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Asset Maintenance

A well-maintained port is usually an indicator of a well-managed port. The Harbour Master will work with the port's engineers and maintenance department to ensure that infrastructure and assets essential for marine operations are maintained and fit for purpose. Major infrastructure and smaller assets should be recorded in an asset register, inspected periodically and be subject to planned maintenance.

Effective adaptation of port assets and infrastructure to climate change, including rising sea levels and increasing storminess, is essential for business continuity and safety management. Guidance on climate change adaptation is available from PIANC.

Port Approach and Fairways

Navigable channels are the arteries of a port. They must have adequate depth and width for the maximum size of vessels using the port. The regular survey of channels and the optimum placement of aids to navigation are among the primary responsibilities of ports and usually require the permission of a national lighthouse authority. Many ports, as Local Lighthouse Authorities under the national organisation, are responsible for the maintenance of Aids to Navigation in their area of jurisdiction.

Dredging and dredging regimes

The increasing size of ships is a challenge for ports which in order to remain competitive may need to increase the depth and breadth of their approach channels and berths. Dredging and the disposal of dredged material have become increasingly contentious due to potential environmental impacts. This can affect the timely development of port facilities.

Deep water routes, traffic separation schemes, anchor areas

Vessels optimize efficiency as they navigate between major ports. As a result shipping can be highly concentrated into modern sea-lanes. The presence of deep water routes and traffic separation schemes may increase the difficulty of safe port access for visiting vessels.

Hydrographic services

Ports are increasingly operating on reduced under-keel clearance margins due to increasing vessel size, which in turn requires more efficient hydrographic data and services. Ports need to be able to collect, process and publish data on port conditions in a timely manner and provide increasing amounts of meteorological and tidal data in real time.

Operation of bridges and locks

When locks and bridges are part of the port’s infrastructure there can be a conflict between the scheduling of ships and use of public access routes over locks and bridges. Maritime security must also be considered when roads and rail cross waterways used by ships.


With the increasing emphasis on environmental sustainability, many ports have responded to ensure that their operations are environmentally sustainable and committed themselves to working towards improved environmental performance through focused action on the following areas: air quality, energy conservation and climate change, waste management, noise management, and water (both consumption and quality) management.

Harbour Masters have a key role to play including the implementation of pollution-prevention measures and the development of contingency plans and responses to oil spills, dealing with the immediate effects of the oil spill and aiming to minimise the impact on the port’s customers and stakeholders.

Harbour Masters may control waste management services in ports, including the disposal of dangerous chemicals. Ballast water protocols aim to prevent the accidental introduction of exotic and potentially invasive aquatic organisms into ports in order to protect the marine environment.

A further environmental concern is the need to reduce greenhouse gases. Sources of air pollution within ports can be of concern because of the potential for harm to both port users and the health of people living close to the port.

Ship waste and ballast water

Waste management services in ports, including the disposal of dangerous chemicals, may be strictly controlled by the Harbour Master to ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. IMO MEPC.1/Circ.834 15 April 2014 CONSOLIDATED GUIDANCE FOR PORT RECEPTION FACILITY PROVIDERS AND USERS is intended to be a practical users’ guide for ships’ crews who seek to deliver MARPOL residues/wastes ashore and for port reception facility providers who seek to provide timely and efficient port reception services to ships.

The International Convention for Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments came into force in 2017 and represents a significant step in the protection of the marine environment. The IMO has developed a manual entitled "Ballast water management - how to do it" (ISBN 978-92-801-1681-6, sales number: I624E).

Bunkering of Fuel

Ships wishing to take on fuel, for instance HFO (Heavy Fuel Oil), MDO (Marine Diesel Oil), MGO (Marine Gas Oil) or LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) must supply the grade, the quantity and the start and stop time of bunker operations. The master of the receiving ship and the skipper of the bunker barge must register the operation in a bunker oil record book. A ship / ship safety bunker checklist must be completed by both parties. This can be checked by the harbour master’s staff and bunker operations can be stopped if safety rules are not followed. The World Ports Climate Initiative has developed guidelines for safe procedures for bunkering of LNG. These can be found here  

Tank Cleaning

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. Annex I covers prevention of pollution by oil from operational measures as well as from accidental discharges. Ports and harbours must offer oil reception facilities for oil-water residues, slops and bilges. In accordance with rules for products specified in Annex II of the convention, shore reception facilities are required, because, for instance, category A products can only be discharged to a shore tank and cannot be pumped overboard. That is why there are terminals in a harbour where chemical tankers and product tankers can wash their tanks and send the wash waters ashore. Ventilation of ship tanks can also be a problem if toxic gases could be emitted into the atmosphere. Therefore there is an obligation to use VPR-lines (Vapour Return), which circulate the vapours in a closed circuit between the ship tanks and the shore tanks while in port. During tank cleaning the ship tanks have also to be kept inert, so that there is no risk of explosion.

