Top Ten Maritime News Stories 06/07/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 06/07/2016

1. Shipping Confidence All Time Low
Global shipping confidence is at an all-time low as fears of a global recession and Britain’s vote to leave the EU pile pressure on parts of the industry already suffering from its worst downturn. The global container sector, as well as the dry bulk shipping market hauling commodities including iron ore and coal, are struggling with a glut of ships, a faltering global economy and weaker consumer demand. In an annual survey by international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, just 15 percent of respondents saw current market conditions as positive, the lowest level since the poll began in 2009.
2. Record High Canal Cost
With the opening of the Panama Canal expansion in June, it was to be expected that the waterway would shatter all sorts of cargo volume records, but with the canal’s added capacity one figure in particular stands out: $829,468. That’s the staggering toll a containership previously too big to use the Panama Canal just paid to pass through it. The toll was paid by the Mitsui O.S.K. Lines-operated "MOL Benefactor" for a northbound transit of the canal on July 1, 2016, the Panama Canal Authority has confirmed. The 10,000 TEU "MOL Benefactor" was actually the first neopanamax containership to use the new locks.
3. Forwarders Weighing into Profit
Shipper representatives have claimed that some freight forwarders and carriers have looked to use the recently implemented VGM regulations as a way generating further revenues, with reports of VGM-related costs steadily being added to ocean freight invoices. Friday saw the official implementation of the new SOLAS legislation, now exporters must provide the verified gross mass of the container and its contents prior to it being loaded on a vessel. Shippers have two methods to deliver a VGM – either weighing the loaded container, or weighing the cargo and adding the tare weight of the box.
4. Smooth VGM Transition
Despite the furore elsewhere, one of the world’s largest container terminal operators is reporting a “smooth transition” to the new container weight verification rule now in effect for export containers worldwide. With three days of terminal operations under its belt with the IMOs new Verified Gross Mass (VGM) Regulations, APM Terminals, the container terminal unit of Maersk Group, says export cargo loading has proceeded without incident at the facilities within its global network of terminals. “All of APM Terminals’ gate operations are operating normally, with vessel schedule integrity remaining unaffected", they said.

5. US Eclipses Saudi Oil
A new independent estimate of world oil reserves has been released by Oslo-headquartered Rystad Energy, showing that the US now holds more recoverable oil reserves than both Saudi Arabia and Russia. For the US, more than 50% of remaining oil reserves is unconventional shale oil. Texas alone holds more than 60bn barrels of shale oil according to this new data. The new reserves data from Rystad Energy also distinguishes between reserves in existing fields, in new projects and potential reserves in recent discoveries and even in yet undiscovered fields.
6. Ground Control to Captain Tom
Tim Peake’s return home from a six month stay in the International Space Station highlighted just how essential it is for people to stay in contact with their friends, family and the rest of the world, literally from wherever they may be. Of course, back on Earth we now take it for granted that we are in a state of constant connectedness to the rest of the world. Incredibly it also showed how astronauts are better connected than seafarers despite the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 stating ship operators should give crews “reasonable access to ship-to-shore telephone communications, and email and Internet facilities.

7. New Premium Taxes Battle
The introduction of a series of premium taxes levied on the marine industry could hit fixed-premium underwriters and mutuals as shipowners battle against the charges. Both the Greek and German governments have recently levied taxes on marine insurance premiums, stoking the ire of those in the industry. In July 2015, the Greek government introduced a 15 percent charge on insurance premiums for hull coverage and shipbuilding. The move came as part of an increase in all premium taxes following discussions, and these are now an increasing cause of concern and tension in the industry.
8. Pilotage Fees Lawsuit Launched
Foreign shipping companies and port associations have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Coast Guard over the increased rates for Great Lakes pilots. The 12 percent rate hike allowed the Lakes Pilots Association to hire three pilots for Port Huron and to buy a new boat. The U.S. Coast Guard-approved increase went into effect in April. However, those opposed to it are saying the rate hike will harm the shipping industry. "We believe pilots are important to ensure safety of navigation. We need pilots. However, the cost of Great Lakes pilots (including their compensation) needs to be reasonable," an industry official claimed.

9. Why the ECDIS Struggle
Why do some shipowners not heed the warnings or learn the lessons of others when it comes to bridge system training and navigation? Why are we seeing an increasing number of ships being detained for officers not familiarised with ecdis? And why are we still seeing ships grounding because of a lack of bridge team training? News over the last few weeks has led to questions being raised into why seafarers do not receive adequate bridge system and team training. Lack of investment by shipowners has led to ship detentions and groundings. But are the warnings being heeded?

10. Using Ships as Farms
The world’s biggest Atlantic salmon producer wants to start farming fish inside a ship rather than the sea. Building traditional fish farms on the open water in Norway has become almost impossible because of state rules intended to curb outbreaks of sea lice, a parasite that can kill young fish. So raising salmon inside an unwanted cargo ship is one of a few options proposed by Marine Harvest ASA, which is trying to boost production at a time when prices are near a record high. “It’s more or less kick-starting fish farming again in a new way,” Alf-Helge Aarskog, chief executive officer of Marine Harvest,
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