Speed networking, the environment and putting a value on the ‘End of Life Boat’ pipeline

It was time for the International Federation of Boat Show Organisers (IFBSO) contingent to get in on the action on Day 2 of the ICOMIA/IFBSO Conference, with show organisers opening their conference with a morning of ‘speed networking’. The annual ICOMIA/IFBSO Conference, this year being hosted by the Croatian Boating Industry Association (CBIA) in Split, represents the only time in the calendar when show organisers can meet their peers to discuss the challenges and opportunities that face the global boat show business and to share best practice ideas. More than 30 IFBSO members were joined by ICOMIA delegates later in the morning for a joint ‘speed networking’ session – the first time both sides of the conference have been brought together in such a way.

In a seperate conference room, it was the environment that was taking centre stage. Top of the agenda for the ICOMIA Environment Committee were concerns over invasive species, the complex issues surrounding teak importation, and developing some sort of framework to manage the increasing number of extreme weather events brought about by climate change. Over the last five years or so, the number of environmental pressure groups has grown exponentially, and the Environment Committee is tasking itself with creating teams to target specific areas of concern – principle among those is the issue of End of Life Boats. Primary stumbling blocks identified in this morning’s discussion related to the lack of a financially viable waste pathway for composites, coupled with traceability of ownership of abandoned boats and whose responsibility it ultimately is to dispose of them.

Determining the scale of the problem is the first task on the Committee’s agenda, followed by tracking the various waste pathways that are available, drawing on learnings from sectors such as the aviation and wind turbine industries, to create what Committee chair Darren Vaux of the Australian Boating Industry Association (BIA) described as an ‘End of life Boat pipeline’. Funding is inevitably key and determining what level of subsidy might be needed to make the recycling of boats financially viable, is critical. Design for disassembly and engaging with boatbuilders to ensure recyclability is at the forefront when it comes to new model development, was also deemed fundamental.

As one delegate noted, however, the issue of End of Life Boats was being discussed in committees back in 1997, and to date only modest advances have been made. One thing the industry can agree on, however, is it’s a problem that is only getting more serious with each passing year. In short, the message coming out of this morning’s discussion was that the industry needs to get more proactive, and quickly, before governments take decisions out of our hands. Establishing some sort of equation that presents the ‘subsidy value’ needed to create a sustainable funding model, is a good place to start.

The environment will come under the spotlight again tomorrow when it features as part of an IFBSO workshop.

This afternoon delegates will be treated to a sailboat trip, taking in a visit to the SCT Marina & Yacht Service Center Trogir, prior to a dinner hosted by the CBIA.