On April 30, 2018 the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a six-month pilot that encourages L1 visa applicants to file in advance a Form I-129 petition, plus supporting evidence for Canadian citizens seeking to enter the US as L1 executives or managers to the California Service Center. The Blaine, WA border crossing is the first pilot site and US CBP officers will not be validating L1 applications on-the-spot during the pilot period at that particular border crossing during the pilot which ends October 31, 2018. Those wishing to avoid the advance adjudication process can use an alternate border crossing where the on-the-spot processing remains.
Trucking shortages continue to drive the hottest freight market in years with rates 20 to 30 percent higher than last year. Truckload carriers are becoming more selective and chosing the most profitable loads and lanes. US manufacturers and retailers are concerned and looking for supply chain efficiencies to counter higher logistics costs. Also this week container lessors, manufacturers, and intermodal providers lobbied against a proposed tariff of 25 percent on shipping containers before the US Congress Section 301 Committee. Fears of this tariff in addition to higher surface costs would be a double whammy to US shippers. About 97 percent of marine containers are made in China.
A survey of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association (EGCSA) members has revealed that scrubber uptake is rapidly accelerating with the number of ships with exhaust gas cleaning systems installed or on order standing at 983 as of 31 May 2018. This follows a slew of recent reports that major ship operators, including Spliethoff, Frontline, DHT and Star Bulk have opted for scrubbers. One of the ‘big’ container companies has confirmed it will use scrubbing as part of its 2020 compliance portfolio and there are rumours that others will do likewise. EGCSA believes that although there has been a surge in demand, yard capacity is not an issue going forward, however other constraints such as the availability of laser scanning specialists and experienced installation teams mean that it may not be possible to pick and choose an installation slot nor coincide a scrubber installation with an already scheduled drydock in the near future.
The first edition of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s US Coast Pilot (Vol. 1, 48th Edition, 2018) that includes both the Navigation Rules as well as the amalgamated International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea is now available. The US Coast Pilot is issued in nine volumes that contain supplemental information difficult to portray on a nautical chart but that is important to navigators of coastal and intracoastal waters and the Great Lakes. To access the various editions visit the US Coast Pilot website. All US Coast Pilot books are free to download from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey website.
Cosco Shipping offices were hit by a cyber-attack earlier this week that has affected its email and telephone networks in North America. The container line was able to isolate the incident and minimize the disruption. The suspected ransomware attack is believed to have started at COSCO Shipping’s Pier J terminal at the Port of Long Beach. Once COSCO detected the attack, it shut down connections to its global networks as a precaution as it investigated the incident.
The Wilhelmsen group is abandoning its planned acquisition of Drew Marine Group following a July 21 decision by the US District Court for the District of Columbia to grant the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) motion for an injunction to block the acquisition. The Federal Trade Commission had charged that Wilhelmsen Maritime Services' $400 million acquisition would violate the antitrust laws by significantly reducing competition in an important market for marine water treatment chemicals and services used by global fleets and that customers for these products, owners and operators of global fleets of these vessels, will be harmed by the proposed acquisition.
A whopping 108 vessels operated by Teekay Corporation were presented the Jones F. Devlin Award, by the Chamber of Shipping of America. The award publicly recognizes the skills and dedication of the men and women who are responsible for safe vessel operations and is awarded to all manned merchant vessels that have operated for two full years or more without a crew member losing a full turn at watch because of an occupational injury.
Japan has just reopened its market to Canadian wheat after trade was temporarily suspended following the discovery of a handful of genetically modified wheat plants in Alberta. Genetically modified wheat is not allowed to be commercially grown anywhere in the world. As a result of the Canadian discovery, Japan and South Korea temporarily suspended Canadian wheat imports but tests have since confirmed that this was an isolated incident that did not affect the food supply. Both markets have since reopened. Wheat exports to all destinations are up 14.6 percent overall year over year, posting 13.616 million tonnes, compared to 11.881 million tonnes at the end of May in the 2016-17 crop year. China has tripled its Canadian imports over last year.
Fednav Limited has taken ownership of its 60th bulk carrier. This vessel, the MV Federal Dee, is the latest in a series of 22 box-hold handysize bulk carriers of 34,500 deadweight tons ordered from Oshima Shipyard of Japan since 2013. Earlier this year, Fednav also contracted for the replacement of its MV Arctic by ordering a new 30,000 DWT Polar Class 4 mine support vessel from JMU Shipyard of Japan. The ship will be flagged under Canadian registry and begin service as of 2020. Known for its expertise in navigating in ice, Fednav has for over 60 years played a leading role in promoting Arctic development and export. The company operates the three most powerful ice-breaking bulk carriers in the world offering year-round services transporting nickel and copper concentrates southbound and returning with all mine resupply material including Arctic diesel oil.
Ottawa has announced $26.6 million in funding for research to help better understand noise pressures on marine mammals. Darren Fisher, a Halifax-area MP, made the announcement today on behalf of the new Fisheries and Oceans Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, at Halifax’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography where much of the research will be carried out. The Fisheries Department says the research will help identify how to reduce the impacts of noise stressors on whales and other marine species. It says the initial focus will be to better understand the effect of shipping-related noise on right whales, the southern resident killer whale (SRKW) and the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga, amongst others. As part of the initiative, Dalhousie University in Halifax will receive $635,000 to support its monitoring of the North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Roseway Basin, off southern Nova Scotia and the University of BC will receive $1.1M to examine how changes in the food web affect the abundance and quality of Chinook salmon in critical habitats of the SRKW.
