ISSA President’s New Year Message

January 5, 2024

Dear ISSA Colleagues and Friends,

First of all, may I wish you all a very Happy New Year and I hope you all have a very fruitful and successful 2024.

I am delighted to have been elected as your President and I will put my heart and soul into ensuring that ISSA continues to grow and flourish as it has done under the excellent and hard work of our outgoing ISSA President, Saeed Al Malik. I would like to thank my friend Saeed for the dedication he has shown to the Association over the past six years, and I am delighted that he will be working with me during the next three years as my Senior Executive Vice President.

I intend to put you, our valued ISSA members, at the heart of my work for the next three years, always with what I stand for, my Vision, acting as my guide.

My Vision can be summed up in just four words:

Adding Value

When I say influencing, I want to continue strengthening the important relationship ISSA has with the various international shipowning and ship management associations as well as the international fora in which they sit and influence. ISSA is a highly respected Non‐Governmental Organisation member of the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) and its continued role at the global maritime rule‐making body is essential for ISSA to be an influential trade association and to make a difference for its members.

We must continue speaking up when ship supply and maritime matters are discussed, just as we do now. It is important that international legislation on maritime matters does not forget ship supply. The same goes for ISSA’s work at the World Customs Organization (WCO) and UNCTAD.

I would like to thank Saeed for proposing the concept of Honorary Member, which has seen nearly 50 shipowners and managers so far, join ISSA. These companies are our clients, and it is important that we can use ISSA as the perfect platform to strengthen the ties between buyer and supplier. And a great deal of thanks goes to my friend and Executive Board colleague Jim Costalos for being the driving force behind our highly successful ‘Meet the Customer’ initiative. This was a blinding success in Dubai and will be even bigger and better at ISSA 66 this year in Seville.

On the issue of strengthening, we are stronger together. So, let’s build a strong ISSA, ready for the future. The effort to recruit more people to ISSA continues. It is common sense to say there is strength in numbers, so my Number One priority is to continue to grow ISSA membership.

I will make every effort to welcome qualified ship suppliers from all around the globe into the organisation. I plan to present, in close collaboration with the Executive Board, an innovative package of measures to achieve that, complete with a roadmap and a timetable for implementation. I will insist that we simplify and make the process of obtaining new Associate Members and new National Associations more effective.

I want to make ISSA an even more inclusive, diverse and participatory organisation that serves all members, from north to south, east to west and where all our members have a voice. I believe a vital tool to boost inclusion is the ISSA Roadshow. It helps the Executive Board talk to members and hear their concerns and challenges. Under my leadership, we will continue using online tools to meet as many members as possible and, yes, I will also personally travel to our valued ISSA members to exchange views and to learn, while at the same time raising awareness of ISSA’s role as a global trade organisation and explaining the benefits of ISSA to our membership.

it should be possible for all members to engage in ISSA’s future work, so I will suggest offering ISSA members the opportunity to work on newly established working groups, such as: Next Generation ISSA (Promoting ship supply to young people); Green ISSA/Sustainability; Maritime, Customs and other regulatory affairs (Relations with government, lobbying). All willing members will be encouraged to join.

I also want to take a leaf out of OCEAN’s book and strengthen ship supply in the regions. I want to help other regions across the world to come together in similarly successful ISSA working groups to allow for geographically-targeted discussions and I will encourage associations across North and South America, Asia‐Pacific and Africa to discuss how we can strengthen ship supply across all corners of the globe. Also, to ensure ISSA’s continued representation across all corners of the world and to assist in spreading the word about ISSA in many nations and areas, I want to hire fresh and enthusiastic ISSA Ambassadors who will be encouraged to shout from the rooftops about the significant value ISSA represents to its membership.

We need more young people in ISSA and we need more women. Gender diversity is a crucial element of the global shipping and it will be a cornerstone of my role as President. We must encourage more women onto the ISSA Board and into leadership positions within our industry, if we want to build a modern, inclusive, global and open organisation.

Still on the theme of strength, I would also like to thank our Treasurer George Saris for future-proofing ISSA’s finances. He has strived to ensure that ISSA’s bookkeepers have strong systems in place. Looking to the future, we must continue to be financially sound and I will work closely with the Treasurer to continue our current work of searching for cost‐savings as well as seeking out new sources of revenue to support our work.

We are here to support our members and through our ISSA Articles of Association, our governance remains very strong. We are committed to the enhancement of quality ship supply, though our ISSA Quality Standard and will place sustainability at the top table of our projects and tasks. A Green ISSA Working Group has been set up and we are keen to attract participants, so if you are interested in joining then please contact the secretariat by emailing

Another exciting initiative that is already underway is the ISSA Education programme and I would encourage all ISSA members to take advantage of this by visiting the ISSA website and signing up.

Under the leadership of Saeed Al Malik, we have progressed along the digitalisation path and we have established a Working Group to investigate and seize upon potential future developments. We now have an updated ISSA Website and have put a lot of effort into the launch of the ISSA Mobile App, which is now fully functional.

I would like to expand our view beyond ISSA’s immediate digital communication needs. With the advent of digitalisation, the shipping industry is being pushed to adapt, and ISSA will need to establish a plan to keep up.

We are also here to support our members when they have important questions on law and regulatory matters, again contact the secretariat as we are here to help.

And finally, the ‘A’ in my ISSA acronym, is added value and we have to place the annual ISSA Convention firmly in this category. Convention is all about networking and this will only get better as our near 50 Honorary Members get involved and our ‘MTC’ initiative drives in that ‘must-attend’ lustre.

Communication is a core component, whether it is the regular ISSA Bulletin or the quarterly The Ship Supplier magazine – a much appreciated source of insightful information and industry updates. I also value the Secretariat’s efforts to promote ISSA via social media presence using Linked In and other social media tools, and I want to continue this.

I am looking forward to the next three years and I will not leave a stone unturned in my quest to achieve my vision. Thank you for your time, have an excellent 2024, and I look forward to seeing many of you very soon.

Best regards

Rafael Fernāndez
ISSA President