THERE has been another bout of calls for increased scrapping activities in the shipping industry to reduce oversupply. Over the last few years, repeated exhortations by shipowners and shipping lines have mostly fallen on deaf ears, exacerbating the problem of low returns and putting pressure on shipping rates. Even when rust-buckets are sold to scrap-yards, some of them - including tankers, and medium-sized to small vessels - manage to find their way back to the sea. Some businessmen persuade the scrap-yards to part with the sub-standard vessels by paying them a higher price than the price the scrap-yards paid for them. As there is no rule or regulation to prevent rust-buckets from going back into circulation, the shipping industry is now facing a gross oversupply. The problem is already bad in the tankers sector and is likely to hit the dry-bulk carriers sector too, unless, as suggested by a Hongkong Bank report on shipping, more vessels are scrapped. But, will it happen? The report suggests that shipyards should call for scrapping before construction of new vessels begin. But it is easier said than done, because shipbuilders are not likely to sit around and wait for vessels to be scrapped before accepting business as the sector is highly competitive. According to the Hongkong Bank report, projected growth in world trade indicates a healthier economic environment in which to operate over the rest of the decade. But, it also cautions shipowners to resist the attraction of a possible short-term asset play in favour of allowing the current depressed freight earnings and high insurance costs to force older vessels out of the market. Anyway, the direction shipowners take will be dictated by dollars and cents. Perhaps, if the industry were to decide on a concerted effort to face this oversupply problem, it could be solved sooner than they could imagine and sub-standard shipping would be a thing of the past. One of the ways suggested by a shipping financier is for shipowners the world over to seriously examine a proposal for setting up an international shipping registry, to be managed by the International Maritime Organisation. Using this platform, the industry could then be in a better position to effectively address not only the issue of oversupply, but all other problems facing the industry.