Ships' Emissions

Ships' emissions to the air are governed by MARPOL Annex VI. Sources of emissions within ports are a serious concern and affect not only the environment, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, but also potentially the health of port users and those who live and work close to the port.  Annex VI sets limits on sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ship exhausts and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances; designated emission control areas set more stringent standards for SOx, NOx and particulate matter. IMO has set a global limit for sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships of 0.50% m/m (mass by mass) from 1 January 2020. This will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxide from ships and should have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts.

Onshore power supply (OPS) is one of the strategies for reducing the environmental impact of seagoing vessels in ports. Further information can be found at the World Ports Climate Initiative website

Oil Spill Response

A port's response to an oil spill is generally in accordance with a contingency plan which sets out the organisation and procedures, information and response resources and clean-up techniques, as well as providing guidance on administrative and operational procedures involved in the preparation, mobilization, operation and termination of an oil spill response. How this is provided varies from country to country but, in general terms, the plan deals with the immediate effects of the oil spill and aims to minimise the short, medium and long-term impacts on the port’s customers and stakeholders. A primary objective of any response to an oil spill is to ensure that there is a return to normality as soon as possible.


Parties to the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) are required to establish measures for dealing with pollution incidents, either nationally or in co-operation with other countries. Ships are required to report incidents of pollution to coastal authorities and the convention details the actions that are then to be taken.

States which are party to OPRC 90 and OPRC-HNS (hazardous & noxious substances) Protocols are required to establish a national system for responding to oil and HNS pollution incidents, including a designated national authority, a national operational contact point and a national contingency plan. This needs to be safeguarded by a minimum level of response equipment, communications plans, regular training and exercises for which the harbour master may be responsible. Parties to the Convention are required to provide assistance to others in the event of a pollution emergency and provision is made for the reimbursement of any assistance provided.

Latest News & Events

It was announced in mid-August that Maersk Supply Service will in the coming months provide marine support to The Ocean Cleanup, the Dutch non-profit organization that is developing advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastics, and install their first clean up system in the North Pacific.

ABPmer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Associated British Ports Holdings Limited, reported on 13 August with regard to Langstone Harbour Board it had been appointed to provide an independent Designated Person (DP*) service and associated annual Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC**) audit.

Role of Harbour Master/ Port Operations Professional
Port Call Optimisation
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Vessel Traffic Services
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Emergency Management

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Latest Events


Thursday 27 - Friday 28 June 2019

How and with who will the ship of the future communicate?

This is the question that industry, ship owners and managers, ports, nautical service providers, university and research projects will seek to answer in this biennial EHMC seminar.  The day will include live demonstrations of industry products and a visit by boat within the Port of Gothenburg that will also take us around the harbour area.

The host: Port of Gothenburg

The Swedish shipping industry has recently been labelled a role model for the global shipping community because of the work being done to reduce emissions.  The Port of Gothenburg is not only Sweden's, but moreover Scandinavia's most important gateway for goods, cruise and passengers.  The hinterland includes three capital cities - Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm and almost 3o per cent of Swedish foreign trade passes through the port.

For further details please contact the EHMC Secretary,

Tanger Med

"Port Choice"

The 2017 seminar was a first in the history of our Committee, as it was held in the Moroccan port of Tanger Med. This was a consequence of the previous seminar in 2015, which was held in Marseille and where we reached out to our North African colleagues who are Harbour Masters, Port Captains and their deputies.

Tanger Med has built a leading hub port on the south shore of the Strait of Gibraltar. Beginning service in July 2007, the Tanger Med port is now operating amongst the world's leading ports.


Download includes
Programme en Francais Le program complèt du jeudi et vendredi 11 et 12 mai, séminaire EHMC, Tanger Med
Program in English - The full program for the Thursday and Friday 11 and 12 May 2017, EHMC seminar, Tanger Med




On the occasion of the 2015 seminar in Marseille, we reached out to our North African colleagues who are Harbour Masters, Port Captains and their deputies. 

Le séminaire biennale de l’ EHMC est un événement sur deux jours qui permet aux Commandants des port Européens de se rencontrer pour se connaitre et échanger sur des sujets d'intérêt commun.


