Drug Trafficking
February 25, 2022Drug Trafficking / NewsFor many decades, the Caribbean Sea has been the primary maritime route for smuggling illicit drugs into the USA. With the USA being the world’s largest market for illegal drugs, the Caribbean’s access to the long Florida coastlines makes it an ideal smuggling route for producers across the Caribbean, Central and South America. Which Drugs Are Smuggled Through The Caribbean Sea ? The principal drug to be smuggled across the Caribbean continues to be cocaine. The leading destination, as indicated above, is the USA, mainly from the top three producers of Bolivia, Peru and Columbia. The primary routes are via Jamaica, where large criminal gangs regulate the flow of cocaine, and the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, state institutions in these two countries simply don’t have the resources to curtail drug passage through their ports effectively. It is estimated that around 1000MT of cocaine cross the Caribbean each year. However, it is difficult to accurately put a figure on this as drug enforcement agencies believe that only about 6% of traffic is ever detected, and routes are constantly being changed to avoid detection. Another drug commonly trafficked across the Caribbean is cannabis. The primary producer for this is Jamaica. However, with the drug being decriminalized in many states of the USA, this trade is declining as legal farms in the USA have begun to cut into demand from overseas. Other drugs shipped using the Caribbean Sea maritime route include fentanyl, heroin and other opioids. However, these are relatively minor problems as the cocaine market takes up over 90% of drugs shipped through the Caribbean. Which Agencies are Seizing Drugs in the Caribbean Sea? As stated earlier, maritime routes are constantly being altered to avoid law enforcement detection, making it exceptionally difficult to police. In addition, the small island nations in the Caribbean have few resources to combat international crime, so it is mainly left to the bigger players in the region. The Mexican authorities work with Interpol to control drug trafficking. However, this is primarily land-based, although Mexico’s small navy occasionally liaises with US authorities on specific operations. US authorities do the bulk of maritime drug policing in the Caribbean. To accomplish this, the Joint Interagency Task Force South, headquartered in Key West, Florida, brings together a range of governmental organizations under the direction of the Coast Guard. This task force includes the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Patrol, FBI and CIA. The task force works with agencies from over 20 other nations across the Caribbean, Latin America and even Europe. It uses coast guard and navy ships, submarines and small boats to patrol the Caribbean Sea and conduct intelligence-led ship seizures. One of the most active partners remains the French Navy, leading operation in its Economic Exclusive Zone, which recently realized several record drug seizures with the warship Germinal. How Are Drugs Moved Across The Caribbean Sea ? For many decades, the main transportation methods used ultra-highspeed small boats that could travel mostly undetected in the busy Caribbean maritime routes. However, in recent years the volume of drugs moved has increased, and smugglers have adopted other modes of transportation. Larger ships are now being used to carry drugs and even some of the largest container ships. They also use semi-submersibles; one was recently memorably captured carrying ten tons of cocaine and was placed on the lawn outside Southern Command’s headquarters in Miami as a trophy. Summing Up The drug trade across maritime routes in the Caribbean Sea has shown no signs of falling off over recent decades. Rather, it is larger than ever. Massive amounts of cocaine continue to cross from Latin America, and it seems that the War on Drugs is no closer to victory than it was at its beginning. Although vast amounts of cash and effort are used in efforts aimed at reducing supply and policing smuggling routes, it seems that addressing the demand end of the chain is the only way to end this illegal and destructive trade. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
December 21, 2021Drug Trafficking / NewsPiracy in the Gulf of Guinea is the focus of media attention. However, this area is also home to many other threats with equally high human and economic costs. Illegal fishing, drug trafficking, pollution, illegal immigration… there is no shortage of issues that weaken the region, but they do not all receive the same media attention. The symposium of the chiefs of staff of the navies of the Gulf of Guinea, organized jointly by France and Congo, is particularly exemplary of a media prism that “benefits” piracy. Indeed, this symposium, whose theme was “The operationalization of the Yaoundé architecture: ways and means”, covered the entire spectrum of maritime security. However, the majority of articles on this event only consider it through the prism of piracy, whether it be Radio France internationale (Gulf of Guinea: the chiefs of staff of the navies debate maritime piracy), France-Info-AFP (The Gulf of Guinea, the area most exposed to maritime piracy and kidnappings in the world) or Mediapart (Africa: the Gulf of Guinea is increasingly exposed to maritime piracy). Yet the other challenges facing the Gulf of Guinea and the Yaoundé architecture, which attempts to coordinate its maritime security, are equally important. Thus, drug trafficking has taken on a worrying scale in recent years. Indeed, drug seizures are multiplying, as illustrated by the recent seizure made by the Senegalese navy with the assistance of the French national navy in October 2021 or the record seizure made by the landing helicopter deck Dixmude last March. These seizures support the UNODC’s analysis that Western Africa is the main transit area to Europe. However, it is also moving from a transit area to a consumption zone. The UNODC estimates that the number of illegal drug or opioid users has tripled in recent decades. This explosion in consumption has obvious health consequences in countries whose hospital organization is often already fragile. Moreover, the profits generated by this trafficking fuel crime and corruption, further weakening local institutions. Even if the consequences are not as serious everywhere as in Guinea-Bissau, which is struggling to move away from its “narco-state” status, corruption remains a scourge largely fueled by various forms of trafficking, including drug trafficking. Finally, this traffic also supports criminal organizations whose influence extends as far as Europe, an influence that has already justified an international operation in 2019 which does not seem to have been sufficient to reduce their presence in France or – above all – in Italy. For example, drug trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea poses challenges that are on a par with piracy and whose multiple impacts are felt both locally and in Europe. Maritime security in the Gulf therefore requires a global approach without focusing on any particular threat. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
May 17, 2021Drug Trafficking / NewsDrugs, broken labour laws or expired contracts: purgatory seems endless for the crew of the Indonesian-flagged container ship Meratus Jayakarta. It started on March 19 2021, with the seizure of 2.04 kilos of heroin (worth 30 million Rupees) by the Customs Anti-Narcotics Section (CANS) of the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) while sailing off Mauritius’ coast. In addition to DNA samples taken from the two drug packages and the crew (22 Indonesian seamen), interrogations were carried out in order to discover the author who hidden the drugs in the ship’s air vents. Furthermore, due to the COVI-19 pandemic, the ship remained in quarantaine during the investigation. Interrogation of the 22 sailors revealed other offenses that the authorities did not suspect.Serious breaches of international maritime law were noted. Thus, legally, the maximum boarding time is set at 11 months and can only be exceeded with the prior consent of the seafarer concerned. Here, 13 sailors had been on board for over a year and 2 sailors had been on board for over two years. The employment contracts having expired; these sailors demanded a quick return to their homes with their families.This legal problem seals the container ship at the dock for an indefinite period despite the end of the judicial investigation. Summoned by the South Indian Ocean Sea Directorate (DMSOI), the ship-owner of the Meratus Jayakarta agreed to relieve almost all of the crew during the vessel’s next stopover in Reunion island three weeks later. Finally, the ship went back at sea on April 26 2021. The seamen concerned signed an amendment covering the period at sea until the stopover in Port des Galets (Reunion Island) scheduled for May 18, 2021. Hopefully, they will be able to go back home after all these misfortunes. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 28, 2021Drug Trafficking / NewsNarco-Submarine Because of huge profits generated by drug trafficking, traffickers have financial means to invest in advanced technology, such as submersibles. On March 12th 2021, the Spanish Police seized the first “Narco-Submarine” made in Europe. For several years, Colombian cartels used “Narco-submarine” as a common way to transport drugs out of their country. These submarines have different design,discretion and cargo capacities: sometimes they are just small boats right above the surface, and so escape to naval radars, but they also can be more elaborate with watertight compartments and ballast. Traffickers can use them to transport drug, but also to smuggle a wide range of goods. Let’s get back to some key dates about “Narco-submarine” in Europe. On August 14th 2006, a “Narco-submarine” was found drifting empty off near Vigo, Galicia. This is the first time that this kind of boat was seen in Europe, presuming it was used to offload drugs from an offshore vessel to the coast. On November 23th 2019, an international police operation off the coast of Galicia revealed the existence of a cocaine transport network. During the operation, a homemade semi-submersible from Latin America was found. It was loaded with 3 tons of cocaine. On March 12th 2021, a Spanish Police operation, coordinated by Europol, led to the seizure of a “Narco-submarine” made in Europa. The boat was meant to be used for drug trafficking in the coastal city of Malaga but was barely finished and not yet launched. According to the investigators, the boat should join a mother ship offshore to transfer drug cargo. Furthermore, the Spanish Police arrested 52 people and found a sophisticated laboratory able to produce 750 kg of drugs per month. This operation show an evolution of the drug market in Europe and a dramatically growth of demand. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 6, 2021Drug Trafficking / Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / Smuggling Of Illicit GoodsThe smuggling of illicit goods, in particular fish the Totoaba that is as lucrative and much less dangerous in terms of penal sanction than the traffic of cocaine. In 2018, according to an article published in The Guardian, the Mexico City police found 416 swim bladders in the suitcases of a Chinese tourist. The man was arrested and later released after paying a $600 fine. The Totoaba is a protected endemic species. While scientists believe it to be a cultural fantasy, Chinese medicine believes it to have various medicinal and cosmetic properties, allegedly due to the protein contained in the fish’s swim bladder. According to a study made by ADM Capital Foundation, a philanthropic group, three quarters of sales of products from endangered wildlife are destined for the traditional Chinese medicine industry. Because of this Chinese market, the Totoaba is on the verge of extinction, with only a few specimens left in the waters of the Gulf of California. It is this scarcity that is driving up prices, to the point of calling it the cocaine of the seas as sales prices soar from $20,000 to $80,000 per kg. In its downfall, the Totoaba is bringing with it the disappearance of the smallest harbour porpoise, also known as the little cow of the Pacific Vaquitas. In fact, this could be seen as collateral damage, taking into account the entrapment in the illegal fishing nets used by Totoaba fishermen in the Sea of Cortes. Factfile on the Totoaba and Vaquitas The international community and important personalities such as Leonardo Dicaprio are standing up to try to save what can still be saved, even if today the hope of avoiding the extinction of these two species seems very complicated. In July 2020, the release of the film “Sea of Shadows” directed by Richard Ladkani, highlights the war waged by environmental activists alongside the Mexican Navy against the Mexican cartels and the Chinese mafia. Finally, If this decline continues, it is likely to be extinguished in 2021. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
Human trafficking
November 2, 2021Human-Trafficking / Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / Weapons TraffickingEastern Mediterranean flashpoint Eastern Mediterranean is a crossroads between continents. The complexity of the region and tensions between countries make the area a dangerous flashpoint. All kind of destabilization and maritime issues monitored seem to be linked to one actor, the president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Where is Eastern Mediterranean? Eastern Mediterranean is a meeting point between Southeast Europe, Western Asia and Northeast Africa. Sometimes considered as the cradle of humanity, it is now composed of several countries: Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Libya. The region has been a crossroads for cultural, economic and political exchanges over millennia. Nevertheless, the geopolitical situation made this maritime region a flashpoint based on maritime issues and the disrespect of international law, agreement and convention. A transit route for migrants and refugees The civil war in Syria, started in 2011, has been a major change for countries relationships. The flow of refugees, crossing Turkey to Greece through the Aegean Sea led to a European Union (EU)-Turkey joint action plan in 2015. The agreement was that every person arriving irregularly to the Greek Islands would be returned to Turkey. In exchange, EU would take one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian returned from Greece. However, it became for the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan a way to conduct a hybrid warfare against EU. Turkish government threated several times the Member States to “open the gates” to migrants into Europe in case of disagreement (such as what is now observed in Belarus). With the return of Talibans in Afghanistan, it is expected to have an increase of refugees trying to cross the sea through the Aegan route but also from Syria or Lebanon to Cyprus. The last route is getting more and more used, especially because of the strong economic and social crisis hitting Lebanon after the dramatic explosion in the port in Beirut in 2020. Oil and gas dispute In the early 1970s, exploration discovered oil and gas fields in south of Cyprus. But the invasion of the island by Turkey in 1974 froze the possibility of exploitation. Then, two large natural gas fields were discovered in the region: Leviathan in 2010 in Israel Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) and Zohr in 2015 in Egypt EEZ. In 2018, tensions increased between Cyprus and Turkey when the Turkish foreign minister announced the intention to carry out gas exploration in Cyprus EEZ. Turkey sent several times exploration ship, such as RV Oruc reis, escorted by frigates creating huge concerns for EU, which Cyprus is a member States. In reaction, the European Council decided to suspend several negotiations. Egypt, which had an agreement with Cyprus to exploit some of its gas fields, reduced also its relations with Turkey. Arms trafficking from Turkey The last factor of destabilization in Easter Mediterranean is the arm trafficking from Turkey to Libya. Libya faced a civil war since 2011 and the United Nations Security Council voted the Resolution 1973 to impose an arms embargo over the country. To enforce this resolution, mainly ineffective, the European Union launch in March 2020 the operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, using aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In that framework, the EU linked the merchant vessel Cirkin, now re-named Guzel, to transport military material to Libya between May and June 2020. According to the press agency Reuters, the ship was escorted by three Turkish vessels, preventing all cargo inspection. In September 2020, EU imposed sanctions on the Turkish shipping company Avrasya Shipping accused of breaking the U.N. embargo on Libya. The president Erdogan never recognised to conduct this kind of operation. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 20, 2021Human-Trafficking / Newsafghan refugees Because of the Taliban’s power seizure in Afghanistan, EU expects a humanitarian crisis and a large-scale migratory movement towards Europe. In that case, Afghan refugees will probably use on the three Mediterranean routes to find safety and peace, even with all dangers they can encountered. People crossing the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea has been a migratory crossroads for thousands of years, linking people and civilization together. Nevertheless, the civil war in Syria and the insecurity in Sahel dramatically increased the number of people trying to reach Europe by any means. During their journey, refugees and migrants, two different terms, are victims of human smugglers who push them to cross the sea on small inflatable boats. Many of them died when boat capsizes or because of rough sea and weather conditions. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a peak of people crossing the Mediterranean sea happened in October 2015 with 221 721 . In July 2021, 11 449 people were monitored. Afghani refugees expected to cross the Mediterranean Sea The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, FRONTEX, reported that 747 Afghans crossed Eastern Mediterranean since January 2021. Because of the Taliban’s rapid seizure of power in Afghanistan, the European Union expect to see more and more Afghan refugees crossing its borders. Joseph Borrel Fontelles, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, declared that EU “has to ensure that the new political situation created in Afghanistan by the return of the Taliban does not lead to a large-scale migratory movement towards Europe”. Mr Borrel Fontelles added that EU “will have to get in touch with authorities in Kabul, the Taliban, in order to engage in a dialogue as soon as necessary to prevent a humanitarian and a potential migratory disaster, but also a humanitarian crisis”. Which maritime routes? There are three main routes to cross the Mediterranean sea: Western, Central and Eastern. Western route is located between Marocco and Spain, which seems too far to reach for Afghan refugees. The Central Route, which linked Tunisia and Libya to Italy, is the shortest and the usual route used by refugees and migrants, especially for people from Sahel and Sub-Africa. Nevertheless, it is also the most dangerous. Migrants need to cross Libya, a failed country destroyed by over 10 years of civil war, where armed group and smugglers use them frequently as slaves or fighters. The sailing conditions are also usually bad with rough sea between Sicily and African coast. Then, the last option remains the Eastern route. It goes from Turkey to Greece and will be probably used by Afghans. It is likely that the European Union will discuss with Turkey once again in order to find an agreement in case of a large-scale migratory movement. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 10, 2021Human-Trafficking / NewsMozambique insurgency Mozambique insurgency is getting struggled by a coalition of Rwandan and Mozambican troops. The port of Mocimboa da Praia was the last rebel’s stronghold and was retaken in April 8, by government forces. Nevertheless, the conflict caused a dramatic humanitarian crisis and the presence of terrorists with amphibious capacity in the region remains a threat for the shipping industry. ISIS in Mozambique From mid-2018, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) launch an insurgency and became active in the province of Cabo Delgado, North East of Mozambique. ISIS used to settle a local jihadist fundamentalist group called AL Shabaab. The terrorists launched several attack and committed mass beheadings. They seized in August 2020 the town of Mocimboa da Praia, one of the most important ports on the northern coast, attacking by land and sea. A threat to shipping The insurgents have shown a real capability to conduct amphibious attacks, causing a real issue for navigation along Mozambique coasts. Cabo Delgado is the north gate to the Mozambique Channel. It is more than 30 % of the world’s tanker traffic transiting through this area. There is a true risk to see the region becoming a safe place for piracy, a good opportunity for terrorists get funds. Furthermore, the area is also known to be one of Africa’s biggest gas fields. The attacks from the Mozambique insurgency forced Total, a French company, to resume its project of LNG offshore planned closed to the town of Palma. A big loss for the local government and the company. Mozambique insurgency caused a humanitarian crisis Since the beginning of the conflict, over 2 800 people died and more than 800 000 tried to escape from the region by any means, including boats and ships. The non-governmental organization (NGO) Human Rights Watch reported several testimonial of dramatic condition on board of these boats. One of them is from Hadja,22, who was seven months pregnant during her journey: “ the boat owner charged 3.000 meticals (US$48) for each person. We spent 12 days at sea, moving from island to island, before reaching Pemba. On the sixth day, I started to feel a lot of pain and bleeding. The woman in the boat helped me deliver my baby, who was very weak and small. He died.” Like this:Like Loading... [...]
