Congestion at EU Ports Could Slow Irish Trade

Glenn Murphy (IMDO), Gavin Roser (Coastlink) and Gary Stead (Diageo) with the Draft Dublin Declaration

Some 140 key industry players in the world of European transport and shipping have called for a cohesive and inclusive European strategy to address one of the major challenges facing their industry – congestion in European ports.

Their “Dublin Declaration”, drawn up over the last two days (26th/27th June) at the Coastlink annual two-day European conference at the Guinness Hop Store in Dublin, is aimed at addressing the growing issue of congestion in Europe’s major ports and the role that regional ports can play in assisting new markets to develop.  

The theme of the conference – “The role of short sea and feeder shipping in the competitiveness of a country’s economy” – was endorsed by the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) who state that, since Ireland depends so heavily on major European ports both for access to EU markets and as transhipment points for its deep sea trade, port congestion at European centres is a concern for Irish shippers.

“As an open island economy, we are heavily dependent on competitive, efficient and reliable shipping services. In 2006 we estimate that €130 billion of goods were transported via our ports and shipping services, this represents merchandise over 90% of all traded goods travel in and out of our country by sea,” said Mr. Glenn Murphy, Director of the IMDO ( “For Irish business to flourish, it is vital that we keep the arteries of our sea lanes open and that congestion around the major European centres supplying those arteries is avoided. Over 64% of our trade last year was intra-European based and European ports are major transhipments points for Irish trades to the wider global economy.”

Mr Murphy also said “It is a great honour to be hosting this conference in Dublin, which reflects the increasing European recognition of our Ireland as a growing shipping centre of excellence and also provides us with the opportunity to impress upon the key decision makers the important role that they play for the Irish economy.”  

The Coastlink conferences ( provide a unique meeting place for port and terminal operators, shipping companies and feeder services to come together, to debate, solve problems and explore new opportunities for growth.

The Chairman of the Conference and Deputy-Chairman of Coastlink, Mr Gavin Roser said “Delegates discussed key industry challenges such as congestion, peak period demand at ports and modal transfer. Conclusions of the debate - captured in the Dublin Declaration - will be submitted to key policy makers in Europe”  

Speakers at the Coastlink conference included the European Commissions head of Maritime Policy Unit,  Mr Jean Trestour, representatives from major shippers such as Danone and Diageo, shipping lines and forwarders Hapaq-Lloyd and Kuehne and Nagel, as well as a range of port and terminal operators including Cork, Dublin, Groningen (Netherlands), Tyne and PD Ports (UK and Belgium).  

Full text of the Dublin Declaration can be downloaded here.


For further information, please contact: 

Dr. John Joyce, Communications Manager, Marine Institute. Phone: 087 2250871.


Or   Mr. David Cheslin, Chairman, Coastlink Network Ltd.

Phone: 00 44 7480 0601. E-mail:  

Notes to Editor  

Congestion in EU Ports

The problem of congestion in European ports dominated Coastlink’s first conference in 2004 but became less of an issue in 2005 and 2006 due to measures put in place by terminal operators and carriers, along with some increase in berth capacity, particularly in Antwerp. Now, shipping lines have stated that congestion will be a key issue in 2007 – 2008 and will be with us for some years to come.  

The Irish Shipping Industry The Irish shipping industry directly employs 8,300 people and had an estimated turnover of €1.69 billion last year. The industry continued to show strong growth in 2006, according to the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO). 

Growth was particularly strong in the load-on/load-off (lo/lo) and roll-on/roll-off (ro/ro) sectors, with the lo/lo sector surpassing the 1 million TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit) mark. In the bulk sector many regional ports had double-digit growth including Dundalk, Greenore, Waterford, Drogheda and Tralee/Fenit.  

The Irish Maritime Development Office

The Irish Maritime Development Office, of the Marine Institute, was established by statute in December 1999 as the national agency charged with the responsibility for undertaking the following activities through its statutory remit: 

  • To advise the Minister on the development and co-ordination of policy in the shipping and shipping services sector.
  • To promote and assist the development of Irish shipping and Irish shipping services
  • To liaise with, support and market the shipping and shipping services sector
  • To carry out policy as may be specified by the Minister relating to the shipping and shipping services sector and seafarer training,  

The Department of Transport assumed responsibility for the Ports and Shipping services sector in January 2006