News Bulletin – 30 January 2021

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1. JNPT SEZ- India’s first port based SEZ will be a game changer for the logistics industry.

29 Jan 2021 : Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), India’s premier container port, is engaged in developing multiproduct Special Economic Zone (SEZ), an initiative under the ‘Sagarmala’ program of the Ministry of Shipping and is built on JNPT owned free hold land of 277 hectares at Navi Mumbai.

The work of developing the Draft Development Proposal for JNPT SEZ area is underway and as per the laid down procedure of regulatory authority (Urban Development department of GoM), the draft development proposal for JNPT SEZ was put up for objections and suggestions from the public during the period of December 3, 2020 to January 1, 2021.

On 15th January, a five-member committee headed by Shri Unmesh Sharad Wagh, IRS, Deputy Chairman, JNPT heard out the suggestion received from M/S NSBPPL with regards to the draft DCPR, other than that, no objections or suggestions were received on the existing land use map, proposed zone plan and report. Thus, now JNPT steps forward in the process for finalisation of the Draft Development Proposal for JNPT SEZ.

2. Strategic Partners Create Canada’s Maritime Cyber Security Centre of Excellence.

29 Jan 2021 : Polytechnique Montréal, Neptune Cyber and Davie Shipbuilding, have today announced the start of a 5-year R&D partnership focussing on cyber security for maritime critical infrastructure. The partnership, which will create Canada’s Maritime Cyber Security Centre of Excellence, aims to develop and commercialize cyber security solutions for the maritime industry. 

As in all spheres of life, the acceleration of digitization, automation and hyperconnectivity in the maritime domain has created new challenges for transport, cargo and naval ships as well port installations. All have become new targets for cyber criminals.

Remotely taking control of a navigation system, deficient geolocalization of a ship, hacking of communications systems, computer viruses and ransomware are just some of the attacks that could affect electronic and computer systems used in the management of maritime and port operations.

3. MISC in pact to assist stranded seafarers.

28 Jan 2021 : The MISC group, comprising MISC Bhd, AET Pte Ltd and Eaglestar Marine Holdings (L), has signed the Neptune declaration to help stranded seafarers caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. MISC president and group chief executive officer Yee Yang Chien (pic) said seafarers are the front liners for the company and have been moving essential cargoes throughout the pandemic.

No words can sum up their commitment and selfless dedication despite the many operational challenges faced in addition to the prolonged days at sea. MISC, AET and Eaglestar take a step forward; unified as a signatory to the Neptune declaration to further intensify our efforts to resolve the dilemma of seafarers being stranded at sea which has greatly affected their physical and mental well-being, ” he said in a statement. Yee said the signatory is vital to ensure the sustainability of the entire maritime value chain.

4. Czech Republic added to Philippines international crew change ban.

28 Jan 2021 : The addition of the Czech Republic applies from 00-01hrs on 28 January and bars all international crew change within 14 days for non-Filipino crew. Crew change can still be conducting for Filipino national seafarers, however, is only allowed in the Port of Manila with transfer by shipping agents to dedicated facilities for a strict 14-day quarantine.

The temporary ban that was initially put in place for 20 nations from 30 December 2020 to 15 January 2021 relates to the new mutation of the Covid-19 virus that spreads more easily. On 15 January the Philippines government Department of Transport extended the ban until 31 January, and with countries continuing to be added to the list a further extension at the end of the month looks a likely possibility.

5. Norwegian Cruise Line wants crew members vaccinated before sailings.

28 Jan 2021 : Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd has said it intends for crew members to have received a coronavirus vaccine before they return to its cruise ships. The group, which operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, has said that it intends that “all crew members be vaccinated before boarding our vessels”.

A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd told the Mirror: “The safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit remains our highest priority. We continue to closely monitor the evolving impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic and vaccine developments.

“We are exploring all options regarding vaccinations for guests and crew and it is our intention that all crew members be vaccinated before boarding our vessels to begin their duties, subject to availability of the vaccine.

