Maritimes Crimes

Aim of MariTimesCrimes is to provide all information you need about maritime crimes and maritime issue. The blog focuses on all kind of aspect such as economical, environmental, and political. Besides recent news and investigation reports, you will find international treaties and sources you need to conduct your own analysis. And if you begin with the specific seaman language, our glossary will help you for sure.

In-Depth Articles

March 28, 2023NewsThe Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has always had close ties with its neighbor, the Singapore Navy. Because these countries are relatively nearby geographically, they have formed a coalition, supporting each other in fighting maritime crimes. With close ties and operating in the same region, it is little wonder that these two forces have developed a similar naval strategy to surveil ocean traffic and battle criminality in their territorial waters. History of the Royal Malaysian Navy On April 28, 1934, the British government in Singapore had already formed the Straits Settlement Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (SSRNVR). This Reserve would later have close ties with the creation of the Malaysian Navy. After the Second World War, there existed only 600 personnel in the Malaysian Navy, which was disbanded in 1947. It was later revived on December 24, 1948, once the Malayan Emergency began, with communists rising against British rule. Shortly after that, the Malayan Naval Force (MNF) came into being on March 4, 1949, with its base in Woodlands, Singapore. Starting as the “MNF Barracks,” it was renamed HMS Malaya, and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) was created. After the Federation of Malaya obtained its independence on August 31, 1957, a slow transfer of control began. This newly independent country later requested the British government to transfer the naval equipment to it, forming the new Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) on September 16, 1963. Royal Malaysian Navy collaborations, naval strategy and threats This Navy must develop regional and international collaborations to protect its primary Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs). It must create these alliances to safeguard its waters from crimes on many levels and ward off threats to its well-being. Royal Malaysian Navy collaborations Malaysia is a part of the United Nations and the Commonwealth Nations. Because of these links, Malaysia’s naval forces have built a strong network with traditional allies, especially the U.S. 7th Fleet, the Australian Navy and the U.K. This country is also part of The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), a collective of bilateral defense alliances. This FPDA agreement consists of various multi-lateral agreements between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. All of these countries are members of the Commonwealth. Besides collaboration with the West, the RMN actively builds and maintains close military and naval diplomacy ties with countries like China. Malaysia must strengthen amicable relations with this country due to China’s assertive presence in the South China Sea. The reason for this strategy is the insecurity in Southeast Asia arising from the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia due to China’s strong presence. Royal Malaysian Navy fights naval crimes The RMN actively engages in regular naval exercises with its allies. One of these arrangements is the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) initiative between it and the U.S. This naval exercise includes anti-submarine, surface, and air warfare training. It also focuses on defensive antiterrorism tactics and other activities to confirm cooperation. CARAT also reinforces the mutual country commitment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) partners. These ASEAN partners highlight joint priorities like regional security and stability. The Australian Navy also arranges regular naval exercises with the RMN to maintain training and readiness to protect regional and international interests. Additionally, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), previously the Malaysia Coast Guard, works with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and Japan Coast Guard (JCG) for crime fighting and search and rescue operations. The Royal Malaysian Navy – threats and enemies The South China Sea (SCS) is a delicate territory in the Malaysian region, giving rise to security and economic threats should it become unstable. But the RMN reacts with similar aggression as China when protecting its territorial waters from Chinese aggression, unafraid to safeguard the region with naval power. Besides being fully prepared to safeguard its airspace and sea lanes of communication (SLOCs) in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf between itself and its neighbors, the RMN also wards off other threats. These threats include piracy, smuggling, and illegal fishing that causes ecological marine damage. Instead of signing regional agreements such as the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy & Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (the SUA Act), the RMN deals with these threats alone. It does so by sending naval units to control such events. The future of the Royal Malaysian Navy Future RMN plans are modernization. It intends to overhaul two frigates – the KD Lekiu and KD Jebat. Further naval strategies are to extend the lifespan of four of its corvettes in the Laksamana class by upgrading their sensors and weaponry. Other plans include purchasing two additional submarines to round off its fleet by 2040 to grow into a well-balanced maritime power that can protect its security and economic interests. [...]
March 24, 2023NewsThe Indonesian Navy had many names and underwent changes before establishing itself in its modern form. It achieved its current authority by establishing alliances to fulfill its defensive role. Its obligations today include protecting its waters, fighting maritime crimes like smuggling and illegal fishing, and safeguarding its marine ecology. History of the Indonesian Navy The Indonesian Navy (TNI AL) was created on August 22, 1945, after independence. However, some historians place this date as September 10, 1945, at the start of the Indonesian National Revolution. Whatever the case, the navy was first called Badan Keamanan Rakyat-Laut (BKR) or the Agency of the People’s Security Sea Service. Now, this Navy serves as the naval division of the National Armed Forces. The Chief of Staff heads this Navy, which has three primary fleets. These fleets include the Armada, the first fleet stationed in Jakarta. The second fleet is the Komando Armada II, stationed in Surabaya. Lastly, the third fleet is the Komando Armada III in Sorong. Additionally, the Indonesian Navy has the Military Sealift Command. The Indonesian Navy also controls the Marine Corps. All commissioned ships’ names begin with KRI, which refers to the Kapal Republik Indonesia or the Republic of Indonesia ship. KAL is an abbreviation for Kapal Angkatan Laut for a Navy ship made from fiberglass and smaller than 118 feet or 36 meters. Indonesian Navy collaborations, fighting crime, and threats The primary obligation of this Navy is to protect the country’s coastline. It maintains law and order by patrolling its territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Indonesian Navy must also defend many maritime interests, including islands in its region and oceanic threats. It forms international collaborations in the course of its defensive role. International collaboration Indonesia is increasing its diplomatic relationships with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. Simultaneously, it builds on its regional ties and maintains traditional relations with countries in the European Union. The Navy is also working on strengthening its relationship with the U.S. Despite intermittent animosities between China and Indonesia, these countries face the same threats. As such, they must develop their defenses to protect mutual and individual interests. As part of its naval strategy, this Navy undergoes training exercises with the navies of other countries to prepare its personnel for any eventuality. How Indonesia fights naval crimes According to its law, Indonesia’s Navy must perform several duties to defend the country. Consequently, it fights crime by performing military operations and obligations. It enforces local, national, and international laws to protect its territorial waters and sea lane communications (SLOCs) from terrorism, and piracy, constantly surveilling traffic in its territory. In one case, the Navy has turned to farm seaweed to reduce piracy and recidivism. In the case of illegal fishing, the Indonesian Navy has resorted to blowing up boats. This Navy is also known for imprisoning people without permits when waiting in Indonesian waters on their way to Singapore. Indonesia’s Navy also engages in the empowerment of civilians to support its defenses. On a larger scale, this Navy develops its diplomatic ties and foreign policies in support of fighting crimes on the high seas and along its island territorial regions. This Navy will further perform other duties in pursuit of maintaining and developing its power as part of an overarching naval strategy to optimize its performance. Indonesian Navy threats and enemies Recent threats in Indonesian waters include those from China, which is placing pressure on Indonesia regarding disputed waters. Another international threat comes from Beijing, claiming that Indonesia is drilling for oil and gas in its sovereign waters near the Natuna Islands. Another threat is crime in territorial waters. But other threats include insufficient funding to build the Indonesian Armed Forces and Navy. Also, a further threat is present from insufficient definitions of security in the ASEAN region, and the local maritime conditions are not conducive to improving maritime power. These are just some of the threats and enemies the Navy deals with on a regular basis. Due to these circumstances, the Indonesian Navy should build on its regional and international diplomatic relationships Future of the Indonesian Navy In the medium to long term, this Navy’s future means procuring assets to enhance its defense capacities. Combat management systems (CMS) for rapid attack craft, aircraft for the Navy, and missile boats armed with Naval Strike Missile (NSM) capacity are just some of the Navy’s plans. This expansion also means new programs to build warships and acquire submarines and other equipment to strengthen the position of this naval power. [...]
March 15, 2023NewsThe Singapore Navy is much younger than other countries, yet it must still form international collaborations with them for support. Similarly, this Navy faces challenges like smuggling, human trafficking and similar crimes, which it must control through its naval strategy. Learn how this Navy faces threats and enemies and what the future holds for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). History of the Singapore Navy The Republic of Singapore Navy’s history goes back to 1934, when it was first formed on April 20 and known as The Straits Settlement Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. During the Second World War, it transformed into the Malayan Volunteer Reserve in 1941. In 1952 the Singapore government named it the Royal Malayan Navy, which transitioned into the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) when Singapore became an official Malayan state on September 16, 1963. Between 1963 and 1975, the RSN underwent many further changes, including transferring the volunteer reserve to the RMN, which was renamed the Singapore Volunteer Force (SVF). When Singapore gained independence in 1965 and became a part of the Commonwealth of Nations on August 9, the SVF was called the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force (SNVF) and had two wooden ships. The name changed again to the People’s Defense Force (Sea) in 1967, which fell under the authority of the Sea Defense Command (SDC). In 1968, the SCD became the Maritime Command (MC) and, finally, the RSN on April 1, 1975. Singapore Navy collaborations, fighting crime, and threats Like any other navy, the Singapore Navy has to fight off threats and combat crimes that threaten its marine ecology and sovereignty as a nation. To do this, the Navy forms international collaborations and alliances to protect its territorial waters. International collaboration The Indian Navy regularly hosts a multilateral naval exercise (MILAN) in which the RSN and over 40 other countries participate. Since beginning this training collaboration in 1995, Singapore has joined the exercises held biannually without fail. Another alliance is the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training exercise (SEACAT), which focuses on maintaining a secure maritime region. It does this through regular training, search and seizure protocols, and using unmanned aerial systems to increase understanding of challenges. So, the Singapore Navy creates international and local alliances to protect its seaboard and trade routes. Singapore grants tenancy to the U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Inspection Detachment (MIDET), and the U.S. 7th Fleet uses the Sembawang base to exercise its Pacific and Southeast Asia operations. The RSN allows the Indian Navy to access this same port when escorting U.S. naval ships and patrol boats through the Malacca Straits. How Singapore fights naval crimes The Singaporean Navy works with its Indonesian and Malaysian neighbors to fight threats in its waters. Surveillance and patrolling occur jointly in the coastal waters around Singapore and the Malacca Strait. The Navy also enlists the help of maritime patrol aircraft from its air force to support its endeavors in fighting pirates in its waters and internationally. To achieve its joint goal of protecting its waters, the Navy has participated in the multinational Combined Task Force 151 off the Gulf of Aden. The RSN also engages in regular joint foreign exercises locally and abroad and constantly maintains a visible presence in its territorial waters to discourage threats. This country also participates in the Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices. Additionally, Singapore subscribes to the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing initiative to protect its resources. Singapore Navy threats and enemies The RSN is one of the busiest global sea lanes and must take precautions to protect its lucrative trade routes. In the process, the RSN faces threats like terrorism and piracy in the waters around Singapore and the Strait of Malacca. This country also faces illegal fishing that harms its natural resources and marine ecology. Yet another threat is drug smuggling and trafficking in the territorial waters around this country. Future of the Singpore Navy Because Singapore is so strategically located in terms of its sea lines of communication (SLOCs), it must make every effort to protest these assets. The country has made great strides by setting aside massive defense budgets to develop a “next-generation” military force by 2040. Besides investing in surface and subsurface vessels, the Navy has invested in advanced unmanned systems. It has also enhanced its regional network alliances to fight security issues with various modern ships. The Navy will continue developing its major bases in Changi and Tuas as the first line of defense to protect its people and economy. This defense concentrates on threats in the South China Sea and the Singapore and Malacca straits. [...]
March 7, 2023NewsWhen discussing naval strategies in India, it is necessary to address the Indian Navy’s international collaboration to support positive relationships on the ocean. Discussing the crimes, this Navy faces and how it combats these occurrences is essential. Moreover, all navies face other enemies and risks. Here, we discuss all these issues, starting with a brief history and ending with the future of this Navy. History of the Indian Navy After gaining its independence on August 15, 1947, authorities split the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) on April 22, 1958, retaining two-thirds of its assets and handing the remainder to the Royal Pakistan Navy. The first Flag Officer to command the RIN was Rear Admiral JTS Hall. The RINs first Chief of Naval Staff of the nave was Vice Admiral R D Katari. When the country gained independence on January 26, 1950, it became the Indian Navy. It adopted the Ashoka Lion Motif as its emblem and the motto, “Sam no Varunah” (be auspicious unto us Oh Varuna). The Navy also added the “Satyamev Jayate” inscription on the State Emblem as part of its crest. The country celebrated its first Navy Day on October 21, 1944. This date was later changed in 1972 to December 4. Navy Day celebrates the country’s war heroes from the Pakistani war in 1971, the missile attack on the Karachi harbor, and its successes in the Bay of Bengal in the Arabian Sea during World War II. Collaborations, Crime Fighting, and Threats Following the rich history of this Navy, the focus turns to modern-day activities. Indian Navy Collaborations Delhi agrees with the policy of Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR) to protect its maritime interests. To achieve this goal, it divides the Indian Ocean into sections on its west, east and southern coasts. Its neighbors on its northern borders are China and Pakistan. Because China uses the Indian Ocean as a transport route and is a threat to India and most western countries, the Navy collaborates with multiple nations to protect joint interests. Consequently, the Navy has alliances such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), INDOPACOM, and the Colombo Security Conclave. It has formed collaborations or agreements of varying levels with: The U.S. The U.K. France Australia Bangladesh Sri Lanka Maldives Mauritius Seychelles Madagascar Comoros Japan Indian Ocean littorals and islands How this Navy Fights Maritimes Crimes The Indian Navy fights maritime crimes by enlisting the international community’s help. It also fights crimes by building its naval capabilities and creating collaborations such as the Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) at Gurugram in 2007. This organization helps address crimes on the Indian Ocean and is a center of information and intelligence sharing. Another way that the Navy fights crimes is through the creation of laws. In 2022, India added a new “repression of piracy” section to its 2019 Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill. New suggestions address respect for international in fighting terrorism at sea. The new law also allows the Navy and Coast Guard to arrest terrorists and prosecute them domestically to protect vital sea-trade lanes in Indian waters and the vicinity. Threats and Enemies Following incursions into Ladakh in 2020 by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, this country has proven that it is an enemy of India. Since this time, India has focused on developing its defensive resources. The country’s strategy has turned to building its equipment to face international threats, including strengthening its Navy and air force. Another threat the Indian Navy faces is insufficient funds to build its nautical resources. Its technology is aging, and a lack of planning has negatively impacted its capabilities. Other ongoing threats include human trafficking in the Indian Ocean, illegal fishing and its impact on marine ecology, and drug smuggling. The Future of the Indian Navy Operations With the constant threat of China on its doorstep, the Navy must adequately prepare to face this danger. To do so, it must focus on the modernization of its fleet. It is doing so through a naval strategy that has changed from buying equipment to building equipment. As this Navy continues to deal with local threats, it must strengthen its neighborhood and international ties. It can do so by reinforcing its military. The Navy is also focusing on strengthening its military fortifications in Lakshadweep in the west and the Nicobar and Andaman Islands to the east. The Navy must also bolster its northern protection network (the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal). This bolstering strategy will help develop a more robust network of island bases in the region and ultimately offer greater protection of its territories. To further boost its strategy, it should seek additional international partnerships and alliances with historic supporters. [...]
