Nagoya’s exports down in February

Exports at central Japan’s Nagoya port went down 7.5% year on year (y/y) in February as 4.423 million tonnes of cargo left the port that month.
Imports were up 3.9% y/y to 6.503 million tonnes.
Overall cargo traffic edged up 0.6% in February from a year earlier to 16.886 million tonnes, according

Tankers Could be Converted into Water Makers

By MarEx 2015-05-20 20:09:25

Like many of the world’s resources, water is not distributed equally. Some parts of the world have all the clean water they need, while others are fighting a constant water shortage. Globally, there has been a growing focus on water access over the past decade, prompted by statistical extrapolations for world population growth, which indicate that water-related challenges will only continue to increase.

In developing countries, up to 90 percent of wastewater is discharged into the environment without being properly treated. At the same time, the increasing global population is driving greater water scarcity and more competition for fresh water. More efficient management of the world’s current water resources is the key. Treated wastewater is becoming a critical resource, which can be used to fill most of a community’s industrial and agricultural needs.

Two years ago, the company approached DNV GL with an innovative idea: could old oil tankers be repurposed into floating wastewater treatment plants?

“We have to think differently if we want to solve the global challenges related to water supply and pollution from discharge of untreated wastewater,” argued EnviroNor CEO Sigmund Larsen.

An Extraordinary Innovation project team was set up, and has now developed three solutions: The Changemaker, The Reliever, and The Water Factory. These solutions for recycling wastewater offshore are based on proven technology, but applied on board a ship or a floating unit. The solution is flexible in terms of size and can be designed according to requirements at the location.

The Changemaker

The Changemaker is a vessel engineered to turn wastewater coming from the shore via pipelines into clean water, safe to use for irrigation and industry purposes.

The Changemaker would be able to recycle around 2,100 cubic meters (550,000 gallons) of wastewater per hour, serving up to 250,000 people. It would house primary, secondary and tertiary water treatment units, and could also supply large volumes of bio-solids to form the basis for fertilizer. By combining known technologies in a new way, the floating plant could be tailored to different locations with specific water needs.

As a secondary benefit, converting ships into a wastewater treatment centers could add 20 years to a vessel’s life cycle. And it need not be limited to tankers. “Ships from super tankers to river barges can be converted to provide dry coastal cities with much needed clean water for irrigation, industry purposes and even providing safe drinking water for humans”, says DNV GL’s chief sustainability officer, Bjørn K. Haugland.

“It’s hugely exciting that there is creative thinking about new solutions to help resolve a global problem,” says Nina Jensen, CEO of the WWF Norway. “If we can treat water for irrigation and industry, that relieves the pressure on the drinking water resources. Large-scale reuse of water is essential to a sustainable future. A solution that also reuses phased out ships is spot on environmentally.” Both WWF and Red Cross Norway support the project.

The Reliever

Another vessel, The Reliever, has also been designed to take over the processing of shore-based treatment plants when they need to be upgraded or repaired. The energy needs of these offshore wastewater recycling plants can be partly met by their own processes. Renewable sources such as biogas can be extracted as waste is treated onboard.

The Water Factory

The third element the team developed is The Water Factory: a plant that treats slightly polluted river water so it becomes safe to drink. Designed for use in densely populated places, barges could travel up rivers where clean drinking water is in short supply. It’s a cost effective and mobile solution that can meet acute needs much more quickly than building onshore plants.

Economic Sense

The idea of offshore recycling also makes economic sense. In a timeframe of 20 years, the capital expenditure needed to create this offshore wastewater recycling plant is estimated to be about 25 percent less than for an onshore plant with equivalent capacity.

Offshore wastewater treatment is both possible and profitable, and can be used in most coastal areas around the world, says DNV GL. Floating wastewater treatment plants are an exciting potential market that can help tackle a pressing sustainability issue.


Vietnamese Container Ports Top 2014 Growth

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-20 19:31:02

Alphaliner’s latest top 30 container ports list shows Vietnamese ports experienced the strongest growth in 2014.

Volumes handled at Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and its deep water gateway of Cai Mep rose 16.7 percent to reach 6.39 Mteu. The North Vietnamese port of Hai Phong also recorded a 14.3 percent growth rate to reach 3.45 Mteu.

By comparison, the top 30 container ports in the world handled a combined volume of 370

Mteu in 2014, giving an annual increase of 5.3 percent. Throughput growth improved from 2013, when the same ports reported total volumes of 351 Mteu.

Vietnam’s impressive growth is set to continue in 2015, says Alphaliner, with HCMC terminals recording a 12.6 percent increase in volumes handled in the first quarter of this year. HCMC has attracted 11 new intra-Asia services since January, resulting at berth congestion at the main Cat Lai terminal in HCMC.

