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Asset Maintenance

A well-maintained port is usually an indicator of a well-managed port. The Harbour Master will work with the port's engineers and maintenance department to ensure that infrastructure and assets essential for marine operations are maintained and fit for purpose. Major infrastructure and smaller assets should be recorded in an asset register, inspected periodically and be subject to planned maintenance.

Effective adaptation of port assets and infrastructure to climate change, including rising sea levels and increasing storminess, is essential for business continuity and safety management. Guidance on climate change adaptation is available from PIANC.

Port Approach and Fairways

Navigable channels are the arteries of a port. They must have adequate depth and width for the maximum size of vessels using the port. The regular survey of channels and the optimum placement of aids to navigation are among the primary responsibilities of ports and usually require the permission of a national lighthouse authority. Many ports, as Local Lighthouse Authorities under the national organisation, are responsible for the maintenance of Aids to Navigation in their area of jurisdiction.

Dredging and dredging regimes

The increasing size of ships is a challenge for ports which in order to remain competitive may need to increase the depth and breadth of their approach channels and berths. Dredging and the disposal of dredged material have become increasingly contentious due to potential environmental impacts. This can affect the timely development of port facilities.

Deep water routes, traffic separation schemes, anchor areas

Vessels optimize efficiency as they navigate between major ports. As a result shipping can be highly concentrated into modern sea-lanes. The presence of deep water routes and traffic separation schemes may increase the difficulty of safe port access for visiting vessels.

Hydrographic services

Ports are increasingly operating on reduced under-keel clearance margins due to increasing vessel size, which in turn requires more efficient hydrographic data and services. Ports need to be able to collect, process and publish data on port conditions in a timely manner and provide increasing amounts of meteorological and tidal data in real time.

Operation of bridges and locks

When locks and bridges are part of the port’s infrastructure there can be a conflict between the scheduling of ships and use of public access routes over locks and bridges. Maritime security must also be considered when roads and rail cross waterways used by ships.


With the increasing emphasis on environmental sustainability, many ports have responded to ensure that their operations are environmentally sustainable and committed themselves to working towards improved environmental performance through focused action on the following areas: air quality, energy conservation and climate change, waste management, noise management, and water (both consumption and quality) management.

Harbour Masters have a key role to play including the implementation of pollution-prevention measures and the development of contingency plans and responses to oil spills, dealing with the immediate effects of the oil spill and aiming to minimise the impact on the port’s customers and stakeholders.

Harbour Masters may control waste management services in ports, including the disposal of dangerous chemicals. Ballast water protocols aim to prevent the accidental introduction of exotic and potentially invasive aquatic organisms into ports in order to protect the marine environment.

A further environmental concern is the need to reduce greenhouse gases. Sources of air pollution within ports can be of concern because of the potential for harm to both port users and the health of people living close to the port.

Ship waste and ballast water

Waste management services in ports, including the disposal of dangerous chemicals, may be strictly controlled by the Harbour Master to ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. IMO MEPC.1/Circ.834 15 April 2014 CONSOLIDATED GUIDANCE FOR PORT RECEPTION FACILITY PROVIDERS AND USERS is intended to be a practical users’ guide for ships’ crews who seek to deliver MARPOL residues/wastes ashore and for port reception facility providers who seek to provide timely and efficient port reception services to ships.

The International Convention for Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments came into force in 2017 and represents a significant step in the protection of the marine environment. The IMO has developed a manual entitled "Ballast water management - how to do it" (ISBN 978-92-801-1681-6, sales number: I624E).

Bunkering of Fuel

Ships wishing to take on fuel, for instance HFO (Heavy Fuel Oil), MDO (Marine Diesel Oil), MGO (Marine Gas Oil) or LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) must supply the grade, the quantity and the start and stop time of bunker operations. The master of the receiving ship and the skipper of the bunker barge must register the operation in a bunker oil record book. A ship / ship safety bunker checklist must be completed by both parties. This can be checked by the harbour master’s staff and bunker operations can be stopped if safety rules are not followed. The World Ports Climate Initiative has developed guidelines for safe procedures for bunkering of LNG. These can be found here  

Tank Cleaning

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. Annex I covers prevention of pollution by oil from operational measures as well as from accidental discharges. Ports and harbours must offer oil reception facilities for oil-water residues, slops and bilges. In accordance with rules for products specified in Annex II of the convention, shore reception facilities are required, because, for instance, category A products can only be discharged to a shore tank and cannot be pumped overboard. That is why there are terminals in a harbour where chemical tankers and product tankers can wash their tanks and send the wash waters ashore. Ventilation of ship tanks can also be a problem if toxic gases could be emitted into the atmosphere. Therefore there is an obligation to use VPR-lines (Vapour Return), which circulate the vapours in a closed circuit between the ship tanks and the shore tanks while in port. During tank cleaning the ship tanks have also to be kept inert, so that there is no risk of explosion.

