Ausmarine editorial – February 2012
I keep hearing sad, negative and depressing stories about the current state of the Australian maritime industry. Many of those stories emanate from people I have known and done business with for three decades or more.
I rather suspect that much of the pain that is inspiring these doom and gloom stories arises from an inability of the elderly to cope well with change. The fact, of course, is that in common with most industries, the marine industry has seen enormous change over the 45 years or so that I have been associated with it.
More recently, particularly over the last 10 or 12 years, the rate of change has increased dramatically. That change has been both generational and technological. It has also been social, economic and environmental.
Obviously, everyone has to cope with that change. If we can’t, we may as well retire and, hopefully, enjoy our Self Managed Superannuation Funds!
Much of the depressing talk stems from the near demise of the commercial fishing sector and the significant slowdown in the fast ferry market.
While I sympathise with those who, like us, have been hurt by the malicious destruction of the fishing industry, many of the other changes, including to the fast ferry sector, are cyclical. They were clearly predictable.
Of course, every cloud has a silver lining. Things are not nearly so bad as most of the doomsayers believe.
There is no doubt that seventy-five percent of the fishing industry has gone – probably forever. Similarly, a fair slice of the fast ferry building sector has disappeared, in most cases without trace! That is just economic Darwinism.
This magazine, in its former life as Professional Fisherman, used to review eight or ten fishing boats every month. Now, however, we would be lucky to review that many over two years.
Life changes, the world moves on. Whoever would have thought, though, that Australasian companies would produce the huge variety of vessels that are featured in this issue of Ausmarine.
Innovative, world-class and globally competitive, they have been designed and/or built by companies whose operations are truly global. Their capabilities are impressive.
Anything from fast, lightweight passenger vessels through work boats, a substantial utility barge to a multi purpose cargo-passenger ship that is really new and different. It’s an impressive line-up for just one month.
Interestingly, while there may be only six vessels reviewed compared with ten or twelve in the good old days, their value is immeasurably more. Further, two of the six vessels were designed and project managed from Australia but built in the northern hemisphere.
So, far from being the end of the world as we know it, the maritime industry in this part of the world has simply, if dramatically, changed. Those who have been able to cope with those changes are flourishing, and so, in reality, is much of our industry.