HCMC is developing its first special economic zone in the south of the city designed with a maritime focus. Under a $470 billion master plan to develop HCMC, approved by the nation’s Prime Minister, the city will be developed in all four directions but with a focus on the south and east where busy seaport and logistics activities are concentrated.

HCMC has 38 terminals, and local media reports that the city generated over $705 million last year, a rise of 15.3 percent over the previous year. Growth has been facilitated by infrastructure projects such as the Soai Rap dredging project which enables faster navigation and the ability to handle larger ships.

The region’s seaports are expected to handle up to 200 million tons of cargo in 2015, 305 million tons in 2020, and 650 million tons in 2030.

Vietnam recorded a trade surplus for the first time in 2015, as exports outstripped imports by $150 million in April, according to the General Department of Customs.


Seals Subject to Unsafe Noise Levels

By MarEx 2015-05-20 18:31:10

Noise from pile driving during offshore wind turbine construction could be damaging the hearing of harbor seals around the UK, researchers have found.

They say more research is needed on how noise affects marine mammals’ hearing and into engineering solutions to reduce noise levels.

There are currently 1,184 offshore wind turbines around the coast of the UK, between them generating around 4GW of power. The next round of construction, which began in 2014, will see hundreds more turbines installed to generate a further 31GW, yet we know little about the impact of construction noise on sea mammals’ hearing.

The team of ecologists from the University of St Andrews attached GPS data loggers to 24 harbor seals while offshore wind turbines were being installed in the Wash in 2012. The data loggers collected information on the seals’ locations and their diving behavior, relaying the information onshore via the mobile phone network.

They then combined this data with information from the wind farm developers on when pile driving was taking place to produce models which predicted the noise each seal was exposed to, and compared this with noise levels that other studies show cause auditory damage.

The model revealed that half of the tagged seals were exposed to noise levels that exceeded hearing damage thresholds.

Offshore wind turbines are installed using pile drivers – essentially large hammers that drive the foundation posts into the seabed – which produce short pulsed sounds every few seconds.

The lead author of the study Dr Gordon Hastie of the University’s Sea Mammal Research Unit said, “These are some of the most powerful man-made sounds produced underwater, noise capable of travelling large distances underwater.”

Although we have some information on the effects of noise on harbor seals’ hearing, very little is known about the impact of the pulsed sounds produced by pile driving. However, a wealth of data exists on the effect of noise on humans and other terrestrial species, data which shows that powerful pulsed sounds can damage mammals’ hearing.

“Like most marine mammals, harbor seals have very sensitive underwater hearing at a much broader range of frequencies than humans,” said Hastie. “Seals probably use underwater hearing during the mating season and to detect and avoid predators. They may also rely on their hearing for navigation and finding prey.”

The team’s results are important because seals are protected under European law and any impacts that might affect their conservation status need to be assessed prior to the construction of wind farms.

Hastie said, “Our predictions highlight that seals may routinely be exposed to potentially hazardous levels of underwater noise during pile driving, with potential implications for the conservation status of some populations. To reduce these potential impacts, regulators and industry are currently investigating engineering solutions to reduce sound levels at source, and methods to deter animals from damage risk zones in order to potentially reduce auditory damage risk.”

The team now hopes to validate their predictions by making hearing measurements on seals using special seal headphones, monitoring individual seals’ movements at sea and collecting long-term data on their growth, reproduction and survival.

Harbor seals live around the coasts of the North Atlantic and North Pacific from the subtropics to the Arctic. Around 30 percent of European harbor seals are found in the UK. An epidemic of phocine distemper virus cut numbers along the east coast of England by half in 1988, and although a second outbreak in the Wash in 2002 resulted in a decline of 22 percent, the population has increased dramatically since 2009.

Harbor seals weigh in at around 80-100kg and are long lived, living up to 30 years. They dive from the surface to depth to catch a variety of prey, from sand eels and herring to octopus and squid. They haul out in sheltered waters, usually on intertidal sand banks and estuaries, pups are born in June and July and the seals moult in August.


Malaysia, Indonesia Let Boat People Ashore Temporarily

By Reuters 2015-05-20 18:19:43

Malaysia and Indonesia said on Wednesday they would offer shelter to 7,000 boat people adrift at sea in rickety boats but made clear their assistance was temporary and they would take no more.

More than 3,000 migrants have landed so far this month in Malaysia and Indonesia. Together with Thailand, they have pushed away many boats that approached their shores despite appeals from the United Nations to take them in.

In a joint statement in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Indonesia emphasized that the international community also had a responsibility to help them deal with the crisis.

The migrants are mostly Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladeshis – men, women and children who fled persecution and poverty at home or were abducted by traffickers, and now face sickness and starvation at sea.

“What we have clearly stated is that we will take in only those people in the high sea,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said. “But under no circumstances would we be expected to take each one of them if there is an influx of others.”

Both countries said they would offer “resettlement and repatriation”, a process that would be “done in a year by the international community.”

