Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 14, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Coastwatch: US Navy fires on pirates

  • New Port Louis cranes not enough, say shipping lines

  • Kenya Ports Authority has good year

  • Coega smelter to go ahead - govt

  • Mozambique: Commercial overfishing threatens coastal livelihoods

  • Pic of the day – Smit Lloyd 72 and Hyundai 289


    Coastwatch: US fires on pirates

    According to unconfirmed reports the US Navy opened fire on one of the boats used by Somali pirates to capture the newbuild tug Svitzer Korsakov recently. The incident took place off the northern Somali Puntland coast when the pirates managed to seize control of the tug - they have since taken the six crew (Russian, Irish and British) into captivity close inshore and are understood to be negotiating with the tug owners. The Danish-owned Svitzer Korsakov was en route from the builders to Sakhalin Island off the Russian Pacific coast when it came under attack in position 12:57N-051:24E.

    According to the Kenya-based Seafarers’ Assistance Programme a US warship was on the scene soon afterwards and opened fire on one of the pirates boats. There were no reports of any casualties… nor did the navy intervention succeed in deterring the pirates from taking the tug inshore to the Somali coast where it is currently being held.

    Meanwhile, in the latest twist in the tale of Somali piracy, those who captured the tug claim they were acting in the interests of the environment. Calling themselves eco-warriors and not pirates they accused the outside world of polluting the seas with their ships and plundering its assets.

    Further south in Somalia US Navy ships have begun patrolling close to the port of Kismayo, reports Somalian news service Shabelle. The report says that the US ships have begun intercepting and inspecting ships including small boats in the vicinity of the port. Local authorities said recently that some of the former Islamic Courts leaders were showing signs of taking the offensive near Kismayo.

    In Nigeria two naval rating are reported to have been killed in an attack on a naval patrol boat by armed gunmen operating in the Bonny area of Rivers State. The patrol boat was escorting a LNG vessel at the time and came under fire as it approached a jetty. In a second incident near buoy 35 also in the Bonny area a Texaco supply vessel, the MV Patience came under attack. A security guard on the supply vessel was thrown overboard and various weapons were stolen. The guard was later rescued.

    New Port Louis cranes not enough, say shipping lines

    by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip – Port Louis)

    A container ship has been waiting at the Port Louis outer anchorage for a berth in port for more than five days and this type of scenario is becoming more common in Port Louis. Such delays will cost that particular ship owner an extra Rs 6 million (approximately USD210,000).

    The commissioning of the two new gantry cranes at a cost of Rs 475 million (approximately USD16.66m) will probably ensure a quicker turn over of ships at Mauritius Container Terminal, with less waiting time and many more containers handled. Tests were carried out on these new gantries on Friday and should continue over few days.

    Mr Archimedes Lecordier, director of the Cargo Handling Corporation (CHC) said that Port Louis was handling close to 400,000-TEU containers per annum. “We have the potential, with these new gantries, to target 700,000-TEU per annum,” he said.

    Unfortunately, the shipping lines representatives in Port-Louis do not share this point of view. Although satisfied with the huge investments in the port sector by the authorities, Captain Rene Sanson, director of Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), believes that these two new gantries “will not transform Port Louis as the port is still not competitive compared to other ports in the region.”

    He thinks that the two new gantries will only partly solve the congestion problems in Port Louis. It appears, he said that there has been no increase in other shore equipment and that existing logistics will not be capable of sustaining the full operational capacity of the gantries.

    On the other side, port authorities confirm that additional shore equipment has already been ordered and should be delivered in the current year.

    It appears that stakeholders have formulated their concerns about an urgent lengthening of the existing 200 metre quay as a priority. This will enable two large ships to operate simultaneously under the gantries instead of the current scenario in which only one large ship and one small ship can operate at the same time.

    According to Captain Sanson, competitiveness should not be only focus on the volume of containers handled, but in considerably reducing berthing delays end ensuring quicker turnover. Some shipping lines are literally loosing faith in maintaining regular calls to Port Louis.