February 28, 2023NewsThe Royal Brunei Navy is a small but efficient fleet of vessels with a duty to defend its country from threats originating from in and around Brunei waters. As part of its naval strategy to safeguard its territory, it forms alliances with neighbors and international partners to boost its capabilities. In the process, this Navy combats crimes such as smuggling and illegal fishing, protecting its marine ecology in the process. History of the Royal Brunei Navy The Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) was formed on June 14, 1965, as a part of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces. At first, it had three river patrol aluminum boats and was the Boat Section of the armed forces. As the country grew stronger economically, its name changed to the Boat Company. It then received its first fast patrol boat in 1968, which became its flagship. Three years later, the First Sea Battalion got two more coastal patrol vessels, having undergone a further name change. Officially Brunei’s term for its Navy was the First Sea Battalion, Royal Brunei Malay Regiment in Malay. In the Malayan language, this name was Angkatan Laut Pertama, Askar Melayu DiRaja Brunei (ALP AMDB). On October 1, 1991, the First Sea Battalion was called the Royal Brunei Navy. This new name followed its independence from British rule on January 1, 1984, and the growth of its armed forces. The RBN has its base in Muara. It is a small maritime force but has adequate vessels to support its search and rescue missions. Another primary responsibility of the RBN is to protect its country from sea-borne threats. Royal Brunei Navy collaborations, fighting crime, and threats Because Brunei is a small country, its Navy is also small, so it must form international cooperation to bolster its protective abilities. Although the RBNs primary purpose has been to patrol its shores, it must defend itself against various crimes on the high waters. To do so, it must develop specific strategic defenses. International collaboration Like the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), the RBN organizes regional and international collaborative exercises and partnerships. The RBN engages in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), which involves divisions of the U.S. Navy, Armed Forces, and U.S. Coast Guard for the Pacific Area. Due to its links with the Commonwealth, Brunei conducts joint exercises and training with the Australian Navy. Members of the RBN also further their training in countries with which Brunei has friendly relations, including India, the U.K., U.S., Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia. Naval exercises and training with partners include underwater ops, night encounter exercises, mine clearance, various drills and other tactical exercises. Most of these maritime training events occur with the participating countries’ military, air forces and coast guards. How The Royal Brunei Navy fights naval crimes The Brunei Navy’s primary roles include defending and deterring attacks from the sea. These attacks may include piracy, terrorism, drug or human trafficking, or other crimes. Another of the Navy’s roles is safeguarding its marine resources, its sea lines of communication (SLOC) and conducting surveillance of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Beyond crime fighting, this naval force conducts search and rescue ops. Its other duties include supporting the Brunei air force, military, security agencies, and other ministries when mandated to do so. Royal Brunei Navy threats and enemies Brunei faces threats and enemies in several guises, including disagreements on the high seas, territorial maritime disputes, and crimes between countries. This country also faces illegal activities like traffic and smuggling. According to the RBN, the best way to deal with these threats is to face them head-on. One way to do this is through joint enforcement initiatives. Coordinated law enforcement involves working with other task forces, such as the police reserve unit, the armed forces, and the customs and excise division. Another naval strategy is to ensure understanding between the personnel of the RBN and its ASEAN partners. Understanding the diverse cultures and working together will strengthen each other’s efforts in dealing with threats on the waterways. Future of the Royal Brunei Navy Future plans for the RBN include acquiring a new patrol vessel, Fearless-class. It also has plans to purchase the Fearless-class patrol vessels that the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) intends retiring in the future. [...]
February 22, 2023NewsThe Syrian channel is the maritime area between Cyprus and the Middle East, off the Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli coasts. Since the 2014 Crimea crisis, there have been numerous media reports about Russian military activity, including live-fire events, in the foreign Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and international airspace first in the Black sea and second within this area. The Syrian channel is close to several areas of tension or conflict (Operation Inherent Resolve in Irak and Syria, Situation in Syria, between Israel and Palestine, occupation of the northern part of Cyprus, no Peace treaty between Lebanon and Israel). It explains why NATO and non-NATO navies used to sail and/or to flight within this area. Even if a large part of the Syrian channel is under the legal regime of freedom of navigation and overflight, Russia seems to undertake specific aerial and naval activities in order to constraint maneuvers of NATO navies. Military uses of maritime spaces and international airspace Since the signature of the United Nations convention on the law of the sea (UNCLOS) in 1982, the legal regime regarding the use of maritime spaces and airspaces for military purposes is clear. In Economic exclusive zones (EEZ), all States enjoy the freedoms referred to in article 87 of navigation and overflight (article 58 UNCLOS).  This means that for military aircrafts and warships, there is no difference between high seas and EEZ. They may conduct military exercises and training. Through territorial seas, the rule is that a warship should enjoy the right of innocent passage. This passage shall be continuous and expeditious and should not to be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State : no threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, no exercise or practice with weapons, no collection of information, no launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft or military device, etc. Coastal States do not have to require prior notification or authorization for warships to enter territorial sea.Even if the Syrian channel is not so large, there is enough international airspace to fly and EEZ to sail freely. Military exercises may be conducted in that zone.  Freedom of navigation/overflight and safety In territorial waters, the right of innocent passage invoked by warships could also be suspended temporarily in specified areas by the coastal State “if such suspension is essential for the protection of its security, including weapons exercises” (article 25, UNCLOS). The suspension would have to be duly published by the coastal State.  If warships and military aircrafts may use freely EEZ, high seas and international airspace, it seems normal to develop procedures of safety in order to avoid maritime and aerial incidents. For the airspace, annex 15 of the Chicago convention on international civil aviation defines a tool called “notice to airmen” (NOTAM). A NOTAM is “a notice distributed by means of telecommunication containing information concerning the establishment, condition or change in any aeronautical facility, service, procedure or hazard, the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations”. A NOTAM is used to share information for safety reasons and for the time of the use of the airspace. For military purposes, it is important to inform civil aviation and other armed forces that such area of the airspace and at such altitude is needed for missile strike or air/air exercise. For safety reasons, the International maritime organization has decided in 1991 to adopt on 6 November 1991 the Resolution A.706(17) regarding the world-wide navigational warning service. Due to this resolution, geographical sea areas (NAVAREA) are established in order to coordinate the transmission of radio navigational warnings. In such an area, these navigational warnings are broadcasted messages containing urgent information relevant to safe navigation, including information concerning special operations which might affect the safety of shipping, e.g. naval exercises, missile firings, etc. This kind of warning have to remain in force until the event is completed. For each NAVAREA, a country is designated to broadcast these safety messages. The Syrian channel is within the NAVAREA III area coordinated by Spain.  After many incidents involving Russian and US warships or aircrafts in the 1960s and 1970s, the USA and the USSR prompted further discussions on a mechanism to better manage bilateral military relations. In order to avoid an escalation and the possibility that either side could resort to the use of force, negotiations led to the creation of the US-Soviet 1972 Incidents at sea (INCSEA) agreement. Twelve NATO Allies (including United Kingdom, France, Greece) have now an INCSEA Agreement with Russia. Key elements of these documents are exercising military professionalism by avoiding the risk of collision, keeping safe distance and speed and restricting operations in areas with heavy naval traffic. INCSEAs introduced methods for communicating intentions. Abuse of safety warnings? Despite the creation of these different tools, a significant increase of maritime and aerial incidents between NATO and Russian assets have been observed since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, especially in the Black sea and Mediterranean. Russia seems to use and abuse of the aforementioned tools. Within the Syrian Channel, there is a quasi-permanent NAVAREA III warning. It was especially the case in February 2022. From 1st to 28 February two NAVAREA messages (0047/22 and 0057/22 Eastern Mediterranean Sea) were in force for firing exercises in the major part of the Syrian channel at a time the Russian was preparing the invasion in Ukraine. It is the same with NOTAM. From 1st to 28 February 2023, Russia noticed that within the Flight Information Region (FIR) of Nicosia, numerous NOTAM were issued for navy firing exercises and missile, gun or rocket firing with the establishment of a lateral and vertical buffer zone.Even if NOTAM or NAVAREA warnings are only a source of information for airmen and seafarers for safety purpose, they have the effect of constraining aircraft and ship maneuvers. There is no possibility to control the effectiveness of this kind of “booking”. Indeed, it is not certain that Russian units were conducting firing exercises during 28 days off Cyprus coast. However the message sent to NATO units is that if they enter a buffer zone or an area covered by NOTAM and/or a NAVAREA warning, it could be considered as an hostile intent or an hostile act by Russian units. Despite INCSEAs agreements, there are often reports of near-collision or short-notice avoidance actions linked with Russian warships or military aircrafts. Considering it happens often and within several seas (Baltic Sea, North Sea before 24 February 2022, Mediterranean), correlated to NOTAM/NAVAREA actions, Russia seems to abuse these safety tools in order to “occupy” or “territorialize” the Syrian channel close to its military interests in Syria. [...]
February 2, 2023NewsConcealment and deception are a common temptation for warships. Despite possibilities existing in times of war as in times of peace, the legal framework is clear about the notion of warship and room of maneuver offered to the navies. However, some States try to play with the rules, especially due to new technologies (spoofing AIS; nameless, flagless and numberless warships; use of Unmanned aerial vehicles, etc.). In an era where major maritime powers are developing wide-area oceanic surveillance and reconnaissance networks, it seems normal that navies try to develop strategical and tactical maritime deception and concealment doctrines both for peace and for wartime. In case of armed conflict at sea, surprise would be a decisive factor in combat. Some strategic competitors could have the temptation to develop concealment tactics not necessarily in preparation of the worst-case scenario, but also in order to conduct hybrid warfare actions (below the conflictuality threshold). Even if this is not new, several attempts have been observed in the last few years to develop concealment and deception tactics, as a protection from observation or surveillance, or in order to conduct hybrid operations. The issue is whether or not these endeavors are lawful. Notion of warship In times of war and in times of peace, the legal definition of a warship is important. Depending on the qualification used, ships could in one hand benefit of certain immunities and exemptions, but in the other hand, be targeted by enemy fleets. Since the signature of the 1907 Hague convention relating to the Conversion of Merchant Ships into Warships, it appears that warships could be defined by four criteria: the ship is placed under the direct authority, immediate control and responsibility of the Power whose flag she flies; she bears the external marks which associates the warship with her nationality; the commander must be at the service of the State and duly commissioned by the competent authority (the name figure on the list of the officers of the fighting fleet); and the crew must be subject to military discipline. The 1958 Geneva convention on the High Seas confirmed this definition as the 1982 United Nations Convention on the law of the sea (UNCLOS). The term warship means : a ship belonging to the armed forces of a State; bearing the external marks distinguishing such ships of its nationality; under the command of an officer duly commissioned by the government of the State and whose name appears in the appropriate service list or its equivalent; and manned by a crew which is under regular armed forces discipline. Painting the hull numbers and names of warships One on the latest examples of the attempt to be more discreet can be observed in the Russian navy since March 2022 as its begun to paint out the hull numbers and names of its warships. It removes the vessels’ flags, leaving no markings of nationality. The hull remains grey, so these vessels still seem to be warships. This is common practice for the Russian navy in the Black sea, when they wants to deny the loss of a ship if the Ukrainian armed forces sink one of these nameless, numberless and flagless vessels. This stratagem has been used by the Russian navy when the Ukrainian armed forces claimed the burning of the Vasiliy Bykov in March 2022. This strategy could appear interesting in times of peace and in times of war. However, as stated above, a warship must be clearly identified. This behavior is clearly unlawful as a warship has to bear the external marks associated to its nationality according to the article 29 of UNCLOS. To paint over the hull numbers and names of warships is not a problem per se if there is no doubt about the nationality. During wartime, it is commonly accepted that a warship can use a false flag, as it was the case in March 1942 during the Chariot operation off of St Nazaire (France). The HMS Campeltown used the German flag during the deception operation to approach the harbor and when she was sufficiently close to the port, the German flag was lowered and the Union Jack was raised. Therefore, if a Russian warship without markings of its nationality conducts an attack against Ukrainian objectives, it should be considered as an act of perfidy (unlawful and considered as a war crime) and not as a ruse of war (as it was the case for the HMS Campeltown). Confusion about the status of warships Be defined as a warship offers the possibility to invoke sovereign immunities when another State or judicial system tries to seize it. The International tribunal of the law of the sea ruled in the Ara Libertad case, thanks to the article 29 of UNCLOS, that a Navy training vessel was to be considered as a warship if she met all the criteria of the definition. In the end, the Ghanaian judge charge of the case had not been entitled to seize the warship. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy has the tendency to use a stratagem of confusion regarding the status of certain ships. One of the most recent examples is the port visit of the Yuan Wang 5 in Sri Lanka in August 2022. The ship seems to belong to the Chinese navy fleet, and Chinese authorities are still struggling to make believe that the Yuan Wang 5 is not a warship (and more precisely a spy ship) but a research and survey vessel. The one is not inconsistent with the second. Another source of confusion is the use of maritime militia: the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia, within the South China Sea’s contested waters. Chinese authorities support and train fishing vessels (sometimes called “little blue men”) in order to target anyone who challenges China’s claims, or who tries to seize territory in the South China Sea. These ships are part of the projection plan of China and are responsible for a number of incidents with fishermen, coast guards and ships of other countries. China maintains the confusion regarding the status of these ships. Since 2021, China passed a cybersecurity and data privacy law that permits a huge number of Chinese vessels operating within the China Sea to disappear from global tracking systems and especially the automatic identification system (AIS – the global standard for tracking and identifying ships at sea). The AIS is mandatory for most ships due to the SOLAS (Safety of life at sea) Convention but it is permitted for States to exempt certain ships from carrying an AIS. If AIS is not mandatory for warships (they can use it for safety issues in specific areas), fishing vessels have more commonly used AIS. With this law, Chinese authorities increase risks for safe navigation and show an exponential interest for the use of AIS in order to conceal its military activities. The use or the misuse of AIS As mentioned above, warships do not have to use AIS (Rules 1, chapter V of the SOLAS Convention). However, it is commonly used for safety reasons within shallow waters, straits, traffic separation scheme, etc. Several navies have the capacity to spoof AIS information, indeed, it could be useful to undertake deception operations in wartimes, but it could also provoke safety and security issues. Close to Russian waters, it has often been observed that the position of foreign warships have been spoofed in order to convince public opinion that a ship is breaching the right of innocent passage within the Russian territorial waters. This was the case with the HMS Defender in 2021 in Black sea off the Crimean coastline. Using the AIS spoofing could be interesting to conceal one’s position or scheme of maneuver, but there are several limits: in certain zones (territorial seas of another country, international straits for example), in case one is conducting an internationally recognized wrongful act. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) As there is an increase of investments in order to equip warships with UAV, a new topic could occur during next years. UAV offer the possibility to conduct actions not immediately attributable to a navy: intelligence gathering, maneuvers hindering, etc. However, rules exist for these ever since the Cold war, especially for certain countries such as Russia. The USSR signed an agreement with the main maritime States concerning the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (USA, France, Canada, etc.). These agreements called INCSEA are still in force and engage Russia with these countries. According to the Chicago convention on civil aviation and to INCSEA, it is commonly accepted that an UAV is considered as an aircraft. The INCSEA details many rules, for example, related to the protection of ships engaged in launching or landing aircraft, as well as ships engaged in replenishment underway. The flight of an UAV in the vicinity of a ship conducting operations could easily be considered as an internationally recognized wrongful act engaging the State’s liability. In the game of war States may play with many tools to get the upper hand. The existing law keeps the balance between what is necessary and what is not, both in time of peace and in time of war. There is enough leeway for States to conceive maneuvers of deception but also defined lines to preserve safe navigation for every ship. Nonetheless some countries keep on flirting with those, threatening global security. [...]
January 18, 2023NewsEven if Indians have always had a unique vision of their role in the Indian Ocean and since a few years, in Pacific ocean as well, it is only recently that the Indian authorities have decided to develop a maritime strategy for the indo-pacific region on all its aspects: naval presence, maritime safety and security, blue economy. In order to implement this strategy, India has developed an original method, the alliance between the use of a maritime multilateralism through several fora or regional organizations, and a legal strategy in order to strengthen the cooperation. Indians have always had a unique vision of the Indian Ocean and they believe that there is a special link between this ocean and India. As a paradox, they were focused on continental issues for decades due to major geopolitical factors that are the borders with China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, things have changed since a few years. Several factors can explain the recent change of mind-set and the evolution toward a better consideration of maritime issues. The first point is that India saw the increase of navy deployments within the Indian Ocean: counter piracy operations, naval deployments due to terrorist threats or the fight against drugs dealing, etc.. Secondly, India may have the feeling of a Chinese containment policy within the Indian Ocean. The fact that terrorists came from the sea during Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 probably played a major role. A maritime strategy for the indo-pacific region India began to develop a strong maritime strategy within the last decade with several main objectives. The first aim was to protect its maritime approach. Now, the ambition is more to grant freedoms of navigation within the Indian Ocean (including major chokepoint: Malacca strait, Ormuz Strait, Mozambique Channel or Bab el Mandeb). The Indian ambition seems to be the development of peace within the Indian Ocean with a growing Indian influence without a too strong presence of the major western countries, and in opposition of the more aggressive Chinese strategy which has the ambition to control international sea-lanes. This strategy is now integrated to a larger geographical area and it involves several major partnerships. Since the Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe delivered a speech in 2007 to the India’s Parliament about “the confluence of two seas”, the Indian strategy found a new development with the Indo-Pacific concept. It has conducted new developments with the 2015 Indian maritime strategy called Ensuring Secure seas. In 2018, Narendra Modi developed his positive vision for the Indo-Pacific region as a free, open and inclusive region. One of his point was to express his belief that the common prosperity and security requires a common rules-based order for the region. The program is clear : to “have equal access, as a right under the international law, to the use of common spaces on the sea and in the air that would require freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law”. Hard not to compare with the Chinese behaviour in the China Sea. A maritime strategy have always had several pillars: a naval strategy using navy assets, a strategy for maritime security and safety (generally using maritime administrations and coast guards) and a blue growth strategy. No matter what the pillar is, the Indian model is to use two things: maritime multilateralism as an expression of the Indian soft power, and the strengthening of the legal framework for bilateral cooperation. A maritime multilateralism Since the beginning of the Indian maritime investment, India decided to involve many partners and seems to have developed several relationship circles. Several neighbouring coastal States are part of a first circle. For example, India, Sri Lanka, The Maldives and Mauritius are members of the Colombo Security Conclave (Bangladesh and Seychelles are observers), a maritime security grouping that decided to enhance and strengthen regional security especially in the maritime safety and security domain. The second circle is larger and involve several countries of the Indo-Pacific area. One key element of the Indian maritime multilateralism is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that Narendra Modi consider as central to the future of Indo-pacific region. To enable the Indian Maritime multilateralism, the second circle use different tools. Indeed, India developed two fora for maritime issues. The first one is the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) created in 1997 in order to create Indian Ocean connexions, to develop economical and scientific cooperation or common maritime search and rescue operations. The second one is the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) created in 2008 as a first step for regional maritime safety and security architecture. This forum seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral States of the Indian Ocean Region. It serves to develop an effective response mechanism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) against natural disasters. All the members are coastal States of the Indo-Pacific region, including Australia, South Africa or France (due to the island of La Réunion). Other fora or regional organizations could be mentioned to highlight the Indian maritime multilateralism strategy. Western States (except France) are often not part of this Maritime multilateralism, but India has been trying to promote a shared vision of the lndo-Pacific area with Japan and USA since a few years, especially with the Asia-Africa growth corridor. The aim is to enhance the link between Africa and Asia through a free and open area. It appears to be more inclusive than the Chinese Belt and Road initiative with the aim to bring economic development in Africa and growing economic exchanges between Asia and Africa through the Indian Ocean. On the military domain, the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) is an informal alliance between India, US, Australia and Japan whose one of the main aim is to collaborate on maritime security. A legal strategy to support the maritime strategy Even if the maritime multilateralism is an expression of the Indian soft power, India has to develop and strengthen its partnerships. A legal framework has to be implemented in order to strengthen bilateral relationships in a context of Chinese expansion. Several defense cooperation agreements have been signed with major partners. This is the case with France since 2006. Since 25 years, Indian and French navies promote together a strong military cooperation especially with common exercises like Varuna (40th edition in 2023). One major step for navies is to be able to be supported everywhere. That is why India tries to conclude bilateral agreements or arrangements concerning mutual cooperation logistics and services support. It have been done with Singapore, which have a central position in Asia, or with France since 2018. Since a few years, an Indian aircraft is regularly sent to La Réunion for surveillance missions above the Mozambique Channel. India seeks to comfort its strategic military bases. It tried to negotiate an agreement with Seychelles for the use of Assomption Island in order to establish a military base. Several bilateral cooperation agreements have been signed with Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles, or Mauritius with the aim to share intelligence and data about maritime surveillance. Regarding maritime surveillance by satellites, an agreement has been signed with France in 2008. However, on certain matters, especially regarding the blue economy, India prefers to sign soft law tools or non-binding texts. This is the case with the Memorandum of understanding signed with Mauritius or the one signed with Bangladesh in 2015. France and India have approved an interesting roadmap in February of 2022 regarding ocean governance and blue economy. The shared wish is to act together in accordance with international law (United Nations convention for the law of the sea, Paris agreement on climate, convention on biological diversity, etc.) and to coordinate themselves in order to defend common opinions within the international organizations. By using maritime multilateralism and a bilateral legal strategy, India seems to have found a way to develop its idea of a peaceful, safe, and rules-based order in Indo-Pacific region while extending or developing its influence to face the Chinese threat. [...]
December 21, 2022NewsThe visit to Taiwan by the Speaker of the United States (US) House of representatives Nancy Pelosi on 2nd August 2022 led to a strong reaction from China, which organised major military exercises in the Taiwan Strait throughout August. China has long criticised the passage of warships from countries such as the US, the United Kingdom, France, Australia and Canada through the Strait. In the light of recent events, it seems worthwhile to take stock of the characteristics of the Taiwan Strait from the perspective of the international law of the sea. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) distinguishes between several categories of straits. The Taiwan Strait comes under Article 36 of the Convention because it fulfils the criteria of this article: on the one hand, it is a strait used for international navigation, as it is an important maritime route for world trade. On the other hand, the Taiwan Strait includes a route through an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), due to its breadth (70nm at the widest point). Therefore, Article 36 specifies that the regime applying to this route falls under the provisions applicable to the EEZ. UNCLOS grants rights to all States in the EEZ, and specifically freedom of navigation and overflight. Article 58 specifies that the foreign vessel enjoys free navigation “with due regard to the rights and duties of the coastal State”. The Convention lists exhaustively the rights of the coastal State in the EEZ; they have sovereign rights over the exploration, exploitation, conservation and management of resources. It is thus clear that the passage of warships through the Taiwan Strait does not affect the rights of the coastal State. Article 58 further stipulates that States must abide to the laws and regulations adopted by the coastal State, and these laws must comply with the provisions of the Convention and international law. Therefore, the coastal State can only adopt laws to regulate the navigation of foreign ships, for example by establishing shipping lanes, but it cannot justify the adoption of rules that prohibit or restrict the passage, because it would exceed its powers. China’s interpretation of UNCLOS at odds with U.S and rest of the world China, however, does not conform to this interpretation of UNCLOS and maintains a confusion in order to claim maximum control over the Taiwan Strait. Some Chinese media close to the government mention a right of innocent passage through the EEZ, which has no existence in the Convention. Moreover, the Chinese authorities regularly complain about provocations by foreign nations, mainly the United States, when they transit their warships through the Strait by a freedom of navigation operation. The freedom of navigation that prevails in the EEZ allows for this passage, and the qualification of “provocation” has no credible legal basis, besides the fact that only China can decide what is provocative to it. Furthermore, the practices of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) vessels are at odds with Beijing’s stance on the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese Navy indeed sent warships into foreign EEZs. During several US-led RIMPAC exercises, uninvited PLA vessels have been detected in the US EEZ, presumably in the process of gathering intelligence . In another case, a Chinese warship sailed along the coast of Australia through the EEZ, approaching Australian military bases in the area . These activities fall within the scope of Article 58 and freedom of navigation and are not contrary to UNCLOS. However, they do not correspond to China’s own position regarding the Taiwan Strait, which should therefore be considered as an international strait subject to the sovereignty of coastal States in the parts constituting territorial sea and freedom of navigation in the parts constituting an EEZ. [...]
November 23, 2022NewsAs the global population swells to 8 billion people and beyond, finding natural resources to feed and house these people is increasingly challenging. While developed countries in North America and Europe cope with the switch to electric vehicles, people in developing countries still die from starvation and disease. Given the widening income gaps in modern countries like the United States, the current trajectory for global food security is not sustainable! The citizens of earth need a new way of looking at the planet as a “renewable resource” that cares for all people. Doing this requires the entire planet and not just surface land. The global effort to create a sustainable earth needs the Blue Economy, an economic model considering the world’s oceans as natural renewable resources. What is The Blue Economy? According to the United States Geological Service, 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. A staggering 96.4 % of the world’s water is in the oceans. Though the oceans are already taxed by pollution and overfishing, there is so much more for humans in the oceans than expected. Consequently, the world’s oceans represent the last frontier for exploration and for creating a sustainable economy. The United Nations (UN) introduced the blue economy ideology in 2012 at a world conference. In the wake of ocean exploitation, the UN started the blue economy to look at the oceans as sustainable resources. UN member states developed policies about global sustainability and spelled out 17 Developmental Goals. The 14th goal is Life Below the Water. The World Bank and the Blue Economy As the UN developed policies for climate change and the loss of natural resources, the World Bank developed monetary policies for the blue economy, even as many countries fell into financial crisis. The WB’s policies address social inequality and income disparity through the ProBlue program. This multilevel trust helps countries move towards the Blue Economy. ProBlue takes the established use of oceans for moving goods and fishing for food as starting points. Then introduces programs to the Blue Economy that support it. ProBlue is for the blue economy, what recycling is for the green economy but on a massive scale. An astounding 80% of consumer goods and raw resources travel on top of the oceans. Meanwhile, around 90% of the oceans’ estimated 1 million species haven’t been classified. Given the numbers, the blue economy has vast potential for supporting human exploration and exploitation. ProBlue envisions a sustainable blue economy that uses alternative sources of renewable energy. The Big Blue Planet and the Future In one way, green economy policies and initiatives see a bigger picture that now includes a blue economy. The green economy uses recycled consumer goods exclusively on 29% of the earth’s surface not covered by water. The blue economy uses lessons learned as the green economy continues searching for ways to help the planet. Thus, the blue economy is the next step in ensuring the green economy is sustainable for a futuristic planet that reverses global warming. The future big blue planet will be a very different planet with blue economy thinking. Water is a plentiful resource, yet people still die from famine and disease in drought-stricken countries. Blue economy programs and initiatives use the oceans as a renewable resource. This counters ongoing exploitative practices that decrease ocean resources. For example, giant ocean fishing nets catch and kill everything caught in the nets. Blue Economy is Earth Economy Developing countries will have access to technology developed for the blue economy, technology that treats resources as recyclable resources. Given 40% of the global population lives close to oceans, developing sustainable energy sources like wind and solar farms could represent a labor boost for some communities. Combined with desalinization plants, the blue economy puts the earth’s inhabitants on a path that reverses global warming. [...]
November 16, 2022News / PiracyOver the last three decades, the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) has developed into a maritime crime hotspot. Crude oil theft and piracy became commonplace, with highly-organized criminal networks selling stolen crude oil to clients across the world. The backdrop to this is decades of ethnic conflict and successive Nigerian governments finding it difficult to impose law and order across the Niger Delta. In the center of this conflict sits the Ijaw people, an ethnic group of around 4 million people with a proud maritime heritage. Background: the Maritime Heritage of the Ijaw in the GoG When Westerners first arrived in the GoG, the Ijaw people were among the first people they contacted. They had long been a maritime people, fishing and exploring all around the Niger Delta for possibly as long as 7,000 years. This made them ideal as go-betweens with people of the interior. By the early and mid-twentieth century, before Nigerian independence, the Ijaws had developed substantial corporations with fleets of merchant vessels and war canoes, escaping much of the heavy-handedness of the colonial powers. Black Gold In the Niger Delta With the coming of independence and the discovery of huge reserves of oil and gas in the Niger Delta, things changed for the Ijaw. Neglect by the Nigerian government and the presence of powerful corporations sent much of the Ijaw population into poverty, although many still remained in maritime careers, their skills becoming highly sought-after. Others trained in the petroleum industry. Perhaps inevitably, these conditions led to increasing inter-ethnic tensions, which, by the end of the 20th century, had developed into open conflict. Developing Conflict and the Ijaw Professional Diaspora By the early 1990s, the Ijaw and other minority groups in the Niger Delta had come to resent what they saw as their exploitation by oil companies granted licenses by a distant and uncaring central government. In 1998 the Ijaw Youth Council issued a declaration to oil companies, demanding they cease their activities and withdraw from Ijaw territory. This led to direct armed conflict with the oil companies as Ijaw activists and militias turned off pipelines and conducted sabotage against oil installations. This conflict remains mostly unresolved to this day and continues to impoverish the Ijaw as their most skilled people have left the country in large numbers, taking their maritime and petrochemical knowledge to nations across the Western world. Hope for the Future? In recent years, the Ijaw have mostly mellowed their positions, becoming advocates of peaceful resistance and brokering peaceful relations with other ethnic groups with whom they previously had disputes. In fact, they threw their weight behind the current governor of Delta State in the latest elections, a man of Itsekiri extraction, although an Ijaw candidate could easily have won the contest. This position comes from a desire that candidacy should not be based on ethnicity. Unfortunately, this has led to disagreement with the leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who appear to be selecting candidates based on rotating between candidates from different ethnic groups. On this basis, Ijaw leaders rejected the results of the primaries for the 2023 gubernatorial election. Although this remains contentious, armed conflict doesn’t seem to be on the cards, and violence, in general, is at much lower levels than in previous years. The Niger Delta seems to be becoming more stable, and encouragingly, no piracy has been reported in the GoG for two consecutive quarters. [...]
November 9, 2022NewsAn inland sea covering an area of approximately 7100 hundred miles, the Sea of Marmara separates the Asian region of Turkey from the European region (Eastern Thrace) of Turkey. This landlocked sea connects with the Black Sea through the Bosphorous Strait in the northeast and links with the Aegean Sea through the Dardanelles Strait in the southwest. The Sea of Marma is also part of the Turkish Straits System. For decades, the Sea of Marmara has served as a critical waterway transportation route for the movement of gas and petroleum to Europe from western Russia and Asia. Prior to the escalation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 22, 2022, Ukraine had been a leading exporter of grain to Europe, the U.S., Africa, and many other world countries. The Black Sea Grain Initiative Just a few months after Russia invaded Ukraine and prevented Ukraine from transporting grain via the Sea of Marmara, the dramatic acceleration of global food insecurity demanded an immediate resolution to this crisis. On July 22, 2022, Ukraine and Russia signed the Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by the United Nations and Turkey. The separate agreements signed by Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskiy re-established the exportation of Ukrainian grains and Russian fertilizer that had been sitting in Black Sea ports since the invasion began. The Black Sea Grain Initiative also reopened three Ukrainian ports essential for exporting grains: Yuzhny, Chernomorsk, and Odesa. Although the Black Sea Grain Initiative isn’t set to expire until the end of November 2022, considerable delays involving the transportation of Ukrainian grain are ongoing due to slower-than-normal cargo inspections. In addition, Russia is now criticizing the Black Sea Grain Initiative, complaining that their exports are deliberately being prevented from leaving ports. Putin has even said he may reject the extension of the initiative when it expires in November. Recent Developments Involving the Marmara Sea and Ukraine Grain Exports The Sea of Marmara is home to 16 harbors and ports critical to streamlining the export of grains. In September 2022, the Institute of Black Sea Strategic Studies discovered that ships carrying Ukrainian grain remained in the Sea of Marmara for up to 11 days waiting for inspectors. In October 2022, that delay increased to 15 or 16 days. An article published in Ukrainian Shipping Magazine on October 24, 2022, reported a “large traffic jam in the Sea of Marmara” due to inspection delays. At that time, over 100 ships were sitting in the Marmara Sea and 50 other ships were waiting to be inspected in the Black Sea. According to the head of the Institute of Strategic Black Sea Studies Andrii Klymenko, there are at least one and a half million tons of grain that will be unable to reach purchasers in a timely manner because of inspection delays. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes it is the actions of Russia that are deliberately causing delays and traffic jams for Ukrainian grain-bearing ships. In addition, Ukraine’s MFA blames political motivations on the part of the Kremlin for preventing grain from being moved out of Marmara Sea ports. The Black Sea Grain Initiative included the organization of inspection teams (the Joint Coordination Center) by Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, and the United Nations. However, Zelenskiy has accused Russia and its inspectors of refusing to abide by the agreement for the past several months. The UN has called for “spot checks” of grain ships instead of full inspections to ease the bottleneck in the Marmara Sea but nothing has been accomplished yet to expedite inspections. [...]
November 2, 2022NewsThe creation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is widely regarded as one of the major achievements of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (hereafter the Convention), “perhaps the most significant outcome of the Third United Nations Conference on the law of the sea“. The existence of the EEZ, a space already claimed by the States since the 1960s, was enshrined in the Convention entered into force in 1994. The Convention consecrates sovereign rights to the coastal State to exploit and manage resources in its EEZ, as well as jurisdiction over marine scientific research (MSR), establishment of installations and artificial islands and protection of the marine environment. The coastal State has an exclusive right to exploit this space for economic purposes and thus can benefit from the resources that its waters contain, up to 200 nautical miles from the baselines. Marine scientific research in the Exclusive Economic Zone The coastal State has jurisdiction in its EEZ over marine scientific research and can therefore regulate it. For foreign vessels wishing to conduct MSR in this area, the Convention establishes the principle of coastal State consent. This need for consent, coupled with the absence of a definition of MSR in the Convention, can give rise to abuse. In order to restrict the activities of foreign military or State vessels in their EEZs, some States may be tempted to invoke MSR to arrogate them the right to authorize such activities. While consent to MSR in the EEZ remains an important contribution of the Convention, States should not use it to impede the free movement of ships, State ships or warships in the EEZ. The principle of free navigation in the EEZs Indeed, the Convention expressly establishes the principle of free navigation for all States in the EEZ. It is therefore possible for a ship to travel in any area in EEZ; this also applies to warships, to the extent that there is no provision in the Convention to qualify this principle of freedom of navigation in the EEZ. Considering that the circulation and military activities of warships in EEZ could be subject to prior notification and/or authorization is clearly a restriction on the freedom of navigation, which is contrary to the Convention. Moreover, the provisions of the Convention relating to the high seas apply to the EEZ, insofar as they are compatible with the provisions relating specifically to the EEZ. On the high seas, the Convention’s freedom of navigation rule includes the right to carry out military manoeuvres and exercises, without any States questioning that point. Therefore, since the regime of the high seas is applicable to the EEZ as mentioned above, it logically follows that warships can sail in the EEZs without any type of restriction toward their activities and navigation. Despite this, some States in their EEZs significantly increase their surveillance and weapons capabilities, and disrupt the activities of foreign warships. These areas are thus becoming subject to excessive restrictions on the freedom of navigation for every States. It contributes to illegally “extend territoriality under the EEZ regime”. Some States giving themselves more rights on these spaces than the Convention allows them. The regime of the EEZ consecrated by the Convention is one of the best global compromise as it provides a welcome balance between competing State claims, securing resources exploitation by the coastal State and ensuring freedom of navigation for every States. [...]
October 12, 2022NewsDecember 2022 will mark the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), concluded at Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 10th December 1982. This is an opportunity to take stock of the valuable contributions of this agreement, which can be seen as a “monumental achievement of the international community, second only to the Charter of the United Nations“. UNCLOS introduced many new features to the law of the sea, going beyond gathering the main principles of customary law. There are among the main innovations archipelagic waters, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the qualification of the seabed beyond national jurisdiction as a common heritage of mankind and, above all, the EEZ. The EEZ particularly reflects the complex balance of the Convention, which required many years of negotiations. It has made it possible to please both coastal States (especially developing ones) about their rights concerning the resources of their waters, and the major maritime powers attached to the freedom of navigation and trade. Like many other provisions of UNCLOS, the concept of the EEZ has been incorporated into international customary law, making it legally binding on all States. Furthermore, UNCLOS has helped to settle many maritime disputes. By clearly defining the different maritime spaces and their extent, it has helped to resolve disputes and to strengthen legal stability. The concept of the territorial sea is a particularly telling example; although it was conceived in the early days of the law of the sea, States had never managed to agree on its breadth. UNCLOS clarified this point and now the vast majority of States claim a territorial sea of 12 miles or less, including some that are not parties to UNCLOS. The Convention has thus become a guide to the behaviour of States on maritime matters. The UNCLOS is an innovative convention, a modern text that has not suffered from the past forty years. On the contrary, some provisions are even more relevant today: this is the case, for example, of the provisions concerning the exploration and exploitation of the seabed, for which the technological progress since the 1980s has made it possible. In addition, the Convention bears witness to the importance of environmental concerns for the negotiators, at a time when these subjects were less of a priority. As a result, the Convention includes a comprehensive section on the protection and preservation of the marine environment. In conclusion, UNCLOS is a modern treaty that has established itself as a framework convention for the law of the sea, around which the other components of the law of the sea revolve. Although subject to interpretation like any international treaty, a large majority of States respect its provisions, which keep the spirit of Montego Bay alive. This can be seen in the provisions of many subsequent treaties that refer to UNCLOS, showing the willingness of States to use it as a foundation without questioning its authority. However, some States are taking increasingly revisionist positions to serve their national interests. This is a serious threat and challenge to UNCLOS, which remains a symbol of successful multilateralism. We will continue the celebration of this 40th anniversary with two other articles to come, concerning current examples of the application of the law of the sea : warships in foreign EEZ and the Taiwan Strait. [...]
September 22, 2022NewsNamed after the czar who ruled Russia from 1682 to 1725, Peter the Great Bay near the Sea of Japan was declared a « historic bay » on 20th July 1957 by the Soviet Union. The USSR later claimed it as its internal waters in 1984, drawing a 106 nautical mile line from its adjacent coast to enclose the bay. Peter the Great Bay, a « historic bay »? The 106-mile closure line is 47 miles off Vladivostok, a major Russian naval base. Is the decision to draw such a line contrary to Article 10 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)? Under UNCLOS, the closure line cannot exceed 24 miles, unless it is a historic bay. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia continued to assert that Peter the Great is a « historic bay under international law ». In 1910, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) defined 3 criteria in the North Atlantic Coast Fisheries Case to characterise a « historic bay »: – Coastal State in a position to exercise one of the essential elements of sovereignty over the bay; – use of a continuing historic right over the bay; – admitted by treaty or international custom with other states. With regard to these conditions, the Bay of Peter the Great meets two criteria: Russia is able to exercise sovereignty and has used a continuing historical right over the bay. Nevertheless, this right has not been legitimised by any international treaty or customary law. Russian interpretation of innocent passage in territorial sea However, the Russian Federation not only claims Peter the Great Bay as « historic », but also develops its own understanding of innocent passage in territorial waters and therefore in the approach to this area. This conception illustrates Russia’s broad interpretation of coastal state sovereignty. Some other states have also developed similar views which are not in line with Articles 17, 18 and 19 of UNCLOS. The Russian Federation has defined specific requirements for passage through its territorial sea in its laws and regulations. One of the requirements for innocent passage through the territorial sea of the Russian Federation by warships or government vessels operating for non-commercial purposes is to send coordinate and time information to the nearest Russian coastal communication station one hour before the estimated time of entry into the territorial sea of the Russian Federation. This requirement is intended to ensure the safety of navigation in the waters concerned. Attempts to pass without fulfilling these conditions would be considered as actions violating the peace, good order and security of the Russian Federation, infringing its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Rather, they appear to infringe on the right of innocent passage which does not require these conditions to enter the territorial sea of a State. The necessary defence of freedom of navigation This qualification as a « historic bay » is not endorsed by the other states. For the United States, this claim is incompatible with the rules of international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982). In their view, the Russian Federation has attempted to claim more internal waters than it is entitled to claim under international law. The US Navy has conducted few “freedom of navigation operations” (FONOPS) in this area (USS MC CAMPBELL in 2018). But these FONOPS tend to demonstrate that these waters beyond Peter the Great Bay do not constitute Russia’s territorial sea for the US, which does not agree with Russia’s claim to consider Peter the Great Bay as a historic bay. France has taken the same position since 9th October 1957 and its official reaction to the Soviet Union’s declaration that it does not consider Peter the Great Bay a historic bay under international law. Furthermore, as elsewhere, France claims freedom of navigation on the high seas and the right of innocent passage in waters defined in a manner consistent with th This qualification as a « historic bay » is not endorsed by the other states. For the United States, this claim is incompatible with the rules of international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982). In their view, the Russian Federation has attempted to claim more internal waters than it is entitled to claim under international law. The US Navy has conducted few “freedom of navigation operations” (FONOPS) in this area (USS MC CAMPBELL in 2018). But these FONOPS tend to demonstrate that these waters beyond Peter the Great Bay do not constitute Russia’s territorial sea for the US, which does not agree with Russia’s claim to consider Peter the Great Bay as a historic bay. France has taken the same position since 9th October 1957 and its official reaction to the Soviet Union’s declaration that it does not consider Peter the Great Bay a historic bay under international law. Furthermore, as elsewhere, France claims freedom of navigation on the high seas and the right of innocent passage in waters defined in a manner consistent with the UNCLOS definition of the territorial sea. [...]
September 14, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsThe Confiance class or Patrouilleurs Antilles Guyane (PAG) The fight against IUU (Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing) is one the main task of the French Armed forces in Guiana (FAG). Coveted fishy waters French Guiana coastline spreads over 234 mi (378 kilometres), offering the territory a 47,006 sq mi (121,746 km2) Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). This area, abounding with fish and relatively abandoned by the local fishers, is surrounded by two less economically developed areas (Suriname and the State of Amapá, Brazil), where fishing activity is far more important. This situation creates a strong pressure on its resources, massively coveted by traditional, small-scale fishing vessels coming from neighbouring countries. On the coast, mostly in the territorial waters (TTW), the high value of the weakfish swim bladder on the Asian market strengthens the profitability of IUU fishing. Offshore, the red snapper, unexploited by French fishermen, is caught by angling by forty-five Venezuelan trollers, benefiting from licences granted by the European Union. Among those are meddling illegals, along with crabbers from Guyana, using fish traps. The French Forces in Guiana, a key role against IUU In response to this constant pressure, monitoring waters under French sovereignty and jurisdiction is paramount. The French Forces in Guiana (FAG) naturally rely on satellite and air assets for this purpose. Regularly, the maritime surveillance aircraft Falcon-50M is deployed from mainland, in order to cover the entire EEZ. These flights are complemented by those performed by aircraft of the French Air and Space Force in Guiana, CASA CN-235 and helicopters. Intelligence gathered by those observations provides guidance for the patrols achieved relentlessly by maritime assets sailing across French waters. French Navy’s Antilles-Guyane patrol ships (PAG) focus on the offshore and eastern fishing area, while inshore patrol vessels of the Gendarmerie Maritime mainly patrol along the coast. The FAG maritime component, supported by the air assets, realises more than 100 boardings on IUU vessels each year; a unique level of activity in French overseas departments. The very nature of each of those actions widely differs depending on the target. Crews of the biggest Brazilian ships regularly strongly oppose the boarding, by throwing heavy objects such as gas bottles, wooden planks, fireworks. The FAG respond to this violence with professionalism and firmness. Naval riflemen and commandos (French special forces) are often used against this kind of opposition. In addition to those specific means, the regular boarding teams of the maritime assets perform the majority of the boardings against compliant crews. In order to enhance the impact of those actions, the FAG maintain a close dialogue with the administrations in charge, ashore, of the legal finish: Gendarmerie Maritime, Police, and Prosecutors. The aim is to assert a firm response to illegal activities, in order to deter crews from offending again. The first step is the seizure of the catch and the fishing gear. If the offence is repeated or if the crew has resorted to violence, the ship itself can be seized and destroyed. Violent crewmembers are brought to justice and usually condemned to unconditional prison sentences. However, if the FAG are the main contributor, the repressive strand of the fight against IUU fishing in French Guiana is not the only response to the issue. The low exploitation of the fishery resources by the French fishermen, due to the weak development of this professional sector, is one of the roots of the problem of IUU fishing. The French Guianese fleet is composed by only a hundred of licenced vessels and around 400 professional fishermen, compared to 1200 in Suriname and tens of thousands in Brazilian northern States. Moreover, among those 400 fishermen, 90% are foreigners, as the young Guianese people are not interested in joining the profession. Nature abhors a vacuum, and the local, legal fishing activity has to be structured in order to regain a field left apart. In addition, strengthening an international cooperation with Guyana, Suriname and Brazil is paramount in order to enable a more effective struggle against their national vessels fishing illegally in French waters. Besides, improvement of the information exchange with those countries can help them to increase the knowledge of their fishing fleets in order to better control and prevent them to come to French waters. [...]
September 7, 2022NewsGlobal warming is progressively opening up the possibility of exploiting the so-called Northern routes, which would allow the Suez and Panama canals to be bypassed. Today, the Northern Sea Routes (NSR) are being developed as a priority. If this opportunity is financially interesting, it is mandatory to take into consideration the issue of traffic safety and the availability of emergency means. Arctic sea routes northeast passage and EEZS Active regional actors: Being aware of the stakes of air and maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Arctic, the Member-States of the Arctic Council signed an agreement in 2011, defining areas of responsibility and identifying Rescue Coordination Centers. This agreement adds up to the Hamburg Convention of 1979, which requires each State to set up Search and Rescue (SAR) resources in its area of responsibility. Nevertheless, it seems that the resources dedicated to SAR are still very scarce compared to the vastness of the NSR. Search and Rescue delimitation Europe But material issues remain: Before considering rescue operations, sailing in high latitudes raises strong navigation safety issues, which need to be addressed in order to reduce risks inherent to this hostile zone. Firstly, the usual means of communication and positioning do not yet offer satisfactory coverage: this is a major issue for rescue at sea. Moreover, the mapping of the navigation zones is still imprecise and the beacons must be placed in such way to avoid the presence of icebergs which can damage them. In order to address and limit the dangers of this area, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set up the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code), defining rules for the training of personnel and the construction of vessels. In the end, the lack of dedicated assets and the distances to cover in case of SAR operations, have a huge impact on insurances rates, which reduces the benefits of a faster route like NSR. Concrete actions of cooperation are initiated… Beyond these material observations, it should be noted that States are becoming more aware of the importance of safety considerations in the Arctic. This is illustrated by the creation of a Search and Rescue expert group within the Arctic Council, and the launch of the Safe Arctic project whose objective is to develop a common culture and practice for safety matters in this area. In September 2021, the Russian Federation, which holds the presidency of the Artic Council, organized exercises within this project’s framework in the Barents Sea. One exercise involved an accident on board a cruise ship carrying roughly 3,000 people, with the risk of fire and the need for medical evacuation by helicopter. …in which the French Navy takes part. For its part, the French Navy has a long-standing interest in learning about the Arctic. The historic mission of the supply-and-assistance ship Rhône in 2018, transiting through the NSR, is a very concrete example of it. But beyond this high-profile mission, France has set up dynamic cooperations with Nordic countries, as evidenced by the participation of French Navy assets, since 2018, in the ARGUS exercise led by Denmark. [...]
August 30, 2022NewsWith the increase in demand for healthier meat, fish is on our tables in ever-increasing amounts. Global fish consumption doubled between 1998 and 2021, and scientists expect demand to increase further over the coming decades. While this is to be welcomed as fishing emits far fewer greenhouse gasses than, for example, beef and pork production, it comes with a different set of problems. The UN estimates that one-third of the world’s oceans are overfished, which could lead to a disastrous collapse in fish stocks. So how can this problem be overcome, and what is the solution for meeting the protein needs of the global population? Fortunately, the answer may be on the horizon. What’s Wrong with Farmed Fish? In recent years, the industry has turned to aquaculture to counter the crisis in fish stocks. Unfortunately, this comes with its own environmental and ethical issues. For a given weight of fish, farming creates twice as much CO2 as the conventional fishing industry. Added to this is the problem of pollution; waste food and fish feces contaminate the water near fish farms, leading to poor water quality. Fish farms also tend to use pesticides which cause further contamination. Finally, some campaigners contend that fish living in close quarters undergo unnecessary suffering. Lab-Grown Fish—Using Modern Technology to Feed the Planet The problems of overfishing and pollution from fish farms have inspired entrepreneurs to try new biotechnology avenues for protein manufacturing. There are currently over a hundred startups worldwide working in this area, but perhaps the most famous is BlueNalu. Founded in San Diego in 2017 by Lou Cooperhouse, Blue Nalu is currently working on the production of lab-grown Blufin Tuna steaks, using a process it calls “cellular aquaculture.” The process uses cells painlessly extracted from wild tuna placed into stainless steel vats filled with a nutrient bath which grows them into fish fillets. The process can be adjusted so the resulting fillets taste the same as the original fish. As the process is still pretty expensive, the company aims to produce fish usually imported as a luxury item. This has the added benefit of not competing with local, sustainable fisheries. However, they expect to see mass-manufactured lab-grown fish at affordable prices by the end of the decade. BlueNalu is already working on a deal with Food & Life Companies, the largest sushi restaurant owner, to supply all of their Bluefin Tuna. Restaurant owners, in particular, are very keen to use these products as they can guarantee a consistent supply all year round. This can be a vital issue for restaurants that see fish prices and availability fluctuate wildly through the year. Will Lab-Grown Fish Destroy the Fishing Industry? There is no danger of this at the moment as the production of lab-grown fish is still only on a relatively small scale. Moreover, most manufacturers envision a future where they don’t work in competition with sustainable fishing operations. Local fisheries will still be able to maintain sustainability, producing more premium products while the cellular aquaculture operations move to mass markets as they increase their output. In a world where a lot of fish is lab-grown, many people will attach value to products they see as “the real thing.” The real casualty will most likely be the fish farms which are increasingly seen as dirty and polluting yet not producing meat that is as good as sustainably caught fish. As a result, this industry will likely be increasingly left behind, hopefully leading to cleaner seas and beaches. So, When Will I See Lab-Grown FIsh in my Supermarket? The answer to this could be sooner than you think. Several food companies around the world are teaming up with manufacturers of lab-grown fish to boost their product lines. Notably, UK-based Nomad Foods, owner of the Birds Eye brand, has teamed up with BlueNalu, and the partnership hopes to have their products in supermarkets within five years. [...]
August 24, 2022NewsOne hundred years after the signing of the Svalbard Treaty, that granted Norway sovereignty over this territory, the strategic and geopolitical importance of that Arctic archipelago has never been higher and is even more emphasized by the consequences of the global warning. Svalbard, a strategic archipelago in the Far North The Svalbard archipelago is located in the Arctic Ocean, between Greenland (West), Franz Josef Land (East) and Europe (South). Equidistant from Norway (621 mi / 1,000 km north of Tromsø) and (621 mi / 1,000 km northwest of Murmansk), it stands on a strategic position in an area of interest to NATO and Russia in the Far North. Known for its numerous scientific bases, its “apocalyptic seed vault”, its coal mines or its quantity of polar bears, Svalbard also receives a booming arctic tourism. Svalbard archipelago in the Far North -Wikipedia Even though the archipelago has officially been under Norwegian sovereignty since 1920, the partial internationalization of the land and its territorial waters, as defined by the Svalbard treaty, raises many tensions, especially with the race for the appropriation of Arctic resources A controversial 100-year-old treaty Signed at the Paris Conference on the 9th of February 1920, and implemented in 1925, the treaty currently has 46 signatories and recognizes Norway’s sovereignty over Svalbard with a few limits. First, Article 9 states that the territory is a demilitarized zone. What is more, all the signatory states have equal fishing rights in the territorial waters (12 nautical miles) of Svalbard. In addition, they get free access to the resources of the archipelago and can exploit them as Norway. However, the introduction of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) in 1982 poses two major problems. On the one hand, there is a debate about the continental shelf on which Svalbard is located (Norway or Russia). On the other hand, the 1982 Convention authorizes Oslo to establish a sovereign EEZ around Svalbard, which fuels a huge number of rivalries. Indeed, Norway considers that the rights of the other countries do not apply in the EEZ but on the archipelago and its territorial waters only. However, Russia, as well as the European Union and the United States, do not share this interpretation and consider this EEZ as the zone of application of the 1920 treaty. The epicenter of climate change in the High North The Arctic is warming up three times faster than the rest of the planet. Unfortunately, the Svalbard archipelago is not spared by this phenomenon, which is even worse on these islands. During the summer of 2020, temperatures beat a record, reaching 21.7°C (71°F) in Longyearbyen, on July 25. Records from the Norwegian Polar Institute show that the average annual temperature has increased by about 5°C (41°F) over the last 40 years . And by the end of the century, the mid-winter air temperature in Longyearbyen is expected to be between 7 and 10°C (45 and 50°F) higher than current temperatures! Global warming and associated issues for the Svalbard archipelago The consequences of global warming in the Svalbard area are multiple. First of all, the warming of the oceans causes fishes to migrate towards the North, searching for colder waters, and making the surroundings of Svalbard richer in fish resources, which are coveted by many countries. Moreover, the melting of the ice allows for the discovery and access to new hydrocarbon deposits. The competition for the monopoly of these resources could therefore intensify, using divergent interpretations of the 1920 treaty. Finally, the melting of the Arctic ice cap also opened new maritime routes that considerably reduce the time it takes to sail from one continent to another. In particular, China has shown great interest in the “Northern Sea Route”, which would save 30% of shipping time and avoid passing through choke points such as the Suez Canal. This new route, which passes near Svalbard, is therefore fully integrated into its “Belt and Road Initiative” project, also called “New Silk Roads”. All these global-warming-induced phenomenons could therefore contribute to increasing geopolitical tensions around Svalbard. What future for the Treaty? The Svalbard archipelago is coveted by many countries for its strategic importance, which will increase even more with future climate change. This poses a threat to the Norwegian presence in Svalbard, which has been relatively stable for one century, but is now suffering from a decline in the local Norwegian population, slowly replaced by other nationalities. Moreover, the lack of consensus among NATO members on the status of Svalbard (e.g. the uncertainty about using Article 5 to defend it) could be a real opportunity for some competitors to obtain concessions from Norway, or even to take over the archipelago by making a “fait accompli” move. Thus, Norway could quickly find itself in difficulty, especially in the present times, as the crisis is raging in Ukraine and the world is being affected by unprecedented climatic upheavals, all of this happening while oil and gas reserves are being discovered around the archipelago. The Svalbard treaty seems increasingly threatened and more fragile than ever. [...]
August 18, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsThe sand rush, after water the sand is the most exploited natural resource in the world. This over-exploitation may lead to major environmental, economic and social consequences. An April 2022 UN report thus called for urgent actions to avoid a “sand crisis” What is sand exploitation? The global demand for sand has tripled over the last two decades, now reaching 50 billion tons a year. It is expected to keep growing as sand is a key ingredient for concrete, roads, electronics and glass. The demand is also increasing due to growing urbanization and construction, especially in China (60% of the consumption) where artificial islands and buildings are absorbing huge amounts of concrete, therefore of sand. Sand is mostly extracted from lakes, riverbeds and coastlines, where sharper grains and silica sand can be found. The methods of extraction depend on the location of the sand: backhoes, bare hands or shovels are used along rivers, meanwhile suction pumps and dredging boats are employed along coastlines and underwater. Desert sand is unfortunately useless for construction as the grains are too small and smooth for binding in concrete. Meanwhile, the exploitation of marine sand is growing due to the depletion of land-based resources. However, the sea sand needs to be desalinated: the amount of fresh water required for this operation is huge and increases the environmental impact. Major environmental consequences These days, sand is consumed faster than it can be replaced, as natural processes take hundreds of thousands of years. The consequences of over-exploitation can already be seen in satellite images, showing coastlines and riverbanks erosion. They can be various and depend on the location and the methods of extraction: river channels may widen or narrow, sediment flows may increase or disappear and changes can happen suddenly or very slowly. The most kown impact is coastal erosion. Current studies estimate that between 75 and 90% of the world’s beaches have shrunk. 25 Indonesian islands have already disappeared due to massive sand extraction. In the Mekong River, the digging of the delta (roughly 2 centimeters) has caused the salinization of fertile lands. The banks of the Mekong have become unstable and should they collapse, more than 500 000 Vietnamese would have to migrate. But sand mining is also responsible for the destruction of biodiversity, changes in the chemical composition of waters or the sedimentation flows. Even worse, the effects of sand exploitation would probably increase the effects of global warming such as the rise of sea level. [...]
August 11, 2022NewsThe Law of the Sea is built on a fundamental principle: the freedom of navigation. Already implemented in the Roman law through the idea of “commune omnium“, it was especially theorized by Hugo Grotius in 1609 in his famous book “de mare liberum“, written to defend Dutch commercial interests. Criticized by the maritime powers of the 17th century (Spain, Portugal, and United Kingdom), this principle is nowadays one of the pillars of the public order of the seas. However, the technological developments that allow us to go further and further in the exploitation of the seabed, the increasing globalization of trade by sea, the intensifying ecological threats and a creeping territorialisation of the oceans, are questioning this fundamental principle today. UNCLOS is a real tool for preserving freedom of navigation The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), signed in Montego Bay in 1982, contains a number of principles that seems to be sufficient to preserve the freedom of the seas, which is precisely defined in international waters (freedom of navigation, overflight, etc.). In territorial waters, it limits derogations to the right of innocent passage. In order to enhance freedom of navigation in restricted waters, it also creates the right of innocent passage in archipelagic states and the right of transit passage through straits. Moreover, the many conventions adopted since 1982 to deal with transnational crime issues at sea are respectful of such principle of freedom of navigation as they require the flag State’s approval before boarding a ship on the high seas. Towards the monopolisation of maritime areas In order to satisfy their own strategic interests, some states promote their own interpretation of the law of the sea. Whether it is Russia in the Arctic or Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, they interpret UNCLOS to extend their sovereignty over disputed areas, in order to better control trade flows and access to energy resources. Others even go so far as to adopt completely revisionist postures on the law of the sea. In 2018, China protested against French frigate “Vendémiaire”’s passage through its territorial waters (near the strait of Taiwan). China invoked a lack of authorisation, even though such rule is not included in the Law of the Sea. Moreover, some States do not hesitate to engage in a show of force to support their very own interpretations of the Montego Bay Convention, in particular in order to deny foreign navies access to a maritime zone. In November 2018, the Russian navy boarded three Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait to deny them access to the Sea of Azov. Such attitudes also exist in the South China Sea, through large-scale exercises conducted by the Chinese navy in disputed areas, or through the use of paramilitary militias (the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia) to assert sovereignty over disputed islets. For instance, the Philippines accused China of leading an incursion of more than 200 paramilitary boats on the 7th March 2021 around Whitsun Reef, near the island of Palawan. Maintaining vigilance on the effectiveness of freedom of navigation More than ever, such threatening attitudes require offensive actions to reaffirm the strength of freedom-of-navigation. The FONOPS program (freedom of navigation operations) conducted by the United States in the South China Sea meets this need and should be extended to other maritime areas. Also, the EMASoH (European-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz) initiative launched in 2020 in reaction to multiple attacks against oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf, constitutes a firm response to aggressive attitudes towards freedom of navigation. The military operation AGENOR, pertaining to the initiative, involves 9 European countries including France. Operation AGENOR, launched on the 25th of February 2020, is now two years old an aims at preserving the freedom of navigation in the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. However, beyond this vigilance at sea, States must promote the freedom of navigation principle within diplomatic bodies. In this respect, it is important to ensure that the current discussion on the United Nations treaty to preserve marine biodiversity beyond areas under national jurisdiction (BBNJ), and aimed in particular at creating marine protected areas on the high seas, does not ultimately result in a further infringement of a principle that should above all be preserved. [...]
August 4, 2022NewsThe Russian submarine cemetery in Andreyeva bay: An ecological disaster on Europe’s doorstep. At the end of the 1990s, western countries discovered that the Russian Navy, the pride of a beleaguered Soviet Union, was hiding an open nuclear dump. Since then, 25 years of international cooperation and massive Western funding have cleaned up the situation. The worst has been avoided: the leaks have been plugged and the most dangerous elements removed. Despite recent developments in the international context, the decommissioning effort must be maintained and completed. A remote fjord in the Barents Sea “Litsa Fjord”: The name is more reminiscent of vast expanses of tundra, ice floes in winter, salmon farming and preserved biodiversity at the world’s end. However, it was there, 34 mi (55 km) away from their border, that the Norwegians realized in the mid-1990s that a major nuclear disaster was threatening them. Since the early 1960s, the nuclear ships of the Northern Fleet based in Murmansk, some 30 miles to the east, had been coming there to recharge their nuclear reactors. For 30 years, the site was covered by the greatest secrecy. However, everything was gradually abandoned. In 1982, the water tightness of the storage pools containing irradiated fuel elements broke in building #5. The elements were hastily moved to a neighbouring building. Nevertheless, highly radioactive fragments remained at the bottom of the pools. This temporary situation has become a permanent one and the displaced fuel elements were buried in concrete. Then a slow drift began, similar to that of the Soviet Union. When the first foreign observers managed to visit the site in the mid-1990s, there was no storage plan. Some of the containers were stored in the open air, facing one of the harshest climates in the world. Location of Litsa Fjord and Andreyeva Bay Lies and blindness to ecological disaster The first battle was to overcome the taboo of secrecy: in 1996, the first Russians engineers who tried to denounce this ecological disaster were arrested and imprisoned for espionage. But the powerful Soviet Navy, which then operated more than 245 nuclear submarines, had to admit its secret: the Andreyeva site contained more than a hundred used nuclear cores, 22,000 fuel elements, half of which were damaged or leaking, 600,349 ft3 (17,000 m3) of solid nuclear waste and 45,909 ft3 (1,300 m3) of liquid nuclear waste! The concentration of fuel elements was so high that experts feared the start of an unexpected and uncontrollable chain reaction. Used nuclear fuel stored in so-called “bottles” at Andreyeva Bay International determination pays off While the Russian sailors had to beg for food in the absence of pay, the international community, led by Norway, mobilized to manage and finance the dismantling of this floating Chernobyl. On the Russian side, the navy was relinquished and the case was entrusted to Rosatom. The challenge was considerable, since the waste had to be transported 1,900 mi (3,000 km) south to the Urals, to the Mayak dismantling plant. Under the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s leadership, the western nations participated both financially and through their expertise: France designed the system to remove the fuel elements from the site, Italy invented a dedicated ship to carry them to the port of Murmansk, from where they would be evacuated by train. In June 2017, the first train left for Mayak dismantling plant. It would be followed by others, at a rate of 3 or 4 per year, each of them transporting nearly 600 fuel elements. Containers of used fuel elements at Andreyeva Bay Maintain the effort despite international tensions Today, the dismantling process is still on-going. In October 2021, it is estimated that half of the stockpile had been removed. Yet, the process is now entering the most dangerous phase, that is, the removal of the most damaged elements. Continued international assistance is still needed to complete the clean-up of the area. After the Andreyeva waste, some environment-threatening wrecked submarines must be dealt with in the Barents Sea, such as the Komsomolets, which sank following a fire in April 1989, or the K159, which was accidentally sunk during a tow in 2003. Let us hope that despite the isolation it is currently experiencing, the Russian government will leave the door open to international aids, aiming above all for the Greater good and the preservation of the environment for future generations. Nuclear Submarine K159 before its sinking in 2003 Spent nuclear fuel stored in bottles [...]
July 25, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsThe problem of waste management is really a maritime one, insofar as the majority of objects observed at sea comes from the coast. There are reports of a “continent” in the Pacific Ocean made up of a mixture of various products (plastic bags, nets, cans…) and concentrated by the effect of sea currents. Sorting and recycling seems to be the only way to manage waste properly, but due to the lack of adequate infrastructures, states often have to export their waste by sea. A maritime trade has thus emerged, with specialized brokerage companies. Legal Framework The notion of waste is quite broad; indeed, one often thinks of plastic materials resulting from the use of disposable objects, but it can also be larger appliances (such as old household ones) or products containing residual hazardous materials (e.g. car batteries). Legally, the export of waste is covered by the Basel Convention (1992) on « the control of international transports of waste and their disposal », which stemmed from the need to regulate the maritime transport of waste following a series of deliberate pollutions. Since 2002, hazardous waste such as hospital or radioactive waste must comply with IMDG regulations (International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, published by the IMO). As such, there are specific follow-up and ad hoc management channels (towards recycling or final storage), in order to avoid their loss, damage or diversion for criminal purposes. Observed practice and recent developments The export of waste by sea (the cheapest way of transporting freight, to date) seems to have become the norm. A new industry was born out of such practice, given the immense quantities of waste produced each year by our societies. In the wake of globalization, South-East Asian countries (China, Indonesia, Malaysia…) have become dumping grounds for the so-called “rich” states and brokerage companies have thus been able to take advantage of this opportunity. As such, China has recycled up to half (106Mt) of the world’s plastic waste, taking advantage of a poorly developed legislative framework. However, in 2018, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) decided to put an end to these imports, for the sake of compliance with global climate targets and, above all, a decline in the profitability of plastic recycling. A victim of this side effect, Indonesia, became overwhelmed with containers and decided in November 2019 to return several containers of waste to France, claiming that they had been “illegally imported”. In the wake of this, the French Ministry of Ecology imposed the same year a fine of several hundred thousand euros to a company that had exported to Malaysia containers of waste that did not comply with international regulations because they were mixed together (domestic waste, plastics and hazardous waste, without proper identification). What future for waste by sea? With this new paradigm, the producer states have no solution while they are faced with an exponential production of waste. The shipping of waste continues however, particularly in France: indeed, the overseas territories (DROM/COM) need to export garbage towards the mainland, as they are not equipped with reprocessing facilities. This specific issue and the notion of « territorial continuity » implies that the 1992 Convention does not apply to shipping companies involved in this task. Nevertheless, one can see that ship-owners are trying to minimize their reputational risk on this topic. Indeed CMA-CGM, the third largest global shipping company, announced during the « One Planet Summit » in February 2022 that it would stop transporting waste on board its ships by next summer. As for the decommissioned warships, the trend is to stop sending them abroad and instead work on domestic or European solutions. For example, France has recently sent her older ships to Belgium to undergo a green decommissioning process. [...]
July 18, 2022Miscellaneous / Newsmap of western african and Bay of Guinea region The Gulf of Guinea extends over 3,500 mi (5,700 km) of coastline from Senegal to Angola. Far from the main shipping routes, this region is nevertheless economically oriented towards the sea because it is rich of two main resources: oil and fish. A coveted fishing reource Heterogeneous fleets of vessels sail on its waters on a daily basis: oil activity, traditional fishing and industrial fishing, legal or not. The Gulf of Guinea is all the more coveted because it is barely monitored, or even not monitored at all. As a consequence, 40% of the fish are caught illegally1 in the area, and the annual loss of income for the countries of the region amounts to more than 1.9 billion dollars (1.8 billion euros). A double challenge While artisanal fishing provides an important part of the food of the riparian countries, this uncontrolled industrial fishing could be an aggravating factor of insecurity in a region already affected by many problems: smuggling of petroleum products, a hub of drug trafficking between South America and Europe, a very large population facing the climate and food challenges. Munro Anderson, a British expert on maritime security, explains: “Incidents related to illegal fishing have led to a dramatic fall in the livelihoods of local economies, which has made many young people susceptible to the lures of organized crime”. Thus, riparian countries are facing a double challenge: controlling the area in order to avoid the plundering of their waters and developing a local and complete fishery value chain, from catch to processing. Identifying the problem For many years, NGOs such as Greenpeace as well as some governments of riparian states have regularly denounced the problem of industrial overfishing in the region. After the Japanese and Eastern European trawlers in the 2000s, it is now the Chinese or Russian fleets whose illegal activities are regularly pointed out. While it is obvious that this illegal fishing is a scourge for local populations, regular fishing agreements can also be criticized in that they often deprive coastal populations of the economic benefits of the processing of the catch, which is often done outside Africa via refrigerated vessels. The question of the employment of local seafarers is also tackled by the criticisms made on these agreements, again under the prism of the lack of local economic benefits. Finally, the COVID crisis has inflamed the debates around the issue of fishing. Where traditional fishing activity has been suspended, like most of the rest of the economy, industrial fishing has been maintained, fueling the resentment of local fishermen whose associations have been quick to denounce this apparent inequality of treatment. Awareness and Prospects To face these challenges, the riparian countries are beginning to organize themselves. Firstly, they have been working on improving the governance of the fight against illegal fishing, by creating in 2006 the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), which brings together the six riparian states from Liberia to Nigeria with the objective of preserving the fishing resource to optimize economic and social benefits. Secondly, they are aiming at increasing the efficiency of surveillance and control at sea. One can also note that Ghana, Togo and Benin conducted their first joint fisheries police patrol in December 2021. These projects are all financially assisted by the European Union and actively supported by some member states such as France, which is permanently deploying a Navy Falcon 50 maritime surveillance aircraft, based in Dakar, in addition to vessels operating within the framework of Corymbe operation (since 1990). Finally, while the local industry is not in a position to equip deep-sea fishing vessels, the allotment of fishing licenses to European ship owners would allow for the further development of a real local value chain around fishing, and thus contribute to reducing unemployment and insecurity (particularly food insecurity) in the region. These contracts should therefore include local employment, local landings and a fine management of catch quotas in order not to penalize artisanal fishing, which should also remain one of the pillars of the local economy. [...]
July 13, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsWhile Finland and Sweden have expressed their wish to join NATO in the near future, the question arises of a possible evolution of the security situation in the High North and a rebalancing of the equilibrium of power, as the entry of these two states would formalize their alliance with the NATO states. More broadly, the last few years have seen an increase in the military presence in the area and a growing interest in this space with multiple and growing opportunities. Indeed, global warming, which is two to three times more important in the Arctic than the average , will eventually allow the opening of future maritime routes, thus reducing the distances between Europe and Asia. The Arctic is also home to numerous energy resources – perhaps 13% of the world’s oil and 30% of the world’s gas – as well as significant fisheries resources, which are potentially increasing due to the warming of the waters further south. An increased militarization of the High North… Faced with these new opportunities, new competitions are emerging. To name but a few, France adopted a roadmap for the Arctic in 2016, in 2018, China published a strategy for this space, as did the British Ministry of Defence which published in March 2022 a strategic document entitled “The UK’s Defence Contribution in the High North” or the US Army with its Strategic Plan of 2021 “Regaining Arctic Dominance”. Beyond this communication aspect, the High North sees its three dimensions (sea, land, air) being increasingly militarized, starting with Russia. The Russian militarization of the High North can be characterized in three ways. First, Russia has restored its presence in the area, which had been in decline since the fall of the USSR, by increasing its military spending. It has also modernized its capabilities deployed in the area. Finally, this militarization aims to “support the extension of transportation infrastructure beyond what was present during the Soviet period”(ref p. 4). Thus, six military bases have been built or rehabilitated, as have ten air bases in the High North. A selection of Northern Fleet and civilian objects in the Barents Sea region A selection of Russian military and civilian infrastructure throughout the Arctic Regarding NATO, there is also a growing militarization of space, often justified as a response to Russian deployments. In Alaska, the port of Nome is receiving new funding to turn it into a deepwater port capable of handling larger ships. The U.S. Air Force has also deployed several dozen F-35 jets to Alaska, indicating that the state will host “more advanced fighters than any other location in the world.”. The U.S. 2nd Fleet was also re-established in 2018 and a NATO command specifically dedicated to the Atlantic based in Norfolk was declared operational in September 2020. Some states are rehabilitating their infrastructure, such as Norway with the Tromsø base, which is able to accommodate NATO submarines. The HMS Ambush made a stopover there last April. Finally, a number of exercises are also organized in the area, such as the Trident Juncture exercise in 2018, which brought together 50,000 men, 65 ships and 250 aircraft, the Cold Response exercise, the 2022 edition of which ended recently, and the ICEX exercises for submarine deployment. … which is also reflected by the deployment of specific capabilities These deployments are also an opportunity for states to test or project new equipment and devices. In March 2021, the Russian Navy reported that three Russian submarines had surfaced for the first time by breaking through a 1.5-metre thick bank and that one of the three had fired torpedos under the ice. The new submarine Knyaz Oleg also did the same last May. Another feat, that of the French Navy in the summer of 2018 with the ship Rhone, which became the first non-Russian vessel to pass through the Northeast Passage, after the German cruiser Komet in 1940, but without any assistance. Special Forces are also often deployed in the area, like the Navy SEALs and the Green Berets who participated in the last ICEX in May. Let’s remember that the US Navy has a Naval Special Warfare Cold Weather Detachment in Kodiak, Alaska. There is also no doubt that if submarines are engaged in the Great North, combat swimmers are also involved. In 1990, a swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV) was spotted in Norwegian waters. The French case, a rise in power: strategy, deployments and naval special operations The French case is significant of this rise in power of certain nations. First, the French government invested in the doctrinal field with, as mentioned, a roadmap for the Arctic published in 2016. Many of its strategic documents, such as the ministerial strategy for the control of the seabed, also mention the High North. The 2017 French strategic review explains thus: “The Arctic, where the pace of global warming is double the global average, may one day become an area of confrontation.”. This commitment is also reflected operationally and many French ships have sailed in the cold waters of the Arctic, such as the Rhone that was mentioned. Recently, the amphibious helicopter carrier Dixmude was certified for Arctic operations after participating, along with the multi-mission frigate Languedoc and a maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique 2, in Cold Response 2022. The patrol vessel Fulmar, stationed in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, a French territory bordering Canada, also regularly sails in the cold waters of Greenland as part of the ARGUS exercise. France’s recent seabed control strategy calls for the consolidation of its underwater intervention capability, which would require the reinforcement of submarine forces in the area and the deployment of naval special forces. This would also respond to the deployments of France’s competitor nations. The document specifies that “the ability to penetrate complex and contested spaces ‘horizontally’ in order to conduct special underwater operations on, from and towards the seabed must be maintained at the highest level”. There is no doubt that projects under development, such as unmanned undersea vehicle and remotely operated vehicles or the third-generation SDV, could provide new capabilities in the future, potentially for use in cold waters. To conclude, the High North is an area of interest for many nations, both coastal and more distant geographically. This interest induces a growing militarization, with exercises, deployments and new capabilities adapted to this area that should continue. [...]
July 11, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsThe Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea The international maritime canals are « choke points » of strategic interest as they regulate the world economy. They contribute to the affirmation of maritime transport as the main vector of imports and exports throughout the world. To remain competitive and attractive, the channels keep being expanded. They also have a “neutrality status”, which means that everyone is free to use them regardless of the international situation. However, several factors are limiting these increasingly costly expansions. Strategic “Choke Points” and regulators of the world economy Built during the 19th century, the international maritime canals (Suez, Panama and Kiel) greatly facilitate the economic exchanges by reducing travel times. The Suez Canal allows a saving of 3500 nautical miles on a trip from Shanghai to Rotterdam, compared to the route via the Cape of Good Hope. The canals also limit certain risks such as capricious weather (Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope) or potential collisions (density of ships in the Danish straits) as they are very well secured. The flow of goods transiting through these maritime nodes has thus exploded with globalization. If the maritime canals facilitate commercial exchanges for the benefit of the majority of people, they entail enormous geopolitical stakes. Whoever controls the canals not only controls a part of the world economy but may also project their fleet far from their bases1. With globalization, the major challenge is to ensure one’s own supplies and potentially constrain those of one’s adversaries2. Today, the states bordering the canals are required, as it is the case for international straits, to allow “freedom of passage for all states”3. This reduces the strategic importance of owning or controlling the canals. Nevertheless, in an uncertain international environment where international law and treaties are regularly challenged, it is possible that this principle of neutrality will become at least temporarily outdated. Vital and profitable expansions In order to cope with the exponential growth of commercial traffic, coupled with the increase in the size of ships, the “owner” states, bordering the canals, have been forced to widen the facilities. The main goal of such enlargement was to meet the needs as much as possible and to preserve the strategic interest of these “choke points”. The Suez Canal is a model of adaptation: initially built with a depth of eight meters and a width of twenty-two meters, it has been regularly enlarged. In 2014, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, announced extensive work to adapt the Suez Canal to the new characteristics of maritime traffic. The work, which took only one year instead of the three originally planned, consisted in widening part of the original canal, and digging a parallel lane in the Eastern section to allow two-way traffic. It resulted in a significant reduction in waiting time and an increase in daily capacity. The Panama Canal, on the other hand, was quickly overtaken by the trend towards naval gigantism. The canal authority invested $1 billion in 1998 to widen the trench. In 2002, an invitation to tenders was initiated, in order to build new locks and increase the size of the ships received. The works started in 2007 ($5.2 billion) and were completed in 2016. It allowed for a significant increase (22%) in transit tonnage in 2017. Perspectives Successive enlargements have made it possible to sustain the economic benefits and strategic interest of the canals. However, several factors pose a limit to these successive enlargements. Container ships are now 400 meters long and 60 meters wide. It is likely that in the near future such gigantism will reach its peak because, on the one hand, the construction and navigability of such giants is becoming increasingly complex and, on the other hand, ports may no longer be able to absorb such large cargos in a reasonable time. Moreover, the grounding of the 23,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container ship “Ever Given” across the Suez Canal on March 23, 2021, is an illustration of the limits of naval gigantism and the vulnerability of sea-lanes4. Following the incident, the Suez Canal Authority decided to double the track from 72 to 82 kilometers, when the doubling of the entire canal was deemed too costly. Indeed, the financial and environmental costs are increasing considerably with each expansion. When the canals were built more than a hundred years ago, there was obviously no massive opposition based on environmental criteria. However, the damage caused was considerable and permanent, whether in the desert Egyptian isthmus or in the lush Panamanian isthmus. This environmental aspect can no longer be neglected, as it is another factor of vulnerability. The Panama Canal is facing problems of water supply, essential for the locks operations. Water from the Gatun and Madden lakes is becoming scarce due to evaporation, drought and the increase in the number of ships. Each ship passage releases 166 million liters of water into the ocean, which must be replenished. Strategic “choke points” as they are, the maritime canals will be coping with globalization, traffic increase and shipbuilding gigantism, up to a certain limit… 1 The Suez Canal was originally built and controlled by the French and British governments to connect the Eastern empires to Europe more quickly. It was also for their own national interests that the Americans took over the construction of the Panama Canal in order to ensure its management until 1999. 2 This was notably the case for Egypt, which, after the nationalization of the canal in 1957, refused Israel the right to pass through the Suez Canal. 3 Convention of Constantinople of 1888 for the Suez Canal, Treaty of Versailles of 1919 for the Kiel Canal, and a bilateral treaty of 1977 for the Panama Canal. 4 The blockage of the canal for six days directly affected the global economy and could dampen the ardor of ship-owners. Lloyd’s List Intelligence estimated the cost of the canal blockage at $9.6 billion. [...]
