Top Ten Maritime News Stories 02/06/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 02/06/2016
1. Bulker Seized over Tax Bill
China seized a tanker and detained several people last month, including one employee of Swiss trading house Gunvor, as part of a probe into suspected tax evasion on imported oil, Chinese and trading industry officials said. Gunvor confirmed its employee had been detained for questioning without naming him. Gunvor said it has not been notified of a formal arrest or any charges against its employee. "Gunvor itself has not been formally notified of any investigation involving the company," a Geneva-based spokesman said. Following the detention the firm had looked into the activities of its employee and found no wrongdoing.
2. Antarctic Mining Ban Upheld
The 29 countries party to the Antarctic Treaty unanimously reaffirmed their commitment to a ban on mining activities in the Antarctic on June 1. The group agreed to a resolution at the 39th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) stating their “firm commitment” to retain and continue to implement the ban “as a matter of highest priority.” The ban is part of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (also called the Madrid Protocol).  The resolution was initiated by the United States to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1991 signing of the Protocol.
3. Human Scrapping Toll
A report on the human rights and environmental risks related to ship breaking on the Indian sub-continent was released last week that highlights on-going controversy regarding Statements of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention and limitations of the E.U. Ship Recycling Regulation. The report entitled "Shipbreaking practices in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan: An investor perspective on the human rights and environmental impacts of beaching" was commissioned by KLP, Norway’s largest pension fund, and produced by the International Law and Policy Institute.

4. Iran Sails Back to GoA
Iranian Navy Commander Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said that the 41st flotilla of the Iranian Navy was sent sent for an anti-pirate patrol mission to the Gulf of Aden. The Iranian Navy sent the 41st flotilla on an anti-pirate patrol mission to the Gulf of Aden, local media reported Wednesday. "Iran’s Navy, as a strategic force, is in charge of bolstering security of the country’s border lines on high seas and international waters," Iranian Navy Commander Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said, as quoted by Mehr News Agency, at the see-off ceremony for the naval group.
5. Port State Marpol Campaign
The Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MoU) held its 49th Committee meeting in Haugesund, Norway. The meeting was officially opened by the State Secretary Mrs. Dilek Ayhan of Norway. High importance was given to the Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC) on MLC, 2006 which is scheduled from September to November this year. Living and working conditions for seafarers continue to be a priority. The Committee recognized the importance of the IMO requirements for stricter limits on air pollution from ships and this has led to the decision to have a CIC on MARPOL Annex VI in 2018.
6. Old Software Causing Concern
Maritime vessels are under significant threat of cyber-attack because many are carrying outdated software and were not designed with cyber security in mind, according to new research. But operators could easily mitigate against such dangers by updating security systems, improving ship design and providing better training for crews, the study led by Plymouth University’s Maritime Cyber Threats Research Group suggests. Cyber-attacks have a range of potential implications including business disruption, financial loss, damage to reputation, damage to goods and environment, incident response cost, fines and/or legal issues.
7. Massive Maritime Security Exercise
Twenty-seven nations, 45 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise scheduled June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
8. Celestial Threat to Navigation
Last week The Washington Post published the article Space weather is a hidden risk to Arctic cruises, and it could be a significant one. The article states the cruise ship Crystal Serenity faces a hidden risk when it sails the North West Passage in August this year – space weather. “A strong geomagnetic storm could bring down its GPS and communication with the rest of the world. High wind, heavy seas and, most menacingly, sea ice could necessitate a rescue, and communications and positioning are necessities in bringing emergency responders,” states the article.
9. Owner Sells Oldest Ship
Hong Kong owner Fenwick Shipping has offloaded its oldest ship. The low profile outfit sold the 16,900 dwt Ma Cho, built 1997, for some $1.6m. The company declined to comment on the sale. The conservative handysize specialist is owned by Antony Louis Marden and Oistein Harmens Thorsen. The bulk player stayed loyal to its segment over the years focusing on operating a string of grab-fitted small handysize dry bulk carriers concentrating on the Asia and Oceania regions.
10. Owner Free to Join UP
Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) is expected to join a new global shipping alliance, as the cash-strapped shipper has successfully reached a debt-rescheduling deal with its bondholders. According to a government official, Wednesday, key members of THE Alliance said they will support HMM’s membership application. Since the shipper successfully cleared a hurdle of debt adjustment negotiations with its bondholders, HMM’s entrance to THE Alliance is expected to be just a matter of time, he added. Joining THE Alliance was one of many prerequisite hurdles for HMM in normalizing its operations and business.

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