Illegal Exploitation of Illegal Ressources
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 27, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsSea map South China The territorial claims of the countries bordering the South China Sea have led to a military escalation. In addition to navies strengthening, military bases are being established on various islands in the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos, raising fears of maritime security deterioration in the area. South China Sea, what is happening ? While incidents are multiplying in the South China Sea, involving the increasingly active Chinese fishing fleets, commercial trade vessels, but also military ships and maritime militias patrolling the area, maritime security is at the heart of the international community’s concerns (In 2018, the Vietnam National Border Committee counted 42 fishing incidents with China, involving 44 boats and 280 Chinese fishermen). Maritime security “consists of taking into account navigation-related risks as well as security issues that is ensuring protection against malicious acts aimed at ships”. With Sino-American tensions in the background, the South China Sea is a contested area. Beijing has claimed sovereignty over the “nine-dash line” since 1947, asserting the enclosed space is historical heritage. However, the islands within this zone are also claimed by other countries: Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam for the Spratlys, and only Vietnam for the Paracels. The competing territorial claims over the South China Sea © The Maritime Executive The July 12th 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague (PCA) emphasizes that Beijing has no historical rights in the South China Sea and that “China has violated the sovereign rights of the Philippines in its exclusive economic zone.” Since 2014, Beijing has increased the number of its warships to defend its interests. In 2020, it became the world’s largest military fleet in terms of combat force units. In parallel, China has undertaken the reclamation and militarization of some islets, building airstrips, hangars, logistics hubs, radar stations, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile batteries in low-lying areas. The old and new Fiery Cross Reef (Spratly Archipelago) as of April 17, 2015. (Photo CSIS AMTI. AFP) Faced with this increasing arsenal in the area, bordering countries remain helpless. They have neither the military capabilities nor the financial means to deal with a direct conflict with Beijing, which is skilfully using its influence to promote its interests. The relationship between China and the ASEAN countries (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is thus tending to be strengthened in economic matters, particularly so that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP) can come into force as soon as possible. The “New Silk Roads” are also an opportunity for Beijing to create dependence among the countries receiving Chinese capital and to impose its model in this part of the world. How to preserve the freedom of navigation ? This manoeuvre of intimidation towards the littoral countries is however denounced by the international community. The reclamation and militarization of the islets are considered as an obstacle to the freedom of navigation in this zone. Yet this freedom is a constituent element of the Indo-Pacific strategies of Western nations, which regularly assert their freedom of navigation’s rights in these disputed areas, from the Taiwan Strait in the north to the Spratly archipelago in the south. In February 2021, two U.S. naval air groups patrolled the South China Sea. As for France, it sent a nuclear submarine, accompanied by a logistics ship,to patrol the area, in order to “enhance knowledge and reaffirm that international law is the only rule that applies, regardless of the sea we sail in,” French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said on Twitter. The Western manoeuvres proved that maritime security has not been breached for the moment, but remains threatened. Indeed, neighbouring countries cannot counter China’s hegemonic expansion by themselves. The regular presence of Western navies seems necessary to avoid a definitive hindrance of the zone by Beijing, as long as the evolution of its legal status allows it.  Like this:Like Loading... [...]
February 17, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / Miscellaneous / NewsArctic routes By mid-century, the chances are high for Transpolar Passage to open across the Arctic Ocean through the North Pole, mainly due to global warming effects. And most nations have buried their collective heads in the sand for this coming reality except China. So, you may forget about requiring nuclear icebreakers. Polar Code, UNCLOS, and insurance companies may still mandate ice-resistant, polar-class ships during summer seasons within the next few decades. But it may also be possible to sail in your regular vessel across the Earth’s top. Climate change opens Arctic new sea routes The Earth’s Arctic is in the face of rapid climate change. The thinning and shrinking of summer sea ice in the Arctic is happening quicker than previous scientists’ projections and estimations. And global warming has been the main propeller. According to recent studies, the Arctic will be ice-free for most of the summer between 2020 and 2050. And an Arctic free from ice has significant economic and strategic implications when it comes to global shipping. If you own a vessel, you will potentially be able to traverse the Arctic Ocean. These new Trans-Arctic shipping routes could mean short distances between Northern China and Northern Europe by approximately 4,000 nautical miles. They could also reduce the shipping times by up to 14 days. Treaties that respect and protect the Arctic, thanks to UNCLOS rules Countries like the USA, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia developed independent policies that govern the entire or parts of the Arctic. And the European Union, China, and South Korea were also not been left behind. The Arctic Ocean policy priorities might differ, but each Arctic nation seems to show concerns about resource development, defense and sovereignty, environmental and wildlife protection, and shipping routes. The primary treaties and agreements that govern all or parts of the Arctic region include; The 1920 Svalbard Treaty between 14 counties is in charge of the economic and political status of Svalbard.The 1988 Arctic Cooperation Agreement between Canada and the United States commands bilateral cooperation concerning the Northwest Passage. Unfortunately, this treaty doesn’t solve Canada and USA’s disagreements and conflicts about the passage’s legal status.The 2011 Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement that the Arctic Council member states concluded organizes rescue and search operations in the Arctic region.The Barents Sea Border Agreement specifies the demarcation line between Russia and Norway in the Barents Sea. Conflict of interests due to natural resources and boundaries in this neutral continent The possibility of new conflicts outburst and an intensification of the existing ones in the Arctic are starting to be worrying, most of which are boundaries and natural resources conflicts. For decades now, we have witnessed interstate disputes like the USA versus Canada’s conflict in the Beaufort Sea over the border delimitation. Despite UNCLOS rules, other lingering international conflicts of interest in the Arctic include; The Russian Federation versus the USA in the Bering Sea conflict.The Denmark/Greenland versus Canada in the Davis Straight conflict.Russia versus Norway in the Barents Sea conflict.Norway versus Russia and other states in the status of the Svalbard question. The Arctic Ocean’s natural resources are the animal and mineral natural resources that offer or can offer economic benefit or utility to humans. The Arctic region features significant amounts of boreal forests, minerals, fresh water, and marine life, including different fish species. Russia and USA have already discovered billions of oil and natural gas in the Arctic Ocean, which is expected to be sold to Europe, Japan, China, and many other nations. Minerals like bauxite, nickel, copper, diamond, iron ore, and phosphate are also plentiful natural resources in the Arctic. And Russia is among the nations showing interest. Greenland holds approximately 10 percent of the globe’s freshwater reserves. Due to the low population density and mountainous areas, hydropower is also among the anticipated Arctic’s natural resources. Arctic’s environmental and ecological risks and effects Climate change will likely force numerous sub-Arctic fish species to extend into Arctic regions. And we are likely to see more fishing activities. But the most significant threat from increased Arctic Ocean shipping activities appears to be oil release into the Arctic’s marine life and environment. And there is also the risk of emissions that deposit soot onto the ice cap, thus darkening it and accelerating warming. The effect of this warming would mean continuing shrinkage of Arctic summer sea ice. The environmental toxins in the Arctic’s ecosystem and rise in water temperatures can significantly increase the rate of polar species extinctions. Final Word Today, the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding Arctic regions are equal to other global parts. The UNCLOS offers a satisfactory framework for non-violent conflict resolutions. UNCLOS continues to state that coastal states possess sovereign rights to natural resources in the seabed and water within a two-hundred-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
February 10, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / PiracyChannel of Mozambique map Groups on the “Swahili Coast” started the Mozambique Channel insurgency in 2017. The revolution now includes not less than 800 separate attacks across Mozambique, especially Northern Mozambique. The attacks have resulted in at least 2600 fatalities while other 600,000 individuals are now displaced. The importance of this strategic region for maritime security and traffic By mid 19th century, the Mozambique Channel had for decades played a central role in the trade between the Western world, East Asia, and also within the Indian Ocean. Yet an international naval response was necessary to prevent illegal traffic and safeguard channel trade, a similar scenario we see today. The Mozambique Channel has been a significant route for shipping in Eastern Africa. The Channel receives every major river in Madagascar. It also features the ports of Toliary and Mahajanga on its coast. The ports of Beira, Mozambique, and Maputo and the Zambezi River’s mouth are also along the opposite shore of the Mozambique Channel. The current maritime security situation The ongoing rebellion in northern Mozambique has led to multiple maritime security concerns in the Mozambique Channel, a primary transit course for the marine traffic in the Indian Ocean’s arm. For instance, March 2021 was a period that saw a sour struggle for the port of Palma, reinforcing concerns about maritime security between Madagascar and the Mozambique coast. Today, the Mozambique Channel is already experiencing limited local maritime-security capacity. Piracy, illegal fishing, and other reasons for insecurities in the Mozambique Channel Several factors contribute to the Mozambique Channel insecurities, like the significant energy development projects of offshore gas fields near the Cabo Delgado Province’s coast. In August 2020, the militants’ capture of the port of Mocimboa da Praia led to an escalation of the insurgency in Mozambique. This insecurity led to the disruption of the enormous gas projects due to the weak maritime security along the Channel. This has also opened prospects for terror groups to fund and expand their operations, leaving essential coastal lines susceptible to naval threats. Since 2017, drug trafficking along the Mozambique Channel has been another threat in the region while drug traffickers were using the Channel as a trade route to smuggle heroin to Mozambique from Afghanistan. Additionally, the East African coast faces many challenges concerning illegal fishing and piracy that have thrived in the region for decades now. Piracy concerns led Mozambique to allow other countries, like the South African Navy, to offer security assistance. The international engagement in the area So far, the Mozambican armed forces seem to be overwhelmed as far as restoring order in the country is concerned, despite receiving reinforcements from several security contractors before. Instead, the insurgency appears to steadily grow in ambition and proficiency, creating a growing appreciation of the maritime aspects of the security situation. The results have been detrimental as the latest developments have led Total, the French energy company, to freeze work on its Mozambique high-cost liquefied natural gas venture. When it comes to international responses, Portugal has committed itself to station 60 soldiers to train local Special Forces. On the other side, France has areas off the East African coast, the Mayotte and Reunion, and several other Indian Ocean territories. The European Union (EU) has not been left behind as it keeps focusing its counter-piracy naval function on the Somalian coast with the Atalanta operation. But it now routinely consists of less than two naval assets, a situation that, together with the overall EU reluctance to more deeply involve themselves in the Mozambique state of affairs, has led to low likelihoods of extending the naval operation south to the Mozambique Channel. The United States of America have also involved itself in the Mozambique Channel’s regional maritime capacity-building attempts. Recently, the U.S announced a mission to offer the Mozambique marines military training to enhance the local armed forces’ ability to battle the insurgency. And after a technical mission dispatch, reports claim that the South African Development Community nations are thinking of stationing around 3000 troops to neutralize the insurgency. But implementing such a plan may not be that easy. The notion of an emerging maritime security Hotspot Today, the Mozambique Channel waters are becoming a primary new security hotspot throughout the Indian Ocean. Islamist groups have insurrected in Northern Mozambique, leading to an increased disruption in the Channel. And the Mozambique government seems to be powerless in suppressing the insurgence altogether. The idea of this emerging maritime security hotspot has called for European partners and the Quad nations to help contain the situation before stepping of other factors into the vacuum. The Mozambique insurgency is currently threatening security throughout the Mozambique Channel, the 1000-nm long watercourse separating East Africa and Madagascar. Approximately 30% of the global tanker traffic passes here, and the region hosts some of the largest gas reserves. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
November 19, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / Newsmaritime drone Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) activities are a major economic loss for many countries unable to protect their maritime area. Furthermore, they have a strong impact on the sustainability of marine resources. But how to protect millions of kilometers without dozens of patrol boat? It appears that using maritime drone is one of the best opportunities. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing activities Fishes are one of the major natural resources for food in a world of growing population. The appetence from Asian countries for sea-food developed illegal fishing activities in Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) belonging to countries which don’t have the capacity to control their area. According to the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), IUU fishing activities represent 11 to 26 million tons of fish per year and loss of US$ 10 to 23 billion. Despite a binding FAO Agreement, these illegal activities remain a challenge for many countries. Use of maritime drones against IUU Using drone is a flexible solution to fight illegal fishing activities. Drones can be deployed from different location: shore, RHIBS, patrol boat, ships or airport. Depending on models, their autonomy and sensors (such as high resolution cameras) offer a wide range of opportunities for a quite affordable price and for limited human resources. Drones can stay for hours at sea, covering a long range of EEZ or Territorial Waters. They can monitor, record and follow IUU fishing activities to enable local authorities to catch and prosecute illegal fishers. Several countries have already understood the opportunity. In march 2021, the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) announced the acquisition of two drones to conduct fisheries surveillance near shore. Air Force pilots were trained to operate drones, involving cooperation between Seychelles Coast Guard and Seychelles Air Force. The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is another user since 2018.This agency, in charge to develop a safe and sustainable European Union maritime sector, extended its contract with the French company CLS and the Portuguese company Tekever for the supply of drones capable to cover 1 300 kilometers with an autonomy of 12 hours. Different types of drones Drone is a huge market estimated to 29 million of units by the end of 2021. However, four different types can be identified: multi-rotor, fixed-wing, single rotor helicopter and fixed wing hybrid. The most common (and the cheapest) is the multi-rotor, a small drone with a compact body. Multiple propellers allow vertically take-off and precise control but consume a lot of power. Autonomy remains limited. Fixed wing look like conventional planes. They can operate on long range but required most of the time pilot ability. Some are equipped with solar panels which allow them to remain longer in mission by providing power. Single-rotor helicopter is basically an unmanned helicopter. With a decent autonomy and a vertical take-off, they are the most complex and expensive solution. Finally, fix-wing hybrid model is the newest type of drone, a mix between multi-rotor (used for vertical take-off) and fixed wing (used while flying). It seems to be the best model to suit with the environment of maritime operation. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
November 8, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsLaw of the sea UNCLOS The United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) will celebrate in 2022 its forty’s anniversary. Qualified as “package deal”, it is the most “comprehensive document ever adopted by the international community”. The convention strengthened the purpose of customary international laws by codifying its provisions and by creating new ones. International Law Regulation The Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) considers as a source of law “international customs, as an evidence of general practice accepted as law”. Two conditions must be met in order to establish a legally binding rule of customary international law. First, it must be a general and consistent practice adopted by States. The second condition, “opinio juris”, requires that the custom should be considered “as State practice amounting to a legal obligation”. A rule considered as customary will therefore be binding to all States unless they persistently objected to its application. Initially the sea was ruled by a “laissez faire” regime subjected to European powers’s trade imperatives and disputes. The “basic rules of the law of the sea were designated by customary law”, but the increasing use of the oceans for navigation and fishing purposes led to the first maritime legal concept . In the 20th century, the International Court of Justice has qualified international law of the sea’s provisions as customary international law. Consequently, these rules became binding to the international community. In 1958, the four Geneva Conventions of the law of the sea have set the first codified legal framework applicable to the ocean. Again, the ICJ ruled that some of the Conventions’ provisions should be addressed as customary, such as the baseline limitation or the principle of sovereign immunity of warship. In the Continental Shelf Case (Libya v. Malta), the ICJ defined the “three role multilateral treaties can assume in relation to custom: recording function, defining function and a developing function”. UNCLOS, which was adopted in 1982, fulfilled such purpose. Qualified as a reflection of customary international law , the Convention codified and crystalized provisions already considered as customs by the ICJ. However, it also incorporated new subjects, such as environmental issues and disputes settlement, which could generate new customary international law. In the North Sea Continental Shelf case (1969), the ICJ stated the three conditions under which treaty provisions could be addressed as customary Law of the Sea ratification The extensive ratification UNCLOS combined by the customary statute of its provisions contribute to standardization of the law of the sea around the world. For example, despite not being part of UNCLOS, the United-States comply with its customary provisions and is an advocate for its rightful application through research and scholars. In the 21st century, customary international law is not obsolete as it enables State to share a common set of binding rules and to prevent legal vacuum. In nowadays, the notion of fishing or navigation customary rights is oftenly used by States in order to support coastal States sovereignty or sovereign rights over a maritime area. However, an established customary right in international law of the sea, is not without consequences and should be understood and used cautiously. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