The United Nations, which has been calling on governments in the region to rescue those drifting at sea, welcomed the move and urged that people be brought to shore without delay.

The United States was prepared to provide financial and resettlement aid to help deal with the crisis, Acting State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf told a briefing in Washington.

Washington was also prepared to take a leading role in any multi-country effort organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to resettle the most vulnerable migrants, she said.


Aman said temporary shelters would be set up, but not in Thailand, a favored transit point for migrants hoping to work illegally in Malaysia.

Thai authorities have said they will allow the sick to come to shore for medical attention, but have stopped short of saying whether they would allow other migrants to disembark.

Still, Thailand said on Wednesday that it would not force boats back out to sea.

“Thailand attaches great importance to humanitarian assistance and will not push back migrants stranded in the Thai territorial water,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Thailand has called a regional conference on the issue in Bangkok for May 29.

“We maintain our stance that we are a transit country. In the meeting we said that our country has more problems than theirs,” Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha told reporters in Bangkok.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch welcomed the joint statement, which he said “should mark the end of the region’s push back policies against Rohingya and Bangladeshi boat people,” but added it was disturbing that “Thailand was missing in action.”

Hours before the ministers met, hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi landed in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

“We have to find ways to resettle them as soon as possible without creating a new moral hazard,” Dewi Fortuna Anwar, political adviser to Indonesia’s vice president, told reporters in Jakarta.

“If migrants start thinking of Indonesia as a transit point or as having a higher chance of getting resettled, that would create another problem that we have to prevent.”

She said the main responsibility lay with Myanmar, which the United Nations said last week must stop discrimination against Rohingya Muslims to end a pattern of migration from the corner of the Bay of Bengal into the Andaman Sea and Malacca Strait.


The United States echoed these calls, with a senior State Department official pointing to conditions in Rakhine state as driving Rohingyas to flee.

“Ultimately (Myanmar) must take steps to address the root causes that drove these people (to sea) and we need long term sustainable solutions, development, protection of basic human rights if we’re really going to answer the problem,” Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a conference in Jakarta.

Blinken is due to visit Myanmar on Thursday to discuss the unfolding crisis.

Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims are stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions. Almost 140,000 were displaced in clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012.

Myanmar terms the Rohingya “Bengalis”, a name most Rohingya reject because it implies they are immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh despite having lived in Myanmar for generations.

Myanmar’s foreign ministry said in a statement published by state media on Wednesday that the government was making serious efforts to prevent people smuggling and illegal migration.

This included patrolling by the navy and air force in Myanmar’s territorial waters, it said.


China Fishing Illegally in West Africa: Greenpeace Study

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-20 17:42:55

Chinese fishing companies have flocked to the coast of west Africa over the last three decades to engage in illegal and ecologically destructive fishing practices, according to a Greenpeace report issued Wednesday.

The study is the culmination of a two year investigation into China’s Distant Water Fishing (DWF) companies. According to the report one-fifth of the Chinese owned distant water fleet currently operates off the coast of Africa, putting the number of fishing operations at 462 in 2013. This number shows a significant increase from the 1985 figure of just 13 vessels.

At least 74 of these fishing vessels have been implicated in 82 cases of illegal activities ranging from operating in prohibited areas to falsifying gross tonnage. Greenpeace asserts that the infractions are present in private and state-owned companies at every level of operation. Even one of the largest Chinese DWF companies has been implicated in the violations, the organization claims.

Between October and November of 2014, while the country fought an Ebola outbreak the Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza documented over 16 cases of fishing in prohibited zones in the country of Guinea alone. Over the 26 days that the vessel was at sea this averaged out to one report of illegal or undocumented activity every two days.

Rashid Kang, head of Greenpeace East Asia’s China Ocean Campaign stated that “while China extended a hand in friendship during the Ebola outbreak, rogue Chinese companies were unlawfully exploiting West Africa’s marine environment. They were taking advantage of weak enforcement and supervision from local and Chinese authorities to the detriment of local fishermen and the environment.”

The organization also adds that China has begun to rectify fishing policies in domestic waters but “are exporting the destructive fishing model” to Africa because of weak governmental regulation and fishery management systems in the region. Additionally, the type of vessels most commonly being used are bottom trawlers which the organization claims are “one of the most destructive fishing methods in the modern fishing industry.”

Greenpeace has also investigated illegal African fishing practices of the EU, Korea and Russia over the past decade. However, in a statement released today the organization held up the EU as an example for Chinese behavior in Africa. “If China wants to be a genuine friend of Africa, it should follow the path of EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which is slowly rectifying the EU’s own history of irresponsible fishing in the region,” said Ahmed Diamé, Greenpeace Africa Ocean Campaigner.” Over the last two decade changes to the Common Fisheries Policy have restricted where ships are allowed to fish and included steps to protect endangered fishing stocks.