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.
Maritime transport sails stormy seas against political and structural headwinds
Shaky outlook for seaborne trade as uncertainty over world economy remains
Environmental sustainability agenda steers maritime industry towards cleaner fuel sources
World maritime trade lost momentum in 2018, with volumes expanding at 2.7%, below the historical averages of 3.0% and 4.1% recorded in 2017.
Total volumes are estimated to have reached 11 billion tons, an all-time high, according to UNCTAD records. UNCTAD is projecting 2.6% growth in 2019 and an annual average growth rate of 3.4% for the period 2019–2024. However, the outlook remains challenging, given the heightened uncertainty regarding trade policy and wide-ranging downside risks clouding the horizon.
Said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi: ‘The dip in maritime trade growth is a result of several trends including a weakening multilateral trading system and growing protectionism. It is a warning that national policies can have a negative impact on the maritime trade and development aspirations of all.’
In 2018, world merchandise trade growth decelerated at an unexpected rate, and tariffs on trade between China and the United States of America escalated amid mounting trade tensions and a proliferation of national trade-restrictive measures.
Apart from trade policy crosscurrents, geopolitics and sanctions, environmental concerns, fuel economics and tensions involving the Strait of Hormuz – a strategic maritime chokepoint – were in the headlines.
Other forces at work continued to slowly reshape the maritime transport landscape. A new normal, contrasting with the historical perspective, appears to be taking hold. This trend is characterized by overall moderate growth in the global economy and trade, a supply chain restructuring in favour of more regionalized trade flows, a continued rebalancing of the Chinese economy, a larger role of technology and services in value chains and logistics, intensified and more frequent natural disasters and climate-related disruptions, and an accelerated environmental sustainability agenda with an increased awareness of the impact of global warming.
A transition to the new normal calls for an improved understanding of the main issues at stake, better planning, and flexible and forward-looking-policies that can effectively anticipate change and enable appropriate response measures that take into account the heterogenous nature of developing countries as a group and their varied local conditions and needs.
A copy of the UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2019 is available here:
A new report from the FAO shows that while most fish stocks remain overexploited, the number of stocks subject to overfishing has decreased for the first time in decades. This was announced from FAO HQ in Rome in mid-December. Readers are invited to see the full report here: http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/cb2429en
After decades of increasing human pressures on the Mediterranean and Black Sea marine ecosystems and fisheries resources, the latest data suggest that a corner is finally being turned on overexploitation of the region's vital fish stocks.
According to a new report on the State of Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries (SoMFi 2020), released on 14 December, while 75% of fish stocks remain subject to overfishing, this percentage fell by more than 10% between 2014 and 2018. Exploitation ratios are down by a similar proportion. Taking into account newly assessed stocks, the number of fish stocks with high relative biomass has doubled since the last edition published in 2018.
Crew changes are once more becoming difficult as much of the world locks down again following the emergence of several new and more transmissible variants of Covid-19, crew specialist Danica has warned.
With travel corridors being closed and new travel restrictions imposed, airlines are once again cancelling or reducing flights which poses a problem for crew transiting to vessels. It is understood from Danica that ports too, if they have reopened, are imposing greater restrictions.
Henrik Jensen (pictured), Managing Director of Danica Crewing Services, has warned: ‘I believe we may be heading for a new crew change crisis every bit as bad as last spring. Over the past six months crew changes have been possible in many cases, although they have been costly and complex. However, now we are seeing a range of new restrictions and barriers to crew travel while also facing some serious issues in relation to crew health risk factors. I can foresee this impacting heavily on crew changes for the next few months.’
Danica specialises in crew deployment and has been assisting a range of ship operators in order to achieve crew changes over the past year. As a result, the company is fully aware of the latest rules and restrictions and well-placed to notice how they are impacting crewing.
Jensen explained: ‘In response to the rapid increase in infections around the world, governments are imposing new or additional measures including travel restrictions. Although these measures are understandable in the circumstances, based on scientific evidence, and intended to provide protection for their populations, they also cause operational and logistical problems for crew changes.