Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
In the middle of the festive break, ’twixt Christmas and the New Year, the European Shippers’ Council called for a transitional period allowing governments as well as companies to finalise their preparation for the UK’s departure from the EU at least until December 2020.
The Council forecast that if the present Brexit withdrawal agreement does not pass the vote in the House of Commons (the UK’s lower house) in mid-January, a cliff-edge scenario will be the most likely one. In this case, producers and traders give no guarantee that the goods will reach their clients in time and in a good condition.
Once again shippers were reminded that the moment when the UK will leave the EU is less than 100 days ahead. (29 March 2019). There is no clear picture on how all parties involved will have to deal with the situation after the 29 March 2019. The start of the transition period depends on the vote in the House of Commons in mid-January. If the present withdrawal agreement does not pass the vote, a deeply dark outcome is most likely. Preparation after this date will be nerve-breaking, ESC has warned. Members of the European Shippers’ Council in their General Assembly in week commencing 16 December stated that this is an unacceptable situation.
As producers and traders, ESC Members foresee a major impact on the supply chain between the EU’s 27 Members and the United Kingdom. Shippers cannot guarantee the delivery of goods to clients in time and in a good condition in the case of a cliff-edge scenario. Such a position will impact the welfare of the inhabitants of the UK and EU 27 heavily, it has been envisaged. For instance, medicines and foodstuff are exchanged between these two European regions in large quantities.
Although many companies have already invested a lot in preventing chaos, the preparations made so far can never completely prevent big disturbances in trade. The capacity of warehouses in the UK has already been used completely and it is nearly impossible to rent addition space in warehouses for emergency stocks, it has been reported. At the same time providers of logistics services and automation are also completely booked for the period around Brexit. Next to this, the European Member States as well as the UK should also be fully prepared, which is a huge challenge.
The only solution that shippers see is an orderly move into a transitional period allowing governments as well as companies to finalise their preparation at least until December 2020. Hopefully, the EU 27 and the UK will, in the meantime, be able to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement allowing trade in goods and services as free as possible.
Emerging maritime challenges were at the forefront of discussions at the 11th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Inter-Sessional Meeting (ISM) on Maritime Security held in Da Nang, Viet Nam, on 14-15 March. Participants had the opportunity to exchange views on regional maritime issues, review progress of their maritime security work plan, and discuss proposed activities over the coming year.
IMO took the opportunity to update ARF members on IMO’s work in Asia and told senior maritime officials of potential future technical cooperation projects in the region. IMO also talked about improving the implementation, among ASEAN members, of maritime security measures, including the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS).
It was reported by IMO on 13 March that a new set of publicly-available guidelines for monitoring plastics and microplastics in the oceans will help harmonize how scientists and others assess the scale of the marine plastic litter problem.
These guidelines* for the monitoring and assessment of plastic litter and microplastics in the ocean have been published by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), a body that advises the United Nations system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection.
Guidelines cover what to sample, how to sample it and how to record and assess plastics in the oceans and on the shoreline, including establishing baseline surveys. They include recommendations, advice and practical guidance, for establishing programmes to monitor and assess the distribution and abundance of plastic litter, also referred to as plastic debris, in the ocean.