The need to establish an effective, broad-based Association to monitor, discuss and share information in support of the growth and development of shipping in the Caribbean was accepted in the 1960s when shipping interests realized that there was much to learn and emulate from the initiatives and strategies employed in neighbouring Caribbean territories to solve similar problems.
Specifically, the revolutionary achievements by the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) in successfully negotiating with hostile unions for the mechanization of the Port of Kingston started a process where port interests across the Caribbean met to exchange ideas. Trinidad, Barbados and Bermuda were experiencing similar problems with their trade unions and delegations from the national shipping associations of these countries visited Jamaica within a short time of each other to discuss and learn from the achievements of the Shipping Association of Jamaica. These discussions forged a relationship between these national associations and in 1969 representatives from five national associations met in Port of Spain for an informal meeting to discuss labour contracts, labour practices and other problems affecting the shipping industry. The meeting was so useful, the group decided to meet again in six months.
In 1970, at the fourth of these informal meetings, in Barbados, it was decided to form a Caribbean Shipping Association and a Steering Committee was selected to draft plans. SAJ Vice President Peter Evelyn, who was Jamaica’s representative, was elected to head the Steering Committee. The SAJ’s General Manager, Noel Hylton, served as Secretary to the Steering Committee.
The initial objective of the Caribbean Shipping Association was to bring together all parties interested in the shipping industry of the Caribbean with a view to the closest integration of these interests and the exchange of experiences, advice and information. The task of the Steering Committee was to develop a structure for achieving this objective
First Annual General Meeting
By 1971, a constitution and articles of association were developed. The countries listed as the founding members are: Barbados, Bermuda, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. At the first Annual General Meeting, in Nassau, Bahamas, on October 19, 1971, the representatives from these countries along with those from Antigua, the Bahamas and St. Vincent were admitted to membership.
In its early years, the CSA concentrated on exchanging views on areas of common interest and producing reports on industry practices and port development in the region. Comprehensive technical papers were presented on subjects such as shipping agency operations, documentation within ports, containerization, movement and handling of refrigerated cargo, port management, port development and cargo liability.
Tangible Contribution to Regional Development
By 1973 the association had expanded the scope of its activities. The programme for annual general meetings was expanded to include technical papers by international shipping authorities. The Association identified management training as an urgent necessity and made this a priority. Michael Blackman of Trinidad and Tobago was assigned the task to develop a programme. Under his direction, the CSA designed and delivered training courses of high calibre, attended by management personnel from across the Caribbean region. Through its training activities, the CSA was able to make a significant and tangible contribution to the development of the Region’s shipping industry.
In 1976, the CSA saw the need to review its constitution in order to identify and rationalize its future role in shipping in the Caribbean. As a result, a new constitution came into force at the seventh annual general meeting in Puerto Rico in October 1977. This new constitution opened membership to ship owners and operators.
By the turn of the decade of the 1980s, in just 10 years, the CSA had become a truly multinational association, accepted by governments and multilateral organizations as the representative voice of shipping in the Caribbean.
At the start of the new millennium, in the year 2001, the Caribbean Shipping Association had grown in stature and became recognized for its world in regional development. As such, it now represents its members in multilateral organizations including the Association of Caribbean States and CARICOM.