The 60th shipping season of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway navigation season opened on March 29th, with the hope of another strong year and increased movement of cargo through the international waterway. Mining products, including coal, iron ore and salt, comprise 40 per cent of the Seaway’s cargo each year. Wheat, corn and other field crops destined for overseas markets account for a similar amount. Steel and iron are the highest-value products that move on the water, according to Seaway data.
Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston is urging Canada’s transport minister to ensure a reliable supply of rail cars in northern B.C., where the economy is suffering due to a chronic shortage of freight cars. “The impact of unreliable, and inadequate, rail service extends far beyond grain producers in northern B.C.,” Ralston stated in a letter to federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau. “Lumber mills and other industries, from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, are also being seriously impacted by the lack of rail service.” Ralston has asked Garneau to work with northern B.C. chambers of commerce to develop plans for improving oversight and performance of Canadian National (CN) Rail’s system in the region. “Minister Garneau needs to convey that the Prairie backlog at CN Rail is having a detrimental impact on northern B.C. families and businesses,” said Ralston. “Companies looking to invest in northern B.C. communities are understandably discouraged from doing so because of the risk and uncertainty caused by CN Rail’s unreliable service,” Ralston added. “While the recent apology from CN is an important acknowledgement of how serious the situation has become, longer-term solutions need to be found.”
Easter Sunday, April 1st will mark the official launch of the combined container operations of NYK Line, Mitsui OSK Line and “K”Line into Ocean Network Express (ONE). ONE has the world’s sixth largest fleet, which according to Alphaliner data, grew by 8.7% in 2017 to a capacity of 1.48 million TEU. This is being further strengthened by additional deliveries in 2018 of a 20,180 TEU vessel from MOL, four 14,020 TEU vessels from NYK, and five 13,870 TEU ships from “K” Line. The carrier has also ordered 100,000 containers that will be highly visible with ONE’s signature magenta branding.
In 2017 an unprecedented number of right whales died in the Gulf of St. Lawrence resulting in the government implementing urgent measures in place. On Wednesday, March 28th the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced several new measures for 2018 to help protect this highly endangered species.
• Imposing a mandatory speed restriction from April 28 until November 15 for vessels 20 metres or longer to a maximum of 10 knots when travelling in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence. The speed restriction zone may be changed as needed.
• Allowing vessels to travel at normal speeds in parts of two shipping lanes north and south of Anticosti Island when no whales are in the area. A 15-day mandatory slowdown of 10 knots will be activated within a section of the shipping lanes when one North Atlantic right whale is spotted and can be extended as needed.
• Opening the southern Gulf snow crab season earlier (if possible) and closing the season earlier with all fishing fleets in area 12 beginning simultaneously. All snow crab gear must be removed from the water by June 30, 2018, two weeks earlier than normally scheduled.
• Introducing temporary and fixed fisheries management areas and closures where right whales are observed.
• Lifting the pause on right whale disentanglements following a review of the risks involved and using advice from experts. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committing $1 million per year to support marine mammal response groups, which is a significant increase from previous years.
• Reducing the number of traps in the midshore fishery in Crab Fishing Area 12 compared to 2017.
• Increasing aerial and at-sea surveillance to detect whales.
• Implementing licencing requirements at certain fisheries for harvesters to keep better track of rope and buoys, and mandatory reporting of lost gear.
• Adding a reporting requirement to all commercial licences that all interactions with marine mammals must be reported.
• Increasing the frequency that snow crab vessels are now required to report their activity on the water through Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO) vessel monitoring system to ensure compliance with new measures.
These new measures aim to protect these endangered whales from further harm and minimize possible economic losses for local economies. The measures may be changed as needed over the season.
It is with profound sadness that we inform you of the passing of Peter Riley, President of G. W. Nickerson Co. Ltd. Peter lost his battle to cancer on Sunday, March 25th, 2018 at the age of 47, in Port Alberni with his loving family at his side. We grieve the passing of a tenacious, committed individual in all he did. Peter started his career as a boarding agent on January 1st, 1995. He had an insatiable appetite to learn and grow, helping him work his way to President of the company in 2010. Peter’s passion for the marine industry was evident by his unprecedented availability, his ever present knowledge and dedication to our many principles. The pride of his life was his family - coaching his son on the Prince Rupert High School soccer team to Provincial level finals for several seasons and encouraging his daughter in her outstanding gymnastic competitions. We have lost a valued colleague and friend, a loving husband and father, a man who cared deeply about his work and family. Peter will be greatly missed by all who knew him. The family is planning a celebration of life in Prince Rupert to be announced at a later date.
Container terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach are considering options to the PierPass extended-gates program and should be making a final decision by early April. Under PierPass a Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) of US$ 144.14 per FEU is assessed to cargo interests on containers picked up on daytime shifts in order to offset the costs of night and Saturday shifts at the terminals. One of the options being considered it to restructure to a flat fee that would be charged on all truck moves, day and night in conjunction with trucker appointments. Currently nine of the 12 container terminals have appointment systems, and truckers have indicated that they would prefer a single port-wide system with standard rules covering all the terminals.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is being granted extra powers to identify businesses that try to dodge import duties on foreign steel, and more flexibility to determine whether prices in countries of origin are reliable or distorted. Canadian steel producers, government officials and other stakeholders are giving the CBSA extra powers and have formed an urgent working group tasked with heading off a possible flood of foreign steel into Canada as a result of tariffs imposed by the United States. The newly formed committee, which was scheduled to meet in Ottawa for the first time Wednesday, will discuss strategies for improved monitoring and enforcement of trade laws. Canada is one of the six countries that secured exemptions from U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, which came into effect last Friday. Domestic producers are concerned that the tariffs will prompt a diversion of steel from foreign producers into the Canadian market.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) says that governments must compromise to help the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agree on an ambitious strategy for the further reductions of CO2 emissions by shipping to match the expectations of the Paris Agreement on climate change. ICS and other industry associations have previously proposed the need for an ambitious vision in the IMO strategy, that the utlitmate goal is the elimination of all CO2 emissions from international shipping sometime between 2050 and 2100, or as soon as the worldwide availability of zero CO2 fuels makes this possible.
