In the coming decade, port managers will have to meet the rising challenges of environmental issues and show a variety of skills ranging from strategic planner to effective communicator and analyst of world trade and transportation trends.

This appeared to be the consensus of U.S. and Canadian port officials who attended a meeting in Montreal of the American Association of Port Authorities. The three-day seminar ended Friday."The port manager of the future has to be a generalist who can deal with all levels of government and who can understand the social as well as port- business matters," said David Bellefontaine, president and chief executive officer at the Port of Halifax.

In an interview, he added that legal issues will arise from requirements to build new facilities to meet traffic demand.

"Increasingly, ports are going to be challenged by environmental and citizen action groups," Mr. Bellefontaine said.

Engineering, financial and, more recently, marketing skills were essential qualities of port managers, noted Cy Cook, general manager of the Port of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

"But today, they have to be strategic planners who have to closely monitor changing patterns in world trade, transportation and social policy."

For some ports, suggested Mr. Cook, it may mean "significant diversification ."

"Instead of reacting to change, ports will have to be leaders of change."

Geraldine Katz, director of planning for the Port of Long Beach, concurred that "there are critical issues facing ports in the environmental field in the 1990s."

Among other challenges that will have to be faced, Ms. Katz stressed, is developing expertise in hazardous waste management.

Arthur Goodwin, project director at the Port of Los Angeles for the multimillion-dollar consolidated transportation corridor, sees port access

from land - and not water - as a special challenge. "Managing that access in an environmentally acceptable fashion will be a critical issue."

For his part, Erik Stromberg, AAPA president, acknowledged that "port management has become a difficult proposition."

He said there is growing public involvement in day-to-day port affairs.

"The public is looking over our shoulders, and this is spawned to some extent by environmental concerns."

Mr. Stromberg also noted that "with budget crunches, ports are asked to assume more of the infrastructure financial burden."

He felt that "operationally, ports must be more interactive with carriers and even cargo, as the notion of services is expanding."

In summing up, in an interview, the required skills for the port manager of the future, Mr. Stromberg said he or she had to be a thinker, a planner, a communicator, a good mixer with politicians and waterfront labor, and someone who kept abreast of changing technology.

"He also must be a gambler. There is an element of a riverboat gambler in a port. The stakes are so high."

During the AAPA seminar on the "Port of the Future," discussions ranged

from the future environment of world shipping to the evolution of intermodalism and designing tomorrow's marine terminal.

Differing views were expressed on how much bigger containerships will get over the next few decades.

The average containership size will be 3,200 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) by the year 2000 and 5,500 TEUs by the year 2200, compared with

2,000 TEUs in 1988, predicted Kathleen Broadwater, principal of Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc., Bethesda, Md.

Wayne Thiessen, director of maritime engineering, MCA Research Corp., Arlington, Va., didn't rule out still bigger vessels than today's jumbo ships in certain trades, but suggested that flexibility will be an overriding value for shipowners looking carefully at their exposure. "Size is out, niche is in," he said.