Ships' Emissions

Ships' emissions to the air are governed by MARPOL Annex VI. Sources of emissions within ports are a serious concern and affect not only the environment, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, but also potentially the health of port users and those who live and work close to the port.  Annex VI sets limits on sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ship exhausts and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances; designated emission control areas set more stringent standards for SOx, NOx and particulate matter. IMO has set a global limit for sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships of 0.50% m/m (mass by mass) from 1 January 2020. This will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxide from ships and should have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts.

Onshore power supply (OPS) is one of the strategies for reducing the environmental impact of seagoing vessels in ports. Further information can be found at the World Ports Climate Initiative website

Oil Spill Response

A port's response to an oil spill is generally in accordance with a contingency plan which sets out the organisation and procedures, information and response resources and clean-up techniques, as well as providing guidance on administrative and operational procedures involved in the preparation, mobilization, operation and termination of an oil spill response. How this is provided varies from country to country but, in general terms, the plan deals with the immediate effects of the oil spill and aims to minimise the short, medium and long-term impacts on the port’s customers and stakeholders. A primary objective of any response to an oil spill is to ensure that there is a return to normality as soon as possible.


Parties to the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) are required to establish measures for dealing with pollution incidents, either nationally or in co-operation with other countries. Ships are required to report incidents of pollution to coastal authorities and the convention details the actions that are then to be taken.

States which are party to OPRC 90 and OPRC-HNS (hazardous & noxious substances) Protocols are required to establish a national system for responding to oil and HNS pollution incidents, including a designated national authority, a national operational contact point and a national contingency plan. This needs to be safeguarded by a minimum level of response equipment, communications plans, regular training and exercises for which the harbour master may be responsible. Parties to the Convention are required to provide assistance to others in the event of a pollution emergency and provision is made for the reimbursement of any assistance provided.

Latest News & Events


A stevedore suffered sickness and disorientation after handling cans containing fumigant while discharging cargo at No 3 Alexander berth in the Port of Liverpool from the general cargo vessel Thorco Angela*.

The circumstances of the incident are recorded in (United Kingdom) Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) preliminary assessment (PA) summary number 4/22: Thorco Angela published on 18 May 2022.

Ports emit roughly 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet there is no widely accepted tool for measuring waterside GHG…

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Latest Events

Data-Led Emissions Management (D-LEMA) Monitoring Vessel Emissions in Ports

Ports emit roughly 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet there is no widely accepted tool for measuring waterside GHG emissions. D-LEMA is a project that has successfully demonstrated a proof-of-concept digital solution for monitoring vessel emissions in port, allowing port managers to identify activities that contribute to high levels of GHG emissions. 

This webinar will discuss the D-LEMA project and how widely available vessel data was used to estimate emissions in ports. Participants will learn about the methodology used as well as the preliminary results from the project in a working UK port.

Thursday, May 26

2pm London / 8am Houston / 9pm Singapore

Presented by Graham Howe
Business Development Director, Operations Optimization, ION

Graham Howe has over 25 years of experience in global sales, specializing in maritime applications. He has worked extensively in the offshore wind and metocean sectors, bringing new technology solutions to market. Graham is currently focused on the international roll-out of the Marlin SmartPort solution, a user-friendly Port Management Information System designed to support the digitalization of port operations via reliable Cloud-based applications.

Delivered virtually
COP26 Maritime Event

In November 2021, the UK will host COP26, the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Glasgow, Scotland.  Contracting parties to the Convention will meet to assess progress towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

Ports, like other forms of transport infrastructure, are potentially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, particularly extreme weather.  If the sector is to be well-prepared to face these changes, urgent action is needed to adapt infrastructure and to improve the climate-resilience of both assets and operations. 