November 2, 2021Human-Trafficking / Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / Weapons TraffickingEastern Mediterranean flashpoint Eastern Mediterranean is a crossroads between continents. The complexity of the region and tensions between countries make the area a dangerous flashpoint. All kind of destabilization and maritime issues monitored seem to be linked to one actor, the president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Where is Eastern Mediterranean? Eastern Mediterranean is a meeting point between Southeast Europe, Western Asia and Northeast Africa. Sometimes considered as the cradle of humanity, it is now composed of several countries: Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Libya. The region has been a crossroads for cultural, economic and political exchanges over millennia. Nevertheless, the geopolitical situation made this maritime region a flashpoint based on maritime issues and the disrespect of international law, agreement and convention. A transit route for migrants and refugees The civil war in Syria, started in 2011, has been a major change for countries relationships. The flow of refugees, crossing Turkey to Greece through the Aegean Sea led to a European Union (EU)-Turkey joint action plan in 2015. The agreement was that every person arriving irregularly to the Greek Islands would be returned to Turkey. In exchange, EU would take one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian returned from Greece. However, it became for the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan a way to conduct a hybrid warfare against EU. Turkish government threated several times the Member States to “open the gates” to migrants into Europe in case of disagreement (such as what is now observed in Belarus). With the return of Talibans in Afghanistan, it is expected to have an increase of refugees trying to cross the sea through the Aegan route but also from Syria or Lebanon to Cyprus. The last route is getting more and more used, especially because of the strong economic and social crisis hitting Lebanon after the dramatic explosion in the port in Beirut in 2020. Oil and gas dispute In the early 1970s, exploration discovered oil and gas fields in south of Cyprus. But the invasion of the island by Turkey in 1974 froze the possibility of exploitation. Then, two large natural gas fields were discovered in the region: Leviathan in 2010 in Israel Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) and Zohr in 2015 in Egypt EEZ. In 2018, tensions increased between Cyprus and Turkey when the Turkish foreign minister announced the intention to carry out gas exploration in Cyprus EEZ. Turkey sent several times exploration ship, such as RV Oruc reis, escorted by frigates creating huge concerns for EU, which Cyprus is a member States. In reaction, the European Council decided to suspend several negotiations. Egypt, which had an agreement with Cyprus to exploit some of its gas fields, reduced also its relations with Turkey. Arms trafficking from Turkey The last factor of destabilization in Easter Mediterranean is the arm trafficking from Turkey to Libya. Libya faced a civil war since 2011 and the United Nations Security Council voted the Resolution 1973 to impose an arms embargo over the country. To enforce this resolution, mainly ineffective, the European Union launch in March 2020 the operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, using aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In that framework, the EU linked the merchant vessel Cirkin, now re-named Guzel, to transport military material to Libya between May and June 2020. According to the press agency Reuters, the ship was escorted by three Turkish vessels, preventing all cargo inspection. In September 2020, EU imposed sanctions on the Turkish shipping company Avrasya Shipping accused of breaking the U.N. embargo on Libya. The president Erdogan never recognised to conduct this kind of operation. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
October 8, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsIllegal fishing in pacific Ocean Illegal fishing in pacific Ocean is a major challenge for South American countries. The decrease of natural resources and the difficulties to control the area call for an international cooperation in order to preserve a future sustainable for local population. Nothing new for the region The western coast of South America is one of the biggest fish reserve in the world. Galapagos islands, located 900 km west of continental Ecuador, are an archipelago of volcanic islands well known for their large number of endemic species. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which deserves to be protected. Unfortunately, the entire region ecosystem is threatened by the increasing seafood demand and foreign fishing fleet coming from asia. But this trend is not new. An article from borgenmagazine reported that between July and August 2020 “a fleet of nearly 300 Chinese vessels logged more than 73,000 hours of fishing efforts just outside of Ecuador’s exclusive economic zone”. South American initiative to stop the collapse in fish stocks Facing that problem, Ecuador tried to prohibit the use of transhipment. This activity is a logistic process where fishing vessels meet refrigerated cargo to transfer seafood, fuel or supplies. It gives a serious advantage to the Chinese fleet to stay longer at sea. Ecuador is not the only concern. Chile and Peru are also monitoring those activities. According to brinknews, Chile’National Fishing and Aquaculture Service reported “illegal fishing causes $397 million in loses every year and has asserted that 70% of that country’s fishing stock has collapsed”. It is why in 2016 and under the Food and Agriculture Organization from the United Nations, 8 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean signed the first global treaty against illegal fishing to bind them against this challenge. What is next? On 4 November 2020, four countries (Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia) issued a joint statement condemning illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. This statement developed information-sharing efforts and led countries to joint action against illegal fishers operating in their Economic Exclusive Zone. Reports were sent to the Permanent Commission to the South Pacific (CPPS), a maritime regulatory organization. Countries called also for a global cooperation. As an example, the French frigate Prairial based in Papeete, French Polynesia, reported to Peru and Chile the presence of 6 Chinese fishing vessels closed to Easter Island while she was transiting for the maritime exercise Unitas in Peru. Eventually, the challenge of illegal fishing in an area where only a few ships are sailing can be faced only through a global agreement between countries and an international cooperation. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 12, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsFarwa island Farwa island is an idyllic area located on the extreme west of the Libyan’s Mediterranean coast. Unfortunately, this wildlife treasure in a civil war country is threatened by a destructive fishing method, lobbing grenades into the water, and a leak of heavy metal from a local industry. This situation is not the only one in the Mediterranean sea, where 8% of the fish species are endangered. Two main causes: destructive fishing and pollution Libya has been ravaged by civil war for a decade, and weapons became common to use, even for fishermen. Locals fish with grenades into the water, a method destroying everything in the blast zone. In this failed state, no the fishing industry is left unregulated and uncontrolled by a lack of law enforcement. Turtles are also victims, caught in the drifting fishing nets. It is also hard for them to reproduce because of the people digging up on the beach for their eggs. The second threat for Farwa is the Abu Kammash petrochemical factory, 2 kilometres south of the island. The industry leaked heavy metals for years and is now abandoned. A perfect situation for an environmental disaster. Wildlife Conservation, a global problem for theWhere is Farwa Island? Farwa is located 40 kilometres of the city port of Zuwara, on the extreme west of the Libyan’s Mediterranean coast. This post-card idyllic island is 13 kilometers long and inhabited, excepted by some occasional lucky tourists. The landscape is composed of date palm tree on white sandy beaches along the deep blue of the Mediterranean waters. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Farwa island might be the “most important coastal and marine site in western Libya, in terms of its high marine and coastal biodiversity”. Many flamingos reside in its salt marshes and lagoon and it is common to see sea turtles in shallow waters. Wildlife Conservation, a global problem for the Mediterranean Sea As explained in a precedent article, the Mediterranean Sea used to be a wonderful ecosystem with more than 7% of global marine fish species, with a total of 519 different species. Unfortunately, maritime pollution, over-stock fishing and a lack of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) led to a degradation of its ecosystem. IUCN reported that 14 species are critically endangered, 13 species are endangered and 15 are vulnerable. Most of them are sharks, rays and sea turtles. Over 8% of Mediterranean fish species are concerned. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
July 28, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / Newsthreatened fish species The Mediterranean Sea used to be a wonderful ecosystem with more than 7% of global marine fish species, with a total of 519 different species. Unfortunately, maritime pollution, over-stock fishing and a lack of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) led to a degradation of its ecosystem. Over 8% of Mediterranean fish species are concerned. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN) is a membership Union composed of government and civil society. Established in 1984, the organization measures the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species. IUCN publication about conservation status of the marine fishes of the Mediterranean Sea reported that 14 species are critically endangered: Shark (shortfin mako shark, porbeagle shark, sand tiger shark);Ray (spinny butterfly ray, common skate, sandy skate, maltese skate, white skate);Sawfish (smalltooth sawfish, common sawfish)Angular roughshark;Angelshark (sawback angelshark, smoothback angelshark, common angelshark)Common Goby. Moreover, 13 species are endangered and 15 are vulnerable. It is also important to take in consideration the 22 species near threatened. Fishing industry and coastline population growth Fishing industry remains the main issue to deal with conservation. Stocks are over-exploited due to the increase of the industry and technological progresses. The use of trawling, long lines and driftnets results to by-catch (capture of non-target species). This destruction of marine life represents over 40% of world’s total fish catch. Increased of human population along the coastline has also a negative impact on ecosystem. Often associated with local population, it is a source of pressure on fish nursery and spawning areas, which are mostly located along the littoral. Environmental conservation measures The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) is a United Nations regional fisheries management organization established in 1949. The GFCM made a decision in 2005 to prevent deep-water fishing operations below 1000m, reducing the potential pressure on vulnerable deep-water species. The organization banned also driftnets in 1997, even if some are still used illegally. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
July 15, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / Newsgillnet fishing In California, the Environmental Non-Governmental Organisation are greeting the state budget year. This budget will fund commercial fisherman involves in a transition from deadly gillnett a solution which preserves endangered sea turtles. For over 100 million years, turtles have roamed our oceans, with the exception of the Arctic Ocean. Today, six of the seven species of marine turtles are classified as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. Marine turtles are locally protected or under restoration plans, but pollution, poaching and fishing gear, such as gillnet remain the main causes of the decline of the small population. Nevertheless, protection of sea turtles made significant progresses in recent decades in many parts of the world. As an example, resorts and hotels in Florida and Hawaï took action by reducing beach lighting to avoid turtles to get disorientated. In Mexico, the use of systems to allow turtles to escape from fishing nets saved Kemp’s ridley local population and loggerheads in the Atlantic. Some fishing fleets even employ observers to document turtle interactions. Recently the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, in his 2021-2022 fiscal year budgets has allocated $1.3 million to take gillnet out of the water. The aim is to provide a substantial compensation ($110 000) for each fisherman returning gill nets. Under state law, the Governor hopes that the entire fleet of California gill net will be phased out by 2024, and replaced by a type of fishing called “deep-set buoy gear,” much more selective. This technique is especially used to target sword fishes or tuna. It uses a hook-and-buoy, which hooks depth can be set in order to catch only the desire specie. A study by the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme (SPREP) shows that depth setting appears to be the most important factor to avoid by-catch, much more efficient that the type of the bait used. The number of turtle by-catches in shallow water is ten times greater than catches on longlines set in deep water: if turtles may still get caught in deep water, the main danger remains the shallowest hooks. Nevertheless, this program to change fishing method is not unanimously supported by Californian fishermen: some believe that deep-sed buoy gear will not provide enough catches to be financially viable. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
June 16, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsOn January 19th,2021, the Government of Vanuatu reported the apprehension of two Chinese trawlers off the island of Hiu on suspicion of illegal activities. This is not an isolated act. In fact, lots of chinese fisherman threatening the maritime sovereignty of coastal states were reported, particularly in the Pacific Ocean. Chinese fishermen cause concern near the Galapagos Islands In 2019, NGOs and Galapagos inhabitants had already alerted the government about the presence of Chinese fishermen in the area.In the summer of 2020, more than 300 vessels have been identified in the vicinity of the Galapagos Nature Reserve. Even if this is not theoretically forbidden, it raises a lot of concern. According to the former mayor of Quito Roque Sevilla, “the uncontrolled Chinese fishermen right on the edge of the protected area is ruining Ecuador’s efforts to protect Galapagos marine life.” This threatens the environment and the sustainable use of the Pacific Ocean’s fisheries resources. For Defence Minister Oswaldo Jarrin, the concern is that this Chinese fleet could penetrate or infiltrate the Ecuadorian EEZ, hence the importance of asserting Ecuadorian sovereignty over its maritime territory. France, a key player in the Pacific France, which has a special place as a Pacific nation, has made the protection of its maritime territory a priority. Indeed, it is striving to maintain its position in the global competition for maritime sovereignty. To defend its interests in the Pacific, France maintains permanent defence forces with the presence of 2900 military personnel, 7 ships and 16 aircrafts. These forces ensure the protection and security of French territories and the control of EEZs. They participate in different activities like rescue operations and fight against trafficking. But France must still be able to intervene everywhere in its EEZs and to control them. It must be sufficiently dissuasive to prevent possible territorial claims or illegal behaviour. Chinese fishing is (almost) pervasive in the Pacific The map of the Global Fishing website shared on Twitter in 2017 shows that the deterrence of illegal fishing in waters under French sovereignty works. Picture Map Global Fishing: Movements and activities of the Chinese fishing fleets from May 2017 to October 2017 Of all the independent states in the South Pacific that are having their fish resources plundered by Chinese fishermen, only the waters of French Polynesia and New Caledonia are spared. This is the challenge entrusted to the French Navy, whose mission is to control a territory of over 7 million km². Recognised as one of the most efficient navies in the world, it must counter the ambitions of new maritime players, including China. The Middle Kingdom has the largest fishing fleet in the world with 17,000 vessels, according to a study led by the London-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) French Pacific Exclusive Economic Zone Within the Polynesian area, France has established partnerships with autonomous Pacific countries. The country offers its assistance in rescue missions and in the fight against pollution and illegal fishing, in particular by radar and satellite means. However, if France one day struggles to exercise its sovereignty over its own territory, it is very likely that these countries, for their security and development, might later fall into the lap of other powers. Indeed, beyond the fisheries resources, the wealth of maritime territories is not only on the surface. 10% of the planet’s ‘rare earth’ resources are found in the soil of the oceans. It should be remembered that these resources, which are sometimes found more than 5,000 metres underwater, are necessary for lots of modern industries. Even though until now their exploitation has been too costly to be profitable, the scarcity of resources on the continents makes them increasingly interesting. Thus, the sale of exploration and exploitation permits is certainly the challenge of tomorrow. For the moment, the weakness of the means committed to maintaining French sovereignty in the Pacific and more widely across the globe is compensated by organizational excellence. In fact, France can rely on its Joint Maritime Centres. These centres pool all the resources present in the Pacific EEZs. They bring together the French Navy, the Air Force, the gendarmerie, the police and customs forces as well as maritime affairs and civil security resources. Therefore, in order to face the major security challenges in the region, France wishes to contribute to the establishment of a regional security architecture. Already active in several fora for multilateral dialogue in the Pacific, it has in particular initiated a process of rapprochement with the ASEAN Defence Minister’s Meeting (ADMM+). This is a forum for multinational cooperation between the defence ministries of ASEAN and partner countries whose mission is to ensure development and stability in the region. It should be stated that this stability is necessary to defend, otherwise there will be a general weakening of the law of the sea and thus an increase in inter-state tensions. By carrying out cooperative actions with 18 partners during the latest deployment of the Naval Air Group (NAG) in the framework of the Clémenceau 21 mission, France is bringing its experience to the countries of the region. It also applies its operational know-how, particularly in the field of maritime security. In this way, it contributes to the creation of an area of peace and security based on respect for international law throughout the Pacific. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
June 8, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsFishing in the EEZ In 2020, no offences related to illegal fishing in the French Polynesia EEZ were reported. This can be seen in as a huge success in monitoring fisheries in this area. Fisheries surveillance is a constant concern for France in the Pacific EEZ and represents a central issue in the State’s action at sea. These long-standing efforts have paid off, as no offenders have been reported for many years. In 2020, France dedicated a total of 1,230 hours at sea (almost 50 days) , to monitoring fisheries in its Pacific EEZ and its surroundings. While all of the resources deployed to face illegal fishing are still “lean” given the immensity of an EEZ as big as the size of Europe, these resources are nonetheless capable of asserting French sovereignty and dissuading illegal practices. However, the offenders are most often active at the borders of EEZs, in international waters. This was denounced by four Sout15h American countries. In a joint statement in November 2020, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia expressed their “firm commitment to take measures to prevent, deter and jointly address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities.” While the statement 15does not explicitly mention the origin of the offending trawlers, previous incidents leave no room for doubt. Last July, Ecuador expressed its “unease” with China after 260 Chinese vessels sailed along the coast of the Galapagos Islands, which is a marine reserve area. More dramatically, in 2016 Argentina sank a Chinese trawler that refused to comply. Although these incidents remain fortunately rare, the stakes are exacerbated by pure greed. In a 2016 report, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) showed that 276,000 to 338,000 tonnes of tuna are illegally caught each year. This poaching is estimated to be worth nearly 664 million euros. Finally, it should be remembered that the Pacific Ocean has 60% of the world’s tuna stock. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
June 1, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsThe end of the electric pulse fishing method, with one month to go and is living its last days. This fishing method will soon be completely banned from European Union fishing vessels in all waters they frequent, including outside the EU. Electrical fishing method is extremely controversial and has been criticised by some environmental groups as the Bloom NGO. The NGO has been at the forefront of the campaign against this practice. Why is it so controversial? The technique involves sending electrical impulses from a boat into the sediment to capture hidden fish. (such as sole, plaice or Common dab). This method avoids ploughing the seabed. However, it is seen to be extremely destructive to marine fauna, particularly by destroying eggs and larvae. Since 2007, each EU Member State can convert a maximum of 5% of its beam trawl fleet to electric fishing in the southern North Sea. On July 25th, 2019, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU adopted new rules on the conservation of fisheries resources and the protection of marine ecosystems. Lots of destructive fishing gears or methods that use explosives, poison, soporific substances, electric current, percussion instruments, dredging devices and grabs to harvest red or other types of coral have been banned. However, the use of electric pulse trawls will remain possible for a transitional period until 30 June 2021. On August 14th, 2019, France had banned the use of electric trawls in the waters of the North Sea and other waters under French sovereignty. Anticipating thereby of the EU Council’s decision. On October 4th, 2019, the Netherlands brought an action before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to annul the provisions of this regulation concerning fishing vessels using pulsed electric current. On April 15th, this year, the CJEU rejected the Dutch appeal against the ban on fishing with vessels using pulsed electric current. N°59/2021 : 15 April 2021 Judgment of the Court of Justice in case C-733/19 Netherlands v. Council and Parliament The decision was a big victory for the environment and marine biodiversity Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 6, 2021Drug Trafficking / Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / Smuggling Of Illicit GoodsThe smuggling of illicit goods, in particular fish the Totoaba that is as lucrative and much less dangerous in terms of penal sanction than the traffic of cocaine. In 2018, according to an article published in The Guardian, the Mexico City police found 416 swim bladders in the suitcases of a Chinese tourist. The man was arrested and later released after paying a $600 fine. The Totoaba is a protected endemic species. While scientists believe it to be a cultural fantasy, Chinese medicine believes it to have various medicinal and cosmetic properties, allegedly due to the protein contained in the fish’s swim bladder. According to a study made by ADM Capital Foundation, a philanthropic group, three quarters of sales of products from endangered wildlife are destined for the traditional Chinese medicine industry. Because of this Chinese market, the Totoaba is on the verge of extinction, with only a few specimens left in the waters of the Gulf of California. It is this scarcity that is driving up prices, to the point of calling it the cocaine of the seas as sales prices soar from $20,000 to $80,000 per kg. In its downfall, the Totoaba is bringing with it the disappearance of the smallest harbour porpoise, also known as the little cow of the Pacific Vaquitas. In fact, this could be seen as collateral damage, taking into account the entrapment in the illegal fishing nets used by Totoaba fishermen in the Sea of Cortes. Factfile on the Totoaba and Vaquitas The international community and important personalities such as Leonardo Dicaprio are standing up to try to save what can still be saved, even if today the hope of avoiding the extinction of these two species seems very complicated. In July 2020, the release of the film “Sea of Shadows” directed by Richard Ladkani, highlights the war waged by environmental activists alongside the Mexican Navy against the Mexican cartels and the Chinese mafia. Finally, If this decline continues, it is likely to be extinguished in 2021. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
