Thursday, 30 April 2009

Industry Snapshots

Filipino seafarers to continue sailing in Gulf of Aden, clarifies Philippine Labour Secretary Marianito Roque, provided ship owners employing Filipino seamen ensure that their ships transit the Maritime Security Patrol Area. Authorities in the Philippines have issued confusing statements over the last week or two; reports have been widely published saying that Filipino ships would not sail through the Gulf of Aden. In what appears to be a clarification, the Department of Labour now says that besides sticking to the MSPA, ship owners and manning agencies will have to submit full crew lists and details of the transit to the administration, but Filipino seafarers may sail through the Gulf. Filipinos constitute about a third of global maritime labour and are major foreign exchange earners for their country, a fact the government cannot ignore. Critics have alleged that in any case, any rules barring Filipino seamen from the Gulf of Aden would be almost impossible to enforce.

CMA CGM to develop more eco friendly ships as it launches a new policy to minimise the global ecological footprint of its businesses. Environmental Director Philippe Borel told Fairplay that the company had first inducted environmental issues into operations a decade ago. “We believed that we should set an example, also in our economic activities, and that it would not be so much a constraint as a company objective,” he says. CMA CGM intends to use cleaner vessels sailing at optimum speeds as well as use advanced waste management systems to achieve this objective. Their policies will apply to owned as well as chartered tonnage.

Shipping Ministry moots single tariff regime for ports, whether public or private, reports Livemint. The Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) would, in this eventuality, become the oversight body that would decide rates across ports in the country. Private and State Government owned ports control about a quarter of the traffic at present; with new private ports coming up, this percentage is slated to go much higher. Joint Secretary Rakesh Srivastava is quoted in the newspaper as saying, “TAMP now sets tariff for Union government owned ports. We want TAMP to do this for ports owned by the state governments also.” Around 185 ports outside the Central Government control are understandably worried by these developments, as they set their own rates at present. The Central Government is also planning to expand the purview of TAMP and give it greater legal powers. “We want to have a powerful and all pervasive TAMP,” Srivastava says, adding that the new structure would be transparent and come into force in 2 years. Many feel, however, that with inevitable resistance from States that have developed ports with private partnerships, the voyage towards a uniform TAMP regime will not be a smooth ride at all.

Threat to coastal shipping as river levels decline in India and across the world. The National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) located in Colorado, USA, will publish a report saying that widespread changing river levels linked to climate change will threaten future supplies of food and water. This will undoubtedly have an impact on coastal shipping as well, many scientists say. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the study examined changes to flows in rivers across the globe. Researchers concluded that about a third of the largest rivers in the world were significantly affected with decreasing water levels. Included in this list are the Ganges, the Yellow River, the Niger and the Colorado rivers, all of which are critical for large populations. Unsurprisingly, greater stream flows were reported near the Arctic, where ice is melting. Other factors: dams and other artificial means of river diversion. The Brahmaputra has not shown a marked decrease, but scientists fear that melting Himalayan glaciers would make this phenomenon a reality in the not so distant future. Some analysts say that Indian shipping has been hit already by changing river patterns and that the industry must come to grips quickly with changing depths before it is too late. They point to developments in Haldia as one example: with dwindling water transport and ships lightening at ports like Paradip, recent reports have raised a question mark over the port’s sustainability, saying that some of the silting is irreversible and cannot be managed by dredging any longer.


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