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 8 April in Singapore, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) signed a joint memorandum of understanding (see illustration).
This new MOU codifies the extensive level of co-operation that already exists between these important international trade associations and provides a framework for their closer co-operation. The three associations collectively represent over 90% of the world merchant fleet. The agreement recognises their respective memberships of national shipowners’ associations and the unique and special relationship which their members enjoy with their national governments.
The MOU confirms the roles of ICS, ASA and ECSA as the principal global and regional associations, representing shipowners and operators – in all shipping sectors and trades – with those global and regional organisations, regulators and other bodies which impact and affect the interests of international shipping.
In the words of ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson (pictured, left): ‘Shipping is a global industry requiring global rules. It is only natural that as the representatives of the world’s national shipowner associations that we should further cement our relationships to ensure that we work as effectively as possible in support of a global regulatory framework for shipping and in opposition to unwelcome regional or unilateral initiatives that may impede the efficiency of maritime trade.
ASA President Bhumindr Harinsuit (pictured, centre) added: ‘It is vital that the interests of Asian shipping, which controls an increasingly large proportion of the world fleet, are properly represented at the global level, especially with the increasing importance of Asian economies to overall demand for shipping services. It is of utmost importance that shipowners outside our region are fully aware of local developments that may affect their operations.’
And to which ECSA President Panagiotis Laskaridis (pictured, right) commented: ‘The maritime policies of the European Union have a significant impact on regulatory developments at fora such as the UN IMO, with major implications for ship operators in Europe and globally. Cooperation with ICS and ASA allows us to enhance our joint efforts to represent the best interests of shipowners, whether at bodies such as IMO or when dealing with the EU institutions.’
A copy of the ICS / ASA / ECSA MOU can be seen here: http://www.ics-shipping.org/docs/default-source/documents---link-access/mou-between-asa-ecsa-and-ics---final-agreed-text.pdf?sfvrsn=2
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.’