Miscellaneous
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
May 25, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsPlastic pollution in the Arctic coast. Since the COP26 climate change summit held in November 2021, the media focus has increasingly been on climate change and environmental degradation. However, one largely ignored aspect is that particular areas are more affected than others. One of these areas is the Arctic region. Effects of Climate Change on the Arctic As the planet warms, melting snow and ice makes the Arctic region darker, meaning that it absorbs more solar radiation. Because of this, the Arctic region is warming at three times the global average rate. This, combined with the loss of permanent ice, has significant implications for animal and plant life in the region. For example, polar bears are an endangered species that rely on seals as their primary prey, who in turn rely on floating sea ice to raise their young. With the loss of their main prey, starving polar bears roam further south and come into conflict with humans. Climate change is the biggest threat to biodiversity in the Arctic. However, other factors related to human activity have a significant effect, plastic pollution being one of the most damaging. Sources of Plastic Pollution in the Arctic With the lack of significant human habitation in the Arctic, you would expect relatively low levels of plastic pollution. However, plastic pollution is widely reported across the entire region. One reason for this is that, although the Arctic contains just 1% of the global ocean volume, it receives over 10% of global river discharge. Ocean currents also play their part, bringing flows of plastic pollution from across North America and Europe. There are also significant local sources of plastic pollution. For example, large amounts of plastic in the Arctic come from discarded fishing equipment. As well as this, there is significant cruise tourism leading to large quantities of bottles, plastic bags, containers and fabrics being found around Arctic coastal areas. Effects of Plastic Pollution on Wildlife The most visible effects of the buildup of plastic across the Arctic region are on the larger wildlife. For example, abandoned nets entangle marine mammals and fish; they have even been observed causing distress to reindeer when washed up on the coast. These larger pieces of plastic debris can also pose a risk to shipping, becoming tangled in propellers or clogging engine intakes. However, the problems don’t end there. The plastics degrade into smaller particles that animals of every size then ingest. As a result, fulmars, cod and belugas have all been found with high levels of plastics in their digestive tracts. In addition, pieces of plastic can act as floating rafts for invasive species. For example, non-native barnacles have been found on plastic debris in the Norwegian coastal town of Svalbard. As the plastics break down further, they persist within the food web. As well as harming wildlife, this can cause human health issues. For example, certain plastics have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, hormonal issues and fertility problems. Reducing the Impact of Arctic Plastic Pollution If left unchecked, the impacts of Arctic plastic pollution will have a considerable effect. For example, around 2.5 million tonnes of fish are caught in this region annually. The loss of this would have an incalculable impact on global food security. Fortunately, efforts are underway globally to reduce plastic pollution. As well as recycling initiatives, many nations are passing legislation to eliminate single-use plastics like drinking straws, carrier bags and plastic cutlery. Some efforts are also being undertaken to reduce plastic packaging for food. For example, most major fast-food retailers now package their products in paper and cardboard. However, a tremendous amount of plastic is already out there in the ocean, and measures are needed to clean this up. Non-profit organizations such as The Ocean Cleanup are working on methods to intercept plastic in rivers before it enters the ocean. They also plan to break up the floating “garbage islands” that have appeared on several oceans. Their slightly ambitious goal is to remove 90% of the plastic from the world’s oceans. Both reduction and cleanup are strategies that we will need in the years ahead to keep the Arctic, and indeed all of the world’s oceans, clear of plastic pollution. But, as yet, efforts in either direction seem to be inadequate to the scale of the problem. If we are to avoid catastrophic impacts, these efforts need to be scaled up dramatically. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
May 16, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsAfrica’s blue economy Climate change, overfishing, and exhaustive ocean practices in several economic sectors threaten marine biodiversity. Africa’s Blue Economy: The Red Code Alarm explains Africa’s blue economy strategy and its actions to secure a sustainable future for Africa’s seas. Africa’s blue economy can be a crucial contributor to the regional and global economy and has the potential to grow further. However, the sector faces several challenges in achieving sustainable growth. This article provides an overview of the blue economy and its key drivers, some of the challenges it is facing, and suggestions for new sustainable strategies that could be implemented to improve the development of this sector. A Contextual Summary of the African Maritime Environment Coastal and marine resources are central to providing food, energy, and jobs to millions of people; however, Africa’s maritime industry faces many challenges, including climate change and illegal fishing practices. Climate change affects the availability of marine resources and makes it harder for vessels to navigate. At the same time, illegal fishing has caused the depletion of many stocks and the degradation of critical marine habitats. These problems are putting Africa’s maritime industry at risk, and there’s a need for concerted actions to address them. Red Code 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. The Consequences of Illegal Fishing Practices There are many harmful consequences of illegal fishing practices, including depletion of fish stocks, loss of habitat, pollution, and the displacement of marine life. Illegal fishing also contributes to global warming, as fishing vessels generate large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Africa’s Blue Economy Strategy Explained In the African context, the Blue Economy includes oceans, seas, coasts, lakes, rivers, and subsurface water. It encompasses both aquatic and marine spaces. Fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, transportation, shipbuilding, energy, bioprospecting underwater mining, and other related operations are just a few of the sectors that it supports. The key obstacles that a Blue Economy strategy might help overcome include increasing knowledge and raising awareness of climate change, environmental stewardship, and promoting environment-friendly business practices. What Does the Blue Economy Hope To Achieve? The Blue Economy provides an opportunity for strengthened partnerships that can assist coastal communities to become an inclusive part of economic development. It can lead to the expansion of progress and peace and foster a climate of prosperity across the African continent. What Can We Expect From Africa’s Blue Economy ? Cultural and other societal elements have an impact on our lived experience of the economy. Therefore, the successful transition to a blue economy for Africa, could imply the following actions: Agenda setting, awareness, and sensitizationCoordination in formulating the Blue Economy policyBuilding national ownership of the Blue Economy policy formulation processSector identification and prioritizationDesigning the Blue Economy policyPolicy ImplementationMonitoring and Evaluation Africa’s maritime industry faces several challenges that have a direct bearing on its ability to thrive and grow. From the effects of climate change to the rampant illegal fishing practices, there is always something standing in the way of progress. However, through collective efforts and concerted action, Africa’s maritime industry can overcome these challenges and usher in a new era of prosperity for all. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
May 4, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsFrance’s EEZ, 10,2 million km² (3,94 million sq mi), is the second largest maritime area in the world after the United States. 97% of the French EEZ is related to its overseas departments and communities, the metropolitan EEZ representing only 370,000 km² (143,000 sq mi.). In order to monitor this immense overseas EEZ, a significant number of patrol vessels is necessary. While the French Navy is technologically credible, it is hindered by a modest number of naval platforms. Maritime Surveillance Currently, the French Navy has four Overseas Support and Assistance Ships (BSAOM), three Antilles-Guyana Patrol Boats (PAG) and six Surveillance Frigates (FS) dedicated to the surveillance of overseas marine territories. It means only 13 vessels are monitoring an area of 9,8 million km² (3,8 million sq mi.), each vessel being responsible for an area the size of Chile. It is true that six Overseas Patrol Vessels (POM) are to be delivered between 2022 and 2025, but by the end of the decade, the six Surveillance Frigates built in the early 1990s will probably be decommissioned. Based on this observation, the recent report by the Senate Delegation for overseas recommends coupling the delivery of the POMs with the commissioning of surface drones to monitor the EEZ. Drones Opportunities The use of drones to complement conventional forces would indeed allow a significant increase in capabilities…but they still need to be developed. The French Defense Industry is in the early stages of surface drones development. During the 2021 Naval Innovation Days, the company Naval Group presented a submarine drone but no autonomous surface system. Surface drones could provide a permanent and in-depth surveillance network. They could be used either as a complement to conventional forces to reinforce an existing surveillance system and possibly create a saturation effect, or as a substitute for conventional forces for DDD (Dull, Dirty, Dangerous) missions. Indeed, this 3D rule illustrates the comparative advantage of the drone compared to a manned system: it will be able to carry out repetitive and tedious tasks over time (dull), in an unpleasant or painful environment (dirty), even hostile (dangerous). The Israelis claim to be the first to have implemented an armed surface drone. Since then, the Americans and Chinese have made progress and caught up. China and USA Moving Forward A US DoD report presented to Congress in February 2022 proposed to develop a fleet made up of one third large ships (aircraft carriers, frigates), one third smaller ships and one third medium/large unmanned surface vehicles (MUSV/LUSV). The MUSVs (Sea Hunter type) would be used mainly to carry sensors (radar, sonar, electronic warfare, etc.) and weapons designed to combat swarms of enemy drones. The LUSVs (Overlord program) would provide additional mass and, in particular, sufficient weapons. They would be used in long-term operations, and specifically focused on high-intensity naval combat. As for China, it seems to be developing mainly small USVs, intended for export (JARI – 12m or Marine Lizard – 15m) and presented at the main arms shows. Some open sources also exposed larger models, which seem to be developed specifically for the PLA Navy. Beijing barely communicates on those. Indeed, China needs increased maritime surveillance capabilities in the “nine-dash line” area, particularly around the disputed islands in the South China Sea. The Future of Maritime Surveillance Finally, if surface drones can be used to reinforce the surveillance network, to combat illegal activities (IUU, smuggling….) on the world’s seas.They could also strengthen the offensive and defensive capabilities of a naval task force: extension of the radar detection range, multi-static anti-submarine warfare, coordinated anti-aircraft network to counter a saturating attack, etc. Although these tools are not fully mature yet, and their lethal effectiveness in armed operations remains to be demonstrated, they have solid assets to reinforce the surveillance of maritime spaces. European countries must rapidly strengthen their R&D in surface drones, in order to maintain their strategic autonomy. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 11, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsAlthough France has the second biggest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world (3.9 million sq mi), it does not have a Coast Guard to protect it. Like in many other domains, France has instead developed a specific concept to coordinate the action of the many administrations acting in the maritime domain: “l’Action de l’État en Mer”) or “the State Action at Sea” (SAS). What is the State Action at Sea? SAS describes a comprehensive approach of all government-led maritime operations, with the exception of the defense missions. It covers over 45 missions, organized in 10 categories, which address an exhaustive panel of issues: from sovereignty and protection of national interests, to combatting illegal activities, ensuring the safety of people and goods, or protecting the environment. When EEZ were created in 1976, France had to tailor an organization in order to protect French interests at sea. Instead of creating a specific Coast Guard corps, France chose to rely on a unique maritime authority, and the versatility of assets belonging to the different administrations operating at sea. Governance and organization In mainland France, the Maritime Prefects, three Navy vice-admirals, have the delegation of the Prime Minister’s authority for SAS within their respective maritime domain. In the Overseas Territories, a government’s delegate for SAS acts on behalf of the Prime Minister, with the support of the local maritime commander (a Navy officer). The General Secretary for the Sea organizes and coordinates this structure, under the authority of the Prime Minister. He chairs the Director Comity of the Coast Guard Function, which ensures the coordination and sharing of all the maritime assets of the different administrations operating at sea and along the coastline. There are eight of these: the French Navy, including the Maritime Gendarmerie, the Customs, the Maritime Affairs, the Gendarmerie, the Directorate-General of the Overseas, the Border Police and Civilian Protection. What are the missions? One of the main concerns of the French government’s policy for SAS is combatting illegal migration in the Channel, in the Mediterranean and around Mayotte (due to Comorian migrants). It is a complicated task, between law enforcement and safety of life at sea. Additionally, the BREXIT has raised tensions with the UK in the Channel on that matter. Drug enforcement, especially in the West Indies and in the Mediterranean sea, is also an important topic. Although the seizures were massive in the late years, they remain relatively minor compared to the estimated global volume of the traffic. Illegal fishing is another issue withing SAS framework. As an example, Fisheries Protection off the French Guiana faces an endemic illegal activity by Brazilian fishermen, with a high level of violence. Current and future challenges On a larger scale, the pillaging of Argentinian’s and Equatorian’s fishery resources by Chinese fishing armada raises the question of the protection of the vast French EEZ. While only the French Navy is able to operate in the high sea, its current downsizing due to previous budget cuts and delayed renewal programs, rises as a serious concern. AIS tracks around French Polynesia EEZ (red line) Former and current Chiefs of Staff of the French Navy have launched an ambitious program to equip all warships with UAVs in order to increase the capacity of control of maritime assets by ten times. However, these new means are not expected before several years. Moreover, the necessary protection of the maritime environment is likely to collide with increasing industrial activities (offshore wind turbines, mineral exploitation…) in an already engorged space, due to maritime traffic, fishery and military activities. This will challenge the limited number of French assets available for SAS tasks, while tensions keep rising on sovereignty issues and delimitation of disputed maritime areas. Perspectives for the State Action at Sea In a report published in 2019, the French National Court of Audits noted the lack of coordination between the different entities involved in the SAS. After the resignation of Catherine Chabaud, Delegate for the Sea and the Littoral, a Ministry of the Sea was finally created in July 2020. However, without any authority over the other ministries involved in the maritime domain (such as the Economics or Transportation), it is likely to remain an empty shell. In its plan for 2030, the French government underlined the tremendous prospects offered by France’s EEZ, which could increase even more in the coming years with the extension of the Continental shelf. Shall this new positioning of France as a major maritime nation of the 21st century become a reality, massive investments in the SAS, both in action and coordination capacities, will be needed. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 7, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsUnderwater cables are a major challenge. Cutting off a country’s communications does not seem very difficult considering the various incidents already recorded. But protecting such vital infrastructures is very difficult and costly. Seabed Warfare, this is the kind of threat Western countries will need to deal with in a very near future. Seabed warfare In recent years, many events have fueled the idea that an insidious submarine war could start soon. Indeed, the increase in the number of incidents on submarine infrastructures as well as the presentation of sea-bed-intervention submarines and Underwater Unarmed Vehicles (UUVs) are strong arguments accrediting this thesis. In November 2021 and January 2022, two Norwegian agencies reported incidents on underwater cables. In the first case, a scientific cable was torn off and displaced. The segments have not been fully retrieved yet. In the second case, a communication cable was cut, altering the resilience level of the telecommunication service which it supported. A report by the International Cable Protection Committee states that out of 2,500 events registered between 1959 and 2006, 66% of cable damage was caused by human activity (anchoring and fishing), 13% by natural events and 21% remains of unknown origin (based on data from Tyco Telecommunications (US) Inc.). These different examples highlight the great vulnerability of submarine cables, whether they are used for data transport, power supply or scientific purposes, and the difficulty in establishing responsibilities. Today, roughly 99% of the world’s data traffic travels through submarine cables. The most powerful countries already in the game Moreover, these cables are vulnerable to sabotaging, or spying .The United States created a new means of action during the Spanish-American War of 1898, by cutting several maritime telecommunication cables, isolating Spain from its areas of operation, and thus gaining an important strategic advantage. In the sixties, the United States resumed spying on the submarine cables communications, and it seems that these operations are still going on today. Other major nations are involved in this business: Russia and China’s deep-sea capacities and activities leave little doubt as to their objectives. Whether it is the Russian Losharik submarine or the Chinese HSU-001, these two countries are demonstrating their will to carry out actions in the deep sea, to assert their interests or hinder their rivals. Since 2015 at least, NATO and the United States have shown concern about the activities (potentially cable mapping) carried out by the Russian ship Yandra as well as the Russian submarine fleet. NATO seems to fear that these units could foreshadow destabilizing actions, to undermine the interests of NATO and its partners. However, protecting 1.3 million kilometers of cables represents an unprecedented challenge for nations. To prepare for this future type of action, several Western countries have taken actions. In 2016, the US Navy published an updated version of Undersea Warfare S&T Strategic, detailing scientific and technical objectives to align R&D with the needs in the field. In the United Kingdom, the First Sea Lord announced in his 2020 New Year’s speech that two Ocean Surveillance ships would be built “to help with data collection and protect critical national infrastructure and undersea cables.” In February 2022, the French Minister of Defence presented her country’s Seabed warfare strategy. The French plan is quite interesting, giving insights on the different strategic competitors in the field, the ambitions of Paris as well as a roadmap to achieve these objectives. Though it is long-term global plan, it does not detail the means that will be implemented to prevent and counter acts of sabotage or espionage. In a nutshell, cutting off a country’s communications does not seem very difficult considering the various incidents already recorded. On the other hand, protecting such vital infrastructures as underwater cables is very difficult and costly. In a post-covid context, which has weakened many countries, one may wonder whether the various Western strategies will be funded up to their ambitions. One thing is certain however: to do nothing to protect underwater cables is not an option! Like this:Like Loading... [...]
