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.
With the slogan ‘Transport keeps us going’, the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), together with 33 organisations issued a Declaration on 24 March stressing the essential role transport is playing in the corona crisis.
Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO Secretary General, commented: ‘Transport and logistics play a crucial role in the supply of essential goods in this critical period. To ensure that transport can continue to keep us going, the free flow of goods between Member States must be guaranteed. We must also support and encourage all the people working in transport.
‘Their contribution in overcoming this crisis is vital. In times of emergency, ports have an essential role in providing citizens, health services and businesses with the goods and materials they need. Europe’s ports take this public responsibility very seriously. We hope the Member States are following the recommendations of the Commission to ensure that goods keep moving in Europe, in the interest of every single EU citizen.’
On 11 March, the World Health Organization (WHO1) declared the COVID-19 a pandemic and governments worldwide have taken wide-ranging measures to contain the spread of the virus.
The transport sector has a crucial role to play in the supply of goods, in particular medicines, medical devices, food and other essential commodities needed to overcome this crisis. The transport sector also proves to be a vital instrument in these times where many European citizens are restricted in their mobility.
A statement of endorsement
The undersigned European associations representing transport, infrastructure managers, operators, workers in all transport modes and logistics, contractors, local and regional authorities, logistics service providers, shippers, users and equipment suppliers in the maritime, port, inland waterways, railways, road, cycling, aviation and intermodal sectors, as well as supporting industries and companies, jointly endorse the following statement:
Unlike an emergency situation on land, when a ship faces a crisis at sea, Masters cannot simply dial the emergency services for instant assistance. They take responsibility for dealing with the situation, acting decisively to protect lives and prevent or minimise damage to the ship, environment and cargo.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) have worked in partnership to provide the industry with a practical guide
Peril at Sea and Salvage: A Guide for Masters outlines the actions a Master should take when confronted with an emergency: from the initial assessment and immediate actions, through to towage or salvage arrangements, as may be necessary. It also explains the importance of prompt notification to relevant parties with onshore support, particularly coastal States and the company.
A section is included with recommendations for a company’s shore-based personnel.
Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping commented: ‘Over the years we have seen a reduction in shipping emergencies and major incidents due to the development of regulations governing the safe operation and management of ships. Crews are regularly trained in emergency response preparedness and the industry has adopted a compliance culture.
According to a media briefing from IMO the key project to support the reduction of GHG emissions from shipping in developing countries through regional maritime technology cooperation centres has been extended to June 2021.
Known as the Global MTCC Network (GMN) Project this implemented by IMO and funded by the European Union.
There is a global network of Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs). These undertake pilot projects and promote technologies and operations to improve energy efficiency in the maritime sector, it is reported.
Since their establishment three years ago, the MTCCs in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific have established strong regional networks and are becoming important regional players, with technical expertise in the field of maritime energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions knowledge.
These Centres have undertaken a range of pilot projects, completed port energy audits and established branch offices in three countries. IMO report that more than 50 capacity building activities have brought together a total 2,400 delegates from various parts of the maritime sector.