New Interferry chief executive Mike Corrigan vows to fight for funding, ferry-specific amendments to directives and a focus on safety
I recently stepped down from my role as chief executive of BC Ferries - one of the largest ferry operators in the world - to become chief executive of Interferry – the shipping association that represents the ferry industry worldwide.
In my new role, I want to build on the momentum Interferry has gained in the past few years as a result of gaining consultative status at IMO and opening a regulatory office in Brussels. I also want to ensure the ferry industry receives its fair share of transportation funding in all of the jurisdictions in which our members provide service and, more than anything, I want to focus on safety. I know, first-hand, the value of building a world-class safety culture that permeates every aspect of operations.
“Ferry operators are no longer willing to be an afterthought, receiving a fraction of the infrastructure dollars available to other transportation modes.” Mike Corrigan, Interferry
Interferry is celebrating its 42nd anniversary this year. Over the last four decades, the association has come a long way. What began as an organisation that largely facilitated networking among its members has become a highly respected global association, with more than 210 members from 35 countries. I am very proud to take over the leadership reins of such a globally important organisation.
While networking will always be an important aspect for our members, the board has turned its sights to ensuring that fair and equitable regulations exist for the ferry industry, as well as free, fair and open competition. Interferry is also focused on protecting the natural environment and looking for ways to make operations more sustainable, as well as ensuring the safety of passengers, crew, cargo and ships. It has been said that leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality and, given the board’s vision to elevate the voice of the ferry industry, I look forward to this challenge.
As we expand our role as advocate for the ferry industry, Interferry will fight for sector-specific amendments to proposals we believe are more suited to deepsea vessels than to the distinct design and operational requirements of ferries. This is always challenging as there is so much diversity within our industry and among our members. A one-size-fits-all regulatory environment does not work for anyone – from large international operators to smaller domestic ferry services.
My role will be to speak on behalf of our members, and also on behalf of the wider industry. I want the transportation we provide and the movement of goods via ferries to be seen on an equal footing to road and rail transportation.
Ferry operators are no longer willing to be an afterthought, receiving a fraction of the infrastructure dollars available to other transportation modes. In Europe, for example, ferry transport receives only 3 per cent of transportation spending, despite European ferry travel for both passengers and vehicles experiencing exponential growth over the past decade. Almost a billion passengers a year should be a strong indicator of the importance of ferry service to European markets.
Our industry has the potential to offer a more environmentally-friendly mode of transportation, with more and more ferry operators looking to power their vessels with batteries or liquefied natural gas.
I believe the ferry sector makes a tremendous contribution to the world’s economic development. As an industry, we have to remain vigilant, because ever-increasing technical challenges that arise from proposed safety and environmental regulations have the potential to threaten the financial viability of ferry operations. This is not to say that our industry is opposed to change. In fact, it is our job to proactively lead change, as we have recently done with our best practices fire safety submission to IMO.
Albert Einstein hit the nail on the head when he said: “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Through our association, and in my role as chief executive, we carry the responsibility of ensuring that action is taken on business and regulatory developments, to ensure that the pace of change does not make it impossible for our members to operate, and of looking over the horizon so that the seas ahead are smoother for all of us.
Whether dealing with opportunities or threats, the ferry industry needs to stand together collectively, since we represent a very small segment of the overall shipping market. Interferry’s role is to make our industry stronger by maximising opportunities for all of us to work together, and I see it as my role to make sure this happens.