SAFETY in Shipping, protection of the marine environment and cargo damage prevention, are some of the themes which will be covered at a major international conference to be held at the Hong Kong Polytechnic on November 16. The conference, entitled Accident and Loss prevention at Sea, is organised by The Nautical Institute of Britain. Institute president, Captain Leonard Holder, will give the keynote address on the theme that standards must be improved. Captain Alec Thompson, formerly marine adviser to Chevron Shipping, will explain what steps management must take to improve safety. Institute secretary Julian Parker, who has analysed more than 100 navigational incidents, will explain how collisions and ship strandings cost the industry more than US$350 million a year. Philip Anderson, of the North of England Protection and Indemnity Association, will describe how cargo loss and damage are now so significant that insurance premiums to shipping companies are approaching as much as 40 per cent of their operating costs, with an acceptable level being 10 per cent to 20 per cent. These are signs of an industry seriously out of balance with its operational practices. The conference will be followed by a series of workshops led by Hong Kong-based professional mariners.