Seacurus Daily Top Ten News Stories 03/10/2014
1. Piracy Guidance Update
The Round Table of international shipping industry associations has released an updated version of ‘Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Masters for Protection Against Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea Region.’ Piracy and armed robbery in the waters off West Africa has become an established criminal activity of very serious concern to the maritime sector. Incidents have recently occurred as far south as Angola and as far north as Sierra Leone. These attacks have become increasingly violent, often involving firearms, and cases of kidnapping for ransom have also become more common.
2. Cack-Handed Criticism from Owners
Guy Platten, ceo of the UK Chamber of Shipping, has criticised the “cack-handed” North-European emission control area (ECA) sulphur regulations coming into force in January 2015. Speaking at a conference of trades union Nautilus in Belfast this week, Platten highlighted challenges facing the ferry industry, and commercial shipping by extension, which were characterised by “an onslaught of rules, regulations and market difficulties.” “The past few years have seen unprecedented challenges in global markets as well as local economies and too many ferry operators are on a knife edge," Platten stated.
3. LNG Visions of the Future
If the major classification societies are to be believed, by 2020 the North Sea will be a hive of high-tech LNG-powered feeders whizzing about, while large deepsea vessels call at ports just outside the emission control area (ECA) zone like Liverpool to drop off their cargo. But in the short-term, predominantly HFO-fuelled vessels are still going to have to call at ports within the zone. For vessels equipped or retrofitted with scrubbers, this will not be much of an issue. Similarly, for newbuilds designed to switch fuels, measures are taken at the design stage to segregate fuel lines and thereby avoid issues.
4. Ship Operating Costs Take Tumble
International accountant and shipping consultant Moore Stephens says total annual operating costs in the shipping industry fell by an average of 0.3 per cent in 2013. This compares with the 1.8 per cent average fall in costs recorded for the previous year. Crew costs was the only category this time to show an increase over the 12 month period, indicating that ship owners continued to focus on managing costs and conserving cash in 2013. The findings are set out in OpCost 2014 (www.opcostonline.com), Moore Stephens’ unique ship operating costs benchmarking tool.
5. BP Looks to Tackle Legal Claims
Oil giant BP has asked for a court ruling that it was "grossly negligent" for the Gulf of Mexico spill to be overturned. BP made the request to a US court to reconsider a judgment handed down last month, which increases its potential liabilities by about $18bn (£11.1bn). It said Louisiana district court Judge Carl Barbier’s ruling was based on evidence he had agreed to exclude from the ongoing trial. The company said he should therefore review his decision or give it a new trial over the 2010 spill, which saw millions of barrels of oil spread in the gulf. The evidence in question surrounds expert testimony and alleged errors linked to the blowout.
6. Migrants Placing Seafarers Under Threat
The health, safety and security of seafarers is regularly placed under threat when they are asked to respond to the growing number of distressed migrants at sea, according to a new report. The report, submitted by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), highlights the risks and costs to shipping at a time when the extent of the problem is being seriously under-recorded by national governments. The ICS says that although shipowners are proud and committed to carry out their obligation to engage in search and rescue (SAR) at sea, but in the case of migrants there are dangers too.
7. Invasive Species Concerns Rise Again
In the early 1980s, the North American comb jellyfish quit its Atlantic home, hid away in the belly of a cargo ship and headed for the Black Sea. By just over a decade later, its descendants had decimated the anchovy population in their new surroundings — a jellyfish heaven with unlimited food in the eggs and young of other fish… and not a natural predator in sight. Invasive hitchhiker species constitute "one of the most significant threats to the marine environment in modern times," says International Maritime Organisation (IMO) head Koji Sekimizu.
8. Greek Anarchist Attack Plans
The Greek minister of public order and the chief of the Greek Police have announced that, following anti-terrorism investigations carried out in a garage in the Vyronas area of Athens, evidence has been uncovered of an impending terrorist attack planned by Nikos Maziotis and his anarchist terror group against the Union of Greek Shipowners and Capital Product Partners chairman Evangelos Marinakis.. The thwarted attack was scheduled to take place on October 4. As well as the shipping links, its suspected targets were the president of Olympiakos FC Evangelos Marinakis, Greek entrepreneurs Theodoros Veniamis and Theodoros Fessas.
9. Drone Programme to Protect Shipping
The combination of Best Management Practices, reporting of locations to the authorities, the use of water hoses and citadels by vigilant crews and latterly the use of private security teams have all contributed to keeping pirates at bay. Now though EU Naval Force (Eunavfor) is, in the coming months, set to explore an enhanced programme of drone monitoring to protect the sea lanes. The remote controlled aircraft will be used to monitor the seas off the coast of Somalia where pirates have been known to operate and give an early warning of a possible attack.
10. Tax Boost for Indian Seafarers
After 24 years, Indian tax authorities have finally agreed to rewrite rules for seafarers working on Indian-flag ships to qualify them for non-resident status and end an anomaly that is cited by local fleet-owners as the main reason for an acute shortage of sailors to man their vessels. Finance minister Arun Jaitley signed off on the new rules in early September. Taxmen are currently engaged in drafting a notification to give effect to the decision. A seafarer serving on Indian ships outside India for a period of 182 days or more in a year is considered to be a non-resident, with numerous tax benefits. This will likely boost seafarer recruitment.
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