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.
Early in January North Sea Port posted a record year for the third year in succession. It was reported that the firms based in the port transhipped 71.4 million tonnes of seaborne cargo, an increase of 1.5%. The growth is mainly due to dry bulk and containers. (Our illustration kindly provided by North Sea Port shows a bulk trade.)
Moreover, the figure of 71.4 million tonnes means North Sea Port has broken the 70 million tonne barrier for the second time. This rise is primarily down to a growth in exports for the third consecutive year (+9.9%). Two years after its launch as a merged port, North Sea Port is maintaining its position as a true bulk gateway and is also making progress as a hub for containers between maritime and inland waterways.
Dry bulk and containers on an upward trajectory
Almost half of the goods that North Sea Port tranships is dry bulk. That volume rose to 34.6 million tonnes last year (+5.4%). Over two years, this segment is up 10%. A strong construction sector again meant increased transhipment of sand, gravel and construction materials in 2019. Coal transhipment – especially for processing industries – and agricultural products remained steady. Scrap and ores showed a small decline.
With very strong growth of 48.7%, container transhipment amounted to a total of 2.5 million tonnes and 330,000 TEU. This segment has doubled in two years. As in previous years, this is the result of attracting new services and an increase in refrigerated containers. North Sea Port is also growing as a hub for onward transport of containers from maritime shipping to the hinterland via inland waterways.
Transhipment of wet bulk fell slightly to 20.1 million tonnes (-2.2%). This decrease was mainly evident in the (petro)chemical sectors, largely due to a maintenance shutdown. However, a sharp increase (+42%) was recorded in the transhipment of biodiesel and vegetable oil.
Transhipment of conventional break bulk cargo totalled 11 million tonnes (-6.6%). Part of this decrease is attributable to fruit because this is increasingly being transported in containers. However, the transhipment of machines is on an upward trend.
Ro/ro fell to 3.2 million tonnes (-9.6%), with a noticeable fall in the number of vehicles and trailers.
Inland navigation gets in on the act
The record-breaking was not confined to transhipment via ocean going vessels – inland navigation also set a new record, with an increase from 58 million to 60 million tonnes (+3.4%).
With transhipment of 71.4 million tonnes via ocean going traffic and 60 million tonnes via inland navigation, North Sea Port achieved a total of 131.4 million tonnes transhipped in 2019 (+2.1%). And this does not include a further 15 to 16 million tonnes of transhipment via pipelines.
Short sea shipping and transatlantic freight traffic
North Sea Port focuses on both European coastal shipping (short sea shipping) and transatlantic freight traffic. The share of short sea shipping within total freight transhipment via maritime services remained at 63%. As in previous years, goods traffic with Europe and North and South America accounted for more than 90% of total cargo transhipped last year (93.5%).
In 2019, North Sea Port released 44 hectares of land.
With a record year behind it and rising freight transhipment in dry bulk and containers, North Sea Port is cautiously optimistic for 2020, as it was in early 2019. A continuation of the current trend of light growth is anticipated. Brexit, shrinking economic growth and (anticipated) trade wars provide reasons for caution.
Coronavirus: Let’s keep ships moving, ports open and cross-border trade flowing
Statement on 25 March by UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi
Note: There is a series of related links to be found at the foot of this article*
‘As the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, the global maritime transport industry is playing a critical role in the response.
‘A call by the industry to all governments to keep maritime trade moving by allowing commercial ships continued access to ports worldwide and by facilitating the rapid changeover of ships’ crews should not go unheeded.
‘Around 80% of global trade is transported by commercial shipping, which moves the world’s food, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods and components, according to UNCTAD statistics.
‘This includes vital medical supplies, which are sorely needed at this time, and items that are necessary for the preservation of many jobs in manufacturing – without which modern society cannot function.
Trinity House has been closely monitoring the developments of the impact of COVID-19 and has followed advice provided by HM Government.
With regard to its function as the General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, the Trinity House priority is to keep staff safe while delivering its statutory functions.
The three GLAs of the UK and Ireland* are deemed essential services vital for the safety of marine navigation and the continuous flow of food, fuel, medical and hygiene supplies, along with the many other commodities upon which the nation depends daily.
In accordance with Government advice a significant majority of Trinity House personnel are now working from home where possible, but some staff are required to attend their normal workplace because of the essential nature of their work.