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.
All new ships for UK waters ordered from 2025 should be designed with zero-emission capable technologies. On 11 July this ambitious aim, as part of the Clean Maritime Plan appeared in plans set out by Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani (illustrated) to cut pollution from the country’s maritime sector.
At this time the UK government is also looking at ways to incentivise the transition to zero-emission shipping and will consult on this next year (2020).
Furthermore, the plan also includes a £1 million competition to find innovative ways to reduce maritime emissions and is published alongside a call for evidence to reduce emissions on UK waterways and domestic vessels.
Government’s Clean Air Strategy
The Clean Maritime Plan is part of the Government’s Clean Air Strategy, which aims to cut down air pollution across all sectors to protect public health and the environment. It will also help deliver the United Kingdom’s commitment to be net zero on greenhouse gases by 2050.
In the words of Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani at the launch of the Plan: ‘Our maritime sector is vital to the success of the UK’s economy, but it must do everything it can to reduce emissions, improve air quality and tackle climate change.
‘The Clean Maritime Plan sets an ambitious vision for the sector and opens up exciting opportunities for innovation. It will help make the UK a global hub for new green technologies in the maritime sector.’
The maritime sector has already taken significant strides to reduce emissions – hybrid ferries are already being used in UK waters, including in the Scottish islands and on cross-Solent journeys to the Isle of Wight. The Port of London Authority – where the Maritime Minister launched the Plan on 11 July – also uses hybrid vessels.
Sarah Kenny, Chief Executive of BMT Group and representing the Mari-UK consortium, commented: ‘The Clean Maritime Plan is an important step towards achieving a zero-emission future for the UK. Getting to net zero will not be easy, but it will present significant opportunities as well as the obvious challenges for all parts of our £40bn maritime sector. Maritime is already the greenest way of moving freight, but we can and must do more to reduce emissions.
‘The good news is that the UK is well-placed to not only decarbonise our own economy, but also to share our expertise and capability with the rest of the world as they, too, embark on this most global of missions.
‘For the first time, companies and universities from across the country have come together to collaborate through MarRI-UK, accelerating the UK’s maritime technological capabilities, particularly on decarbonisation.
‘The key ingredient to realising our clean maritime ambitions is collaboration. Between companies, academia and with government. Today’s plan and government’s broader Maritime 2050 strategy, crafted with Maritime UK, provides a framework to do just that.’
Guidance to ports
At the Plan’s launch guidance was also issued to ports to assist them in developing air quality strategies (see here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/815665/port-air-quality-strategies.pdf ). This will both address their own operations and support improving air quality across the country.
Tim Morris, chief executive of the UK Major Ports Group and member of the Clean Maritime Council, added: ‘The Clean Maritime Plan is a really valuable piece of work, setting out an ambitious path forward for the transformation of the maritime sector in the UK. It doesn’t shy away from the scale or complexity of the challenge of such a transformation. But it’s a transformation that the ports industry, along with the rest of the maritime sector and working in partnership with Government and other stakeholders, is determined to take on.’
A further consultation to increase the uptake of low carbon fuels will also take place next year.
The Clean Maritime Plan is part of the government’s Maritime 2050, a long-term strategy published in January 2019 to keep the UK as a world leader in the maritime sector for decades to come.
A copy of the plan can be found at:
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.’