Da Nang is New Conduit for Ivory Trafficking

By MarEx 2015-09-26 00:58:17

A string of high profile ivory busts over the past month has unexpectedly focused attention on Da Nang as a new entry point for the illegal ivory trade in Vietnam.

Three successive seizures at the Tien Sa port in Da Nang – with two weighing 500 kg or more – stand in sharp contrast to previous ivory seizures that have taken place in either Hai Phong port or Mong Cai province, further north in the country.

Records in the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) show that from 2009 to 2014, 80 percent of the large-scale ivory seizures occurred at Hai Phong, with the remainder taking place in HCM City and Mong Cai.

However, on August 13 Customs at Da Nang port seized a shipment of almost 600 kg of elephant ivory and 142 kg of rhino horns declared by a local company as marble and imported from Mozambique.

This was followed by a seizure on 21st August of over two tons of ivory inside a container full of timber from Nigeria. The recipient of this shipment was the same as the one in the August 13 seizure of rhino horns and elephant ivory.

On August 25, Customs in Da Nang seized 1,023 kg of tusks and over four tons of pangolin scales that reportedly arrived from Malaysia, making this the third ivory bust in the city in two weeks. The tusks were hidden among sacks of beans in a shipment weighing nearly 20 metric tons.

The confiscation of a large amount of ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horn by authorities shows the vigilance of Vietnam customs, says environmental organization TRAFFIC. However, it is worrying as it also points to Da Nang as a new port of entry for illegal wildlife trade in Viet Nam.

“With ivory and other wildlife smuggling at the forefront of global attention and enforcement efforts, traffickers are constantly exploring new routes and ports to exploit in the movement of illicit goods. The seizures in Da Nang are a perfect illustration of this,” said Madelon Willemsen, TRAFFIC’s Head of Office in Vietnam.

“Although some ivory processing in Vietnam does take place and may actually be increasing, the evidence suggests that most of the raw ivory imported into Vietnam is re-exported to China using land routes over the terrestrial border in the far north. Thus, trafficking through Da Nang represents increased transport costs as it is much further away from the Chinese border than the port of Hai Phong where most seizures of transit trade in the past occurred,” said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC Elephant and Rhino Programme Leader.

It is unclear how long traffickers have been using this port to move goods, but the vigilance shown by the Vietnam Customs should continue, and their efforts will go a long way in reducing elephant poaching, says the organization.

TRAFFIC hopes investigations into local companies will yield the information required to cripple smuggling syndicates and urges a multi-agency, as well as international approach in dealing with this organized crime.

China Taking Action

Representatives from Chinese government agencies, associations and foreign embassies today attended a workshop in Beijing organized by WWF and TRAFFIC to reflect upon the recent United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on “Tackling Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife”.

The U.N. resolution, adopted on 30th July this year, marks an extraordinary milestone in the global fight against wildlife crime. Co-sponsored by 86 countries including China and adopted by all 193 UN member states, the resolution reflects an unprecedented level of support from the global community for concrete actions to curb this serious transnational organized crime.

The historic resolution also represents a unique opportunity for countries to take concrete actions to reduce demand for threatened wildlife products by “using targeted strategies in order to influence consumer behavior”.

Representatives at the special workshop, which was co-sponsored by the United Nations Association of China, discussed a series of measures to fulfil China’s commitments under the resolution, including enactment of the national strategy for wildlife conservation in the 13th Five-year Plan, amendment of the Wildlife Conservation Law, prohibition of the transport and delivery of illegal wildlife products, steps to combat the illegal online trade, improvements to international and inter-agency law enforcement collaboration, and efforts to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products.

“As a responsible country, China has done a lot to curb wildlife crime and played a key role in the adoption of this historic resolution: it is now down to all U.N. member states to take action to implement it,” said Lo Sze Ping, CEO of WWF China. “WWF and TRAFFIC look forward to the rapid and effective application of this resolution, and stand ready to assist where possible in its successful implementation.”

“TRAFFIC has been monitoring the global illegal wildlife trade for many years and helping formulate solutions to reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products. If called upon, we would be more than willing to assist the Chinese government to achieve these shared objectives,” said Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China office.

Over recent years, there has been a surge in illegal trade in wildlife, including elephants, rhinos, tigers and some precious timber species – increasingly orchestrated by organized criminal syndicates. In Africa, up to 30,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory tusks, while a record 1,215 rhinos were poached for their horns in South Africa last year. In Asian range states, parts of at least 1,590 tigers were seized between 2000 and April 2014.


