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.
Piracy increased on the world’s seas in 2018, with a marked rise in attacks against ships and crews around West Africa, the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest annual piracy report reveals. The document was issued jointly in London and Kuala Lumpur on 16 January.
Worldwide, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 201 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery in 2018, up from 180 in 2017.
The Gulf of Guinea remains increasingly dangerous for seafarers. Reports of attacks in waters between the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo more than doubled in 2018, accounting for all six hijackings worldwide, 13 of the 18 ships fired upon, 130 of the 141 hostages taken globally, and 78 of 83 seafarers kidnapped for ransom.
The region saw a significant new spike in violence in the last quarter of 2018. Vessels have been boarded by pirates well outside territorial waters, with crew kidnapped and taken into Nigeria where they are held for ransom.
On 16 January the Danish Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs launched a new sectoral strategy for the shipping industry. This strategy is a part of the Danish government’s national strategy for cyber and information security.
The strategy contains a number of initiatives aimed at strengthening IT security and preventing cyber threats in the maritime sector.
The objective of the strategy is to ensure that safety in Danish waters and on board Danish ships is not compromised by cyber attacks.
The responsibility for cyber and information security in the maritime sector lies with the Danish Maritime Authority. The new strategy covers navigational safety in Danish waters and safety on board Danish ships, including systems and software for operation, propulsion and navigation of the ship.