    One can easily imagine how disastrous such a situation can be for importers/exporters and at the end of the chain, the consumers. The shipping operators believe that for Port Louis to be considered as a competitive port, containers being handled per hour should be 60 instead of 18/20 as it is currently the case.

    The CHC is optimistic that this target should be reached by February 2009. CHC also believes that by the end of this year, all problems in the port will be entirely solved.

    Kenya Ports Authority has good year

    Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has declared a Sh2,5 billion (USD 35.676 million) profit in pre-tax earnings for 2007. An increase of 10.5 percent in cargo handling at the port of Mombasa has contributed towards this improvement.

    According to managing director Abdallah Mwaruwa Mombasa handled 15.9 million tonnes of cargo for the year, up from 14.4mt for 2006.

    He said the growth in earnings could mainly be attributed to a substantial increase in full import containers. Improved port performance was a result of new equipment and improved marketing efforts. Investments in port infrastructure worth USD100 million had been made over the past few years and in 2007 the port welcomed three new shipping lines as regular callers.

    Mwaruwa said that transit cargo had grown to 4.423mt in 2007 compared with 3.807mt the previous year, representing a 16.2 percent growth while transhipment cargo grew by almost 40 percent from 318,416 tonnes to 426,436t.

    With the introduction of services by Emirates Lines, Hull and Hatch Lines and China National Shipping Lines there are now 20 international shipping companies serving Mombasa on a regular basis.

    Addressing the issue of port-election port congestion he said the two private freight stations (container depots) taking between 6,000 and 10,000 containers and introduced outside the port limits had greatly assisted in easing congestion.

    During the period of post election violence the KPA had lost up to Sh2 billion (USD28.5m) he said.

    In a related matter road transport companies are asking for a 24-hour operation to be introduced at Mombasa’s freight stations where they claim that it can take up to five days to load a single container, leading to massive losses for the hauliers. As a result truckers are threatening to stage a blockade in protest.

    “I’ve been waiting for the past five days without getting any services from these freight stations and in fact don’t know where to get money for my survival,” one driver is quoted as saying.

    A clearing agent is quoted as saying that hauliers are losing up to USD3,260 a day per day because of the delays.

    source – East African Standard, Business Daily

    Coega smelter to go ahead - govt

    Cape Town - It was perhaps to be expected but government says it remains committed to the aluminium smelter at Coega which will go ahead despite the current (no pun intended) electricity shortage.

    Saying that government remains “unshaken” in its resolve, the Trade and Industry minister Mandisi Mpahlwa, who was addressing media in Cape Town, added “in response to the current electricity situation, the effort will be to ensure that projects committed to, such as the Alcan smelter, are supported.”

    Mpahlwa said that South Africa could not afford to send out negative messages that it was not a suitable destination for high-energy input investments.

    The government’s commitment to the development comes at a time when other aluminium smelters in southern Africa, at Richards Bay and Maputo, have been asked to cut back on production to conserve electricity. It also comes at a time when questions are being asked about the ethics of selling electric power to neighbouring countries, including the Matola smelter at Maputo, while forcing South African industry including the mines which are among the country’s largest employers, to cut back by between 10 and 20 percent, forcing some mines to shut down production.

    Adding irony to the equation, BHP Billiton which owns the Richards Bay and Matola smelters, is currently in a bidding campaign aimed at taking over Rio Tinto, which last year acquired control of Alcan and could therefore find itself inheriting the Coega smelter.

    Mozambique: Commercial overfishing threatens coastal livelihoods

    Maputo, 6 February 2008 (IRIN) - Artisanal fishing provides a critical source of food and income to thousands of Mozambicans, but the ever-increasing local and international demand for fish, combined with rapidly depleting stocks, is putting increasing strain on this way of life.

    The UN Food and Agriculture Programme (FAO) has estimated that small-scale fishermen, who caught 84,065 tonnes of fish for the domestic market in 2000, will need to catch 171,040 tonnes to help meet local demand by 2025.

