POINT OF VIEW
Paul Pathy, Fednav'S president and co-CEO
Paul Pathy, president and co-CEO
The transmission from one generation to the next
Fednav Group, the largest oceangoing dry-bulk shipping company in Canada, regularly operates at the Port of Montreal, loading or unloading cargo aboard its vessels. The family-owned company is taking a leadership role in the maritime industry when it comes to environmental sustainability.
All of its new vessels, for example, are being specifically designed and built with the latest equipment and technology available for achieving top energy efficiencies and protecting the environment.
PortInfo recently asked Paul Pathy, Fednav’s president and co-CEO, to share the company’s views regarding the environment.
How does Fednav define its environmental responsibilities?
As a multi-generational family business, honesty and integrity are our first and foremost core values and it is extremely important to our company to do what’s right. We were always taught never cut to corners and, as we became aware of environmental issues during the past decade in particular, we have promptly acted to address them responsibly. As a father of a baby boy and young daughter, I want to ensure a good future for my children which can’t happen without a healthy and sustainable environment.
When did Fednav first become keenly aware of the need to address environmental issues?
It started in the late 1980s when everyone became aware of the serious problems associated with invasive species entering Canada through ballast water. I became involved with the company shortly thereafter and, along with others, immediately started to discuss what steps the shipping industry might be able to take to put a stop to the problem. After consulting the scientific experts, we invested in several technologies to clean ballast, but none of them were fully successful. Ship owners and operators in Canada then voluntarily decided to conduct a mid-ocean flushing of all ballast tanks before oceangoing ships re-entered Canadian waters. The practice – which has since become Canadian law – is deemed to have a 98-per-cent success rate.
What is Fednav doing to reduce its environmental footprint?
Fednav has made every effort to increase fuel efficiencies and thereby reduce air emissions. In fact, we have reduced the amount of emissions generated by carrying a tonne of cargo for one mile by more than 45 per cent since 1990. A lot of this improvement has come from our substantial investments in new ships with cleaner engines and numerous design efficiencies.
We’re always looking for new ways to save fuel and reduce emissions. For example, we’ve been testing new software developed by Maritime Innovation, an applied research centre established by the Institut maritime du Québec, to help our ship captains to take advantage of the tide within the St. Lawrence River. The software indicates where and when a ship needs to sail to use the water’s natural push, and the amount of fuel and GHG emissions that are spared as a result.
How do you define corporate social responsibility?
It requires doing what is sustainable for both the environment and the business. If Fednav can burn less fuel with more efficient engines, for example, the company will not only reduce its air emissions, but cut down on its operating costs and improve its bottom line.
How does Fednav convey its corporate social responsibility?
We make our core values and philosophy clear in writing and through our decisions and actions to our employees, suppliers, customers and the public. Under the core value of corporate social responsibility, we have our pledge to respect community and environment.
We are committed to doing everything feasible to protect the environment in the course of running our business. The environment would be more pristine without any form of transportation, for example, but that isn’t practical. People need goods to be delivered to them.
What approach have you taken to implement your core values?
We aim to be a leader at every discussion table we decide to join. One of our main concerns is protecting the overall industry. We also recognize that responsibilities come with being the largest international shipping company operating in the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes regions. People look to us to take charge and to push for change. We gladly accept that leadership role.
What is the current big environmental challenge for your industry?
Reducing emissions. It’s great that ships are significantly more fuel-efficient than trucks or trains, and we need to promote that fact to a larger extent, but we can still do better in terms of environmental performance. Continuous improvement is essential.
What are your concerns about shipping in the Arctic, especially with Quebec’s Plan Nord?
The Arctic is a pristine environment and it should stay that way. Fednav is highly invested in the Arctic as the only shipping company that is transporting materials from the Canadian Arctic – as opposed to other resupplying vessels. It’s imperative to raise the standards for shipping in the Arctic through a mandatory Polar Code and/or new International Maritime Organization regulations as soon as possible. Having the highest standards is the only way to reduce the risks of environmental and safety hazards as much as possible and, thereby, safeguard the social corporate licence of experienced companies, such as Fednav, to maintain and expand their shipping operations in the North. This is really important as commercial interest in the Arctic increases.