March 31, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsShould the ocean, which is such an incredible treasure, be made a sanctuary? This is the dilemma that led France to organize the One Ocean Summit, from February 9 to 11, 2022 in Brest. While the issue of seabed mining was central, it should not overshadow other issues such as plastic pollution, overfishing, and damage caused to the biodiversity. What is the One Ocean Summit? The One Planet movement (a branch of the One Ocean Summit) was created to keep the “fight against climate disruption” and the “protection of nature” at the highest political level. Launched in December 2017 as a joint initiative of France, the UN and the World Bank, I was based on a clear observation: preserving the planet requires more concrete commitments and a joint effort of all actors, public and private. The movement is therefore part of an international dynamic. Who participated in the Brest meeting? In addition to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, 41 nations from all continents were represented. Amongst them: China, France, the United States, Tunisia, Colombia, and so on… Alongside political decision-makers, business leaders and civil society actors participated in this global event. French President Emmanuel Macron poses with heads of state during the One Ocean Summit in Brest on February 11, 2022. LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP What was the outcome? Thirteen commitments were taken by the end of the summit, structured around four main themes: 1. Protecting the biodiversity and resources of our oceans. 2. Joining forces with the ocean in the face of climate change. 3. Putting an end to plastic pollution of the oceans. 4. Placing the ocean at the heart of the international political agenda. The most symbolic commitments are the following: – An international agreement against plastic pollution: a dozen countries, including the United States and the entire European Union support the launch of negotiations under the aegis of the UN. In addition, India and France have committed to eliminating pollution from single-use plastics. – The mapping of 80% of the seabed by 2030, under the aegis of UNESCO. – a commitment to fight illegal fishing: 14 countries will strengthen the fight against illegal fishing, especially by mobilizing their State Navy for surveillance missions such as those conducted by France in its EEZ. France also took national engagements, such as the extension of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands or the diminution, within 10 years, of all littoral that pose a risk of plastic waste discharge at sea. What are the challenges for France? Since the success of the COP21 in Paris, back in 2015, France has led the fight for environmental preservation. Today, the success of the One Ocean Summit also resonates in the context of its Presidency of the UE. France’s credibility and legitimacy on the subject of the oceans protection stems from two factors: Paris has the second largest EEZ in the world, and has developed a specific doctrine to take care of it, the State Action at Sea, mostly based on the French Navy’s assets. At the end of the summit, France and Costa Rica committed to organizing the next One Ocean Summit in 2024. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
March 29, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsMaritime security in the Adriatic Sea is a major challenge for coastal regions to ensure the protection of national maritime interests. Indeed, this arm of the Mediterranean Sea is a strategic region that attracts a multitude of activities. An illegal part of this business have developed, creating threats in the area.  The Adriatic Sea, located between the Italian and Balkan peninsulas, is connected to the Ionian Sea by the Strait of Otranto. Due to the particularity of its geographical situation, many issues related to the use of the maritime territory arise, particularly in the field of security. CURRENT SITUATION The area attracts a multitude of different maritime flows. Some of them are vital for the region especially maritime transport, fishing, oil and gas extraction or tourism. Maritime trade is a key factor for the region: 19 ports are handling over a million tons of cargo each year to fuel neighbouring countries and more broadly Europe. The largest freight port is Trieste (Italy), whilst Split (Croatia) handles the largest number of passengers. However, significant infrastructure deficits remain important in the region, resulting in a lack of accessibility. Tourism is a major economic activity along the Adriatic coast, especially for Croatia and Italy. The growing number of yachts and large cruise vessels sailing and calling the Adriatic waters represents a challenge for both navigation safety and security that neighbouring countries need to address. Fishing has also a strong importance for both self-national consumption and export. Italy and Croatia are the main contributors to total catches. Regulation in the area mainly concerns demersal and small pelagic species. Some “fisheries restricted areas” have been settled to preserve resources natural habitats, species and deep-sea resources. The Adriatic and Ionian Sea basins represent the second area for hydrocarbon installations in Europe (gas and oil). Several countries have already started to exploit these resources. Offshore activities are expected to grow, conflicting with the tourism development and posing a major threat to the environment protection. Finally, the increase of maritime traffic leads to a real risk of accident, thus of pollution. To prevent such events, surveillance and coordination capacities need to be strengthened. Alongside these legal activities, illegal ones have developed, creating other threats in the area. Immigration: in 2018, over 117.000 migrants arrived in Europe by the Mediterranean Sea. Migrants are mainly turning to Albania trying to reach Western Europe by land, but also via the Adriatic Sea. The number of migrants trying to cross Albania in 2020 tripled compared to 2019. Smugglers send the migrants at sea through leisure crafts or small boats frequently stolen, leading to a growing number of losses at sea. Trafficking: the Adriatic Sea is a strategic area for traffic networks and a major maritime connection on the “Balkan route” linking Afghanistan to western and central Europe. Cross-border criminal activities include drug trade, cigarette, firearms or counterfeit medicines smuggling. STATES ORGANISATION Maritime borders tend to overlap, requiring coastal states to work together for their individual and mutual interests. As a result, they put in place several strategies at various scales. Leveraging first on national forces, the Adriatic Sea bordering countries have set up maritime surveillance organizations, to carry out protection of national maritime interests. These include Navies but also Coast Guards (Italy & Croatia) or the maritime law enforcement force (Albania). In addition, to meet specific maritime security needs, coastal States have established bilateral or regional agreements. Among these, the Italian-Yugoslav agreement on cooperation for the protection against pollution of the Adriatic Sea and coastal areas signed in 1974, which led to the creation of a Joint Commission (Italy – Slovenia – Croatia – Montenegro). At European level, one can notice the Adriatic Ionian Initiative, established in 2000, organizing the cooperation between EU members situated along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas for the entire region’s development and security. The EU is also deplying troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Operation Althea (formally the European Union Force Bosnia and Herzegovina EUFOR). This peace enforcement mission, composed of 600 troops, has seen its capabilities recently reinforced by the French Carrier Strike Group and its fighter aircrafts Rafale, which spent a month in the Adriatic Sea supporting EUFOR among other tasks. More recently, FRONTEX has become a key player, coordinating Europe efforts to secure its borders in the Adriatic Sea. In 2019, the Agency signed an agreement for the first time with a non-EU country, Albania, followed later by Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to help local authorities fight organized crime. PERSPECTIVES The Adriatic Sea is an area full of resources that requires a better coordination to ensure its maritime safety. The INTESA project works on this purpose. It creates a network between Italian and Croatian administrations, and a link with major ports of the Adriatic Sea in order to make a more efficient and safer maritime transport system in this area. The project aims three objectives: strengthening maritime safety and security; developping a resilient transport maritime network; and creating a competitive Port System. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
March 25, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsSuez Canal The Suez Canal originally opened in 1869 and was the most extensive maritime engineering feat of its day. It immediately became one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, primarily because it reduced the route between Britain and India—one of the most important trading routes of the day—by over 4,500 miles. Cutting through Egypt from Port Said in the north and Suez in the south, the canal remains a bustling shipping lane, connecting Europe to its trading partners in Asia. Why Is The Suez Canal Being Expanded? When it first opened in 1869, the Suez Canal consisted of a channel 26 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom, and 200 to 300 feet wide at the surface. Over the next quarter of a century, over 3,000 ships became grounded, and the first expansion project was therefore commissioned in 1876, widening the canal and adding more passing bays. Over the following 140 years, additional expansions were made, new passing bays were added, and works to counter erosion were completed, continually improving the canal and increasing its importance as a maritime route. The Egyptian government conducted the latest expansion in 2015, and it was thought that this would keep the channel flowing freely for many decades to come. However, the advent of new “supercontainer”ships carrying goods from Asia into Europe had not entirely been planned for. On 23 March 2021, the container ship Ever Given was thrown off course by a dust storm and beached, blocking the canal. Economists at Lloyds List estimated that the global economy lost $400 million for every hour that the container ship blocked the channel. It remained lodged for six days, further straining an already stretched global supply chain. Immediately after this, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced that further expansion of the Suez Canal would be initiated. Accordingly, in July 2021, work began, with an estimated 24-month timescale and completion date of July 2023. What Is Involved In The Suez Canal Expansion? The Ever Given became lodged in the 30km southern portion of the canal, and this area is being widened 130 feet to the east and deepened from 66 feet to 72 feet. The Chairman of the SCA, Osama Rabie, said in May 2021 that “This will improve ship navigation by 28% in this difficult part of the canal.” The project has also brought forward plans for a second channel which will increase the capacity of the canal by six ships. Environmental Impacts The grounding of the Ever Given served to highlight the ever-increasing impact of shipping on the environment in general and the seas around the Suez Canal to the north and south of Egypt specifically. The levels of pollution from fuel spilled and emissions were already high, and the increased shipping capacity will exacerbate this. This is shown clearly by the increasing size of container ships; in 2007, the largest container ship in the world could carry 8,000 containers, and the Ever Given had a capacity of 20,000. An additional environmental consideration is the transmission of invasive species between the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Suez. For example, Rabbitfish Siganus luridus (the dusky spinefoot) is native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. However, after the Suez Canal opened in 1869, this species entered the eastern Mediterranean and was found in Greek waters by 1964. With climate change warming the Mediterranean Sea and the extra capacity in the Suez Canal, the trend of tropical fish such as this one displacing native species will only increase. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
March 22, 2022Miscellaneous / Newsfreedom navigation The concept of “lawfare” has been defined by US General Dunlap as “the strategy of using or misusing law as a substitute for international military measures to achieve an operational objective”. In the maritime field, it implies the misinterpretation and misapplication of international law of the sea and especially the principle of freedom of navigation. In the last decades, the Eastern Mediterranean Sea has been a center of real conflicts and tensions, which had for consequence the misapplication of the rule of law in order to serve national interest. How States’ practices jeopardize the primacy of the principle of Freedom of Navigation and which remedies exist to ensure its rightful application linked to the international order? The prominence of the principle of freedom of navigation in the Law of the Sea Initially defined by international customary law, the principle of freedom of navigation and the right of innocent passage were codified in 1984 in the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Every vessel, regardless its flag and its nature, is free to sail the high sea and the economic exclusive zone (EEZ). The principle of innocent passage within territorial waters enables to conciliate between the principle of Freedom of Navigation and coastal State Sovereignty. The misuse of the Law of the Sea for national interests The Eastern Mediterranean Sea is the stage of multiple maritime boundaries overlaps. National interpretations, misuses of International Law and the lack of bilateral agreements lead to increasing diplomatic and maritime tensions within the area. Two types of practices can be highlighted. First, the distortion of the Law of the Sea in order to extend national maritime domain. Secondly, the alteration of the legal framework applicable to a specific maritime area. In 1973, Libya former Head of State, Colonel Gaddafi, unilaterally declared the Gulf of Sidra as internal waters and thus under Libya full sovereignty. This decision did not only enabled the extension of the country maritime boundaries, it also subjected the entrance in the Gulf to national authorization. Libyan authorities warned that any vessel crossing the so-called “line of death” without prior authorization would be destroyed. Despite the political evolution in Libya, this maritime boundary is still in place in 2022 even though it is a breach of the principle of navigation and the right of innocent passage as defined by customary international law and UNCLOS (art 17, 57 and 87). More recently, Turkish government proclaimed its rights over the continental shelf in the Aegean Sea, in opposition to Greek and Cypriot claims. Despite not being a contracting State of UNCLOS, Ankara’s decision is in conflict with customary international law, which provides that the continental shelf delimitation should be “the object of agreement between the States concerned”. Moreover, in several occasions, Turkish warships while escorting research vessels in an unbounded EEZ, conducted “shadow operations” on foreign vessels. This behavior reflects a will to hamper the exercise of Freedom of Navigation for vessels transiting in this area in contradiction with customary international law and UNCLOS. The exercise of Freedom of Navigation as a safeguard The best remedy to ensure the application of the principle of navigation is to keep sailing within the contested areas. Such practices will not only demonstrate the non-recognition of the maritime boundaries unilaterally settled but will also assert the primacy of international Law of the Sea. As a mean to face increasing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been deploying warship through the operation Sea Guardian. Its purpose is to maintain maritime safety and security within the area, but also to conduct Freedom of Navigation Operations if necessary. The US Navy FONOPS program established since 1979 enables the deployment of assets within contested maritime boundaries. In the 1980’s, following the qualification of the Gulf of Sidra as internal waters, US navy Carrier Strike Groups were sent to ensure the application of principle of navigation within the area. As an example, the French Navy amongst others promotes the principle of Freedom of Navigation through the deployment of its fleet in every ocean and sea. In January 2022, French frigates Provence and Auvergne have been deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea as a display of France‘s will to exercise and highlight this freedom. These deployments have a determined purpose, to demonstrate the primacy and the importance of the rightful application of the Law of the Sea main provisions: the right for every vessel to exercise their right of innocent passage and to navigate within the high sea including EEZ. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
March 17, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsThe outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine on the 24th of February 2022 shed light on the strategic role of the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, as well as the Montreux Convention which governs navigation through the Turkish straits. The purpose of the Montreux Convention of 1936 is to regulate transit and navigation from the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea. Its ratification, after centuries of instability, enabled the establishment of a legal and geopolitical status-quo. Despite being considered as the guardian of the Convention, Turkey has officially launched on the 26th of June 2021, the digging operation of a ten billion dollars national project called “Canal Istanbul”. Described as an alternative to the Bosporus strait, it will connect the Marmara Sea to the Black Sea, which raised environmental, economic, political concerns among the national and international community. Announced as operational by 2023, President Erdogan declared that challenging the Montreux Convention was always possible. The Turkish government might seek to implement a new legal framework to the canal to boost national economy at the risk of destabilizing even more the current legal and geopolitical environment of this region. An uncertain balance between financial goals and international law’s requirements? The Convention ensures the application of the principle of freedom of navigation through the Turkish Straits while regulating access to vessels regarding their nature (civilian or warships), flag, and gross tonnage. Designated as a major strategic waterways, it is estimated that approximatively 55 000 vessels are sailing through the Turkish straits each year. As the Convention does not entitle Turkey to introduce new transit fee, the “Canal Istanbul” new regulation could establish a toll, which could generate substantial benefits. Indeed, Ankara expects “Canal Istanbul” to be profitable within a decade. However, in order to persuade vessels to navigate through the canal, national authorities might try to enact restrictive transit measures in the Bosporus Strait (environmental, safety, navigation). Were they to hamper navigation, it could be considered as a violation of the principle of freedom of navigation established by the Montreux Convention. The implementation of a new legal framework for “Canal Istanbul” might lead to legal uncertainty. Two different sets of rules could apply to the same area. Besides, will the Canal be subjected to the Convention or to Turkish national law? Would the Canal be considered as part of Turkey internal waters or as an International Canal and thus subjected to a specific treaty? Should the Montreux Convention be applied, amended or should a new Treaty regarding navigation between the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea be enacted? A quest for profitability at the expense of political and strategical stability? The Montreux Convention enabled the creation of a geopolitical status-quo, especially between NATO countries and Russia. On one hand, it helps controlling the deployment of Russian naval forces to the Mediterranean or Black Sea in peacetime while guarantying the transit of the Alliance’s navies in the Black Sea. On the other hand, in order to protect the Russian bastion, the Convention restricts to 21 days the deployment in the Black Sea of non-neighbouring states’ warships. In wartime, Turkey has an almost discretionary decision-making power concerning the passage of foreign warships.“Canal Istanbul” construction could disrupt this status-quo, which remains necessary to a region subject to exponential tensions. This project demonstrates Turkey’s influence in the region as the Guardian of the Montreux Convention, but it also highlights its weakness. Indeed, if it is decided to abandon the text, it could open the gate to the straits’ internationalization as prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea despite Turkey is not a party. Therefore, the Country could lose a significant influence over the waterway. Should Ankara decide to challenge the Convention, it would be an opportunity for NATO to suggest the removal of navigation restrictions on warships. Such historical change could be fueled by Western countries promise to navigate through “Canal Istanbul” in order to allow Turkey to monetize what is already called its “crazy project”. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
