Top Ten Maritime News Stories 20/04/2015

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 20/04/2015

1. Trawler Taken by Libyan Forces

Italian navy personnel on Friday boarded a Sicilian fishing boat and took custody of a Libyan soldier on board after the vessel was seized overnight off the coast of the North African state, the defense ministry said. A defense ministry statement said a tugboat apparently belonging to Libyan security forces had stopped an Italian trawler early on Friday, around 90 km (55 miles) from the port of Misrata. Italy’s navy subsequently intercepted and took control of the vessel, encountering no resistance from the sole Libyan soldier on board, who was transferred to an Italian ship. One fisherman suffered minor injuries, the ministry said.



2. Med Death Toll Mounting

As many as 700 migrants were feared dead on Sunday after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean, raising pressure on Europe to face down anti-immigrant bias and find money for support as turmoil in Libya and the Middle East worsens the crisis. If the death toll is confirmed, it will bring to 1,500 the total number of people who died this year seeking to reach Europe – a swelling exodus that prompted Europe to downsize its seek and rescue border protection program in a bid to deter them. International aid groups strongly criticized the decision. The 20 meter-long vessel sank 70 miles from the Libyan coast, south of Lampedusa.




3. Haven for Maritime Crime

The Indian Ocean could become a haven for criminal activity, Yury Fedotov, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) told the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice yesterday. “Recent studies…indicates an increase in dhow traffic between known departure points for heroin trafficking and the east coast of Africa and South Asia, with traffickers adopting innovative concealment methods and using several drop-off points to smaller vessels,” he explained calling for more robust responses from the international community.




4. IMO Legal Challenges to be Met

The IMO Legal Committee met for its 102nd session between 14-16 April 2015 with further discussion undertaken on the issues of seafarer welfare, piracy and the current migrant crisis. The Committee considered the issue of unsafe mixed migration by sea. They agreed the situation of migrants at sea and search and rescue services in the Mediterranean region was desperate, with urgent action needed. The Committee encouraged Member States, to give effect to the 2006 Guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident. The Committee was updated on the current status of the Secretariat’s counter-piracy initiatives.




5. MLC Called into Question

Human Rights at Sea has launched a new campaign, stressing that the Maritime Labour Convention is, in its opinion, not far reaching enough. The aim of the ‘Unlocking the issue’ advocacy campaign is to bring human rights awareness to the forefront of the maritime and fishing industries and their regulators, the NGO said in a release. HRAS said that it was a “common myth” that MLC is a human rights convention which provides all the protections required for seafarers’ human rights. “This provides a false sense of security to seafarers covered by the convention and highlights at best a misinterpretation".




6. SOLAS Changes Could Beckon

The IMO is to review legislation underpinning sea rescues by commercial shipping as a "matter of priority" in the light of mass rescues of migrants and refugees being conducted in the Mediterranean Sea. The shipping community is exasperated with the current situation, and there is a perception the "beautiful tradition" of ships coming to the aid of a distressed vessel is being abused by people smugglers, who, he said, are using ship tracking technology to target ‘rescue’ ships for their people cargoes. The safety of crews and ships participating in mass rescues is under threat as dangers and fatigue grow.




7. Maersk Vessel Runs Aground

A container ship ran aground in Egypt’s Suez Canal in dense mist on Saturday morning, the canal authority said, delaying traffic through a vital global trade route for several hours. A Maersk Line spokesman told Reuters the Danish-flagged "Susan Maersk" sustained no damage or casualties when it ran onto a sand bank while heading north. He said the vessel remained seaworthy and was waiting to be pulled off the sand. Sources in the canal authority said another ship in the same convoy, the Liberian-flagged Margaret Oldendorff, had also ran aground. The two incidents delayed traffic for several hours, they said.



8. Hong Kong Numbers Slide

Throughput at the port of Hong Kong plunged in March falling 13.5% to 1.63m teu from 1.88m teu in the previous corresponding period. The drop could already be seen from the earlier released figures of the individual terminal operators last week and the impact was the greatest at the main Kwai Tsing terminals which saw volumes fall 16.2% to 1.29m teu in March.This is the third consecutive month of declines and has resulted in an overall drop for the first quarter of 8.1% to 4.88m teu.  While the March throughput figure was an increase from the 1.43m teu moved overall in February, this was to be expected with the New Year slowdown.




9. Cruise Ship Seafarer Drug Bust

A Nicaraguan galley worker has been arrested in Roatan in the Caribbean after allegedly attempting to board the cruise ship Norwegian Dawn with cocaine hidden in his clothing. The man, identified by local media Teledifusora Insular as Keneth Antonio Salas Taylor, 35, was discovered carrying a package around his waist by ship security personnel. According to Cruise Law News, the security staff then reported the incident to local police. Last month, five galley workers on the Norwegian Sun were arrested in Tampa over the smuggling of seven kilograms of cocaine from Roatan, says Cruise Law News.




10. How to Negotiate with Pirates

“Make sure they’re alive first,” says Leslie Edwards, a top hostage negotiation specialist and former British Army officer. Demand to speak to the captive on the phone, or better still, on video chat. If that is not possible, ask the abductor to answer what Edwards calls a “proof-of-life question". Ransom amounts vary widely. At the high end, Edwards once settled at $10 million to secure the release of 26 crew members aboard an oil tanker held by Somali pirates. A counteroffer to the first ransom demands should be a result of exhaustive research. As with any negotiation, be firm but cordial. Act in good faith. Find middle ground.




Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions


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