Coronavirus sinks maritime conferences

From AAPA to WISTA, more and more maritime industry groups are canceling or postponing conferences or making the gatherings available to participants remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) announced in a tweet Wednesday that it had canceled its spring conference “due to the ongoing public health crisis.”

That conference had been slated for next week, from Tuesday to Thursday, in Washington.

The U.S. chapter of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) also had been scheduled to meet next week. The two-day annual general meeting and conference was to get underway Thursday in Houston.

WISTA USA President Parker Harrison said in a letter to members that the planning committee was working “to identify alternate dates, likely in the summer to avoid conflicting with the myriad other maritime events throughout the year, including the WISTA International AGM & Conference in Hamburg in mid-September.”

Harrison thanked members for their “support, patience and understanding as we work through this challenging and rapidly evolving situation.”

She added, “In the meantime, please take all necessary precautions to keep yourselves and your families safe.”

Harrison is Crowley Maritime’s senior vice president of procurement and risk management. Crowley has suspended employee travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea and limited travel to Seattle-area airports. All vessel crew members are being prescreened for the coronavirus prior to any travel or boarding of vessels, Crowley said. 

The 14th annual Capital Link International Shipping Forum will go on — but not in person in New York City.

“Adapting to the current environment, our event will not be a physical conference but a digital event with live interaction among delegates,” Capital Link stated on its website.

“The need for information on market developments is at its highest given the circumstances and our proactive approach will enable all of us to keep the sense of community, exchange views and information and network online. We expect record turnout for this digital event,” Capital Link said.

The CMA Shipping Conference, scheduled for March 31 to April 2 in Stamford, Connecticut, has been postponed until June 29 to July 1.

Billed as “the largest international shipping event in North America,” the conference staged by the Connecticut Maritime Association (CMA) was expected to draw more than 2,500 attendees.

Those registered for the March conference are automatically signed up for June.

The Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT) has canceled its conference planned for March 31 to April 2 in Newport, Rhode Island.

“We are working to reschedule the conference and information will be posted when it is available,” CONECT said on its website.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) headquarters in London is closed through Monday as parts of the building undergo a deep cleaning. An interpreter working in the building March 4 later was diagnosed with COVID-19, the IMO said.

All individuals who were in close contact with this person have been informed,” the IMO said on its website. “Certain areas of the IMO HQ building are undergoing deep cleaning during the closure period. The remainder of the building will be sanitized as appropriate.”

The IMO also has canceled:

  • The 107th session of the legal committee scheduled for Monday through March 20.
  • The seventh meeting of the intersessional working group on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships scheduled for March 23 to 27.
  • The 33rd meeting of the international maritime solid bulk cargo editorial and technical group slated for March 23 to 27.
  • The 75th session of the marine environment protection committee set for March 30 to April 3.

Last week the IMO distributed a coronavirus guide for ship operators prepared by the International Chamber of Shipping. The guide covers port entry restrictions, virus screening and outbreak management.