INTERNATIONAL ship financier Paul Slater has described as ''nonsense'' industry fears that shared information about ships will be used by competitors. Mr Slater, chairman of the First International group of companies, said: ''If the guy's ship is in lousy condition, then it deserves to be on public record.'' He is in Hongkong seeking support for his group's initiative to set up a global authority for ship standards (GLASS) under the control of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Mr Slater, who met members of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko), said this was the first step towards establishing a central register of ships that could be maintained and administered by an independent organisation,free from political and profit motivation. He said he had received more positive than negative responses to his idea, although some had told him his plan was ''inoperable''. In his GLASS proposal document, Mr Slater said shipping no longer commanded respect in the debt and equity markets, and it was difficult to see how costly vessels could be replaced without a big improvement in the industry's reputation. ''We are not getting new capital in the industry which we desperately need,'' Mr Slater said. ''In the products tanker sector, if you just look at it, we estimate from 1995 onwards, more than US$1 billion a year will be needed to replace the product tanker fleet as it becomes obsolete. ''That's with no expansion and no increase in demand in just one sector of the tanker industry.'' Mr Slater said statistics published within the past two weeks suggested the need for more than $350 billion in new capital investment in the shipping industry to replace ageing fleets between 1995 to 2005. ''When I published our figures just 18 months ago, it was in the $200 billion to $250 billion range. Clearly those numbers have expanded because there has been a slowdown in orders and all that exacerbates the problem,'' he said. Mr Slater said the core of the problem was that there was no universal standard and no single authority or organisation responsible for keeping records of all ocean-going vessels. He said such a regime did exist in the airline industry, where international standards established through comprehensive air navigation orders were policed by non-commercial, non-political governmental departments and their inspectorates, working throughairports.