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.
On 20 August the UK Department for International Development reported that it had sent three ecology experts and one marine legal expert to Mauritius to support the next phase of the country’s response to the devastating oil spill from mv Wakashio near environmentally protected coral reefs.
Scientists, from the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and funded by UK Aid, flew from the UK the day before at the request of the Mauritian Government.
It is understood that the ecology experts will assess the scale of the damage and help the African island to identify the best ways to restore its coastline and protect the thousands of animal species now at risk of oil pollution. They will work with local experts and communities to achieve this.
In addition to that help a package of legal and technical advice will be provided on how to safely dispose of the stricken ship with a marine expert deploying to the scene, supported by a team of lawyers and marine consultants working remotely from the UK. At the time of writing the largest part of the stricken vessel has now been sunk offshore,
The UK has also committed £10,000 of new emergency support for the Mauritius Wildlife Fund to support its urgent work to help the local nature reserves directly impacted by the oil spill.
Mauritius is a biodiversity hot spot with a high concentration of plants and animals unique to the region. The oil spill has caused significant damage near two protected marine ecosystems. The British scientists will advise on how to minimise damage to the unique coral reefs and how to protect them against future threats.
Mauritius Government and UN help
Meanwhile the Mauritian Government launched an e-Platform in order to facilitate the submission of claims with regard to any person or entity who has sustained a loss or damage caused outside the mvWakashio by contamination resulting from the escape or discharge of bunker oil, the cost of preventive measures as a consequence of the grounding of the ship and ensuing oil pollution.
At the same time the UN reported that it intends to set up a Recovery Fund to support the Government of Mauritius and the local communities following the oil spill. Assistance will be extended in particular to the fishermen whose livelihoods have been affected by this oil spillage.
In a statement, this decision was communicated by the Regional Director of the International Organisation for Migration for Southern Africa and Acting Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for Eastern and Southern Africa, Charles Kwenin.
Impact on tourism
This incident could affect the island’s tourism industry, already impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Other scientists have deemed the oil spill as the country’s worst ecological disaster.
UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge said: ‘Without action, the devastating oil spill in Mauritius risks causing enormous damage to the environment and suffering to the fishing communities who rely on the coast for food and income.
‘I’m proud that the UK is sending experts who will play an important role in assessing the damage, supporting local communities and protecting the environment for future generations.
‘We will continue to work closely with Mauritius, as a friend and Commonwealth partner, to help them recover quickly from this national emergency.’
The Department for International Development (DFID), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for Environmental, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are working with Cefas, a UK Government agency specialising in marine science and technology, to urgently respond to the request for assistance from Mauritius.
A British oil spill expert, in consultation with the IMO has been on the ground in Mauritius since the beginning of the crisis, supporting the United Nations team to advise the local authorities on how to limit the environmental damage.
Senior marine monitoring scientist at Cefas, Dr Sue Ware, who is going to help in Mauritius said: ‘We have been observing the oil spill in Mauritius closely and will be offering our support to assist in environmental impact assessment and monitoring to help tackle the pollution – thereby, helping protect livelihoods, the environment and marine life.
‘We will work closely with the expert team on the ground, and our colleagues back in the UK laboratory, to apply our experience in marine emergency response to the situation.’
The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) is a world leader in marine science and technology, providing innovative solutions for the aquatic environment, biodiversity and food security.
Cefas is an Executive Agency of the UK Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the UK’s most diverse centre for applied marine and freshwater science and research.
For more information about Cefas see: www.cefas.co.uk and follow @CefasGovUK
More than 50 leaders from the financial, public and private sectors participated in the first Financing Sustainable Maritime Transport (FIN-SMART) Roundtable on 27 October. The high level virtual Roundtable (pictured here) was hosted by the IMO, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank Group. We are grateful for a valuable briefing on this topic.
The FIN-SMART Roundtable is a platform for regular dialogue among key maritime stakeholders on addressing the financial challenges related to the transition of shipping to a more sustainable and resilient future. The Roundtable aims to support accelerating financial flows – particularly in developing countries – for the decarbonisation of the maritime sector, in line with country priorities and the goals of the IMO Initial Strategy* on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships. Participants will also address the sector’s COVID-19 recovery needs.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim highlighted the importance of maritime transport in the global economy as an engine of growth and a driver of social development. He called for strong support to accelerate finance for sustainable maritime transport, in particular in decarbonisation and sustainable recovery post COVID-19.
He said: These will be only possible with targeted investment and strategic partnerships, particularly addressing special needs of developing countries, LDCs and SIDS.’ (The full speech is to be found here: https://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/SecretaryGeneral/Pages/FIN-SMART-roundtable-launch.aspx )
This statement was conveyed in an IMO Media briefing of 23 October
Draft new mandatory measures to cut the carbon intensity of existing ships have been agreed by an IMO working group. This marks a major step forward, building on current mandatory energy efficiency requirements to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping.
It is understood that the proposed amendments to the MARPOL convention would require ships to combine a technical and an operational approach to reduce their carbon intensity.
This is in line with the ambition of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy, which aims to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030, compared to 2008. The amendments were developed by the seventh session of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 7), held as a remote meeting from 19-23 October 2020.
Submission to MEPC
The draft amendments will be forwarded to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 75), to be held in remote session from 16-20 November. The MEPC is the decision-making body. If approved, the draft amendments could then be put forward for adoption at the subsequent MEPC 76 session, to be held during 2021.
The ISWG-GHG 7 also discussed the next steps in assessing the possible impacts on States of the proposed combined measure. This group agreed the proposed terms of reference for assessing the possible impacts on States, paying particular attention to the needs of developing countries, in particular Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs).