Last week it was reported that a dead Humpback Whale washed up near Ucluelet, and that the marine mammal was found to have a dislocated lower jaw bone. Officials suspect that this was possibly a result of being hit by a large vessel. Humpback whales experience the second highest strike rate of any whale species worldwide because they are relatively abundant and they often feed at or near the surface. The North Pacific Population is migratory and have been spotted with higher abundance in the Swiftsure Bank area off the West Coast of Vancouver Island through October to April, and with a slightly lower frequency from May through September. As a result of an increase in population the Humpback was reclassified from Threatened to Special Concern under the Species at Risk Act in 2017 and is protected under the Marine Mammal Regulations. Vessels transiting in BC Coastal waters have been encouraged to keep an active lookout for this and other species of whales, especially in areas of higher density.
The US Coast Guard issued a notice announcing the availability of the updated alternative planning criteria national guidelines for vessel response plans (VRPs). These national guidelines provide the maritime industry with updated information on developing and submitting alternative planning criteria. The update provides procedures that the maritime industry should follow when applying for alternate planning criteria in accordance with 33 CFR 155.1065 & 33 CFR 155.5067 and encourages consistent application of the review, approval and enforcement procedures for vessel response plans by the Coast Guard.
US Navy warships will now sail through high traffic areas with AIS transponders turned on to provide other vessels with real-time information on its location. Two US Navy destroyers, the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain have collided with merchant vessels this year. While both collisions are still under investigation, it seems pretty clear that in both instances one or both vessels involved was not aware a collision was imminent. Navy ships are designed to appear as something much smaller when detected on the radar screens of other ships. Even in daylight, Navy ships are painted Haze Grey to make it very difficult for crews on enemy ships to make visual contact. Today, the US Navy honoured 36 sailors for their bravery last June as they battled “constant peril from flooding, electrocution … and noxious fumes” for 16 hours in the aftermath of the collision involving the USS Fitzgerald, which killed two San Diego-area men and five other sailors.
The Coast Guard Marine Safety Center issued the sixth US Coast Guard Ballast Water Management System Type Approval Certificate to ERMA FIRST ESK Engineering Solutions S.A. after a detailed review of the manufacturer’s type approval application submitted in April 2017. The ERMA FIRST BWTS FIT is the first full flow electrolysis BWTS approved by the USCG. The treatment process consists of a three step process consisting of filtration and electrolysis during uptake, and neutralization at discharge. This approval covers thirteen models with maximum treatment rated capacities between 90 m3/h and 3,740 m3/h. A complete list of ballast water treatment systems that have been approved or have type approval applications currently under review can be found on the Marine Safety Center webpage.
The Marine Safety Center has also issued an updated type approval certificate to TeamTec OceanSaver AS for the OceanSaver BWTS MKII Ballast Water Management System. The updated certificate was issued as a result of the acquisition of all OceanSaver intellectual property, certificates and assets by IMS Group AS. TeamTec OceanSaver is a member of, and fully owned by, IMS group AS.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has recently completed the purchase of three strategic industrial-zoned properties in Richmond and Port Coquitlam. The three properties that were purchased by the port authority will be temporarily designated for continued industrial use by the port authority, pending a formal amendment to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Land Use Plan, and will continue to be used mostly for warehousing and distribution for the foreseeable future. The three properties include:
The port authority will continue to pursue additional strategic acquisition opportunities as they become available and engage the region in a constructive and meaningful dialogue to find solutions to shared land challenges.
BHP Billiton Canada Inc. (BHP) is proposing to construct a facility at Fraser Surrey Docks to export potash from the proposed Jansen mine in Saskatchewan. The new facility would receive and store rail shipments of potash and then load onto bulk ocean-going vessels. The project is in the preliminary review phase with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and is open for public comments between 12 October to 8 November 2017. More information and a link to the online feedback form can be found at: www.bhp.com/fsdpotashexport.
The Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) Symposium concluded yesterday and was well attended with a mix of commercial shipping, commercial fishing, whale watching, NGO, science, academia and both Canadian and US Government officials. Minister LeBlanc of the Department of Oceans and Fisheries and Minister Garneau of Transport Canada both addressed the group with opening remarks. The federal government is focused on delivering actions to address the three anthropogenic threats which consist of prey availability, acoustic disturbance and contaminants. While acoustic disturbance from vessels was included in the Minister LeBlanc’s address , the Minister emphasized actions related to whale watching and salmon stocks. He also explicitly commended the member companies of the Chamber for their commitment to the ECHO program Haro Strait Slow-Down Trial. This recognition is important and hopefully illustrates the federal government’s pragmatic approach to our sector. Minister Garneau identified the need to develop a unified voice and purpose with the end goal of protection and recovery of the species while also recognizing that Canadians rely on vessels and trade. While no definitive mitigations actions were determined at the symposium, it was clearly recognized that on-going research is needed to chart a path forward for this iconic species.
At the conclusion of the nine week volutary speed reduction trial in Haro Strait, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has reported that 61% of the transits were able to reduce speeds to 11 knots. All categorized vessel sectors had participation above 50%, with the highest overall participation observed in the passenger, container and car carrier sectors. Information gathered during the trial will inform on how slower vessel speed may reduce underwater noise for local at-risk whales. Efforts will now focus on processing and analysis of data obtained through the trial, and final results expect to be shared in early 2018.
Regulations Amending the Administrative Monetary Penalties and Notices (CSA 2001) Regulations are published in Part I of the Canada Gazette dated October 14, 2017. The proposed Regulations are intended to enhance the department’s ability to use administrative penalties as an enforcement tool to encourage regulatory compliance. The implementation of the new proposed violations are expected to be seamless for the Canadian public, as the new requirements will be integrated into the existing Transport Canada Marine Safety administrative penalty scheme. A 30-day comment period is in effect.
The Government of Canada is reviewing the Pilotage Act to support the delivery of safe, efficient and environmentally responsible pilotage services into the future. The Pilotage Act Review will include internal and external analysis, as well as discussions with key stakeholders. On October 4, 2017, Transport Canada launched its site for public and stakeholder input at https://letstalktransportation.ca/pilotage-act-review. The forum will be open until December 29, 2017.
During the SRKW Symposium in Vancouver this week, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced $7.2 million in new science funding for the University of Victoria's Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) to support the increased use of world-renowned digital hydrophone and oceanographic technologies. Information from the expanded hydrophone network will allow for a better understanding of the underwater acoustic environment and will be used to inform mitigation strategies to protect marine mammals including killer whales. ONC will manage and analyze underwater acoustic data to measure underwater noise in key marine mammal habitats and support real-time information needs.
Another announcements towards the recovery strategy of the Southern Resident Killer Whale included $1.2M to the Pacific Salmon Foundation to help restore wild Pacific salmon, their aquatic ecosystems, and the myriad of species they support and $400,000 this year for a technical review of contaminants in wastewater.
New provincial regulations will apply to land-based spill preparedness requirements to transporters of liquid petroleum products exceeding 10,000 litres as of October 30, 2017. Transporters will be required to have contingency plans in place before product is moved, and anyone who causes a spill can now be directed by the Province to develop and implement a recovery plan. Recovery plans outline the work that is required following the initial response to an incident to ensure environmental damage is fully addressed. The three new regulations are: (1) Spill Preparedness, Response and Recovery Regulation; (2) Spill Reporting Regulation; and, (3) Spill Contingency Planning Regulation.
Eleven of the 26 crew are still reported missing from the 57,000 dwt Emerald Star which sank while underway from Buli, Indonesia to Lianyungang, China with a cargo of nickel ore. Liquefaction of the cargo is believed to have caused the vessel to capsize. Nickel ore liquefaction was cited as the cause of at least four vessel casualties and the loss of 66 seafarers in the trade between Indonesia and China from October 2010 to December of 2011. The number of vessel casualties attributed to nickel ore liquefaction has fallen in recent years in part due to an export ban on nickel ore and bauxite from Indonesia in 2014. Earlier this year, however, Indonesia introduced new rules to ease the 3-year export ban under certain conditions. Following the easing of the ban, INTERCARGO issued a statement to its members in January 2017 warning them of the risks associated with these types of cargoes.
The US Coast Guard issued a bulletin reminding stakeholders on the importance of shipboard cyber risk management by recounting a GPS outage in the Black Sea that was reported to the Navigation Center in June. The IMO Guidelines on Maritime Cyber Risk Management stress the importance of a continuous and cyclical process of identifying risks, protecting from those risks, detecting incidents, responding to incidents, and recovery to normal operations.
Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL) and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) have introduced a bill that would place a 5-year moratorium of the Jones Act in Puerto Rico as the U.S. commonwealth recovers from Hurricane Maria. The bill, known as the Puerto Rico Humanitarian Relief Act (H.R. 3966), was introduced before the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Armed Services committees last Thursday, one day after the Department of Homeland Security said an extension of the 10-day waiver of the Jones Act in Puerto Rico was not needed.
Joel Thornton of the University of Washington, in Seattle, and his colleagues in a paper just published in Geophysical Research Letters finds that lightning strikes the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea almost twice as often along shipping lanes as it does other areas of these waters. The most likely explanation given was attributed to particulate pollution emitted by the ships and convection of soluble oxides in cloud-forming droplets. If the theory is correct, the 2020 global sulphur cap and other ship efficiencies will likely see the number of lightning bolts reduce over time.
Ed Smele passed away peacefully on September 22nd. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years Eileen, brother Loren, sons Rodney (Diana), Jeffrey (Shelley), grandchildren Byrant, Coral, Valerie and many nieces and nephews spread out from British Columbia, to Alberta and Saskatchewan. Ed enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve During World War Two, training on HMCS Cayuga. After the War Ed entered the steamship business in Vancouver, working for Matson Line, Bakke Steamships Knutsen Line and Columbus Line. He served a Chamber of Shipping director for a number of years and was the Chairman of the Board from 1974-1975. Always a rock, his calm with a wink and a grin, he will be dearly missed. In lieu of flowers, donations will be accepted by the North Shore Hospice.