Shipping Confidence Levels Rise to 2015 High

By MarEx 2015-09-25 19:24:11

Overall confidence levels in the shipping industry rose in the three months ended August 2015 to their highest level this year, according to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens. Respondents to the survey were concerned predominantly about low freight rates and over-tonnaging, with continuing doubts also expressed about private equity funding.

In August 2015, the average confidence level expressed by respondents in the markets in which they operate was 5.9 on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high). This compares to the 5.3 recorded in May 2015, which equalled the lowest figure recorded in the life of the survey, launched in May 2008 with a confidence rating of 6.8.

All main categories of respondent recorded an increase in confidence this time, most notably charterers (up from 4.2 to 6.5) and owners (up from 5.1 to 5.8). The confidence of brokers, meanwhile, was up from 4.8 to 5.2, and that of managers from 6.1 to 6.4.

Geographically, confidence was up in Asia from 4.9 to 5.8, in Europe from 5.3 to 5.9, and in North America from 6.0 to 6.3.

While some respondents were confident that the shipping markets would improve in line with economic developments, others were more cautious. One said, “The shipping markets have been over-stocked, and there has been far too much interest from non-traditional shipping sources with no real clue how these intricate markets work. Once built, the ships are there! The low oil cost means the drive for alternative fuels and cheaper propulsion is not being followed as diligently as one might have expected.”

A number of respondents echoed the concern about the potentially harmful effect of the entry into the market of non-traditional shipping sources, while there was the usual level of concern about too many ships and too little scrapping. Increased regulation was another recurring topic, with one respondent complaining, “Regulations are going to kill us!”

Another respondent emphasized, “Current market conditions realistically reflect tonnage oversupply in all sectors. Until this corrects itself, global trade patterns will skew supply over demand. Shipping decisions are very often made on sentiment, but current confidence cannot be based on this.” Another still said, “Expect a static trend for the next few years. It might require a major conflagration to kick-start the industry. That may sound unpleasant, but without it we are in for a lengthy stay in the doldrums.”

“Everything seems to be operating on the two-steps-forward-and-one-back principle, alternating with the one-step-forward and two-back principle!” said one respondent, while another cautioned, “Today’s shipping market is really competitive and we need to be more careful in choosing good and reputable principals.”

The likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development over the next 12 months was up on the previous survey, on a scale of 1 to 10, from 5.0 to 5.3, equalling the highest figure over the past 12 months. All main categories of respondent were more confident in this regard than they were three months ago, most notably charterers (up from 4.5 to 6.1).

One respondent noted, “Although we look for a stable long-term charter, it is unlikely that charterers could commit themselves to a term longer than three years. We are trying to decrease our exposure to shipping assets.” Another remarked, “There is concern about over-investment in tonnage in the wet trades by private equity houses, which has the potential to create a significant drop in rates and a further long run of below-opex returns for owners.”

The number of respondents who expected finance costs to increase over the next 12 months was up by eight percentage points, from 40 percent to 48 percent. The shift in sentiment in this regard was most notable in the case of owners (up from 35 percent to 53 percent) and charterers (up from 33 percent to 50 percent).

One respondent said, “The global economic slowdown is a major cause for concern, especially in developing countries.”

Competition, demand trends and finance costs featured as the top three factors cited by respondents as those likely to influence performance most significantly over the coming 12 months. The numbers for competition were up five percentage points on last time to 25 percent. There was a one percentage-point drop (to 23 percent) in the numbers citing demand trends in this regard, and an increase of four percentage points (to 18 percent) for finance costs. Operating costs, unchanged at 11 percent, featured in fourth place, ahead of tonnage supply, down eight percentage points to 7 percent. Fuel costs, crew supply, regulation and port congestion occupied the remaining places.

One respondent said, “Many small competitors are entering the market without observing the necessary business ethics.”

There was a fall in the number of respondents anticipating higher freight rates in the tanker and container ship sectors, but expectations of improved rates in the dry bulk trades were up on the figures for May 2015. There was a positive overall net sentiment for all three tonnage categories: +12 for tankers, +21 for dry bulk, and +3 for container ships.

One respondent said, “We expect the tanker market to remain on a steady path over the next 12 months.” Respondents meanwhile expressed “significant concerns about continued oversupply in the dry bulk sector,” while elsewhere it was noted, “Less ordering in the container sector, as a result of mixed/weak results will help to balance supply/demand going forward.”

