Friday, 24 July 2009

Industry Snapshots

Shipping Minister promises port upgrade. Mr. G. K. Vasan, Union Minister for Shipping, told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that the Government had readied plans to upgrade the infrastructure of ports and bring them up to international standards. The National Maritime Development Programme (NMDP), under which these programmes fall, has been now formulated by the Ministry of Shipping “with the objective to upgrade and modernise port infrastructure in India to enable it to benchmark its performance against global standards.” Two hundred and seventy six projects in the Major Ports have been identified that will be implemented in the stage up to 2012. These will include deepening of channels, rail/road connectivity, improvement in equipment, new construction or upgradation of berths, modernisation schemes and the creation of back up facilities.

Maritime companies holding on to skilled staff in testing times, fearing shortage of skilled personnel when the recession ends. The biennial Maritime Manpower Singapore 2009 conference was told that key personnel are being sent for retraining rather than retrenchment in a bid to keep them on the rolls. 'As late as mid last year, we were screaming for people. The worst is to retrench people only to find a shortage of manpower when demand comes back,' Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) president Teo Siong Seng says. Industry fears that a rebound would see companies hamstrung in the absence of qualified seafarers to man ships. Even after the present downturn, the ‘shortage’ theme persists; the ITF predicts a shortfall of almost 88000 seafarers worldwide by 2012.

Analysts predict BALDRY below 3000 in the third quarter,
the recent rally in the Baltic Dry Index notwithstanding. A survey of a group of analysts and traders shows that the cost of transporting bulk cargo is expected to fall on the back of decreased Chinese demand. Speculation is another reason, some say. Chinese traders and small steel mills are importing more iron ore than ports and stockyards and so demand may not be sustained, according to Nigel Prentis at HSBC Shipping Services in London.

Cruise ship leaks oil at UNESCO World Heritage listed Geiranger fjord, say Norwegian police. Police representative Magne Toennoey says authorities have managed to contain the large amount of oil and will pump it out. Clearly visible from land, the oil leaked from the Bahamas registered cruise ship “Spirit of Adventure” in one of Norway’s most popular tourist belts in the South, besides being a UN protected site since 2005.

Billions of pounds lost annually because of spread of invasive species through ships ballast tanks, conservationists say. Some of the creatures that have involuntarily migrated include the Chinese mitten crab that is increasing in UK’s rivers including the Thames in London. The World Wildlife Fund reports that about 7,000 marine and coastal species are transported annually, invading new areas and upsetting the ecological balance. The WWF estimates that “in the last five years, invasive species have cost fisheries, aquaculture, industrial infrastructure, harbours and other marine businesses some £31bn worldwide”. As much as eighty four percent of the world’s seas have invasive species in them; shipping is a major reason for this migration. Conservation groups have resumed calling for urgent ratification of the Ballast Water Convention, in limbo since 2004.

First women seafarer hostage in Somalia Aysun Akbay, the 24 year old fourth officer of the Turkish flagged Horizon 1, now has the unpleasant distinction of becoming the first woman mariner to be taken hostage by Somali pirates. Her ship, the Horizon 1, was taken on July 8; Aysun is a graduate of the Karadeniz Technical University's maritime training program. Her parents have asked the Turkish authorities to intervene and ensure she is released unharmed. The Horizon 1 was taken in the Gulf of Aden in the early morning hours of July 8, the intrepid pirates boarding the vessel from speedboats in strong monsoon winds. Unconfirmed reports from Ecoterra, an NGO in Somalia, say that two hijackers were injured after they were fired on by an Indian naval vessel during the attack.

Chinese registered ship “Asian Forest’ sinks off Mangalore Coast sparking off fears of an oil spill. All the 18 crewmembers of the ship were rescued by the Indian Coast Guard ship ICGS Sankalp. The ship was carrying 366 tonnes of fuel oil and 45 tonnes of diesel at the time of the accident. The Coast Guard Karnataka Commandant P.S. Jha told Deccan Herald that the Owners, P & G Marine Company of Busan, have been asked to make arrangements for salvage operations and removal of oil from the wreckage. The exact cause of the sinking is subject to investigation, but the vessel seems to have had technical difficulties in heavy monsoon weather after sailing out of New Mangalore last Friday, after which she sent a distress message.



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