Australian Cabotage Laws Ready for Dismantling

By MarEx 2015-09-03 19:08:49

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott plans to relax the nation’s cabotage laws, and local seafarers may be out of work because of it.

As part of the Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill, Australia hopes to open its coastline to more foreign-crewed and foreign flagged vessels. Abbott states that relaxing Australia’s cabotage laws will provide a boost to the nation’s economy that could come at the expense of mariners.

According to a report by the Australia Institute (AI), the number of Australian seafarers could drop from about 1,177 to less than 100 if the new laws were approved. The proposed amendments would allow foreign-flagged ships and crews to be paid international wages on domestic shipping routes for up to half a year.

According to AI, the Bass Strait non-bulk freight route between Tasmania and Victoria is currently serviced by 100 percent Australian crews. But if the cabotage laws were to be implemented, AI projects that the percentage would shift to about 65 percent foreign and 35 percent Australian. AI attributes the retention of 35 percent of the Australian workers to the Spirit of Tasmania, a pair of Tasmanian Government-owned ferries.

Additionally, the proposed legislation allows ships to anchor nearly anywhere along the coastline. Locations in which vessels would be permitted to dock include estuaries, navigable rivers, creeks, channels, docks and piers.

According to reports, Australia’s North Star Cruises was advised by government officials to re-register its vessels overseas and hire foreign crews if they want to remain competitive if the new laws take effect.

Meanwhile, SeaRoad, a local freight company, has stated that it would reconsider its $100 million investment in two new cargo vessels if the government amends laws forcing foreign vessels to pay Australian wages while in its waters.

Australia’s Regional Development Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss defends the proposed laws as a means of saving local businesses from fewer shipping options and higher costs. Australia expects shipping to grow nationally by 80 percent by 2030 but contends that coastal shipping will only grow by 15 percent without relaxed cabotage laws.

In a statement, the Maritime Union of Australia said: “The changes would dismantle the level playing field created by the former Labor Government, which allowed foreign vessels to work domestic routes but required them to pay Australian level wages while engaged in domestic trade. It is in Australia’s economic, environmental and security interests to maintain a viable local shipping industry.”


Oil Spill Shuts Down Mississippi River

By MarEx 2015-09-03 16:53:54

The U.S. Coast Guard has shut down a section of the Mississippi River south of Paducah, Kentucky after two tow boats collided, causing 250,000 gallons of oil to spill.

The maximum potential spill has been reduced because the two remaining partitions aboard the affected barge were reportedly secured. A Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed wing aircraft conducted an over flight earlier today, which revealed a five-mile discoloration beginning at the impact site.

A safety zone is in place on the Mississippi River, and currently closed to all traffic except response vessels between mile markers 939-922. A queue is in place, six up bound and nine down bound.

Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley watchstanders received a call about a collision between two towboats at mile marker 937 at 8:22 p.m. Wednesday.

The Coast Guard is working with the barge owner and SWS, an oil spill response organization, to determine the amount of slurry oil that has been discharged.

The cause of the collision is currently under investigation.


The People of Dominica Need Help

By MarEx 2015-09-03 16:47:00

The island nation of the Commonwealth of Dominica has been devastated and is still recovering from T.S. Erika which made landfall on the island on Monday, August 26. As the nearly 71,000 residents living on the “the nature island of the Caribbean” went to bed on the evening before the storm, many welcomed the much needed rains as the island was going through a severe drought. Few however would realize the true impact of the torrential rains and thrashing winds until they awoke the next morning.

As morning broke across Dominica, the full scale of the devastation became apparent. Landslides and rock falls had covered villages and blocked major roads. More than 12 major rivers had broken their banks, causing severe flooding and taking out vital bridges, disrupting water, electricity and telecommunication services.

Links with the outside world were cut, as flood waters and debris covered the tarmac at the main commercial airport in the east of the country, as well as the smaller landing strip in the capital, Roseau. Even after a week later all but one landing strip is closed on the island making access all but impossible except from ferries from Guadalupe and Martinique.

Maritime transport and maritime relief efforts has been critical to search and rescue operations as well as the transportation of emergency supplies and goods to the island.

