We are living in dark and challenging times

I didn’t intend for the title of this blog, or indeed its content, to be gloomy, but it seems to reflect what is going on generally here and in the wider world. And as the ‘glass half full’ person that I am it should not mask the extraordinary things that are going on and bubbling under away from this darkness. The gloominess is, of course, led by the continuing and uncertain spread of Coronavirus (more on that in a moment), coupled with the incessant rain and high winds we have experienced in the UK for several weeks, resulting in the worst flooding I can recollect in my lifetime. And as I look out of my office window, it is pouring with rain once again. Yes there are certainly reasons to be miserable!

It is important that I make a public statement about the Institute’s views on Coronavirus or COVID-19 as it is also known. The epidemic is a worldwide tragedy and has cost many lives already. It is causing major marine conferences and other shows, great sporting events and all sorts of activities to be cancelled. IIMS is monitoring the situation closely day by day and is assessing its activities on a case by case basis. Although the consensus is that the virus might peak by April, that is not a given. So, we need to be careful and you need to be careful too, especially if you are travelling internationally. It is possible that some of the eCMID training courses, for example, run by the Marine Surveying Academy may be delivered online; but as I say we are going on a case by case basis. To those planning to attend courses in the coming period, we are advising not to travel if coming from a ‘high risk’ country known to be infected. It is a worrying time and seeing the impact it is having on the dynamics of the wider marine sector and your profession is deeply concerning.

Let’s look at the brighter picture. February proved to be an interesting month with a lot of activity happening. The March news bulletin explains all in much more detail. But I would particularly signpost you to the short articles on misrepresentation by an accredited marine surveyor, what to do if the ICO comes knocking and the pitfalls of being an expert witness and getting it wrong! It is hard enough being a marine surveyor without these added complications.

On a cheerier note, I was delighted to see the announcement that former IIMS member Kelly Tolhurst, who practiced as a marine surveyor for a while and was a member for 10 years, has been appointed as the UK Maritime Minister following the recent cabinet reshuffle. That is some promotion for Kelly and we have sent our congratulations to her, wishing her good luck in her challenging new role. I am hoping to get the opportunity soon to meet Kelly and to push your profession and its importance to her. I can only see positives.

The IIMS Canada Branch two-day conference and AGM is nearly upon us. Might I see you there in real-time or online capacity? I do hope so. But there is still time to join us as an online only delegate if making travel plans at this late stage are impractical. My colleagues locally have lined up a great range of speakers for your benefit too. Don’t miss it! More details can be found here.

What else happened in February? Our students studying the Professional Qualifications benefited from two informative online seminars on stability and inspecting small craft engines. Very valuable content indeed. We ran a highly successful online report writing seminar that attracted 40 delegates. Our education committee has met. And we have confirmation of an excellent 7 day, residential practical course which will form a new module within the qualification (at an extra cost) and will be delivered by the Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy in December. Details will be rolled out soon. And we have announced a new joint initiative with the SYVR online matchmaking platform for marine surveyors. Quite a month and recounting all of that has partially lifted the gloom!

You may have been wondering why I have not mentioned the purchase and acquisition of Murrills House as the new permanent HQ for the Institute. We are right in the critical stage now and I hope to have good news soon! More as and when I can.

Survey well.

Mike Schwarz

Chief Executive Officer

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