March 15, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsRussian military activity in Black Sea, a threat to shipping industry The Ukraine Crisis and the activity of the Russian Military in Black sea posed a serious threat to maritime trade in the region. Due to several attacks on civilian cargo and according to the Montreux Convention, Turkey government decided to closed Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to warships. The increase of security risks for civilian ships It has been only two weeks since Russian troops have crossed the Ukrainian border but the impact on international maritime flows can already be measured. By ordering a naval blocus on each single Ukrainian port in the Black Sea (Odessa, Pivdennyi, Mylolaiv and Chornomorsk) and in the Sea of Azov (Marioupol), Russia ensnared merchant shipping and brought turmoil in a region that appears to be one of the major sources of the world’s commodities and oil. Premium insurers have increased their fees to cover vessels sailing in the area – and some simply refuse to do so. As a matter of fact, it seems that security cannot be guaranteed anymore for any civilian ship transiting through the Black Sea, regarding the maritime incidents reports over the last few days. No less than ten events occurred from the 24th of February, when a Moldavian ship was completely destroyed by a rocket in the Ukrainian territorial waters. A Turkish vessel got hit the same day near Odessa, as well as a Panama-flagged ship and even two Russian cargos. On February 27th, a Russian navy missile hit a Bangladeshi vessel anchored near Oktyabrsk, killing one crewmember, while two merchant ships have been diverted by the Russian Navy – some sources report that an Estonian-owned cargo was used as a shield for amphibious activities, before the ship hit a mine off Ukraine coast. Even if it seems unlikely for civilian vessels to be targeted willfully, the risk of miscalculation increases dramatically due to the large amount of Russian military ships in the area The impact of the Ukraine war on maritime trade The effects of the on-going situation on global supply-chain flows are starting to be noticed all around the world with delays, detention of cargos by customs authorities and unpredictable operational impacts. As a result, most major maritime companies, such as CMA CGM or Maersk, have announced stopping shipping to Russian ports – a will to guarantee the safety of their crew and vessels, and perhaps to be part of the international sanctions targeting Russia. “The imbalance of goods, equipment and the financial flows are significantly affecting our planning of a stable and sustainable operation of our network to and from Russia”, the Danish container-shipping giant says. The withdrawal from the area has a serious impact on the global shipping industry, as the maritime freight in the area collapsed. Turkey has a major role in managing security risks caused by such a military concentration in the area, by closing off the Bosphorus and Dardanelles strategic straits to warships from any country, whether or not they border the Black Sea. “All governments, riparian and non-riparian, were warned not to send warships across the straits”, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavusoglu said. The Montreux Convention of 1936 allows Turkey to restrict passage of warships from warring states, even though the country is not considered a belligerent in this conflict. A point that Turkish authorities highlighted: “if the warship is returning to its base in the Black Sea, the passage is not closed. We adhere to the Montreux rules”. Indeed the article 19 of the convention contains an exception for vessels away from their bases: according to the treaty, those warships may return through the passage. However, this decision limits Russia’s ability to move ships into the Black Sea from its other fleets, which could cause logistics challenges for Moscow. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
March 11, 2022Miscellaneous / Newsyemen red sea Yemen conflict is a threat to maritime security because of its geographical position in the southern part of the Red Sea. The Yemen conflict exposes vessels to terrorists, pirates, bomb attacks, and other destructions. But how exactly did it all begin? Background of Yemen Conflict Two main factors that contribute to the Yemen conflict are politics and religion. The political instability is majorly a result of poor leadership and misuse of public resources. In 2011, a long-term despotic president, Abdullah Saleh, was forced hand over over power to his deputy. His deputy at the time was Mansour Hadi. However, after taking over, Mr. Hadi faced new challenges such as the threat from the separatists and an uprising from the soldiers of the former president. On the other hand, the religious division between Shai and Sunni has escalated the conflict in Yemen. Shia and Sunni are two factions of Islam with a long history of separation and armed conflict across the Middle East. The religious division has created a vacuum that other countries have taken advantage of. Saudi Arabia is the most prominent Sunni country, while Iran is the large country with the Shia faction. In this regard, the two countries have used the instability in Yemen to engage in proxy wars. Saudi Arabia has continued to fund Sunni Rebels, while Shia has supported the Shia separatist. Consequences of the war The War in Yemen has led to approximately 233,000 people, with 131,000 dying from attacks. Apart from deaths, the Yemen conflict has contributed to the destruction of infrastructure, affecting the operation of diverse systems. This destruction has affected economic operations leading to high unemployment and poverty. The high poverty level has made many young Yemenis vulnerable to joining terrorist groups and other armed groups. In addition to unemployment, the constant political instability has led to hunger and affected vital services such as healthcare and education. A Threat to the Maritime Security The war in Yemen is a considerable threat to Maritime security as Yemen borders the Red Sea in the south, putting it strategically to threaten any vessels passing through the Red Sea. For instance, Houthis, one of the fighting groups in Yemen, threatened to block the shipping lane in this area. The increasing threat is likely to cause dangers such as sea mines disrupting commercial maritime flows. As an example, Bab al-Mandab Strait would be particularly endangered in the case of a minefield network. The missile capability allows armed groups to confront warships from land, think of Saudi-led coalition military base on the Red Sea island of Zuqar in 2017. Water-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED) are also a major concern for navies since the USS Cole bombing in 2000 by an al Qaeda terrorist cell in Aden or the attack of a Saudi frigate in 2017 by three suicide boats belonging to the Houthis militias. Finally, mastery of coordinated drone attacks is a proven fact, which happened on Saudi land in 2019 and 2021. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
March 3, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsThe Abyss The United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) will celebrate in 2022 its forty’s anniversary. Qualified as “package deal”, it is the most “comprehensive document ever adopted by the international community”. The convention strengthened the purpose of customary international laws by codifying its provisions and by creating new ones. Sometimes feared, often fantasised, always hostile, the abyss is the last environment that humans have not conquered yet. But the time has come. For if they have resolved to leave Atlantis and other fantastic animals to the imagination of Jules Verne, more prosaic motivations justify the mobilisation of significant means of exploration and exploitation of a world that is by 80% unknown: nuclear deterrence, extraction of energy or mineral resources, installation of sensitive infrastructures such as submarine cables1 and soon tourism. The tremendous technological progress is sounding the death knell for the confidentiality of the abyss. Just as the atmospheric exospace is currently in turmoil, although the seabed is difficult to access and requires considerable technological resources, it represents a scientific, economic and military boon for more than two-thirds of our planet. However, one major difference remains: the opacity of the oceans lends itself much better than space to the expression of the new facets of war. It favours the politics of the fait accompli and a strong hybridity, i.e. an interweaving of scientific, economic and military actions, declared or not. In the absence of competing observers, the impunity of those who invest in the seabed is almost total. As the Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces declared in October 20212, the peace-crisis-war pattern has disappeared to make way for the even more turbulent confrontation-contestation-confrontation pattern: the seabed is the dream playground for uninhibited confrontation. Here we can recall the disaster scenario of “Le Chant du Loup”3, where the misidentification of the adversary caused the misunderstanding and brought us to the threshold of a nuclear war. The tearing-off of 4.3 km of a Norwegian cable (partly operated by its defence research institute) in April 20214, apparently accidentally caused by a Russian trawler, is in this sense not insignificant. While the event was isolated and small in scale, it prompts one to imagine what would be triggered by the coordinated degradation of numerous cables by pre-positioned anonymous weapons, after one or more nations had suffered considerable economic losses. The United States and the USSR had already clashed in the deep sea during the Cold War. The SOSUS5 system tracked Soviet submarines while the Americans carried out the first submarine cable spying mission. In 1974, the U.S. deployed considerable financial and technical resources in an attempt to recover the Soviet submarine K-129 and its three nuclear warheads, stranded in the Pacific at a depth of 5,000 metres. While this period saw only two pioneers compete, technological advances, driven by the need to locate new energy resources6, are now providing more competitors with the means to take part in the game. Turkey is claiming an extension of its EEZ under the controversial Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and has signed an agreement with Libya7 in 2019 to exploit the gas fields there. China has undertaken the construction of a “Great Underwater Acoustic Wall”8 in the South China Sea and its HADES9 abyssal station project would allow the deployment of submarine vectors with closely intertwined scientific and military missions in total autonomy and discretion. Finally, Russia is developing the nuclear-powered Poseidon torpedo fitted with a nuclear warhead10, which could patrol autonomously and discreetly for months. A modern, dehumanised & low-cost deterrence. It is no coincidence that the permanent nuclear deterrence of the great powers has taken up residence in the oceans. The invulnerability of a submarine is the guarantee of its ability to strike second, i.e. to respond to any external aggression. Challenging this invulnerability through the proliferation of autonomous means of detection and aggression (inexpensive, numerous, AI-driven) is not only making the game more difficult, it is also taking the risk of causing a strategic rupture in a world that had managed, year in and year out, to find a balance by putting the major competitors on an equal footing. What will their reactions be when they are forced to declare their concept of deterrence obsolete? Will it be the perfect opportunity to end the era of nuclear weapons, or will it be the opportunity to invest in a space-based deterrence? The crises our world is going through may well bring us the answer. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
February 22, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsBlack Sea Map For centuries, the Black Sea has been a vital economic and military asset for the nations around its shores. However, with the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the current tensions between the Russian Federation and NATO over Ukraine, the Black Sea is again under intense discussion in military and economic circles as it becomes a critical maritime flashpoint. History The control of the Black Sea has been seen as a key of the power in the region for hundreds of years. Czarist Russian leaders were well aware of this when Catherine the Great took Crimea from the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century. Later, during the 19th century, the contest for control of the Black Sea led to the Crimean War. Russia’s inability to win this conflict was the consequence of the naval supremacy of the alliance between Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire. After this war, Russia could no longer maintain a major naval presence in the Black Sea. The fear of a return to this situation was a critical factor in Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, as the Ukrainian government did not want to renew the lease on their naval base in Sevastapol. The Montreux Convention A crucial element in maintaining the balance of power and allowing free trade through the Black Sea has been the Montreux Convention. Since 1936, The Montreux Convention has regulated merchant and military maritime traffic into and out of the Black Sea. Signed by all nations with coastal territories, it remains one of the most successful international treaties and is still in force today. The convention gives Turkey sovereignty over the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus and allows Turkey to regulate the passage of warships under a strict set of rules. However, Turkey is not allowed to charge transit fees for merchant vessels and must allow free passage. In addition, warships from non-Black Sea nations are only allowed to stay for a maximum of 21 days in the Black Sea. A vital trading route The Black Sea is crucial for linking nations in Eastern Europe with their trading partners in the rest of the world. Ports in Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Russia are vitally important for oil imports to the region. Petroleum and gas are also transported across the Black Sea in vast quantities. Without access to trading routes across the Black Sea, the economic consequences to any nation on its shores would be dire. Other economic benefits to nations around the Black Sea include tourism on its many beautiful beaches and access to fisheries. But the importance of the area also implies different kind of illegal traffics: weapons, migrants or drugs. Over the past few recent years, the smuggling of opioids passing through the Black Sea to Europe has increased, especially given the resurgence of production from Afghanistan. The frozen conflicts between states of the region facilitate the development of illegal trafficking routes, exploiting the lack of coordination between the maritime actors. Coastal nations on the European shore therefore intend to develop their capacities and gain experience in dealing with illegal flux with western partners. For instance, Romanian andBulgarian navy conducted at-sea exercises with the US Coast Guard in this area in May 2021. Romania is also involved in naval European missions, such as FRONTEX, and has a close cooperation with France who often deploys warships into the Black Sea and conducts training with NATO partners. The French-led task force currently deployed in the Mediterranean will detach a destroyer to the area for a few weeks, in addition to other interactions with NATO allies. Current situation As outlined above, the Black Sea is a vital maritime area for all nations around. This has led to many serious conflicts throughout history, and remains a flashpoint today. Historically, the top rivalry in the region has been between Russia and Turkey, although this has waxed and waned through the years. Expansion of NATO into former Russia’s area of influence has further inflamed tensions in the region. Bulgaria and Romania, two major nations on the Black Sea, strengthened their relationship with western countries after becoming NATO and EU members. Last January, French Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs were welcomed in Bucharest to highlight their bilateral partnership: in 2019 Romania signed a deal to acquire four French built GoWind warships for 1.2 billion euros. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
