Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 23/12/2014
1. US President Signs Security Acts
The U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law on December 19 the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014. Earlier this month, this bipartisan legislation passed both U.S. Chambers of Congress by unanimous consent. The law reauthorizes funding for the United States Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve, and the Federal Maritime Commission. It also provides policy direction and certainty for these entities and the entire maritime sector. “With this law, we are modernizing the Coast Guard and strengthening businesses that depend on maritime transport – which is almost every business".
2. IMO Praise for Ballast Back Down
IMO secretary general Koji Sekimizu has praised ICS’ decision to stop actively discouraging ratification of the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC). With only 2.46% more of world tonnage needed to ratify the convention before it enters force, ICS made the decision to reverse its long-standing opposition to the convention, following IMO’s revision of the guidelines. Changes included a more stringent type-approval process for new systems, in order that fully type-approved equipment would not fall foul of port state control (PSC) inspections. IMO member governments will begin to think how the requirements could be improved.
3. Congestion Batters Box Cargo Reliability
Congestion at US west coast ports contributed to lower on-time containership reliability in November, according to Drewry’s latest report. With waiting times at anchor outside of USWC ports reportedly running to one week in some cases, carriers’ schedule reliability has understandably taken a big hit. Drewry’s reported Transpacific ships were on average 2.4 days later than scheduled in November. Inevitably, the main culprits were ships scheduled to dock at the most affected ports. The on-time percentage for ships calling at either Los Angeles or Long Beach was down to only 41% in October and 46% in November.
4. Shipping is the Lifeblood of Communities
The ocean is the highway of international trade. Shipping is also the lifeblood of many local economies. In Singapore, the industry employs around 170,000 people and contributes around 7 percent to the country’s GDP while in Hong Kong, the industry accounts for more than 25 percent of the country’s GDP. In Philippines, the maritime industry contributes over US$5.2 billion annually to the country’s foreign exchange remittance and employs more than half a million Filipino seafarers. Shipping is one of the world’s most important industries and as projections suggest global seaborne trade could double by 2030.
5. Bunker Supplier Dragged into Dispute
Trustees of Dynamic Oil Trading (DOT), the former Singaporean subsidiary of OW Bunker, are working hard to ensure that bunker supplier Tankoil Marine Services Pte. Ltd. (Tankoil) is declared bankrupt. Arvid Andersen, a lawyer acting on behalf of DOT, has previously said that Tankoil received a large part of $125 million in credit that OW Bunker since described as a fraud, which was combined with OW Bunker’s hedging loss of $150 million and ultimately forced the supplier to file for bankruptcy. "We are of course very interested in shedding some light on the relationship between Dynamic Oil Trading and Tankoil" said a lawyer.
6. Root Cause of Migration Needs Addressing
UNHCR has warned nations are losing focus on saving lives amid confusion among coastal nations and regional blocs over how to respond to the growing number of people making risky sea journeys in search of asylum or migration. It is claimed governments are increasingly seeing keeping foreigners out as being a higher priority than upholding asylum. “This is a mistake, and precisely the wrong reaction for an era in which record numbers of people are fleeing wars,” they said. “Security and immigration management are concerns for any country, but policies must be designed in a way that human lives do not end up…collateral damage.”
7. InterManager Boasts of Proud Record
InterManager President Gerardo Borromeo has reaffirmed that his association will continue to serve as the strong voice for the shipmanagement sector during 2015. In his New Year Message to InterManager members and the wider shipping industry, Mr Borromeo said: “In this age of international legislation and with the increasing requirements for monitoring and reporting within our industry, it is important to ensure that ship and crew managers have a voice on the world stage and I am determined that InterManager will continue to provide that loud voice.” He also highlighted the association’s achievements over the past year.
8. Bunker Manager Arrested on Fraud Charges
Former global manager of the bankrupt marine fuel supplier OW Bunker Lars Bohn has been arrested in Denmark. Danish newspaper Borsen quoted the prosecutor’s office as saying on Thursday that Bohn is wanted in Italy where he is suspected of fraud adding that he will be extradited to Italian authorities for further prosecution in a few weeks. According to Bohn’s defence lawyers, Bohn is innocent and they will oppose his detention once he is brought before a judge, the daily said. Bohn is also suspected to be involved with five other individuals in issuing fictitious bunker fuel to the Italian navy worth USD 8.6 million.
9. New MOU Strengthens Legal Approach to Piracy
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Japan and Seychelles covering the conditions of transfer of suspected pirates and seized property, was signed on Thursday in Indian Ocean island nation’s Port of Victoria. The agreement was signed on board "Takanami" one of two Japanese naval ship docked in Port Victoria.
Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands with a population of some 90,000 people has placed itself at the forefront of the fight against piracy. The latest agreement covers issues such as pirates capture by the Japanese Navy, trial, possible conviction and repatriation to Somalia.
10. Action from West African States on Crime
Hard times now await criminals in the high seas, as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has pledged its commitment to talking oil theft, sea robbery, piracy and other criminalities in the Gulf of Guinea. Ministers said that pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft greatly affect revenue generation drive, hence the need for a tight maritime security. They said: “Maritime security is a cause for concern, given the export of oil from the Gulf of Guinea of over 5 million barrels per day and also additional discoveries from other member state.” ECOWAS was praised for active participation against crime.
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