Top maritime concerns

An IMarEST membership survey reveals compliance with environmental regulations, employee safety and mental wellbeing, and new fuels are top priorities.

An IMarEST membership survey reveals compliance with environmental regulations, employee safety and mental wellbeing, and new fuels are top priorities.

Preliminary analysis of the IMarEST’s membership survey conducted at the start of the year finds compliance, safety and sustainability are front of mind in 2023. Engineers, scientists and technologists were asked about their priorities for the next three years as the industry continues to grapple with the pressure to address the workforce issues that were thrown into sharp relief by the COVID-19 pandemic and comply with tightening global environmental regulations.

The energy transition 

When it comes to environmental issues, it is the shift to a low carbon world that is taking up bandwidth for many of our surveyed professionals. Indeed, the energy transition accounted for four of the top five environmental priorities for the period 2023-2026, led by emissions reduction (the number two cited priority), decarbonisation (3), energy transition (4) and working towards net zero (5). 

“This demonstrates what happens when issues are prioritised in global policy making which leads to more funding, resources and dissemination to other sectors and audiences,” said Jennifer Gómez Molina, Project Management Officer at Vattenfall and Co-Chair of IMarEST’s Technical Leadership Board. “If you want to see change, you have to drive it.” 

The number one spot was held by compliance with environmental regulations of all kinds, which given that members are tasked with finding the technical solutions to meet looming new rules, both at international and regional level, whether it’s the IMO’s Carbon Intensity Indicator or new sulphur emission control zones, is hardly a surprise. 

“There seems to be a change of mindset too that it is no longer a tick box exercise and meeting minimum requirements,” said the IMarEST co-chair. “In this net zero and decarbonising world - to be successful and excel in your field, you need to showcase you are making an impact in these areas.”

Climate issues dominated over those related to mammal conservation or biofouling management, for example, where Gómez Molina noted there has already been a lot of great work. “The people who work in these areas are super passionate and inspiring the next generation who will take over the To-Do List,” she added.  

Investing in people and technology

When it comes to workforce issues, wellbeing and safety are top of the agenda.  “Following the pandemic, nevermore has wellbeing and safety been such a focus of our working life,” said Gómez Molina. “If we are happy mentally and well physically, we are better able to perform and enjoy the work we do which in turn leads to high performing teams and project delivery. In order to build on this, we need investment to train the workforce to empower them to do their job well in an environment which will enable them to thrive. “

In the technological field, members cited cyber security as their top priority for the years 2023-2026. The IMO’s new rules on cyber risk have no doubt sharpened minds as to the risk of cyber-attack, along with some high-profile incidents that have served as wake-up calls for an industry that has been a laggard when it comes to new digital technologies. 

“Cyber-attacks are coming thick and fast across every sector, threatening our infrastructures and livelihoods,” said Gómez Molina. “The concern here is how quickly they are developing to be as evasive and disruptive as possible. How we tackle and address these concerns has to be built into our ways of working, the products we produce and services we provide.” 

The survey was sent out to IMarEST members in January 2023. 

Learn more about the co-chairs of the Technical Leaders Board here. Want to discuss maritime’s top priorities? Start a discussion thread on Nexus, the IMarEST’s discussion board or look up your nearest IMarEST branch.


Amy McLellan is a journalist and author. She was previously editor of Energy Day.