THE tanker industry must establish acceptable quality measures and work out how these can be paid for by all parties, according to Peter Cowling, managing director of the Wallem Group. At the recent Seatrade Tanker Industry Convention in London, Mr Cowling said this could not be done by the tanker industry alone. For instance, he said, the insurance industry needed to be more quality conscious and selective before accepting a client. ''It is essential that we can once again rely on classification societies to really sort out the sub-standard ships. ''We must continue to work towards the establishment of international regulation on safe tanker operations and liability which reflect not only our ecological society but also recognise current performance and the importance of the industry itself.'' The industry must put together foolproof auditing and control arrangements which would quickly distinguish and outlaw the sub-standard operations and build much-needed confidence outside the industry, Mr Cowling said. ''It may be that a minimum safety rate calculated by experts, imposed by the owners and delivered by the media to blackmail the charterers, is the way we will have to go to get everyone around the 'cost of quality' table,'' he said. However, it would be much better if the owners, traders and charterers could arrive at some sensible solutions before this happened. The vital tanker business was safer and as well run, if not better, than many global industries of its size, he said. But the tanker industry needed the confidence to explain itself, promote itself and stand up to be counted as irreplaceable in modern society. ''This means dealing with today's issues, and educating future generations. Knowledge dispels fear, and the need for the tanker industry to take the high ground and to disseminate knowledge about itself and its role is now a necessity, not an option,'' Mr Cowling said. He said the tanker industry had failed with its image and reputation. ''Can you imagine industries involving such things as air travel, drugs, nuclear power - to name but a few - not taking seriously their responsibilities for public information and reputation? ''One slip from these sensitive industries and there are huge international and financial repercussions,'' Mr Cowling said. It was difficult, he said, to ''argue against the common sense'' of putting together all inspection reports in a single database and not having 10 or more entities doing the same work. ''What can be wrong with creating a minimum safety rate for the operation of tanker vessels, or in the imposition of new hull designs for more environment-friendly operations, or in the introduction of black boxes and airline-type responders to identify vessels and simplify recognition and contact at those crucial moments [of emergency]?'' Mr Cowling said.