This year, the maritime industry had no respite from the complex challenges that stunted operations throughout the pandemic. 

Not only were there skyrocketing energy prices and stubborn supply chain issues, but new climate change policies triggered seismic shifts in the shipping sector, prompting maritime organisations and authorities to ramp up efforts to meet net-zero targets. 

As a result, the maritime industry must now adopt systems and infrastructures that maximise efficiency and promote profits on a larger scale — with the environment at the heart of decision-making. 

However, the path to achieving these goals might not be smooth. So, how can the maritime industry overcome the challenges that await in 2023?  

Implementing new technologies

Leveraging the latest technologies will prove crucial to improving efficiency and ensuring economic growth in the maritime industry next year.   

For example, artificial intelligence (AI) will facilitate fuel-efficient route planning, contributing to a projected 9.3% CAGR across the autonomous shipping industry from 2020 to 2030. Data-driven solutions like sensors loaded onto data buoys will also enable the remote monitoring of offshore locations. These capabilities will improve the cost-effectiveness of shipping operations, whilst digitised data management will help provide precise insights on expenditures and profits.  

However, these technologies will prove difficult to keep up with. New marine technologies are being developed at an unprecedented pace, but many will likely require troubleshooting in the early stages of implementation. So, organisations must ensure workers are continuously upskilled in the use of new systems to prevent faults and minimise their impacts. 

Furthermore, cyber security attacks on new maritime technologies are on the rise. State-backed attempts to compromise critical infrastructure with destructive malware have risen due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, threatening to jeopardise ships and the crews on board. To avoid suffering a potentially catastrophic data breach, organisations must adopt robust risk management procedures and reinforce key exposure points. 

Attracting and retaining talent

Adopting new technologies will amplify another challenge for the maritime industry in 2023: the skills shortage.  

Although this issue reached its peak following Brexit and the pandemic, during which travel restrictions interfered with businesses’ reliance on migrant workers, its roots lie within the lack of young people entering the industry. 

Young people have been reluctant to join the maritime industry for many reasons. Difficult working conditions and long stints away at sea have meant positions left by retiring workers have not been filled at a fast enough rate. Those who embark on maritime careers are also not sufficiently educated due to gaps within the education system and inadequate training programmes.  

As the uptake of new, complex technologies increases, we expect the skills shortage to become even more challenging — with the industry facing the mammoth task of training workers up to the high standard required to implement digitised solutions safely. 

To overcome this challenge in 2023, the maritime industry will be tasked with ensuring science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects are sufficiently promoted, as well as encouraging STEM graduates to enter subject-related fields upon completing their studies. 

Additionally, showcasing environmental responsibility and establishing dedicated schemes to support the role of women and other underrepresented groups will be instrumental in improving the perceived value of the maritime industry 

Making Wi-Fi connectivity possible at sea will also ensure potential applicants are not discouraged by the lack of contact with people at home. 

Addressing environmental concerns

The maritime industry is responsible for over 80% of the transport of goods across the globe, so its carbon emissions have always been high.  

However, industry growth has meant that ships could make up 17% of human-caused carbon emissions by 2050. 

So, to help the shipping and maritime sectors meet sustainability targets in 2023, there will be a push for environmental compliance with new, more robust regulations. 

 For example, from 1 January, it will be mandatory for all ships to calculate their Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI). Introduced by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), this measure aims to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by requiring ships to meet a particular EEXI. Whether or not the ship is deemed acceptable is based on factors such as its use of energy-efficient technologies. 

The pressure to invest in fossil fuel alternatives will also prompt the rapid decommissioning of oil rigs, which will be replaced by offshore wind farms. Though this is a step in the right direction for fighting climate change, these projects increase the risk of traffic and collisions, which must be mitigated with marine aids to navigation (AtoN). 

Navigation buoys and data buoys can help to mark safe lines of passage and offer accurate, real-time insights into site conditions, such as wave height and wind speed. When used in areas subject to extreme weather, as many decommissioning sites are, AtoN equipment must ensure sufficient visibility, buoyancy and durability, with corrosion-resistant components to signpost hazards clearly and effectively. 

Hydrosphere is the UK’s leading supplier of marine AtoN, with nearly 30 years of industry experience. Eager to learn more about our services and discuss how we can help you overcome next year’s challenges? Contact us via or call +44 (0)1420 520374.