Sources of Information
To help them to identify trends and potentially successful services or potentially weak areas of operation, shipping companies and organisations need to keep up to date with information that relates to shipping. Although some of this might not be direct shipping information, it will be of interest to some in the maritime business. For example, coal requirements in China will be of interest to the owners of Capesize bulk carriers (and shipbrokers generally) as these ships will be needed to move the coal from export ports (e.g. Richards Bay) to China if that country decides to import large quantities of the coal. A press report on a grain surplus in Ukraine will attract the attention of bulk carrier owners and their brokers as additional ships may be needed to move additional grain cargoes to areas of demand. Similarly, news of a drought in southern Africa will prompt bulker owners and shipbrokers to prepare to move grain from areas of surplus to southern African ports.
Scientific analyses of fish stocks will allow fisheries experts to determine the size of the fish catch for the next fishing season. It will also help officials at fishing harbours to prepare for a busy season or for a quiet season, depending on what the statistics show.
Data for these analyses by shipbrokers, shipowners, charterers, port authorities, and others is available in the form of series of statistics, graphs, tables and media reports. Of course the internet and specialised agencies provide much information to the shipping community. Organisations that provide information to their members include the following :
- Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO – the world’s largest international shipping association, with more than 2,200 members. It provides a wide range of services – including distributing information on shipping trends – to its global membership – shipowners, ship operators, managers, brokers and agents.
- Baltic Exchange – the world’s only independent source of maritime market information for the trading and settlement of physical and derivative contracts. Its international community of over 600 members encompasses the majority of world shipping interests and commits to a code of business conduct overseen by the Baltic. The Baltic Dry Index, for example, gives the shipping world an idea of trends in the dry bulk market, useful for owners and brokers of bulk carriers.
- Lloyd’s – A leading insurance market that specialises in marine insurance, and other types of insurance. It has built up a vast maritime portfolio
- Clarksons – a leading shipbroking organisation whose analyses are sought after by shipping companies.
- Galbraiths – another leading shipbroking company that also publishes useful analyses on shipping
- Intertanko – (International Tanker Owners’ Organisation) a forum where members of the tanker industry meet, policies are discussed and best practice developed. It is a valuable source of first-hand information, opinions and guidance.
- Intercargo – (International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners) a forum where bulker owners meet to discuss policies and develop best practices.
- International shipping journals such as Lloyds List, Trade Winds, Lloyd’s Ship Manager, Fairplay and others have articles, statistics and a range of opinion.
Reports and statistics from these and many other organisations are sought after as authoritative sources of information for the guidance of shipping companies and other maritime-related activities.