In order to help promote such action, Peel Ports Group, Scotland, will be hosting a workshop at the International Maritime Hub during COP26, in collaboration with the British Ports Association, the UK Major Ports Group, Maritime UK and City of Glasgow College. 

The workshop, titled ‘Practical climate change adaptation challenges and good practice solutions for ports’, will run across two half-day sessions on 2nd and 3rd November 2021 and aims to facilitate the exchange of experiences and the sharing of good practice. 

The workshop will feature speakers from ports around the world including:

  • Captain Yoss Leclerc, Chief of Marine Operations, Port of Quebec, Canada; and
    President, International Harbour Masters’ Association;
  • Captain Naresh Sewnath, Senior Manager Pilotage & VTS, Transnet National Ports Authority, South Africa; and Vice-President, International Harbour Masters’ Association; 
  • Captain Karuppiah Subramaniam, General Manager of Port Klang Authority, Malaysia; and President, International Association of Ports and Harbours; and Chair of the IHMA 2022 Congress 

Please use the following link to register your interest in attending this free event:

For more information, please see the attached detailed programme.

Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
IHMA Congress 2022
IHMA Congress 2022

From 1 April 2022, Malaysia's international borders reopened! So it’s all systems go for the 13th International Harbour Masters’ Congress at the Hilton, Kuala Lumpur from 27 to 30 June 2022.

Watch Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin list the steps required for international travellers to visit Malaysia.

The first speakers have been announced and the preliminary agenda will be released shortly. Make sure you register now to get the early bird rate which expires 22 April 2022.

Visit the dedicated Congress website for full details of the event including special Congress accommodation rates at the Hilton KL.

On behalf of the IHMA President, Executive Committee and members of Council, we look forward to seeing you in Malaysia.

Delivered virtually
Online Workshop Sponsored by:  PIANC and Navigating a Changing Climate 14 and 15 September 2021

Working with Nature for Climate-Resilient
Ports and Waterways

Online Workshop Sponsored by:
PIANC and Navigating a Changing Climate

14 and 15 September 2021

PIANC’s Environment Commission (EnviCom) and the Navigating a Changing Climate partners are collaborating to run a workshop entitled Working with Nature for Climate-Resilient Ports and Waterways.  This workshop builds on a 2021 workshop run by Navigating a Changing Climate with SedNet ( focused on sediment management and climate change.  

Two sessions are planned on consecutive days, each 2 hours long, allowing for keynote presentations, case studies, and facilitated round-table discussions. 

The workshop Working with Nature for Climate-Resilient Ports and Waterways is designed to facilitate knowledge exchange, disseminate good practice, highlight opportunities, and identify gaps in understanding or research needs in relation to the following sessions: 

  1. Session 1: 14th September.  Scaling Up and Changing Entrenched Current Practices
    • Transitioning nature-based solutions to full-scale
    • Persuading those who prefer business as usual to explore nature-based alternatives
  2. Session 2: 15th September.  Making a Business Case and Securing Finance
    • Preparing the case for investment in nature-based solutions
    • Facilitating public and private sector funding for nature-based solutions

For more information and to register, please reach out to Victor Magar ( and copy to Kate Panayotou ( and

The email title line should be marked with “PIANC‑NavClimate Working with Nature Workshop.” 

PIANC, the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, provides the global waterborne transport community with expert guidance, recommendations, and technical advice (  Navigating a Changing Climate is a PIANC-led Global Climate Action initiative under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Find out more at

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Latest News & Events

Fumigant poisoning  mv Thorco Angela Berthed Liverpool October 2021 Fumigant poisoning


A stevedore suffered sickness and… FIND OUT MORE

Data-Led Emissions Management (D-LEMA) Monitoring Vessel Emissions in Ports Data-Led Emissions Management (D-LEMA) Monitoring Vessel Emissions in Ports Webinar 26 May 2022

Ports emit roughly 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet there is no widely accepted tool for measuring waterside GHG emissions. D-LEMA is a project that has successfully demonstrated a… FIND OUT MORE

Latest News & Events


A stevedore suffered sickness and disorientation after handling cans containing fumigant while discharging cargo at No 3 Alexander berth in the Port of Liverpool from the general cargo vessel Thorco Angela*.

The circumstances of the incident are recorded in (United Kingdom) Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) preliminary assessment (PA) summary number 4/22: Thorco Angela published on 18 May 2022.

Ports emit roughly 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet there is no widely accepted tool for measuring waterside GHG…