The Lax Kw’alaams First Nations has filed a civil claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Thursday against the federal and provincial governments. It seeks to declare Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act as “an unjustified infringement on the plaintiffs’ aboriginal rights and title.” The Lax Kw’alaams are among 30 First Nations that launched a GoFundMe campaign in January to challenge the tanker ban in court that has raised $33,000 so far — a third of its target. Other First Nations that support the Eagle Spirit oil pipeline and energy corridor, which requires tankers to transport Alberta oil to Asia, are expected to file similar lawsuits.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has identified the Eastern Shore Islands and Fundian Channel-Browns Bank as Areas of Interest (AOIs) for future designation as marine protected areas (MPAs) designation under the Oceans Act. Additionally, an area known as the Eastern Canyons has been proposed as a new conservation area under the Fisheries Act. These areas were selected from a larger MPA Network Design for the Maritimes Region, which will be released for public consultation in the coming months. This is in addition to the 139,700 sq km AOI announced in May 2017 off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The Symphony of the Seas at 362 metres long, 66 metres wide, 70 metres high, and with a 228,081 GRT joins the Royal Caribbean fleet and now holds the world's largest title. The new cruise liner, which boasts 18 decks total with capacity for 6,800 passengers in 2,747 staterooms and is crewed by more than 2,000 staff members, takes the size crown from her slightly smaller sister vessel, Harmony of the Seas. She is the first cruise ship to be granted with the “SILENT-E” class from DNV-GL for her low level of underwater noise. Symphony of the Seas will debut in Barcelona, Spain and spend her inaugural summer season sailing the Mediterranean before being heading to the Caribbean.
Finnish ship technology company Wartsila is buying navigation firm Transas for an enterprise value of 210 million euros (US$258 million) in an effort to move its digital marine vision forward. Wartsila and other companies including ABB, Cargotec and Rolls Royce have teamed up with an aim to bring remote controlled vessels to the Baltic Sea by 2020 and to have a fully autonomous commercial traffic system there by 2025. The merger will connect Transas' "THESIS" platform, which aims to give ship and shore a unified view of navigational data, with Wärtsilä’s "Smart Marine Ecosystem" program. The "ecosystem" vision seeks to introduce new technology to increase efficiency, and it includes a broad portfolio of solutions, from hybrid power to remote control to "smart ports."
President Donald Trump on Thursday formally ordered the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to publish proposed tariff increases for a list of products from China before April 7, pursuant to his administration’s investigation of Chinese intellectual property and technology transfer practices under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, USTR announced. Trump signed off on the trade action shortly before 1:00 p.m. Thursday, which will cover about $50 billion-$60 billion worth of products, senior administration officials have said. In addition to the tariffs, the US also plans to impose new investment restrictions, take action against China at the World Trade Organization and the Treasury Department also will propose additional measures.
North American markets headed lower on Friday afternoon, failing to bounce back from steep losses this week as concerns about the start of a potential trade war and the risk of the U.S. government shutting down put a cap on overall gains.
The BC Government announced on Thursday that it will provide a PST exemption on construction costs of any LNG facility. The PST exemption would be paid back through operating performance payments. The government has also set four conditions for any LNG projects which are: a guaranteed fair return for BC's natural resources, guaranteed jobs for British Columbians, respect and make partners of First Nations and to protect BC's air, land and water. As part of this new framework on LNG, the government will also be setting a cap on carbon tax at $30 dollars, exempting LNG facilities from paying increases in carbon tax that are expected to increase to $50 a tonne by 2021. The LNG Canada project, with an expected $40 billion investment, is expected to make a final decision by the fall of 2018.
In a motion presented by Richard Neufeld, former BC energy minister and Canadian Conservative Party senator, the Canadian Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to pass a motion calling on PM Trudeau to push the project through and use the full weight and power of his office to ensure the completion of the pipeline. Although not all senators were present when the motion was presented at eight o'clock at night, Neufeld stated that all the senators knew he was going to be speaking to it.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has released a new report, Skills for an Automated Future recognizing the need to prepare for automation, artificial intelligence and advanced robotics to increase Canada's productivity and competitiveness. The report indicates that waiting until after workers lose their jobs to automation and relying on traditional training programs could represent a significant cost to the Canadian economy, between $6 and $18 billion each year. By mapping out core, essential skills, making training programs more flexible and by starting now, Canada can make that amount more manageable.
As part of the latest restructing of state organisations, announced on Wednesday, the China Coast Guard will come under the administration of the People's Armed Police (PAP), a paramilatary force that was itself recently put under the direct command of the Central Military Commission (CMC). Responsibility for the enforcement of maritime law was given to the PAP when the force was put under the sole command of the Central Military Commission (CMC) in January. China's coast guard was set up in 2013, and is responsible for protecting the nation's claims in the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, as well as search and rescue efforts, fighting smugglers and managing fisheries.