September 1, 2023 — Choosing just one highlight of the APP’s 109th Annual Conference held in Long Beach, California, this past August, has proved impossible. As the Host Port, the Port of Long Beach went above and beyond expectations – from relevant content of sessions, to harbor and land tours, to great food and entertaining excursions – setting a high bar for future APP conferences. “It was a pleasure welcoming APP Members to our Port,” said APP President Bobby Olvera Jr., President of the Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission. “In keeping with the spirit of APP’s goals and mandate, our organizing committee developed the program to ensure attendees learned as much as possible about POLB’s best practices while providing networking opportunities.”

While all aspects of the agenda received high marks in the APP exit survey, it was the two tours of Port of Long Beach operations – one by land and one by water – that proved most popular with attendees. Survey comments about the land tour, which included a stop at the Long Beach Container Terminal, one of the most technologically advanced facilities of its kind in the world, included “LBCT…it’s a magical place!” and “Very impressive!” Comments for the welcome reception harbor sunset tour by boat were much the same: “POLB is very impressive with all its features, activities, tenants…” Dinner at the Aquarium of the Pacific, featuring the POLB’s very own band, the TEUs, was equally enjoyed: “Five stars for the Port of Long Beach’s own band” and “The aquarium, dinner and entertainment were the highlights of the conference for me.”

Another feature of the conference that ranked high on the exit survey was the venue. A last-minute switch from the Hotel Maya to the Port of Long Beach offices offered an unparalleled view of port lands, allowing attendees to gain one more glimpse and perspective of the extensive operations overseen by POLB. One comment gave a good summary of feedback from all: “Wow. They did a great job!! The food was outstanding, the staff was helpful. The sound/audio operator(s) were top-notch. They even provided translators and headphones for everyone. Very impressive. Oh, and nice view too.”

In addition to showcasing port operations with tours, attendees learned about best practices from POLB staff, including presentations on Educating Youth and Advancing a Skilled Workforce, Securing the Port of Tomorrow, POLB Environmental Initiatives, and The Green Port of Tomorrow. Comments on each session noted how well organized the panels were, the knowledge of speakers, and the innovative methods of staff to achieve their goals.

Another highlight of this Annual Conference was the passing of the presidency role from Port of Long Beach’s Bobby Olvera Jr. to Shao-Liang Chen, President of Taiwan International Ports Corporation. Mr. Chen, represented by Shu-Hui Cheng, TIPC’s Vice President of Business, relayed a message of inclusiveness and collaboration, and was eager to welcome APP Members to the 110th Annual Conference to be held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 2024.

The conference also provided an opportunity to feature the best practices and activity updates of all APP Port Members as well as some special guests. The APP was honored to welcome representatives from Mexican ports, including the Ports of Ensenada, Guaymas, Lázaro Cárdenas, and Manzanillo, as well as the Mexican Ministry of the Navy, represented by Captain Ana Laura López-Bautista, General Coordinator for Ports and Merchant Marine. In her presentation, Captain López gave a high-level overview of Mexico’s ports before outlining top priorities – enhancing infrastructure development, promoting coastal and short-sea shipping, advancing digital technologies, encouraging environmentally sustainable practices, and strengthening Mexican Nautical Schools and human capital development. She highlighted several projects that were addressing these projects and looked forward to working with the U.S. and other nations toward a prosperous and sustainable future.

Presentations from representatives of the Taiwan Ports International Corporation (regarding offshore wind), Fiji Ports Corporation (on digitization for small ports), and Port of Guam (describing recovery efforts following Typhoon Mawar) were complemented with presentations from FEMA, Kongsberg, MarineLabs, Wabtec and the International Association of Maritime and Port Executives. And, of course, no APP Conference would be complete without our roundtable port activity update.

A complete summary of presentations, including the port activity update, will be featured in the upcoming Pacific Ports Magazine, due out by the end of October.

PowerPoint and video presentations can be found here.
Photos can be found here.

A special thanks is due to all participants but especially the sponsors who made the conference possible: Port of Long Beach | Port of Stockton | The Pasha Group | Commonwealth Ports Authority | Port of Redwood City | American Samoa Department of Port Administration | BBK Attorneys at Law | Kongsberg | Port of Nanaimo | Port of Hueneme | Momentum | MarineLabs | SSA Marine | Burns & McDonnell | Port of Umatilla | MCM Marine & Civil Maintenance | Port of Alaska | Port of Skagit | Port of Columbia County | Long Beach Container Terminal | Republic of the Marshall Islands Port Authority | GHD | HDR Inc. | Port of Grays Harbor | Islands Business.