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 26 August the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), along with the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) and the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO), issued new protocols to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 cases on board.
These protocols aim to safeguard the health of seafarers and guarantee the safe operations of maritime trade – offering governments and the general public reassurance that seafarers can embark and disembark ships safely.
Recently, there have been concerns over COVID-19 infections on board ships, due to a small minority failing to adhere to industry guidance.
While the number of cases has been limited, newly issued protocols will provide shipowners and operators with the tools to safely manage cases on vessels. Building on previous health guidance released by ICS in May, the new protocols equip ships operators with two useful instruments:
Since the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 related travel restrictions have limited the global shipping industry's ability to rotate ships' crew. There are now over a quarter of a million seafarers stranded at sea, waiting to be repatriated.
In light of this humanitarian crisis and its far-reaching impact on the industry, ICS put forward COVID-19 health guidance in March, updated in May, to protect the health of seafarers and passengers, as well as the general public.
These comprehensive documents ensure the safe operations of maritime trade and serve as a reassurance to governments that crew change and seaborne trade pose limited health risks.
Natalie Shaw, Director of Employment Affairs for the International Chamber of Shipping commented: ‘The new protocols build on our previous guidance and should give confidence to the industry and governments that maritime trade can operate safely. Especially when there are suspected COVID-19 cases on board.
‘We have observed a small number of COVID-19 cases among ships' crew in recent weeks and decided to take the initiative to create new protocols, together with IMHA and INTERTANKO.’
The document Coronavirus (COVID-19) Protocols to Mitigate the Risks of Cases On Board Ships from ICS and other major bodies is available for download here: See here: https://www.ics-shipping.org/docs/default-source/resources/covid19-protocols-to-mitigate-the-risks-of-cases-on-board.pdf?sfvrsn=4
A growing number of guidance documents from ICS are available for free download here: https://www.ics-shipping.org/free-resources/covid-19#docs
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).