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.
Freight forwarders remain ahead of the curve despite ongoing Brexit uncertainty
While the UK government keeps working, pushing and grinding on to try again to make the case for its Brexit compromise, and MPs carry on hunting, and arguing for alternatives that could take the place of that compromise if it ultimately fails, the British International Freight Association (BIFA) is advising its members to continue preparing for a no-deal departure on 29 March, until further clarity is obtained.
Robert Keen, BIFA’s Director General said that that this has been the advice of the trade association for freight forwarders for several weeks.
Keen says: ‘Confusion reigns and with less than a fortnight to go before Brexit, no proposal is off the table and some suggest that a no deal exit can happen because last week’s vote was advisory.
‘A no-deal departure would be very disruptive and damaging for the UK economy as a whole, but freight forwarders – many of whom are Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) accredited – would play a key role in tidying up the mess left by the politicians by ensuring UK importers and exporters can continue trading with the rest of Europe as best as possible after 29 March.
‘I am pleased to report that BIFA members are ahead of the curve and planning for every eventuality, with their trade association trying to make sure it gets relevant information to its members following the release of that information from the various UK government departments.
‘BIFA’s executive management has engaged with various government departments over the last two years regarding the issues that affect the movement of visible trade post-29 March, in order to provide our members with advice on those discussions whenever procedures are finalised.
‘Our members have also been discussing the possible impacts with their clients. Large and small, BIFA members have taken actions to review all options to overcome the disorder that a no-deal Brexit could bring to international trade in order to define sustainable solutions as the set of Brexit conditions becomes clearer.
‘One thing is certain, our members are ready, willing and able to clear up any mess regarding the movement of freight into and from the UK, created by politicians.’
On 15 October it was announced jointly from London and Kuala Lumpur that the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) had issued its report for the third quarter of 2019. This document demonstrates that fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported than in
the first nine months of 2018.
A total of 119 incidents of Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships have been reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) in 2019, compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018. Overall, the 2019 incidents include 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked. The number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months has declined from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.
While the overall number of incidents has dropped, incidents involving guns and knives remain consistent. There have been 24 knife-related and 35 gun-related incidents reported in 2019, compared to 25 and 37 for the first nine months of 2018. These statistics confirm IMB’s concerns over continued threats to the safety and security of seafarers.
Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea remains a high risk area for piracy and armed robbery. The region accounts for 86% of crew taken hostage and nearly 82% of crew kidnappings globally.
In July a general cargo vessel was hijacked approximately 120nm SW of Brass. Ten crew members were kidnapped from the vessel and released four weeks later. In August a bulk carrier and a general cargo vessel were boarded within hours of each other at Douala anchorage, Cameroon, and a total of seventeen crew were kidnapped from the vessels. Within six weeks all kidnapped crew were released. This incident demonstrates the range of piracy activity in the Gulf of Guinea and that all types of ships are vulnerable to attack. Lagos recorded 11 incidents in 2019, the highest number for any port.
In the words of said Pottengal Mukundan, Director, ICC IMB: ‘Although incidents are down, the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities with kidnappings of crew members increasing in both scale and frequency. It is important that shipmasters and owners continue to report all actual, attempted, and suspected incidents to ensure that an accurate picture of these attacks emerge and action is taken against these criminals before the incidents further escalate.’
In recognition of California Clean Air Day, the Port of Long Beach (POLB) announced on 2 October the demonstration of hydrogen- and electric-powered cargo handling equipment at two terminals, in pursuit of its goal to become the world’s first zero-emissions seaport.
This new equipment was purchased through a $5.3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as part of the C-PORT, or Commercialization of POLB Off-Road Technology Project. It was reported that the port has several continuing clean-air technology demonstrations in partnership with labour, marine terminal operators and regulatory agencies.
It is understand that the CARB grant falls under the umbrella of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities similar to those adjacent to the port.
In the words of Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bonnie Lowenthal: ‘Today, you see some of the equipment with the potential to take us to the next level – zero emissions. The equipment, which will be operated by our longshore partners at the port, will help us reduce our impact on our neighbourhoods and contribute to the port’s ability to increase trade.’