All systems are go for the staging of the Bahamas International Maritime Conference and Trade Show slated for Grand Bahama November 19 – 21, Environment Minister the Hon. Earl Deveaux said Friday.

The Conference will be held at the Westin at Our Lucaya Resort under the theme: Opportunity in Trade and Maritime Services.

Mr. Deveaux, accompanied by a number in industry partners on Grand Bahama met with reporters at the Office of the Prime Minister in Freeport to discuss the upcoming event which will attract maritime officials from around the world..

He told media personnel that the maritime industry in The Bahamas is significant and that The Bahamas has the third largest Ship Registry in the world. The Minister also pointed out that the Conference is intended to bring together a number of the stakeholders including important owners of ships to discuss issues relevant to the Maritime Industry.

He pointed out that only two weeks ago in London a Ship Owners Association meeting took place and a number of issue emerged which will be focused on at the upcoming Conference.

Among the issues to be discussed Mr. Deveaux said will be the increase level of piracy and the increased importance of shipping. According to the Minister “a lot of people do not appreciate that close to 90% of the worlds goods are shipped by ships.

“It is the cheapest and most efficient form of bring goods to the ports, and here in Grand Bahama in particular, with the ship care facility (Grand Bahama Shipyard) and the Freeport Container Port, we have two of the biggest assets to expand The Bahamas’ role in the maritime industry.”

Mr. Deveaux added that a significant number of sponsors have lined up the conference including the United States Coast Guard that will be discussing issues relative to the rising cost of energy and its impact on shipping.

Continuing, he said, “We are also intending to look at some of the environmental issues that the International Maritime Organization is concerned about relative to shipping.

“We recently for example passed an IMO resolution dealing with Bunker Oil, and very shortly the Government will be sponsoring a piece of legislation which hopefully will enhance the Bahamas’ position as a quality register.

“So all in all, the Conference is vital to our future stake in the Maritime Industry. We are very glad that it is going to be here in Grand Bahama. There is no better place in the region for a conference such as this, and certainly no better place in The Bahamas to host such a conference,” he said.

Mr. Deveaux confirmed that Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham will officially open the Conference next Wednesday and that the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulas will be the featured speaker during the closing ceremony on Thursday.

“So in the context of its importance, we have all the significant players that need to be here in Grand Bahama next week. We anticipate approximately 200 delegates at the Conference and they will come from eleven countries, many of whom have ships registered in The Bahamas,” he stated.

The two day conference also promises to be an excellent opportunity to encourage networking among industry partners; to encourage investment in Grand Bahama; and to introduce people from around the world to all that Grand Bahama has to offer, particular as an eco-touristic destination.

The public is being invited to view the elaborate booth displays as 25 vendors display their goods and services at the trade show.

Entertainment will be provided by the Royal Bahamas Police and Defense Force Bands; the Bishop Michael Eldon School Ensemble accompanied by Maestro Kevin Thomlinson and Ms. Shelly Carey.