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.
A mandatory requirement for national governments to introduce electronic information exchange between ships and ports came into effect from 8 April 2019.
The aim is to make cross-border trade simpler and the logistics chain more efficient, for the more than 10 billion tons of goods which are traded by sea annually across the globe.
The requirement, mandatory under IMOs Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention), is part of a package of amendments under the revised Annexe to the FAL Convention, adopted in 2016.
In the words of IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim: ‘The new FAL Convention requirement for all Public Authorities to establish systems for the electronic exchange of information related to maritime transport marks a significant move in the maritime industry and ports towards a digital maritime world, reducing the administrative burden and increasing the efficiency of maritime trade and transport.’
IMO’s Facilitation Convention encourages use of a single window for data, to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal, without duplication.
Requirement for electronic data exchange came into effect as IMO’s Facilitation Committee was meeting for its 43rd session from 8-12 April.
Alongside other agenda items, at the time of writing, the Committee was due to continue its ongoing work on harmonization and standardization of electronic messages.
Phase One of the review of the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic business, including the data elements of the FAL Convention, was expected to be completed and the revised Guidelines for setting up a single window system in maritime transport approved.
The FAL Committee was also due to receive an update on a successful IMO maritime single window project, implemented in Antigua and Barbuda, with Norway’s support. The source code developed for the system established in Antigua and Barbuda was due to be made available to other interested Member States with a presentation on the system during the Facilitation Committee.
The FAL Convention
The main objective of IMO’s Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention), adopted in 1965, is to achieve the most efficient maritime transport as possible, looking for smooth transit in ports of ships, cargo and passengers.
This Convention, which has 121 Contracting Governments, contains standards and recommended practices and rules for simplifying formalities, documentary requirements and procedures on ships’ arrival, stay and departure.
Under the FAL Committee, IMO has developed standardised FAL documentation for authorities and Governments to use, and the FAL Convention urges all stakeholders to make use of them.
Documentation: The IMO Standardized Forms (FAL 1-7)
The Facilitation Convention (Standard 2.1) lists documents which public authorities can demand of a ship and recommends the maximum information and number of copies which should be required. IMO has developed Standardized Forms for seven of these documents.
They are the:
Five other documents are required, on security, on wastes from ships, on advance electronic cargo information for customs risk assessment purposes, and two additional ones under the Universal Postal Convention and the International Health Regulations.
Under the requirement for electronic data exchange, all national authorities should now have provision for electronic exchange of this information.
Details for this briefing and the accompanying illustration were kindly provided by the IMO Media service (www.imo.org ).
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North Sea Port has indicated that 54% of goods transported to the hinterland are moved by inland waterway shipping. This is the outcome of a study conducted by the port among companies throughout the port area and published on 28 November.
As a multimodal port, North Sea Port will increasingly be focusing on sustainable transport in the future, it is reported.
North Sea Port conducted research into the various transport options used by companies to move goods to the hinterland. This revealed that 54% of goods are transported by means of inland waterway shipping. 30% is loaded into lorries, whilst 9% is transported by rail. Transhipping cargo from one vessel to another accounts for 7%.
Results of this study were explained during North Sea Port’s multimodal event. At an Intermodal Marketplace, shippers and logistics intermediaries were able to find out about the rapidly expanding range of services provided by terminals and shipping companies in the port. These parties offer regular services from North Sea Port with destinations such as Antwerp, Rotterdam, Zeebrugge, Scandinavia, Spain, Italy, Great Britain, China, West Africa and South America by sea (deep-sea and short-sea), rail and inland waterway shipping.
DFDS is now using the new ro-ro ship Hollandia Seaways on the route between North Sea Port Ghent and Gothenburg in Sweden.
On 5 December, DFDS’s largest ship was officially named at the Mercatordok Multimodal Terminal in Ghent, North Sea Port.
The purpose of North Sea Port is to manage, operate and develop the 60 kilometres long cross-border port area from the Dutch port of Vlissingen to Ghent in Flanders. Within this framework, it intends to strengthen the position of the port and industrial complex in the area, both in a national and in an international perspective. North Sea Port employs 250 staff.
Hollandia Seaways can carry 450 trailers, representing a cargo capacity of 6,700 line metres. It has a length overall of 237.4 metres. With an extra floor for trailers, this new ship will immediately catch the eye when in the lock in Terneuzen or on the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal. The vessel is not only larger than the three DFDS ships which currently sail between Ghent and Gothenburg six times a week, it will be by far the largest ship in the entire DFDS fleet. This larger vessel will take the place of one of the three existing ships on the route. As a result, capacity will increase by some 600 trailers per week.