Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
It was reported by IMO on 13 March that a new set of publicly-available guidelines for monitoring plastics and microplastics in the oceans will help harmonize how scientists and others assess the scale of the marine plastic litter problem.
These guidelines* for the monitoring and assessment of plastic litter and microplastics in the ocean have been published by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), a body that advises the United Nations system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection.
Guidelines cover what to sample, how to sample it and how to record and assess plastics in the oceans and on the shoreline, including establishing baseline surveys. They include recommendations, advice and practical guidance, for establishing programmes to monitor and assess the distribution and abundance of plastic litter, also referred to as plastic debris, in the ocean.
The guidelines include common definitions for categories of marine litter and plastics, examples of size and shape, how to design monitoring and assessment programmes, sampling and surveys. Sections cover citizen science programmes - which involve members of the public in marine litter surveying and research.
There are detailed chapters on monitoring sea surface floating plastic and plastic on the seafloor.
The full set of guidelines is available to download free-of-charge from the GESAMP website here:
In addition the guidelines can be used by national, inter-governmental and international organisations with responsibilities for managing the social, economic and ecological consequences of land- and sea-based human-activities on the marine environment.
Furthermore, these guidelines are a response to the hitherto lack of an internationally agreed methodology to report on the distribution and abundance of marine plastic litter and microplastics and directly contribute to the UN SDG Goal 14 on the oceans.
Specifically, the guidelines are a response to target 14.1: By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including plastic debris and nutrient pollution.
Of Guidelines for the Monitoring and Assessment of Plastic Litter in the Ocean the principal purpose of this report is to provide recommendations, advice and practical guidance, for the establishment of programmes to monitor and assess the distribution and abundance of plastic litter, also referred to as plastic debris, in the ocean. The intention is to promote a more harmonised approach to the design of sampling programmes, the selection of appropriate indicators (i.e. type of sample), the collection of samples or observations, the characterisation of sampled material, dealing with uncertainties, data analysis and reporting the results and also to inform the establishment of national and regional field monitoring programmes.
More women are joining the maritime ranks in a variety of professions within the industry. To encourage this trend, IMO supported a training course aimed at female officials from maritime and port authorities. (See illustration here kindly provided by kind courtesy of IMO © along with valuable background material in a media briefing).
A total of 25 women from 17 developing countries took part in the two-week Women in Port Management course, hosted in Le Havre, France from 24 June to 5 July.
This course covered lectures on port management, port security, the marine environment, facilitation of maritime traffic, marketing, port logistics and other topics. Participants learnt about the necessary skills required to improve the management and operational efficiency of their ports.
Visits were organized to the Port of Le Havre and the Port of Rouen, giving participants the chance to experience the day-to-day operations of a port, with a view to applying this knowledge back in their respective countries.
The port management course was delivered through IMO’s Women in Maritime programme, supported by the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China and in partnership with the Port Institute for Education and Research (IPER) and the Le Havre Port Authority. It comes as part of IMO’s ongoing and increasing efforts to support the UN Sustainable Development Goal No 5* to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
The Council of the IMO (see illustration here kindly provided by IMO © ) condemned recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and Sea of Oman at its meeting in London held from 15-19 July.
After debate, the IMO Council decided to condemn the attacks and expressed its concern over the grave danger to life and the serious risks to navigational safety and the environment to which such incidents may give rise. The Council also emphasised the need for flag States and ship owners and operators to review the maritime security plans for their ships and implement necessary measures to address the heighted security risk to ships operating in the Strait of Hormuz and Sea of Oman.
Addressing the IMO Council, Secretary-General Kitack Lim also emphasised his personal condemnation of the attacks, asserting that: ‘…threats to ships and their crews, peaceably going about their business in any part of the world, are intolerable.’
On 12 May 2019, Saudi Arabian-flagged vessels Amjad and Al Marzoqah, the Norwegian-flagged vessel Andrea Victory and the Emirati-flagged vessel A. Michel, were attacked off the coast near Fujairah and suffered sabotage damage, and on 13 June 2019, the Marshall Islands flag Front Altair and Panama flag Kokuka Courageous were attacked, suffering hull damage and fire, while located in the Sea of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz.