Sustainability and skills are priorities for the maritime sector, says new President of the IMarEST

Source: press release, 25 March 2022

Alastair Fischbacher FIMarEST, 119th President at the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology
Alastair Fischbacher FIMarEST, 119th President at the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (photo: IMarEST)

Sustainability, decarbonisation, skills, and workforce health are among the top priorities for the maritime sector in the coming years, according to Alastair Fischbacher FIMarEST, who has taken up the role of 119th President at the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST).

Alastair Fischbacher, explains, “Sustainability is a key issue that we must work on together now with some urgency. Creating a sustainable future for everyone is going to continue to evolve and expectations of the industry will change over time, requiring a process of continuous adaptation, improvement, skills development, as well as ensuring we achieve milestones and goals.”

It is with this in mind that Fischbacher plans to promote sustainability as a connecting and enabling factor across the Institute’s work over the coming year. He adds, “Being elected as the 119th president of the IMarEST is an enormous honour. The Institute has many expert members across the globe on topics ranging from marine plastics, autonomous vessels, the human element, decarbonisation, aquaculture to mammal welfare; the depth of knowledge and the drive to make a difference is remarkable. Our members are building sustainability into the fabric of what we all do and are helping to guide, educate and articulate the integration of sustainability within our respective sectors.”

Having started his career as a Master Mariner, Fischbacher has been involved in ship and cargo chartering and operations, coal marketing, coal mine acquisition in Colombia, coal terminal development, alternative fuels, and ship building and operation. He has been chair of the World Ocean Council, Rightship and the Sailors’ Society and was involved with the founding of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative of which he is co-chair.

Fischbacher is particularly interested in the role of technology in improving performance, reliability and safety. He explains, “The human element aspect has long been a particular interest, as has the welfare and conditions for seafarers. As we head towards autonomous vehicles, there will always be a role for seafarers whether it is working on the legacy systems on board vessels or developing and operating the leading-edge technologies of the future. It is vital therefore that we ensure those in the profession are given access to ongoing skills development.”

“I believe that we must also aim to increase the visibility of the maritime industry, which despite the increased volumes of cargo and the numbers of ships, is still pretty invisible until an incident occurs. It’s important to showcase and highlight developments, progress and ensure the industry is seen as a respected part of global society,” Fischbacher continues.

Alastair will hold the position of IMarEST President for 1 year. He succeeds Kevin Daffey. Martin Shaw, current co-chair of the Institute’s Human Element special interest group, is President Elect.