Download includes
Group picture
Press article  ’L’accueil des géants préoccupe les commandants de port’ le Marin, l’hebdomadaire de l’économie maritime  12 juin 2015
Press article  ’Le gigantisme cause commune des commandants de ports européens’ l’Antenne, les transports au quotidien   29 mai 2015
Presentation; Grand Port Maritime de Marseille -’Improve weather forecasts, more accurate navigation positioning, use of tugs, information to masters, improve experience’ AMAURY DE MAUPEOU, Harbour Master Port de Marseille et Marseille Fos
Presentation; The container ship market in 2015 ’Ultra-large box vessels: scaling effects in the container trade’ JAN TIEDEMANN, senior analyst liner shipping and ports, Alphaliner
Presentation; Le Port Tanger Med ’L’accueil dans le port des grands Porte-Conteneurs’ Cdt. KHALID SAMIR, Harbour Master Tanger Med Port Authority
Presentation; pilotage Marseille Fos “Piloter les plus grands navires dans le port en toute sécurité avec deux pilotes et la mise en œuvre du PPU” Capitaine NICOLAS PETIT, Pilot Station de Marseille Fos
Presentation; Bigger container vessels; more P&I claims? ’Replies from; the ship’s side, statistics, lessons learned & port installations’ JEAN-FRANCOIS REBORA, Director France P&I
Presentation; IHMA Congress 2016 ’Theme; Port expansion, challenges and opportunities’ PAUL O’REGAN, IHMA congress papers committee Port of Cork
Presentation; Weather forecasts ’Improving weather and wind forecasts in ports’ PAUL HUTCHINSON Vaisala
Presentation; Weather forecasts Text version; ’Improving weather and wind forecasts in ports’ PAUL HUTCHINSON Vaisala
Presentation; The Mariner’s Handbook ’What is the maximum draught that can fit into the port?’ SUSIE ALDER, Product Manager UK Hydrographic Office
Participants Registrations until 21-5-2015
Full program EHMC seminar, in English The full program of the seminar, 28 May, and the technical visit on 29 May
Programme complète du séminaire EHMC, en Francais Le programme complète du séminaire le 28 mai et de la visite du port et cocktail le 29 mai
The Port of Marseille, in English Presentation brochure Marseille Fos; ’Global Port & Multi-Activities’




"Adapting to changes; ships using LNG as fuel, reporting through a Single Window"

Andreas Mai has hosted a triple E-event in which one day knew the EHMC seminar, a second day was dedicated to the Green Efforts project and a third day to an ESPO MAS meeting. The EHMC Seminar was about;

  • the Harbour Master and ships using LNG as fuel
    For LNG marine fuelling and bunkering there is without doubt a very fast growing interest; studies by class societies even show a parallel in the development of LNG as a fuel with the changeover to oil as a fuel some 100 years ago (see for documents under the heading 'LNG'). One may easily loose the overview these days of all developments, feasibility studies and political demands.
  • The implementation of the EU Reporting Directive in June 2015
    Same applies to the implementation of the reporting directive that can be viewed as a compulsory introduction of electronic communication in the European maritime world.


Download includes
LNG Infrastructure Development in European ports Mahinde Abeynaike, Bomin Linde LNG
LNG – marine fuel of the future? Mr. Markku Mylly – EMSA Director
LNG as a fuel for ships, Activities in the ports of Bremen Bjela König, Port Development Bremenports
WPCI LNG Working Group Bjela König, Port Development Bremenports
Simultaneous LNG bunkering and passenger operations Capt. Henrik Cars, Harbour Master Port of Stockholm
LNG–issues to be considered by Harbour Masters Jan Tellkamp - Det Norske Veritas
IT in ports -supporting business processes - since the ‘70s Andreas Mai
Directive on reporting formalities, implementation in Germany Uwe Kraft, deputy harbour master Bremen/Bremerhaven
Data collection and reporting esp. for smaller companies Peter Langbein, BSMD
EHMC Seminar program Please find here the full program for the EHMC seminar on 17 April 2013.
Participants EHMC Seminar The participants that registered for the EHMC seminar on 17 April so far.
EHMC seminar and Bremen events April 2013 Flyer with all information about the events, venues, hotel and travel. Digital version.



London, UK

"The Safe Port; information and education"

When and how can Harbour Masters consult the SafeSeaNet system? 

UK Certificate of Competency for Harbour Masters 

Bachelor and Master degree for ex-seafarers aiming at a higher university degree 

EHMC and the ESPO Maritime Affairs & Security Committee 

European Nautical Platform 

EHMC film on Safe Mooring “the Missing Link, improving the mooring process" 

IHMA Nautical Port Information Project 

How do we improve IHMA's professional standing, members' involvement and members' benefits 

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Download the IHMA Constitution

The IHMA constitution sets out the establishment of a region of the IHMA, the committee role and authority, its formation and management.

Latest News & Events

Pacific cleanup Maersk Supply Service and The Ocean Cleanup plastics removal

It was announced in mid-August that Maersk Supply Service will in the coming months provide marine support to The Ocean Cleanup, the Dutch non-profit organization that is developing advanced… FIND OUT MORE

ABPmer ABPmer appointed Designated Person for Langstone Harbour

ABPmer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Associated British Ports Holdings Limited, reported on 13 August with regard to Langstone Harbour Board it had been appointed to provide… FIND OUT MORE

Latest News & Events

It was announced in mid-August that Maersk Supply Service will in the coming months provide marine support to The Ocean Cleanup, the Dutch non-profit organization that is developing advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastics, and install their first clean up system in the North Pacific.

ABPmer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Associated British Ports Holdings Limited, reported on 13 August with regard to Langstone Harbour Board it had been appointed to provide an independent Designated Person (DP*) service and associated annual Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC**) audit.