6. Over 300 Companies Sign ‘Neptune Declaration’ to Ease Crew Change Crisis.

27 Jan 2021 : Over 300 leading companies said on Tuesday they would work together to help hundreds of thousands of merchant sailors stuck on ships for many months due to COVID-19 in a crisis that risks creating more dangers at sea.

About 90% of world trade is transported by sea, and coronavirus restrictions in many jurisdictions are affecting supply chains. In December the U.N. General Assembly urged all countries to designate seafarers and other maritime personnel as key workers. Nevertheless, ship crews are still struggling to swap over with colleagues on land.

Shipping industry officials say many sailors are at breaking point and many have been at sea for longer than an 11-month limit laid out in a maritime labor convention. The companies, which include shipping groups such as A.P. Moller Maersk, miners Anglo American and Rio Tinto, oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell as well as trading companies Cargill, Trafigura and Vitol, will boost information sharing as signatories of the “Neptune Declaration” initiative.

7. Covid-19: Calls grow for seafarers to be given “key worker” status.

27 Jan 2021 : There are currently 400,000 seafarers at sea not knowing when they will be able to return home to their families. They remain on board their vessels, despite the fact that their contracts have expired, in many cases months ago.

This present situation, which is being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been described by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as a humanitarian crisis at sea. The Chief Executive of Catholic charity Stella Maris UK (formerly the Apostleship of the Sea) Martin Foley says this is an apt description of the current plight of seafarers. I was in touch with a seafarer today, actually from Samoa, who’s been on board since May 2019, almost 2 years on board and desperate to get home.”

8. New regulations to safeguard welfare of Kenyan seafarers.

27 Jan 2021 : Maritime players have welcomed the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) directive on employment of seafarers saying it will protect locals from bogus recruitment agents. KMA has issued a raft of rules on the recruitment and placement of seafarers, in line with the Merchant Shipping Act, 2009.

No person shall, either as principal or agent, engage or recruit a Kenyan seafarer for employment on board a Kenyan or foreign ship without first obtaining a license in the prescribed form from KMA authorizing such person to engage or recruit Kenyan seafarers for sea service,” KMA notified ship owners, seafarers and agents to comply with the directive.

Licensed recruitment and placement agents for seafarers have also been directed to stop charging seafarers agency fees for recruitment services. The agents are also required to deposit copies of Seafarers Employment Agreement with the Registrar of Seafarers in accordance to Section 118 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 2009.

9. India: GSAI wants govt to make pension scheme permanent.

25 Jan 2021 : The Goan Seamen Association of India (GSAI) on Saturday resolved to demand with the government to make the Seafarers Welfare Pension Scheme permanent. The GSAI will also request and follow up for an extension of Provident Fund, gratuity and pension for the seafarers on the passenger ships.

During the annual general meeting of the association, which was largely attended by the seafarers and chaired by Frank Viegas, Michael Benny Da Costa and others flayed the government for the long wait that the seafarers faced for the release of Seafarers Welfare Pension.  

The scheme was started through the NRI Commission by former Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar. This scheme had an expiry period of five years which we did not know resulting the scheme being stopped,” informed Viegas.

10. The seafarer crisis – a shipping problem being passed from port to port.

25 Jan 2021 : A major maritime crisis is getting so bad some seafarers are injuring themselves just to get home. The problem is turning up at our door. Some of these crews are arriving with unpaid wages. Others haven’t touched dry land since the start of the pandemic while a few are badly in need of medical assistance.

An estimated 400,000 seafarers are still on these ships despite their seafaring contracts having come to an end. To go back to their families they need access to airports, so they can swap places with others. The Government has passed provisions allowing things like crew changes (which are guaranteed under the Maritime Labour Convention) to happen, but that’s not the full story.

The London-based International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is criticising New Zealand for running a seemingly generous policy for these seafarers on paper, but then allowing local port companies and district health boards (DHBs) to nullify these policies by passing their own rules.

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