Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association’s 113th Seminar Set For August 1–3 In New Orleans

Stakeholders of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway will gather in New Orleans, La., August 1–3 for the 113th annual seminar of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association (GICA). As in years past, the GICA seminar will be held at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place hotel, located at the foot of Canal Street and on the edge of the historic French Quarter.

The conference will begin August 1 with a golf tournament at Lakewood Golf Club, located in Algiers on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That afternoon, GICA board members will meet at the Westin, followed by a welcome reception for all attendees from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the hotel’s Plimsoll Club.

The seminar will then resume first thing August 2 for a day and a half of speakers and discussion dedicated to the inland waterways, with a focus on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW).

Brandy Christian, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, will welcome attendees to start the first general session, with opening remarks from Capt. Tom Kaminiski, chief of preventions for the Eighth Coast Guard District.

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Mike Toohey, president and CEO of Waterways Council Inc., will then offer insight on Washington, D.C., politics and funding for waterway infrastructure.

“He’ll tell us how things are looking for future Corps of Engineers infrastructure projects on all of the inland waterways,” GICA President Jim Stark said. “That’s always a very informative session.”

The second general session will feature a 2017 hurricane season review panel made up of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who will focus on resiliency on the GIWW. Following last year’s historic rainfall and flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Southwest Louisiana to the west and Hurricane Nate to the east, Stark said he thought a reflective session would be beneficial to operators.

“I thought it would be useful for some key participants in hurricane responses last year to comment and provide their insights on a panel,” Stark said.

Stark said as part of that discussion he plans to include a representative from the Seventh Coast Guard District, headquartered in Miami, Fla. While that district isn’t directly connected to the GIWW, seminar attendees may benefit from hearing how that district responded to Hurricane Irma last year.

“We thought it would be good to compare and contrast how the Seventh District dealt with that hurricane to see if there’s any cross-pollination or lessons to be learned,” Stark said.

The second general session will also include reports from commanders or representatives from the three Corps districts that oversee the GIWW: the Galveston, New Orleans and Mobile districts. Those Corps representatives will have much to discuss, with dredging and construction projects on the horizon in Texas and lock work at Calcasieu, Bayou Boeuf and Bayou Sorrel locks in Louisiana.

Lunch on August 2 will include a keynote address focused on the political climate in Washington and presentation of an award for heroism.

Afternoon sessions at the GICA seminar will feature a U.S. Coast Guard commanders’ panel discussion and a presentation from Kirby Corporation’s Matt Woodruff, who is president of America’s Maritime Partnership, a coalition whose membership advocates for the Jones Act. Then Marty Hettel, vice president for ACBL and chairman of the Inland Waterways Users Board, will offer an update on the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. Following Hettel will be a focus on liquified natural gas (LNG) on the GIWW.

“I’ve pulled together some representatives from LNG facilities that are on the canal and from yards and builders of LNG-powered vessels and bunker barges to talk about the future of LNG on the canal,” Stark said. “[They will give] a glimpse as to what may occur as more vessels are powered with LNG and what we can expect on the canal as far as LNG movements.”

Day 2 will then close with a GIWW towboat operators’ panel discussion.

August 3 at the GICA seminar will begin with a business meeting where members will elect a board of directors to serve from 2018 to 2020. Outgoing GICA board chairman Rob Sadler of Golding Barge Line will preside.

The seminar will then feature a panel focused on the role women play on the nation’s inland waterways. Stark said the panel will be made up of women from all across the brown-water industry.

After that, David Bear from the Eighth Coast Guard District will lead a discussion on virtual aids to navigation and eNav. Ray Newby with the Texas General Land Office will lead a panel to close out the conference with a discussion on natural resource damage assessment processes following oil spills.

Registration information for the 2018 GICA annual seminar is available at Registration is available both online and by mail. Sponsor and exhibitor information, along with details for the golf tournament and a spouse outing, are also available via the GICA website.

Hotel reservations at the Westin may be made by calling the hotel at 504-566-7006.