July 5, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsNo less than 25 million tons of fish are believed to be lost each year due to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing activity (IUU fishing) over the world. For some enforcement officials, IUU fishing has even become “the world’s top maritime security threat”. The Pacific Ocean, extending from India to the west coast of the American continent, is in its main area concerned by the fishery ressource pillage, as are African waters. Chinese Fishing Fleet Asian countries are the main actors involved in such plundering of the fisheries, for both economic and food reasons. Like the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the Chinese fishing fleet is experiencing an unprecedented expansion. Although it seems impossible today to determine the precise number of vessels it includes, many experts do not hesitate to describe them as an “armada”. The main consequences of this detrimental situation are the depletion of local fish stocks and major economic losses for regional systems. In addition to these environmental and economic dangers, the plundering of fisheries resources can occasionally contribute to creating food tensions, as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has already pointed out on several occasions. A Hybrid Fleet The Chinese fishing fleet also appears as an efficient tool of geopolitical influence. Indeed, deep-sea fisheries obviously have another purpose: the tensions that arise from them reveal their highly strategic dimension. The Chinese fishing armada that is sailing all over the planet represents a civil-military force. As real paramilitary actors in the pay of the Chinese government– which finances them very largely –, they contribute to the territorial expansion of China. Fighting against IUU fishing on a global scale seems to be impossible. As far as the Pacific Ocean is concerned, the challenge is obvious because of its vastness and the lack of appropriate assets to control fisheries. Nevertheless, the fight against the plundering of fish resources must not be seen as a losing battle. Initiatives to limt IUU Facing this issue, some countries of the Pacific have already begun to conduct joint operations in order to oppose them. For example, France, Australia, New Zealand and other smaller countries in the area have organized themselves through occasional exercises and joint missions. This cooperation, which entails deployments of military vessels, has proved its worth and effectiveness, and must be maintained and even reinforced. Indeed, it appears that even though “blue boats” and other rogue vessels are respecting the exclusive economic zones, they are voluntarily stationed at their rightful limit. On the “eastern” part of the Pacific, Chile, Argentina, Peru and France are uniting efforts to respond to this same threat. In that respect, smaller patrol boat type units are real assets and allow for a timely response to Asian fishing vessels’ looting activities. In addition, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and geostationary satellites are effective means of elongation and enhance the coverage of such a vast ocean as the Pacific. Legal Framework From a regulatory point of view, the states did not wait to be confronted with the “fait accompli” of over-fishing to design effective tools. Firstly, the Montego Bay Convention, defines in a general way the maritime spaces and the conditions of their exploitation. Enclaves make it possible to envisage areas useful for the reproduction of species, as well as areas less exposed to all types of pollution. For instance, two maritime areas on either side of French Polynesia are subject to special regulations in order to limit the plundering of fish and to protect a certain number of threatened marine species. Secondly, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has enacted a number of devices (AIS, VMS…) to identify fishing vessels that violate the rules in so-called protected waters. While countries may rely on Information Fusion Centres (IFC) to fight IUU fishing, other initiatives, such as the “Global Fishing Watch” platform have been developed, in which even insurers have stakes. In the same way, NGOs or embarked government personnel can be relays to enforce directly or indirectly the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). Another means which has recently emerged and is not sufficiently considered yet is the use of civil actors. Indeed, companies can appear as influential as States nowadays. This is why large retailers, together with producer chains, are now trying to combat bad fishing practices through a body called the “Seafood Task Force”. Finally, still in connection with the civilian world, partnerships are increasingly being developed with private airlines, which contribute to intelligence gathering during their flights, especially when aerial surveillance means are deployed in operations elsewhere or are under maintenance. [...]
June 29, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsTrans-border cooperation in mitigating illicit maritime activities remains necessary due to the transnational nature of maritime insecurity. High incidents of sea banditry, piracy, and associated crimes within the maritime domain contributed to the under-utilization of the resource-landed Gulf of Guinea region. Read on to understand how the implementation of the Yaounde Code of Conduct has enhanced stronger transboundary and inter-regional cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea. Background of The Maritime Insecurities in The Gulf of Guinea The International Maritime Bureau’s 2020 report shows that 135 seafarers were kidnapped, and 84 attacks on ships were recorded in the GoG. The same report showed the region experienced a 50% increase in ransom kidnapping between 2018 and 2019. GoG remains the most dangerous maritime zone, accounting for 95% of kidnapping globally. The pervasive incidence of insecurity, particularly the growing nature and intensity of armed robbery at sea, piracy, and other maritime criminalities in this resource-laden maritime domain, is underpinned by the following: High Poverty Level in the Region Most security challenges confronting Africa have originated from increasing poverty levels. It is pertinent to emphasize that attaining security in the Gulf of Guinea depends on the people’s financial stability. The underdeveloped and undiversified economy in the coastal states, signatories of the Yaounde Code of Conduct, is evident. The latter has resulted in an overreliance on economic activities such as fishing and small-scale farming. Most people in these states work for survival instead of growth. The youthful population in this region is left with few employment opportunities. They become a fertile recruiting ground for criminal networks and insurgent groups responsible for the rising spate of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the GoG. These groups offer them financial incentives, protection, and basic needs. The Prevalence of Bad Governance in States Signatories to The Yaounde Code of Conduct The escalation of piracy and armed robbery at sea can be entrenched in poor governance in the region. Most Yaounde Code of Conduct signatories parade low human development indices, despite the vast oil endowment in the area. The implication of poor governance is evident in the signatory states’ weak enforcement capacity of counter-piracy and armed robbery against ship operations. Besides, unprecedented diversion of resources from procurement of sophisticated hardware to curb the robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea is evident. Adoption of the Yaounde Code of Conduct The International Maritime Organization (IMO) had been following the illicit maritime activities in the GoG for years. However, the intervention began when Benin President, Thomas Boni Yayi, pleaded with the United Nations (UN) for assistance to combat transnational crimes in the region. ECOWAS, ECCAS, and GGC member-states adopted The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions 2018 and 2039 to strengthen domestic and international laws to address safety and security threats at sea. Consequent to adopting UNSC resolutions, member states convened in the Gulf of Guinea in March 2013. They drafted a regional strategy that attracted twenty-five countries from the Gulf of Guinea at the Cotonou Conference for the June 24 and 25, 2013 summit in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Here, they drafted a document known as the Yaounde Code of Conduct to repress the following: Illicit Maritime Activity in West and Central Africa.Armed Robbery against Ships.Piracy. Progress in the implementation of the Yaounde Code of Conduct Despite the economic fragility of the coastal states who are Signatories to the Yaounde Code of Conduct, its adoption has progressed. The EU is actively committed to funding capacity development needed to improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. It uses the European Development Fund (EDF) and Instrument contributing to Security and Peace (IcSP) to facilitate programs and projects focused on training, capacity building, information sharing, and legal framework. Yaounde Architecture for Maritime Safety and Security (YAMS) leaders confirm that the YAMS system meant to improve information sharing, coordinate action, and strengthen laws is functioning. However, the CRESMAO center has not moved to its headquarters and is yet to be staffed. The spirit of international cooperation and building best practices remains evident in the GOG-MCF/SHADE. Nigeria and ICC Yaoundé intend to form a framework that focuses on bringing together regional and international stakeholders to focus on armed robbery and counter-piracy. The Way Forward for Yaounde Code of Conduct Unfortunately, the Yaounde Code of Conduct architecture, YAMS, is intricate and requires significant effort and commitment from GoG countries to make it a reality. Countries must coordinate their information-sharing systems within different operation zones to effectively eradicate illicit activities in the Gulf of Guinea. [...]
June 20, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsThe shipping industry is the backbone of the global economy, carrying over 80% of all trade. Although, as an industry, it is more carbon efficient than road or air shipping, shipping is still responsible for a considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions. If added to the list of nations by emissions, shipping would be the world’s sixth-biggest polluter. Furthermore, the Third IMO GHG Study of 2014 predicted that this could rise by 250% by 2050 if no changes are made. So, what is causing this pollution from shipping, and what can be done to address it and provide more sustainable vessels? Sources of Pollution from Shipping There are several ways in which shipping produces pollutants, so we’ll break them down here into a few categories. Red Codee Alarm and Climate Change In his reference to the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “it is clear to all who want to listen that the planet is facing a climate crisis.” He elaborated that this is “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening and the evidence is irrefutable”. By extension, the climate crisis creates an ocean crisis, directly increasing the risks for marine biodiversity. Sulfur Dioxide Most ships are powered by heavy fuel oil, the most polluting form of fuel oil. According to Peter Boyd, chief operating officer of Carbon War Room, “One ship emits the equivalent of 50m cars’ worth of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, and just 15 ships emit the equivalent SO2 emissions of every car in the world.” Sulfur dioxide is a cause of respiratory illness in humans and causes acid rain, which kills trees and leaches vital minerals from the soil. Carbon Dioxide A vast amount of CO2 is produced by burning fuel oil for shipping. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and a significant contributor to the ongoing climate crisis. The annual CO2 emissions from shipping are currently estimated to be around 940 million tons, at least 2.5% of total global CO2 emissions. Fuel Sillage We may occasionally hear of major oil spills from tankers, which have individually devastating environmental impacts. However, there are also thousands of minor spills annually, and not just from fuel tankers. Some occur in ports during the fuelling process or when loading tankers; other incidents occur during collisions or when ships become beached. These seemingly minor incidents are cumulative, leading to a great deal of environmental damage and harm to marine life. Making Shipping More Sustainable The shipping industry as a whole is aware of sustainability issues, and there are initiatives in place now seeking to address them. For example, the International Maritime Organization has set a target to cut CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050. Another factor that had been hampering efforts to reduce the impact of shipping on climate change was that most nations don’t include international shipping on the carbon budget. However, this too is beginning to change, and the UK became the first country to have CO2 from international shipping in its CO2 budget in 2021. In addition, many innovative solutions for sustainable vessels are also being planned by independent businesses. Cleaner Fuels Cleaner distillate fuels are a way to reduce the sulfur dioxide emissions from shipping. However, these fuels are at least $300 per tonne more expensive than the fuels currently used, so this would have a dramatic financial impact on shipping companies that make the switch. So it would seem that, without international cooperation regulating fuel usage, this option is unlikely to be taken up at present. Fuel-use reduction would seem to be a more workable option in the short to medium term. Biocide-Free Paint Most ships have reduced fuel efficiency due to a build-up of marine organisms on the hull. This can be improved by a coat of paint that inhibits the growth of these organisms, an option that is beginning to be taken seriously. For example, AIDA Cruises’ 38,531gt cruise vessel, AIDAcara, received an application of this paint in 2019 when drydocked in Marseilles, France. The paint manufacturer, Nippon Paint Europe, estimates that it can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%, providing more sustainable vessels. Conclusions The climate crisis is being taken more seriously than ever, and the shipping industry is working hard to produce ever more sustainable vessels. However, there is still a lot of work to be done, and we can expect to see an increasing number of innovative solutions in the coming years. [...]
June 13, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsMaritime transport is commonly presented as the cleanest mode of transport. However, the reality is less obvious. In order to boost the ecological transition of this sector, the IMO has set binding targets. A revolution is therefore underway to have cleaner modes of propulsion. A necessary ecological transition It is true that maritime transport is much more efficient in terms of CO2 emissions than road transport. However, its environmental footprint is much larger if we look at the sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions induced by the consumption of heavy fuel oil. The IMO has taken the measure of the on-going ecological transition. It has therefore committed to reducing the total volume of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions from shipping. The goal is to reach half of 2008 GHG emissions level by 2050. To comply with these new standards, ship-owners have no choice but to make investments. There areseveral options: turning to low-sulfur marine fuel oil: cheaper than conventional heavy fuel oil, its carbon footprint remains high;installing smoke scrubbers: such devices are capable of capturing up to 90% of sulfur emissions;change to alternative propulsion modes. The need for investment During the life of a vessel, shipowners are faced with regulatory changes and the variability of energy costs. Therefore, spending on research and development for alternative propulsion systems must be considered as an investment. The maritime transport sector underwent a first change with the multiplication of electrically propelled ships, known as “all-electric ships“. It is true that electric propulsion is more efficient than conventional propulsion. However, the gains obtained are low compared to the IMO objectives. Other technologies, currently in service or under development, can generate fuel-consumption reductions, meaning GHG emissions reductions: sailing propulsion: several carriers have opted for hyper-efficient cargo sailing ships, some of them are able to carry several hundred TEU;wind energy is also used via towing kites, or Flettner rotors, using the Magnus effect to supplement the propulsion of ships, thus reducing the load on propulsion engines and therefore their consumption;wind energy combined with solar energy. The EnergySail technology developed by Eco Marine Power, for example, uses rigid sails equipped with solar panels;wave energy: installed at the back of the ship, an articulated hydrofoil is driven by the waves. The movement generates useful energy for the ship, which leads to a reduction in fuel consumption (such technology has been developed by Blue Fins and Ifremer). Towards a revolution The use of other fuels, as substitutes to heavy fuel oil, is another option for the future: The combustion of liquefied natural gas reduces SOx emissions by 100%, NOx by 80% and CO2 by 20% compared to heavy fuel oil. Although the conversion of ships from heavy fuel oil to LNG has been mastered, it still involves a fossil fuel that doesn’t eliminate most of the GHGs;Several challenges still need to be overcome to use hydrogen. First of all, for the same amount of energy, liquid hydrogen takes up to four times more volume than heavy fuel oil. However, this difficulty is partially offset by the increased efficiency of hydrogen fuel cells, compared to diesel engines, and by the smaller size of the propulsion system. The current power of hydrogen fuel cells only allows them to be used on small ships. Finally, and most importantly, this type of propulsion only makes sense environmentally if it uses “green hydrogen“, the production cost of which is absolutely not competitive today. Although it offers great promise in terms of GHG emissions, the hydrogen sector is not mature yet. However, while the OECD estimates that international freight volumes will increase more than fourfold between now and 2050, it now seems to be the most credible solution for achieving the objectives set by the IMO. [...]