise, Sanmar Shipyard, Schottel, Shipowners, TOS and Voith.

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One Response to “European Tugowners Association (ETA) celebrated the 50th annual conference in Opatija; Croatia”

  1. capt mehmet ozyabaslıgil says:

    Congratulations the 50th annual conference of ETA
    Salvage Master & Arbitration Expert

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