Spyros Hirdaris

Maritime Policy and Regulations

Can you describe the substance of the course you are teaching? What are those points that a student should pay special attention to?   

At first instance the course gives an overview of maritime governance and the role of international organizations that drive the development and implementation international maritime policy and regulations. Students that will pay close attention on the role of the United Nations Institutions (e.g. IMO, ILO, UNCTAD) and regional (e.g. EU, EMSA) or government within the framework of law of the seas (UNCLOS) and EU competition law will better understand the basis of strategic choices made by maritime stakeholders (ship owners, industry, classification societies and government institutions). The course also gives an overview of the rules of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regarding ship safety, security, environmental protection and human factors. I believe that students who will try to appreciate the general logic and importance of the application of international regulations will eventually develop into good shipping executives and will be able to shape the sustainable profile of the organizations that will employ them.

In what sectors of the labour market and specializations can the graduates of the program work at large?

The course is relevant for all shipping sectors. The emphasis is on ship management, registration and policy-making in a way that the legal foundations and commercial priorities are not underestimated. In my opinion students attending the program could pursue a career in shipping management, selected  positions at classification societies, and as executives in state / regional or international maritime logistics and policy organizations.


What advice would you give to your graduate students regarding their  professional future?

This very much depends on the opportunities at the time, the professional background or ambitions of each student and last but not least the flexibility of the individual. I would expect that as Greece is an international leader in the navigation and management of the merchant fleet, there will be significant commercial career opportunities at home. From there and so on shipping is globalised and there may also be opportunities abroad for those with the appetite to look for them. The course is well equipped to support individuals both in Greece and globally.


Which the most outstanding piece of news in your industry in the last two years?

At present the pace of change in shipping and maritime is very fast because of new environmental regulations. The public expects shipping to comply with the highest possible environmental emission standards and this will intensify in the years to come. Of course we cannot ignore the role of emerging technologies within the context of the 4th industrial revolution (e.g. automation, digitization, new fuels, etc.). New policy and regulations accounting for the risks of novel technologies, sustainability and new forms of entrepreneurship (shipping collaboration models) will also emerge. In the years to come I would expect that vocational training and lifelong learning will become standard practice. In any case, the big news and the big challenge ahead is to ensure sustainable development for the sector. This should be facilitated by a pragmatic policy that will support entrepreneurship and protect the environment. To this I would like to add that we should not downplay the essence of safety, security and the human factor.


How did the pandemic affect your industry;

Modern shipping has always been interlinked with international trading. Of course, globalization supports this trend. The pandemic initially led to a decline in international trade and consequently to a decline in the shipping competitiveness index. Seafarers experienced significant difficulties with impact on their mental and emotional well-being. During the pandemic crewing and shipping management have been challenged. The market re-bounded since  mid-2020 and at present the industry is still on a growth trajectory. So, in my opinion the pandemic made everyone wonder how they would be able to maintain the long-term productivity / prosperity of the industry and the health and safety of seafarers. In the field of education, international mobility has been difficult but online learning evolved and everybody realized that modern forms of learning are feasible and useful.