NOAA Fisheries announced that a voluntary vessel speed restriction zone under the Dynamic Management Area program is currently in effect 12 Nautical Miles east of Boston to protect an aggregation of right whales. This DMA is in effect through May 3, 2018. Mariners are requested to route around this zone or transit through it at ten knots or less. The US Coast Guard has issued a notice to mariners and reminded that it is unlawful to approach within 500 yards of a North Atlantic right whale by a vessel, aircraft (including drones) or other means, or to fail to take required avoidance measures. Avoidance measures include steering a course away from the whale and immediately leaving the area at a slow, safe speed. The 450 remaining North Atlantic right whales are surface feeders, which means they are often at the surface or just below the surface when feeding, which makes them hard to see and especially vulnerable to being hit by a vessel.
Off Canada's east coast the mandatory speed restriction is in place 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 and vessels will be allowed to 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.
The United States exported 97.0 million short tons (MMst) of coal in 2017, a 61% (36.7 MMst) increase from the 2016 level. Exports to Asia more than doubled from 15.7 MMst in 2016 to 32.8 MMst in 2017, although Europe continues to be the largest recipient of US coal exports, accounting for 45% of total US metallurgical exports in 2017. Steam coal, which is used to generate electricity, accounted for most of the increase in 2017 coal exports. India, South Korea, and Japan were three of the top five recipients of US steam coal exports in 2017. India, the largest importer of steam coal from the United States, imported 7.6 MMst of steam coal from the United States in 2017—nearly three times as much as in 2016—mainly to fuel growing electricity capacity in the country.
This week the US Senate blocked legislation that environmentalists and opponents argue would weaken water pollution standards. Senators voted 56-42, depriving the legislation of the 60 votes it needed to move forward. The bill included a version of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), which would have exempted ships’ ballast water from the Clean Water Act under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and stop most states’ attempts to regulate ballast water. The US Coast Guard would have assumed all responsibilities for managing ballast water, thereby streamlining and standardizing treatment requirements between the multiple jurisdictions.
Holt Logistics has become the first independent port operator in the north-eastern US to conduct a pilot based on the blockchain application developed by Maersk and IBM. The solution is designed to provide transparency and promote the sharing of information, which in turn can reduce costs, improve productivity and speed the delivery of goods shipped around the world. The focus is the development of a highly secure digital ledger system using IBM Blockchain technology that will allow users of the network to transparently share information and updates about cargo as it moves around the world. The technology can reduce the need for multiple records that currently are produced at each point in the shipping chain. The new technology can to save as much as 20 percent of the cost of shipping transactions when the system is fully developed.
Marine terminal operators in Los Angeles-Long Beach have agreed to restructure the 13-year old PierPass extended-gate program, slashing the traffic mitigation fee by 55 percent to $31.52 per TEU ($63.04 per FEU) and including mandatory appointments to spread truck flow out over the day and night gates. Port users have expressed a desire for changes to increase flexibility and reduce the bunching up of trucks that often occurs before the start of the nighttime OffPeak shifts. Subject to regulatory approval by the Federal Maritime Commission, the revised OffPeak program is expected to begin in August.
The US Port State Control Annual Report for 2017 provides results of 9,105 Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) exams resulting in 91 detentions and 6 International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) control actions. The annual detention rate of 0.99% is the lowest ever for the US Coast Guard. Detentions found that improvements were needed on fire fighting and fire protection systems. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) inspections saw deficiencies in safety management systems which now include ballast water management. The Austalian Maritime Safety Authority has also released its AMSA Port State Control Report for 2017 showing a similar decline in the detention rate. And if you're still reading, the US Office of Port and Facility Compliance (CG-FAC) has also published its 2017 Year in Review.
The US Coast Guard has released Marine Safety Information Bulletin 03-18, Oily Mixtures (“Oily Bilge Water”) Management for Oceangoing Vessels of less than 400 Gross Tons, to provide guidance to the industry, mariners, and the general public, on compliance options for oily bilge water management for oceangoing vessels less than 400 gross tons.
The US Federal Maritime Commission has launched the first phase of its investigation into port demurrage, detention, and free time practices by ordering ocean common carriers to provide information and documents explaining those practices. A similar effort with respect to container terminals at major US ports is also underway. Carriers have been directed to provide detailed information about their detention and demurrage practices, especially regarding circumstances where shippers are not able to retrieve cargo.
The US Administration's $50 billion in tariffs threatened on imports from China could possibly increase by another $100 billion if China enacts retaliatory measures on US exports, including soybeans, whiskey, beef, industrial chemicals, and small aircraft take effect. The initial US tariffs are estimated to impact 6.6 percent of the total US container trade with China and 2.5 percent of total US containers volumes. Its unclear how far the US administration will go and whether any tariffs will be imposed in the end as China holds the trump card as the largest consumer of US oil and liquefied gas. The US instigated the tariffs in an effort to get China to modernize its intellectual-property and foreign-takover rules.
The US Coast Guard posted a bulletin stating that the Marine Safety Center (MSC) received two applications for ballast water management system (BWMS) type approval. BallastAce system manufactured by JFE Engineering Corporation and GloEn-Patrol system manufactured by Panasia Co., Ltd submitted applications at the end of March.
The US Coast Guard issued a bulletin announcing new Form CG-835V Vessel Inspection Requirements. The new form has been specifically tailored to capture more detailed deficiency data in a manner that is aligned with globally accepted Port State Control methodologies and includes deficiency codes and vessel control actions similar to those found on the PSC Form B.
Container terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach are considering options to the PierPass extended-gates program and should be making a final decision by early April. Under PierPass a Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) of US$ 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.
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 US Coast Guard has circulated a summary of its Chemical Transportation Advisory Committee meetings held March 6-8, 2018. Topics discussed included LNG containment sytems, remote control and monitoring systems for liquefied barges, and response plans for facilities and vessels for hazardous substance spills. On the latter, it was determined that the subcommittee's extensive response plan would be an economic burden and given the low incident rates, the full committee agreed to petition Congress to remove this mandate as part of it regulatory reform. Interesting as Canada has just kicked off its consultation on hazardous and noxious substances.
Governor Jay Inslee signed Executive Order 18-02 this week to establish a Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) Task Force. The Task Force is expected to prepare a comprehensive report and recommendations for recovering SRKW, with a full draft due by October 1, 2018, and a final report by November 1, 2018. The report should detail ongoing and new actions that will address all of the major threats, including prey availability, legacy and ongoing toxic contaminants, and disturbance from noise and vessel traffic. A second report outlining the progress made, lessons learned, and outstanding needs shall be completed by October 1, 2019. The Washington Legislature this year approved $115,000 for the development of a long-term orca recovery plan, $548,000 for more enforcement of rules for vessels that travel near orcas and $837,000 for hatchery operations that boost the stock of Chinook salmon and other key prey species.
The USCG, working with its domestic and International Maritime Organization (IMO) partners, submitted a proposal to IMO to amend Annex VI to allow vessels with a Tier II compliant engine to enter and depart the ECA provided the vessel was proceeding to or departing from a shipyard or other repair facility located in the ECA. The amendments were adopted July 7, 2017, and they are expected to enter into force Jan. 1, 2019. In order to be able to rely on the exemption to qualify for transit of the ECA with a Tier II engine, a vessel must sail directly to or from the shipyard or other repair facility without loading or unloading cargo during the exemption as per the bulletin issued on March 8th. Vessels wishing to enter either US ECA that meet the above requirements must notify the cognizant Captain of the Port prior to entry into the ECA.