Richard Greiner, Moore Stephens Partner, Shipping Industry Group says: “It is always encouraging to see a graph moving in the right direction. Perversely, the main reason for the improved level of confidence revealed by our latest survey may be the same as that which saw the industry’s perceived fortunes equalling a seven-year low in May of this year. Volatility works both ways.

“One respondent highlighted a perceived trend towards the so-called bureaucratization of shipping, with smaller players losing out to their bigger competitors. Few would argue that there has ever been a tougher time for the smaller operator than in today’s industry. Yet such businesses can, and do, survive. To do so, they need to identify a niche role in the market, one in which they can add value and provide a level of service superior to that offered by their competitors. Moreover, in common with even the biggest players, they need a sound business plan.

“Another observation concerned the way in which some traditional trades are in danger of disappearing as the EU increasingly becomes a destination for imports from the Far East and India, rather than a producer of goods. This is not a new phenomenon, but it does underline how important it is for shipping businesses to keep pace with and adapt to change, or even anticipate it where possible. Information, and the ability to disseminate it, together with the timely identification of risk, has never been more important.

“The respondents to our survey are asked to comment on their industry expectations over the coming 12 months. Many of them, however, are also interested in the longer-term view, and the portents here are generally encouraging.

“Firstly, world population is growing, and has been since the end of the Black Death. At the end of 1970, it stood at 3.7 billion. The United Nations predicts that the global population will reach between 8.3 billion and 10.9 billion by 2050. This creates and sustains demand for shipping services, and that is good news for the industry.

“In 1970, according to the IMF, annual world GDP was growing at the rate of 3.7 percent. By 2000, the figure was 4.8 percent. Today, world GDP growth is put at 3.5 percent, but is predicted to climb to almost 4.0 percent by 2020. In short, the world economy is predicted to grow which, again, is good news for shipping.

“The World Trade Organisation forecasts that growth in the volume of world trade will rise from 2.8 percent in 2014 to 4.0 percent in 2016. Again, that is good news for shipping. World trade carried by sea is also on the increase and, despite the current difficult economic climate, the longer-term outlook for the industry remains positive as emerging economies continue to increase their requirements for seaborne goods and raw materials.

“So the long-term outlook for shipping offers encouragement to existing and new investors alike. Those who are not attracted by the longer-term prospects, meanwhile, will doubtless exit the industry, and in the process may help solve some of its problems.”

The Moore Stephens Shipping Confidence Survey includes responses from key players worldwide in the international shipping industry to a targeted, web-based survey by the Moore Stephens Shipping Industry Group. Responses were received from owners, charterers, brokers, advisers, managers and others.


Costa Concordia Dismantling – in Pictures

By Wendy Laursen 2015-09-25 18:27:42

About 200 technicians are currently working on the dismantling of the Costa Concordia.

Some are involved in stripping operations, the removal of internal structures on the emerged decks of the ship, while the others are working on the actual demolition of the external steel structures and on the restoration of buoyancy of the hull.

Stripping out is currently concentrated on decks 3, 4 and 5 of the ship. As for demolition, deck 14 – the upmost – has already been removed and now work is focusing on the decks 12, 11 and 10.

The metal sheets are cut in blocks of variable size and brought ashore to be volumetrically reduced, if necessary, and then transported at the steel plant to be recycled.

Adjustments have been made to the floating system that is now being monitored and managed from the control room repositioned off shore to allow the demolition of the deck 14.

Many of the strand jacks used to guarantee stability for the starboard sponsons have been removed, as well as all the upper compartments of the larger sponsons no longer functional considering the progressive lightening of the wreck.

In the coming weeks the first sponsons will be entirely removed.

Environmental Monitoring

Environmental monitoring activities are regularly performed in parallel to the technical operations and no critical issues have been registered to date.

At the Prà Voltri worksite the quality of the water is being monitored with samples collected on a daily basis on the surface. Once a fortnight underwater sampling is conducted together with sediment monitoring.

The quality of the air is also measured by four monitoring stations and a central control room where the data are compared with the situation prior to the arrival of the ship.

Before the start of operations, booms and other absorbent sponges and skirts were put in place around the ship at Prà Voltri.

Multi-disciplinary rapid response units specializing in fire prevention and environmental response activities are available 24/7 should the need arise (e.g. for removal of any spill).


The Ship Recycling Consortium has published this table of material disposal.

The vessel as it was when operational.


Russia service capacity slashed

Trade sanctions, the weakness of the local currency and oil revenue reductions continue to undermine cargo traffic into Russia, forcing ship and logistics operators to adjust their capacities down, trends reveal.
Danish ro/ro operator DFDS said yesterday that it is downgrading its service on the