    The pressure is mounting: Mozambique's shallow coastal waters have been over-fished, its population - 40 percent of whom live on less than one US dollar a day - is growing at 2.4 percent annually, and traditional fishing techniques can no longer compete in a globalised fishing world.

    A lack of modern equipment and skills has left an estimated 90,000 small-scale fishermen, who provide directly for 50,000 families, unable to access deep-water species or make the best of diminishing coastal stocks.

    The country’s 2002 fishing census highlighted one of the main difficulties traditional fishermen face when it revealed that only three percent of the 24,000 boats they used had engines that would allow them to fish in deeper waters.

    No peace dividend for fisherman

    The irony of the hardships facing Mozambique's artisan fishing industry is not lost on Lucas Antonio Matibe, a shrimp catcher in the southern province of Inhambane, who has trawled the Mozambican coast for over 40 years.

    During the country's 17-year civil war, which ended in 1992, the waters of the Mozambican Channel teemed with marine life, but the conflict restricted trade, putting lucrative international and regional fish markets out of reach. Now that markets have become accessible, the country's abundant fish resources have begun to disappear, Matibe said.

    "We always thought that when the war ended we would be able to sell our extra fish beyond our villages. Compared to my time as a young man there is much more money to be made from selling fish now, but the fish are no longer here in great numbers," he told IRIN.

    "I can't explain why they are gone, but each year we catch less and less. I do not know what we would do if the fish disappeared - it is how we feed our families. We are proud of our tradition, but we need help. There are too many fishermen now because there are no jobs, so only those who can compete will survive."

    Over exploited and poorly patrolled

    The scale of the overfishing problem came to light in 2006, when a UN report by the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission claimed that only 25 percent of the fish stocks in the region were under-exploited, and that in coastal areas most species were considered fully or over-exploited.

    According to the FAO, the most recent figures show the current exploitation of demersal fish, shallow-water shrimp, line fish and deep-water lobster is extreme. A lack of marine management and an ever-increasing number of fishermen - both artisanal and commercial - is partly responsible, but experts also blame widespread illegal fishing by Western fishing fleets.

    According to ‘The Crisis of Marine Plunder in Africa’, a report published in November 2007 by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), a South Africa-based think-tank, poaching and over-fishing off southern and eastern Africa has become so extreme that permanent damage to the marine environment appears imminent.

    West Africa's fish stocks were exploited by European, Russian and Asian fishing fleets in the second half of the 20th century, but in recent years the industry set its sights on the shoals in the continent's southern and eastern waters.

    The ISS report conservatively estimated that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Africa had become a US $ 1 billion a year industry. "In Mozambique, illegal fishing in the tuna and shrimp industry was set at approximately $ 38 million."

    The government has put a scientific stocktaking process in place, but it will take extensive surveillance of foreign fishing fleets, along with regular stock counts, to combat the problem.

    Taking stock does not present any special difficulties, but Mozambique has struggled to effectively patrol its 2,700km coastline, despite the recent donation of five navy patrol vessels and equipment by the US and South Africa for the interception and inspection of trawlers involved in suspicious activities.

    Fishing programme underway

    The National Institute for the Development of Small Scale Fishing of the Mozambican Fisheries Ministry has been struggling to raise the $ 54 million needed to implement a Strategic Plan for artisanal fishermen from 2007 to 2011.

    The project aims to give small-scale fishermen access to credit, which would allow the sector to grow by about 30 percent, and address transport, storage and marketing issues, so that fishermen could reach more distantly located domestic and regional markets.

    Until the middle of January 2008, lack of funding meant the southern Mozambican provinces of Gaza and Inhambane would miss out on the programme but a recent $ 4.2 million donation by the Italian government has secured participation of the two provinces.

    However, a large chunk of the budget remains outstanding and if this is not secured, many of Matibe's fellow fishermen might never get the chance to upgrade their age-old fishing techniques.

    [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

    Pic of the day – Smit Lloyd 72 & Hyundai 289

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    the tug SMIT LLOYD 72 with pipe laying barge Hyundai 289 under tow in Table Bay on 12 February. Picture by Aad Noorland

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