Even more unfortunate has been the loss of life. 20 people have been confirmed dead with many more still reported as missing. With access to communities completely cutoff residents have been forced to dig through the mud and rubble for their loved ones with the few supplies they have that didn’t get washed away in the flood waters.

Pope Francis has reached out to the Bishop of Roseau and has implored the international community to aid Dominica in what is likely to be a long and arduous recovery.

The Commonwealth of Dominica’s Office of Maritime Affairs and Marine Personnel is asking the international maritime community to join the aid effort in rebuilding the island nation.

The Honorable Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, and his office, has been working tirelessly in providing relief to the citizens of Dominica and to restore the beautiful island nation.

Further assistance is needed for nonprofit organizations that are helping the people who still have no shelter, food, power or access to clean water. The Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of Maritime Affairs and Marine Personnel have endorsed two GoFundMe accounts to help the effort through private donations. Individuals and organizations can help relief efforts by making donations to these accounts which can be found here.

The Commonwealth of Dominica’s Office of Maritime Affairs and Marine Personnel wishes to thank everyone in advance who has donated even a modest amount of money or resources (the GoFundMe pages list supplies that are also needed by residents, their children and recovery personnel such as boots, shovels and bottled water) which will go a long way in aiding the recovery of the Commonwealth of Dominica, the nature island of the Caribbean.


Busan Names New Chief Executive

By MarEx 2015-09-03 12:46:00

The Busan Port Authority (BPA), the world’s sixth-largest container port has announced Mr. Woo Ye-jong as its new CEO. The appointment was made by the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and Mr. Woo was selected for his extensive experience in the maritime and shipping industries during his lengthy career in government.

On taking his new role, Mr. Woo said: “My focus as CEO will be on strengthening the port’s competiveness by improving efficiency and keeping control of costs. It is vital that we maintain a clear strategy to ensure we retain our current position as a global container hub port”.

Mr. Woo is keen to work closely with the port’s terminal operators and to reflect their ideas and opinions in BPA’s future strategy. BPA will also help relieve some of the burden currently facing its terminal operators, particularly issues that have the potential to result in job losses.

The new CEO has pledged to continue with the redevelopment of the old port as scheduled, as well as the planned enhancements to the new port. Mr. Woo will also continue efforts to widen and diversify BPA’s business portfolio to boost profits.

Mr. Woo was educated at Korea’s Dankook University and the University of Cardiff, UK. He has worked in a range of Korean government maritime roles including Director General for Shipping Policy, Assistant Minister for Marine Policy and Director-General for Northeast Asia Logistics Hub Promotion. Prior to his current appointment, Mr. Woo served as Deputy Minister for Planning and Coordination at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. He is also a visiting professor at the Graduate School of Logistics, Incheon National University.

Mr. Woo took office on July 31, 2015, and will serve a three-year term.

Mr. Woo succeeds Mr. Lim Ki-tack, who takes over as Secretary General at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in January 2016.


Singapore to Host UNCLOS Disputes

By MarEx 2015-09-02 23:20:11

Singapore and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea have signed a joint declaration that allows Singapore to be a venue in Asia for the settlement of disputes relating to the law of the sea.

Singaporean Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Law, Ng How Yue, and the President of the Tribunal, Judge Vladimir Golitsyn, signed the agreement earlier this week.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is an independent judicial body, established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to hear any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the UNCLOS.

Singapore became a party to the convention in November 1994. Currently, there are 167 parties to the convention – 166 states and the European Union.

The joint declaration underscores the commitment of both sides to safeguarding the international rule of law in the region. In line with this commitment, the Singapore government will provide appropriate facilities to the Tribunal whenever it is desirable for a special chamber of the Tribunal or the Tribunal to sit or exercise its functions in Singapore.

Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, K Shanmugam said: “The Joint Declaration is a clear endorsement of Singapore as a neutral venue for the effective settlement of international disputes. It also demonstrates Singapore’s commitment to the international rule of law by facilitating access to ITLOS in order to serve the needs of the states of this region, with a view to promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes relating to the law of the sea.”

The East and South China Seas are the scene of escalating territorial disputes between China and its neighbors, including Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The International Court of Justice and ITLOS are two forums where claimants can file submissions on such disputes. In 2013, the Philippines initiated arbitration over its territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea. This has been taken up by ITLOS despite China’s refusal to participate.