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.
Nautilus International is the trade union and professional organisation for maritime professionals at sea and ashore. It represents 20,000 maritime professionals including ship masters, officers, cadets and shipping industry personnel, such as maritime pilots, inland navigation workers, vessel traffic services operators, harbourmasters, seafarers in the oil and gas industry, and shore-based staff.
On 30 December Nautilus International announced that it has cautiously welcomed approval of the future trade agreement with the European Union (EU) by the House of Commons (UK Parliament, Lower House).
While the deal does not include many of the assurances that the Union had been seeking during the last four years, it does mean that a no-deal Brexit has been avoided.
Continuation of tariff-free trade with the EU will come as a relief to the UK maritime sector, especially in light of the problems that delays in trade can cause, as was seen when many countries closed borders to the UK due to a new variant of the Covid-19 virus just before Christmas.
However, while the agreement will avert some of the likely downside caused by the UK defaulting to World Trade Organization rules on 1 January 2021, Nautilus has warned that much of the detail still needs to be resolved before the full impact on the UK maritime sector, and UK seafarers, can be fully understood.
The 1,240-page agreement was finally reached by the EU and UK on Christmas Eve, and passed by the UK Parliament on 30 December, just two days before the New Year’s Day deadline. This has left very little time for the maritime sector to adjust to any unexpected arrangements to cross border trade, which the Nautilus has warned will lead to a bumpy road ahead.
Commenting on the situation on 30 December, Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: ‘We have been clear from the start that a no-deal Brexit would have serious implications for UK seafarers and the UK maritime sector more widely, so we welcome the fact that this deal has been approved.
‘However, our members working on ships of other EU shipping registers still need reassurances that their Certificates of Competency will continue to be recognised and what steps will be taken to expedite this recognition.
‘Alongside this, the UK government needs to stand by its commitment to maintaining standards and parity with Europe on for example social and employment standards and not engage in a new race to the bottom.’
Crew changes are once more becoming difficult as much of the world locks down again following the emergence of several new and more transmissible variants of Covid-19, crew specialist Danica has warned.
With travel corridors being closed and new travel restrictions imposed, airlines are once again cancelling or reducing flights which poses a problem for crew transiting to vessels. It is understood from Danica that ports too, if they have reopened, are imposing greater restrictions.
Henrik Jensen (pictured), Managing Director of Danica Crewing Services, has warned: ‘I believe we may be heading for a new crew change crisis every bit as bad as last spring. Over the past six months crew changes have been possible in many cases, although they have been costly and complex. However, now we are seeing a range of new restrictions and barriers to crew travel while also facing some serious issues in relation to crew health risk factors. I can foresee this impacting heavily on crew changes for the next few months.’
Danica specialises in crew deployment and has been assisting a range of ship operators in order to achieve crew changes over the past year. As a result, the company is fully aware of the latest rules and restrictions and well-placed to notice how they are impacting crewing.
Jensen explained: ‘In response to the rapid increase in infections around the world, governments are imposing new or additional measures including travel restrictions. Although these measures are understandable in the circumstances, based on scientific evidence, and intended to provide protection for their populations, they also cause operational and logistical problems for crew changes.
RightShip and INTERCARGO announced on 21 January the launch of an important new quality standard for the dry bulk sector, DryBMS. The standard will be governed by a new NGO to be established later this year and will support the improvement of safety in the dry bulk segment.
Both RightShip and INTERCARGO have strongly and consistently advocated the need for significant improvements to dry bulk safety standards. In August 2020 both organisations combined their expertise to create a single framework for the whole industry.
Supported by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and BIMCO, DryBMS now exists as a simple set of best practices and key performance indicators and raises the bar on safety, environmental and operational excellence.
RightShip’s CEO Steen Lund says that he is confident that such a programme will be supported and adopted: ‘We are proud to launch DryBMS to the industry. The standard is a product of extensive collaboration with many stakeholders within the dry bulk sector.