Seventh International Maritime Congress starts in Szczecin

The minister said that the budget for connections between the Danube, Laba and Oder rivers is currently being discussed, which he said fitted in with a project to modernise Polish ports. Marcin Bielecki/PAP

The Three Seas concept, shipbuilding and maritime security are among the subjects of the 7th International Maritime Congress inaugurated in Szczecin (northern Poland) on Thursday by Minister of Maritime Economy and Inland Waterways Marek Gróbarczyk.

Gróbarczyk said the Three Seas initiative grouping 12 countries between the Adriatic, Black and Baltic seas, was among the most important subjects at this year's Congress, specifically issues connected with building lasting north-south connections - road, rail and water infrastructure - which will be discussed at the event.

The minister said that the budget for connections between the Danube, Laba and Oder rivers is currently being discussed, which he said fitted in with a project to modernise Polish ports.

"Last year a record was set, which we can all be proud of, which was 100 million tonnes being reloaded," he said. "That absolutely requires solutions to be worked out for the future, that is why the government has undertaken actions towards creating a special law concerning construction of a central port in Gdańsk, an external port in Gdynia and a container terminal in Świnoujście."

In Minister Gróbarczyk's view, the Świnoujście container terminal will be particularly important in the context of the north-south connections, as it provides entirely new opportunities for the ports in Świnoujście and Szczecin.

Gróbarczyk went on to address the subject of the Gryfia Ship Repair Yard in Szczecin. "The Gryfia yard is in a stable situation," he said. "Of course much still remains for it to be good, but we have said goodbye to certain dangers concerning its weak financial standing and I hope that direction will be maintained."

He also referred to the sulphur directive, which brings EU law in line with International Maritime Organisation rules on limiting sulphur in the fuel of ships sailing in the Baltic Sea. In this context, he highlighted the Polsteam shipping company, which is in good financial health and preparing for investments. He said the fleet would be modernised and renewed.