Canada Border Services Agency has released Customs Notice 18-09, amending the time frames for the release of commercial goods. This notice will supercede Appendix B, in Memorandum, D17-1-4 Release of Commercial Goods. Upon implementation of changes to the house bill process (Date TBD), goods imported through the commercial process will only be eligible for release upon arrival of the goods at final destination (i.e. arrival at the location where the importer is seeking release). Changes to release time frames are required as a result of the amendments to the Reporting of Imported Goods Regulations and the Customs Sufferance Warehouse Regulations which came into force . These amendments established the requirement for carriers and warehouse operators, to electronically notify the CBSA of the arrival of goods. Note CBSA has released a new version of the Electronic Commerce Client Requirements Document (ECCRD), “Chapter 1: Advance Commercial Information (ACI) Marine” containing a number of updates, wording changes and clarifications on sub-location codes. An update to this Customs Notice will be published when an official system release date is available for the house bill process.
Changes to the occupational health and safety regulations for workers exposed to grain dust and flour dust in federally regulated workplaces take effect. The regulations will significantly lower the risk of workers coming into contact with airborne substances in the workplace, while ensuring consistency with most provincial and territorial regulations. These changes will also align the exposure limits for these hazardous substances with the highest safety standards in Canada and internationally. The Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) for grain dust in the federal jurisdiction of 10 mg/m3 is higher than the limit recommended by scientific consensus to protect the health and safety of employees at risk. The OEL for grain dust will be decreased to 4 mg/m3.
The US Office of Management and Budget have received 72 submissions in response to its request on how the Federal government may prudently manage regulatory costs imposed on the maritime sector. Multiple Federal agencies regulate the US maritime sector consistent with their statutory authorities. OIRA seeks public comment on how existing agency requirements affecting the maritime sector can be modified or repealed to increase efficiency, reduce or eliminate unnecessary or unjustified regulatory burdens, or simplify regulatory compliance while continuing to meet statutory missions. This will inform US agencies' development of regulatory reform proposals. Canada maritime sector is drowning with the government's silos and administrative burdens - it's time for action. Submissions can be found at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=OMB-2018-0002-0001.
A Final Rule published by the Federal Maritime Commission offering deregulatory flexibilities for Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) Negotiated Rate Arrangements (NRAs) and NVOCC Service Arrangements (NSAs) will go into force on August 22, 2018. The key changes to NRAs allow them to be amended at any time; allow the inclusion of non-rate economic terms; and, allow an NVOCC to provide for shipper’s acceptance of the NRA by booking a shipment. NSAs will become easier and more attractive to use by removing filing and essential terms requirements.
The US Coast Guard is investigating the 88-foot fishing vessel Mark I for knowingly discharging oil overboard in Canadian waters. On July 7th Transport Canada's National Aerial Surveillance crew detected the Mark I transiting through the Canadian exclusive economic zone 97-miles off of Cape St. James, BC with an approximate 26-mile oil sheen trailing behind. The USCG pollution response investigators and investigative service agents boarded the Mark I in Dutch Harbor, Friday. During the boarding they found evidence that bilge waste and oil had been discharged overboard. The operators of Mark I have been order to perform certain marine environmental actions and clean up. US vessels are prohibited from discharging oil or oily water within and outside US waters. The Mark I violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and the discharge can result in up to 10 years confinement and a criminal fine up to $250,000.
Draft guidance to support planning for the implementation from 1 January 2020 of the lower limit of 0.50% for sulphur content in fuel oil used by ships has been developed by an International Maritime Organization (IMO) PPR intersessional meeting (9-13 July). The draft guidance is part of a set of guidelines being developed by IMO to help ensure the consistent implementation of the MARPOL regulation coming into effect from 1 January 2020. This will cut the limit for sulphur content in fuel oil to 0.50% mass by mass (m/m), from 3.50%. (The limit will remain at 0.10% in the four internationally designated Emission Control Areas (ECAs): the Baltic Sea area; the North Sea area; the North American area (covering designated coastal areas off the United States and Canada); and the United States Caribbean Sea area (around Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands). The guidance includes sections on:
The draft guidance is expected to be approved at the next session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 73), 22-26 October 2018. A more comprehensive document containing guidelines of a more operational nature to help operators manage both distillate fuels and fuel oil blends containing residual fuel will be developed at PPR in February next year for approval by MEPC 74 in May, 2019.
The IMO's 2018 World Maritime Day will celebrate 70 years of helping international shipping become safer, more secure and develop a greener environmental footprint. A short animated film shows how IMO has developed mandatory international regulations covering almost every aspect of shipping. As a result, modern shipping conforms to the highest practicable standards and is the safest, cleanest and most efficient way to move goods around the world. The animation traces IMO's voyage from the 1948 United Nations conference in Geneva, which saw its founding convention adopted, through to the present day. It highlights key developments such as new rules for tanker safety following the infamous Torrey Canyon incident in 1967, the satellite-based Global Maritime Distress and Safety System and the designation of several vital environmentally sensitive areas around the world which today receive special protection from shipping.