February 17, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / Miscellaneous / NewsArctic routes By mid-century, the chances are high for Transpolar Passage to open across the Arctic Ocean through the North Pole, mainly due to global warming effects. And most nations have buried their collective heads in the sand for this coming reality except China. So, you may forget about requiring nuclear icebreakers. Polar Code, UNCLOS, and insurance companies may still mandate ice-resistant, polar-class ships during summer seasons within the next few decades. But it may also be possible to sail in your regular vessel across the Earth’s top. Climate change opens Arctic new sea routes The Earth’s Arctic is in the face of rapid climate change. The thinning and shrinking of summer sea ice in the Arctic is happening quicker than previous scientists’ projections and estimations. And global warming has been the main propeller. According to recent studies, the Arctic will be ice-free for most of the summer between 2020 and 2050. And an Arctic free from ice has significant economic and strategic implications when it comes to global shipping. If you own a vessel, you will potentially be able to traverse the Arctic Ocean. These new Trans-Arctic shipping routes could mean short distances between Northern China and Northern Europe by approximately 4,000 nautical miles. They could also reduce the shipping times by up to 14 days. Treaties that respect and protect the Arctic, thanks to UNCLOS rules Countries like the USA, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia developed independent policies that govern the entire or parts of the Arctic. And the European Union, China, and South Korea were also not been left behind. The Arctic Ocean policy priorities might differ, but each Arctic nation seems to show concerns about resource development, defense and sovereignty, environmental and wildlife protection, and shipping routes. The primary treaties and agreements that govern all or parts of the Arctic region include; The 1920 Svalbard Treaty between 14 counties is in charge of the economic and political status of Svalbard.The 1988 Arctic Cooperation Agreement between Canada and the United States commands bilateral cooperation concerning the Northwest Passage. Unfortunately, this treaty doesn’t solve Canada and USA’s disagreements and conflicts about the passage’s legal status.The 2011 Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement that the Arctic Council member states concluded organizes rescue and search operations in the Arctic region.The Barents Sea Border Agreement specifies the demarcation line between Russia and Norway in the Barents Sea. Conflict of interests due to natural resources and boundaries in this neutral continent The possibility of new conflicts outburst and an intensification of the existing ones in the Arctic are starting to be worrying, most of which are boundaries and natural resources conflicts. For decades now, we have witnessed interstate disputes like the USA versus Canada’s conflict in the Beaufort Sea over the border delimitation. Despite UNCLOS rules, other lingering international conflicts of interest in the Arctic include; The Russian Federation versus the USA in the Bering Sea conflict.The Denmark/Greenland versus Canada in the Davis Straight conflict.Russia versus Norway in the Barents Sea conflict.Norway versus Russia and other states in the status of the Svalbard question. The Arctic Ocean’s natural resources are the animal and mineral natural resources that offer or can offer economic benefit or utility to humans. The Arctic region features significant amounts of boreal forests, minerals, fresh water, and marine life, including different fish species. Russia and USA have already discovered billions of oil and natural gas in the Arctic Ocean, which is expected to be sold to Europe, Japan, China, and many other nations. Minerals like bauxite, nickel, copper, diamond, iron ore, and phosphate are also plentiful natural resources in the Arctic. And Russia is among the nations showing interest. Greenland holds approximately 10 percent of the globe’s freshwater reserves. Due to the low population density and mountainous areas, hydropower is also among the anticipated Arctic’s natural resources. Arctic’s environmental and ecological risks and effects Climate change will likely force numerous sub-Arctic fish species to extend into Arctic regions. And we are likely to see more fishing activities. But the most significant threat from increased Arctic Ocean shipping activities appears to be oil release into the Arctic’s marine life and environment. And there is also the risk of emissions that deposit soot onto the ice cap, thus darkening it and accelerating warming. The effect of this warming would mean continuing shrinkage of Arctic summer sea ice. The environmental toxins in the Arctic’s ecosystem and rise in water temperatures can significantly increase the rate of polar species extinctions. Final Word Today, the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding Arctic regions are equal to other global parts. The UNCLOS offers a satisfactory framework for non-violent conflict resolutions. UNCLOS continues to state that coastal states possess sovereign rights to natural resources in the seabed and water within a two-hundred-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
February 11, 2022Miscellaneous / NewsSuez canal, strategic route Suez Canal is a strategic route. As the shortest maritime route from Europe to Asia, it is a connecting infrastructure with a very strong impact for Egypt politics and economy. In March 2021, the incident of the cargo vessel Ever Given and the following blocking of the Suez Canal was a strong reminder of the strategic importance of the corridor. From an economic perspective, this event was a disaster for many actors around the world. The British journal Lloyd’s list estimated that the blocking of the Canal was costing roughly 400 million dollars in goods per hour, which is to say 5 to 9 billion a day. As the shortest path from Asia to Europe, around 12% of the world maritime traffic transits trough the canal each year, including 30% of the cargo containers traffic and 10% of the global petroleum exchanges. The event rose concern in the shipping industry about potential disruption of the traffic caused by a violent action, such as a terrorist attack. In 2015, 13 men linked to the Muslim Brotherhood planning to plant bombs on the canal to block the traffic were arrested by Egyptian forces. A study by the shipping intelligence company IHS Markit pointed out in April 2021 that “a blockage of the canal by a damaged vessel would only become more likely in the event of a suicide attack using an explosives-laden dinghy”. Even though the risk is very low along the canal due to the level of control by Egyptian armed forces, the south and north waiting zones remain critical areas for this type of scenario. A connecting region Egypt is not only a maritime chokepoint with the Suez Canal; it is also a highly strategic territory for global communications and internet infrastructures. Indeed, the country is one of the main corridors for submarines cables from Asia to Europe. If there is no cable in the Canal, there are however several critical cable landing stations on the Egyptian territory, on both the Red Sea (Suez, Zafarama and Ras Gharib) and the Mediterrean coast (Alexandria, Abu Talat, Port Saïd and Sidi Kerir). Part of the Telecom Egypt Transit Corridor (TETC), these infrastructures could represent high valuable targets for violent actions to paralyze communications on a very large scale. Just like the Suez Canal, their security relies on both land and sea actions to prevent attacks that could cause major damage with minimum efforts. This is why the Egyptian Navy started a deep modernization program to tackle these strategic challenges. Egypt turned to Europe to renew its fleet The modernization of the Egyptian fleet was led closely with European nations. In 2013, the country acquired two French vessels (Mistral class), becoming the first Arabic navy in the region with helicopter carrier means. Since then, the Egyptian navy completed its fleet with frigates from Italy, France, and Germany. More recently, in 2018, Egypt and France concluded a new partnership for the Gowind corvette. Some vessels are planned to be built by the French company Naval Group, while others will be made directly on Egyptian soil to develop national shipping industry. As a matter of fact, the first Gowind 2500 corvette fully “Made in Egypt” was launched in Alexandria in January 2021. Two more vessels are expected from local shipping company. The relationship between Egypt and Europe will go further. Last January, the political and military committee of the European Commission studied a joint presidency between Egypt and the European Union for the Global Forum on Counter Terrorism (GFCT). A way to recognize Egypt’s expertise in counter-terrorism acquired against ISIS in the Sinai area, and to strengthen a strategic partnership for the future. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
October 15, 2021Miscellaneous / NewsLongstanding maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia was ruled on October 12. The International Court of Justice in The Hague, the UN’s main judicial organ, issued its decision on legal proceedings which lasted for over 7 years. Maritime border, an old story In August 2014, Somalia asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to define the maritime border with Kenya,. The purpose was to create a legal existence to its territorial sea and exclusive economic zone (EEZ). To define a maritime border is complex. Most of the regulation can be found in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). But the complexity of UNCLOS, due to geographical specificities, and the abundant jurisprudence require in case of diasgreement an arbitration of a third party. So far, no border ? On March 1979, the Kenyan Foreign Minister gave notice of its claimed maritime boundary to the UN Secretary General. The idea was to transmit the text of the proclamation to all permanent missions of UN Member States. Although informally informed that Kenya was claiming an EEZ delimited by the parallel, Somalia did not protest. According to a letter dated 8 November 2017, the UN have confirmed in these terms: “Extensive searches of the archives of the Office of Legal Affairs have not revealed the existence of any communication made by other states on the two proclamations of 1979 and 2005.” And so Kenya used Somalia’s silence on the matter to say that the border was accepted. It was until the Somali government’s complaint to the ICJ. The question of the delimitation of maritime borders became important only in the last decade with the exploration of maritime ressources. (Gas, petrol, fishes, etc.) A territory disputed for economic reasons Indeed, the disputed area between the two countries represents a triangle of 100,000 km², full of natural resources such as fishes and oil. Both countries have already launched oil exploration projects in the area. Thus, countries tried to secure their economies and to get EEZ as much as possible. 7 years of proceedings If the claims of a maritime border took effect with the complaint in 2014, negotiations came from earlier. In 2009 an agreement was signed between Nairobi and Mogadishu but the war in Somalia and the deadly attacks in Kenya froze the legal proceeding. In February 2019, tensions increased and Kenya recalled its ambassador from Somalia in reaction to Mogadishu’s decision to sell oil and gas fields on the disputed area. Still, Somalia’s actions is not unilateral, as Nairobi granted exploitation permits in the area in the past. In 2019, a mediation led by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi led to a commitment by the Kenyan and Somali heads of state to “restore relations with the former status” and to “take diplomatic measures to build confidence between the two governments.” But relations were tumultuous and Somalia broke off all diplomatic relations with Kenya on last December. On March, both countries were heard before the ICJ and during the opening, Kenya announced that it would refuse to appear before the ICJ for two reasons: the lack of time to prepare properly for the case due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the virtually form of the trial. ICJ verdict In the JUDGMENT MARITIME DELIMITATION IN THE INDIAN OCEAN (SOMALIA. KENYA) of ICJ,the court declared there was no agreed maritime boundary between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the Republic of Kenya following the parallel of latitude. ICJ defined a the new maritime boundary. Kenya government “totally rejects and does not recognize the conclusions” of the ICJ, said President Uhuru Kenyatta. His country had recently announced that it will no longer accept the authority of this court. However the judgement is binding for the parties concerned, even if the court does not have restrictive means to enforce the decision. Though, if a state is not complying with a judgment of the Court, the other state may seek sanctions from the UN Security Council. But who can really enforce it? Like this:Like Loading... [...]
September 24, 2021Miscellaneous / Newsballast water Ballast Water play an important role in the safety and stability of ships. Unfortunately, introduction of invasive species through ballast water discharge has been a serious concern for marine ecosystem. An unrecognized marine pollution With the loading and unloading of untreated ballast water, vessels become a vector for the transfer of organisms from one part of the world to another. Thus, maritime traffic contributes to the introduction of organisms alien to the local ecosystem, causing significant ecological problems that can also affect coastal health and economy. What is ballast water used for? It is fresh or saltwater held in the ballast tanks and cargo holds of ships. It is used to adjust the overall weight of the vessel and its internal distribution in order to keep the ship floating safely. To take an example, on a journey when ships are not carrying cargo, full ballast tanks filled are required to remain stability in rough seas. Ballast water management is an emerging environmental issue. This water contains a significant concentration of potentially pathogenic organisms and micro-organisms (viruses and bacteria). Discharge of this water without appropriate treatment encourages the introduction of new exogenous and invasive species that can contribute to the disruption or weakening of certain marine and river ecosystems. Facts and figures : 10 billion tonnes of ballast water are transported around the world every year and fill about 4 million Olympic-sized swimming pools; 7,000 species are transferred into ballast water every hour of every day; A new invasive species is introduced every nine weeks. Some animals such as green crab, zebra mussel and round goby are examples of marine invasive species found in Canadian waters. To learn more about these and other aquatic invasive species introduced through ballast water, click here. New international awareness In response to this, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) developed the “International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments”. The agreement was adopted in 2004 and entered into force in September 2017. Why so late? For this international convention to enter into force, it had to be ratified by at least 30 states, representing more than 35% of the world fleet (a qualified majority). After more than 10 years, the convention was finally approved the 8th of September 2017 with the ratification of Finland. The Convention consists of 22 articles, accompanied by an annex that sets out rules, about control and management of ships’ ballast water and sediments. These new provisions determine the obligations of States and ships in this area. An International Convention to offer a global response to this crucial issue This international maritime treaty requires signatory flag states to ensure that ships flagged comply with standards and procedures for the management and control of ships’ ballast water. However, the solutions recommended by the Convention come up against obstacles due to the complexity of deballasting on the high seas and the current lack of satisfactory water management processes. From 2024, all ships are required to have approved Ballast Water Management Treatment System, according to the D2 standard (usually through the use of a ballast water treatment system). Regulations include a change from the old way of managing ballast water (exchanging ballast water in mid-ocean, which strands organisms in a hostile environment) to modern ballast water management systems (that treat ballast water to minimize the number of organisms). On June23, the Ballast Water Regulations came into force in Canada. Established under the Canada Shipping Act, it is a way for Canada to protect its environment and economy from aquatic invasive species. In France At the national level, France ratified the convention in May 2008. The law for the reconquest of biodiversity ensuredits implementation. Today, they are 314 known alien marine species on the French coastline! Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 18, 2021Miscellaneous / NewsMayday calls are not always easy to monitor, even with training. The Swedish JRCC is currently testing a new technology based on artificial intelligence in order to support rescue team. This solution should avoid human error and facilitates crisis management. Mayday call in the night It is 01.00 am. Outside, 30 knots of wind, with gusts of 45. It has been raining for three hours, and the Baltic sea looks rough with waves above three meters. Only two persons are still awake in the dark room, a smoking cup of coffee next to them. Tom is watching his radar scope where dozens of small lights are slowly moving. Elena is looking for any suspicious AIS (Automatic Identification system) on the website marinetraffic.com. Sometimes, they chat about their next holidays, or even football. Suddenly, a mayday call on channel 16, the security channel. Unfortunately, Elena can’t hear the beginning of the message, because Tom is talking about the new recruit in Arsenal. She stands up to turn the radio louder, but knocks the cup and spills the coffee on the desk. Tom tries to help her with the fisherman still calling for help, but can’t find a piece of paper to write the position where the boat is in distress. Then, just the silence. The message is over. What if artificial intelligence could safe life? A new technology is being tested along Swedish coast by the Swedish Maritime Administration’s Joint rescue Coordination Center (JRCC). This artificial intelligence process, taking place within the framework of the Heimdall Innovation Project, is designed to monitor “mayday” calls in Baltic sea. It should assist rescue team by providing the information relayed during emergency calls. The operator-friendly interface captures ship position, information, and weather data. A speech to text module records the conversation in order to use all details directly on paper. This technology should enable rescue team to listen several speakers simultaneously, which frequently happens in a case of rescue situation, by reducing human error and noise interferences. Joint Rescue Coordination Center in charge of mayday call A rescue coordination center is used in a country to coordinate search and rescue (SAR) operations in a designated area. It supervises personnel and equipment in order to provide the best solution to the situation. The mention Joint means that the center is in charge of maritime and air SAR operations. It is most of the time operated by a combination of military and civilian service. The Swedish JRCC is located in Gothenburg, Sweden and is composed by the Swedish Coastguard and the Defense Forces Navy Control. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 6, 2021Miscellaneous / News / Weapons TraffickingLoitering munitions is not only a land problem. Maritime world must take seriously the issues caused by this kind of weapon in order to preserve the freedom of navigation. The recent attack in July on the oil tanker Mercer Street, off Omani Coast, is an example of problems led by local tension in the area of one of the most important maritime route. What happened ? According to the United Kingdom Trade Operations, the oil tanker Mercer Street, operated by the British company Zodiac Maritime but owned by an Israeli citizen, was sailing 152 nautical miles northeast of the port Duqm (Omani) when he was attacked by a drone, apparently a loitering munitions. Two crew members, a British and a Romanian citizen, died in the attack. The US Navy was called to rescue the ship and the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher escorted the tanker to the next harbour. Iran was accused by USA, UK and Israel to be responsible for the attack, even if Teheran denied these claims. Loitering munitions Known as a suicide drone or kamikaze drone, loitering munitions is a weapon which searches for targets in a specific area for some time. As an autonomous lethal weapon, this kind of drone enables fast reaction in a deny access area, which led to several discussion about international humanitarian law and ethical concerns. These drones may be as simple as an unmanned aerial vehicle with attached explosives or more complex such as IAI Harop, a purpose built munitions with on-board sensors and flight and control capabilities. Several countries are recorded as loitering munitions user, such as Iran, Israel or the USA. The proliferation of theses drones, and the relative low cost for some, is a global threat to maritime security because of their easy-use and efficiency against all kind of ships (even far from the coast). Several attacks in the region This attack is only one of many others which happened in Gulf of Oman for past years, especially in May and June 2019. In the past, ship faced several threats such as maritime mines, pirates, missiles or terrorist attack. The Gulf of Oman, and the Strait of Hormuz, is the maritime route for liquefied natural gaz and oil from Middle-east producers. Over 2 400 oil tanker sailed through this area every year. If the freedom of navigation cannot be maintained in the area, likely due to the tension between USA and Iran, therefore all the international economy will be definitely impacted. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 3, 2021Miscellaneous / NewsEver Given and Suez Canal blocking Even with modern navigation system, the worst can happen On March 23 2021, while crossing the Suez Canal on her way to Rotterdam, the Merchant Vessel (MV) Ever Given grounded in the middle of the Canal. Probably because of strong gusts of wind and a sandstorm, this maritime incident caused a total interruption of traffic on the Suez Canal for 6 days, blocking 425 ships on both sides. 6 days and 13 tugs needed to dredge 30,000m3 of sand The story of the Suez Canal ship blocking the trafic is a big story. The Dutch company Boskalis was in charge of the dredging operation of the Ever Given, a huge 400m floating shed, weighing 220,000 tons and carrying more than 20,000 containers. The assistance lasted 6 days to refloat the ship firmly anchored in the sand. While tugs tried to pull and push the ship, excavators dug to free the bow from the sand and silt. 15M dollars of daily losses for Egypt An insurer had calculated that each day of blockage had a cost of approximately 8 billion dollars to world trade. Egypt estimated that the country lost between 12 and 15 million dollars per day. Determined to be reimbursed for part of the loss, it claimed more than $900 million from the ship-owner and the insurance companies. Based on a greatly overvalued market value of the ship, Egypt finally asked for “only” 550 million dollars. 106 days of negotiations The ship-owner had to pay an additional $100 millions in re-float costs. Furthermore, by invoking general average, the charterer’s insurers and the shippers (owner of the goods) had to agree on the amount of compensation to be reimbursed in proportion of the sums loaded on the vessel. Meanwhile, the Indian crew was “detained” for 106 days by the Egyptian authorities, the time to find an agreement in order to leave for departure the suez canal ship blocked. Although this incident seems to have lasted for a very long time, it is not the longest. During the “Six Day War”, Israel occupied the Sinai for 8 years, holding back 14 commercial ships for 3,016 days moored on Amer Lake. Dependence on the Suez Canal for world trade Inaugurated in 1869 after 10 years of work, this 162 km long strip of water opened the maritime route between Asia and Europe. Today, it is an essential route for globalization and its just-in-time management. Back 152 years ago, the ship route passed South of Africa adding 15 days of sailing. A considerable cost for maritime companies due to high prices of fuel. The Suez Canal between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea represents 13% of the world maritime traffic, and 75% of the traffic between China and Europe. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
Piracy
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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
February 10, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / PiracyChannel of Mozambique map Groups on the “Swahili Coast” started the Mozambique Channel insurgency in 2017. The revolution now includes not less than 800 separate attacks across Mozambique, especially Northern Mozambique. The attacks have resulted in at least 2600 fatalities while other 600,000 individuals are now displaced. The importance of this strategic region for maritime security and traffic By mid 19th century, the Mozambique Channel had for decades played a central role in the trade between the Western world, East Asia, and also within the Indian Ocean. Yet an international naval response was necessary to prevent illegal traffic and safeguard channel trade, a similar scenario we see today. The Mozambique Channel has been a significant route for shipping in Eastern Africa. The Channel receives every major river in Madagascar. It also features the ports of Toliary and Mahajanga on its coast. The ports of Beira, Mozambique, and Maputo and the Zambezi River’s mouth are also along the opposite shore of the Mozambique Channel. The current maritime security situation The ongoing rebellion in northern Mozambique has led to multiple maritime security concerns in the Mozambique Channel, a primary transit course for the marine traffic in the Indian Ocean’s arm. For instance, March 2021 was a period that saw a sour struggle for the port of Palma, reinforcing concerns about maritime security between Madagascar and the Mozambique coast. Today, the Mozambique Channel is already experiencing limited local maritime-security capacity. Piracy, illegal fishing, and other reasons for insecurities in the Mozambique Channel Several factors contribute to the Mozambique Channel insecurities, like the significant energy development projects of offshore gas fields near the Cabo Delgado Province’s coast. In August 2020, the militants’ capture of the port of Mocimboa da Praia led to an escalation of the insurgency in Mozambique. This insecurity led to the disruption of the enormous gas projects due to the weak maritime security along the Channel. This has also opened prospects for terror groups to fund and expand their operations, leaving essential coastal lines susceptible to naval threats. Since 2017, drug trafficking along the Mozambique Channel has been another threat in the region while drug traffickers were using the Channel as a trade route to smuggle heroin to Mozambique from Afghanistan. Additionally, the East African coast faces many challenges concerning illegal fishing and piracy that have thrived in the region for decades now. Piracy concerns led Mozambique to allow other countries, like the South African Navy, to offer security assistance. The international engagement in the area So far, the Mozambican armed forces seem to be overwhelmed as far as restoring order in the country is concerned, despite receiving reinforcements from several security contractors before. Instead, the insurgency appears to steadily grow in ambition and proficiency, creating a growing appreciation of the maritime aspects of the security situation. The results have been detrimental as the latest developments have led Total, the French energy company, to freeze work on its Mozambique high-cost liquefied natural gas venture. When it comes to international responses, Portugal has committed itself to station 60 soldiers to train local Special Forces. On the other side, France has areas off the East African coast, the Mayotte and Reunion, and several other Indian Ocean territories. The European Union (EU) has not been left behind as it keeps focusing its counter-piracy naval function on the Somalian coast with the Atalanta operation. But it now routinely consists of less than two naval assets, a situation that, together with the overall EU reluctance to more deeply involve themselves in the Mozambique state of affairs, has led to low likelihoods of extending the naval operation south to the Mozambique Channel. The United States of America have also involved itself in the Mozambique Channel’s regional maritime capacity-building attempts. Recently, the U.S announced a mission to offer the Mozambique marines military training to enhance the local armed forces’ ability to battle the insurgency. And after a technical mission dispatch, reports claim that the South African Development Community nations are thinking of stationing around 3000 troops to neutralize the insurgency. But implementing such a plan may not be that easy. The notion of an emerging maritime security Hotspot Today, the Mozambique Channel waters are becoming a primary new security hotspot throughout the Indian Ocean. Islamist groups have insurrected in Northern Mozambique, leading to an increased disruption in the Channel. And the Mozambique government seems to be powerless in suppressing the insurgence altogether. The idea of this emerging maritime security hotspot has called for European partners and the Quad nations to help contain the situation before stepping of other factors into the vacuum. The Mozambique insurgency is currently threatening security throughout the Mozambique Channel, the 1000-nm long watercourse separating East Africa and Madagascar. Approximately 30% of the global tanker traffic passes here, and the region hosts some of the largest gas reserves. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
February 9, 2022News / Piracy / Weapons TraffickingEU Flag The Mediterranean Sea has always been a strategic maritime trade and transportation region. However, the numerous islands and peninsulas in the area have made it convenient for smugglers to operate. But, the rise of terrorist groups in North Africa has only compounded the problem. The European Union has developed a maritime security strategy that focuses on cooperation between member states and NATO to combat these threats. This strategy is implemented through various naval exercises and operations, such as Irini and Sea Guardian. The on-going deployment of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and the Task Force 473, composed of several European ships and sailors, is a new step for a coordinate European action in the Mediterranean Region. Thus, with tensions high in the region, all actors must work together to maintain security in the Mediterranean Sea. Read on to learn more about the maritime security strategy. Maritime Issues Regarding Security in the Mediterranean Region The Mediterranean Sea is a strategic region for maritime transportation, with significant volumes of oil and gas passing through its waters. Therefore, the security of this area is essential to ensure the free flow of traffic and trade. However, several issues are affecting maritime security in the Mediterranean that require attention: Maritime terrorism can take multiple forms: criminal activity at sea (e.g., drug trafficking or human smuggling) or terrorist attacks on commercial vessels such as ferries and cruise ships. Drug and weapon smuggling is also a security concern for many countries as illegal substances can finance criminal organizations involved with terrorist activities. The second issue refers to pirate attacks that have been recorded off the Libyan coast following the 2011 revolution. There are also concerns about boats being used by terrorists to transit across national borders undetected – this could pose significant risks if they plan an attack inside another country’s waters. European Union Maritime Security Strategy The European Union has developed a maritime security strategy to protect its interests in the Mediterranean Sea. Currently, the French-led Task Force 473 deployed in Mediterranean Sea is the result of EU Members defense partnership, which will strengthen interoperability and coordination between military assets in region. One of the strategy’s main goals is to improve cooperation between EU member states and NATO allies. Besides, the approach focuses on drug and weapon smuggling, piracy, and maritime terrorism. The following are the strategies that have been put in place to achieve this goal: The Irini operation– was a naval operation conducted by the European Union to disrupt illegal arms trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea. The procedure was launched in March 2020, as a successor of Sophia Operation started in 2015, and is still on-going. The main goal of the Irini operation is to stop weapons from being smuggled to terrorist groups in Libya. The process managed to seize over 6000 firearms. Below are some benefits of the Irini operation to maritime security: The procedure showed that the European Union could conduct complex naval operationsIt improved cooperation between EU member states and NATO alliesIt disrupted illegal arms trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea Naval exercises– are a vital part of improving maritime security. They allow navies from different countries to train together and learn their procedures. This makes it easier for them to cooperate during real-world operations. The following are some examples of naval exercises that have been conducted recently: A multinational naval exercise called Poseidon 2018 was held in May of this year. The exercise involved ships and aircraft from 19 countries, including Italy, France, Greece, and Turkey. In June of the same year, the United States and France held a joint naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea. The exercise involved the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. In addition, the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) conducted an anti-piracy exercise off the coast of Somalia in September of this year. The exercise involved ships from 23 countries, including Spain, Italy, and Portugal. The cooperation between EU and NATO The collaboration between EU and NATO is crucial for ensuring maritime security in the Mediterranean Sea. NATO provides valuable resources and expertise, while the European Union offers several significant benefits, such as unity and cohesion. As an example, many European Union members, acting also as NATO allies, participate to Sea Guardian, a maritime security operation aimed at protecting vessels from piracy and terrorism threats in the Mediterranean Sea. The Sea Guardian operation was launched in October 2017 and involved sailors from several NATO members such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Greece or Spain. This week, three carrier strike groups from USA (USS Harry S. truman), France (FS Charles De Gaulle) and Italy (ITS Cavour) conducted joint activities to improve interoperability at the highest level. Overall, the European Union has put several strategies to improve maritime security for the Mediterranean Sea. However, more needs to be done to ensure that naval security remains a priority in the region. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
December 27, 2021News / PiracyLibya map From 2016, the rise of maritime robbery cases observed off the coast of Libya, more precisely in the province of Derna is disturbing the freedom of navigation in Mediterranean sea. A brief history about Freedom of navigation Yore, freedom of navigation was a dream, then a concept, born in the 17th century. Once the Eighty Years’ War has ended, Spain claimed a new concept of “freedom of the high seas” over the strong Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. From this negotiation was born a slogan which was registered in a bilateral trade treaty: “free ship, free goods”. This principle attracted a lot, and it was even admitted that the use of force was legitimate to apply this new concept (English Treaty of Westminster in 1674). Nowadays, it is not a concept anymore. It is a law. International laws can sometimes be complex, but this one seems to be a consensus that cannot be criticized. On freedom of navigation depends the stability of international trade. It is now inscribed in the article 87 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) : “The high seas are open to all States, whether coastal or land-locked”, and the convention quotes “freedom of navigation” as the first of several rights for all states on the high seas. The rising threat of maritime crime in Libya However, there are plenty of examples where militias, clans or tribes of coastal nations seek to disturb this rule of law. In the Mediterranean, for 10 years, everyone has been following the Libyan conflict with interest since the fall of Gaddafi, but few would have imagined that the civil war and the economic crisis would generate a new zone of insecurity at sea, threatening ships. And yet, since 2016, a danger zone has been promulgated off the city of Derna (Cyrenaic region) by Libya in an area declared as NAVAREA 225/16. More precisely, this NAVAREA seems to have been promulgated unilaterally by the “LNA Sousse Marine Combat Company”, a militia affiliated with the Eastern camp of the “Tobruk” government. This no sail zone has been officially edited to warn mariners of the dangerous nature of this maritime zone. It courteously asks merchant ships to repeat, repeatedly, every day at noon information, in particular the route, the destination, the cargo transported and the name of the owner. In 5 years, dozens of cases of robbery, diversion, and ransom demands have been reported in the area, mostly within 20Nq of the coast. Pirates are moving further and further from the Derna coast But since January 2021, it seems that the modus operandi of the militia has evolved. The brigands are pushing the hunt up to 25 to 30 nautical miles from the coast, thus dangerously brushing the very busy navigation rail that runs from the Strait of Messina to the Suez Canal. A European warship has recently observed a flagrant deli of attempted diversion of a merchant vessel. Called on VHF by the militia, and threatened to be bombed or come under fire from warring fighter aircraft planes, the ship first complied and turned south, ready to run into the lion’s den. Nevertheless, the ship understood the deception on time, and cancelled her maneuver. In the past 3 months, 6 ships have been robbed in by the militia, losing precious time and money. Recently, it was a German merchant ship that bore the brunt of this robbery. She had to pay a ransom of roughly 50 000 $ to be allowed to resume her journey, much to the relied of a traumatized crew. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
December 7, 2021News / PiracyGrand African Nemo Gulf of Guinea was for years the most dangerous maritime area. However, years of cooperation building, training and partnerships raised operational level of local navies. The French-led maritime exercise Grand African NEMO 2021 revealed the improvement of African Navies. Gulf of Guinea Gulf of Guinea (GoG) is the most attractive African Maritime Area. Full of natural resources, such as fish or gas, this region of 2 350 00 km2 is a crossroad for 13 countries. Over 1 500 vessels are sailing in this area every day. For decades, it has been one of the most dangerous areas for sailors and problems were numerous: piracy, robbery, kidnapping, human smuggling, and drug traffic. Countries were losing their natural sea resources, unable to control their territorial waters. But this year, when piracy attacks increased everywhere in the world, it remaineds stable in the GoG. How is that possible? Thanks to a common regional strategy and strong partnerships. African Navies in action October 22, Senegalese Navy seized 2 026 kg of cocaine. A few days after, a common patrol between Gambian and Senegalese navies arrested 3 fishing vessels in illegal fishing activities. What made this maritime operation successful? Coordination and competencies. A few years ago, three cooperation centers were created: ICC (Interregional Coordination Center) in Yaoundé, CRESMAC (Regional Maritime Security Center for Central Africa) in Pointe-Noire and CRESMAO (Regional Maritime Security Center for West Africa) in Abidjan. The GoG is also divided in 5 areas (A, D, E, F and G), controlled by two Multinational Maritime Coordination Center. Overall, capacities of African Navies deeply increased during past years. It was especially observed during Grand African NEMO 2021, a French-led maritime exercise started on 2 November with 29 nations. One of the French instructors noticed that: “it is my third participation to Grand African Nemo and I had never seen such operational level and possibility of cooperation. I am proud to see results after years of mutual training and efforts from all sides, and see better days ahead for the region if we all keep it in that way”. This feeling is apparently shared by an Ivorian officer who declared to be “proud to participate and to be an actor of this this large-scale exercise. It is not easy to coordinate 40 vessels at sea, but we are in the right direction and we need to continue closed cooperation”. France, the historical partner for GoG navies Since 1990 and the begin of the operation Corymbe, the French navy has been keeping deployed at least one warship in the GoG. The cooperation with local navies and common patrols helped to prevent piracy and smuggling. As a lead-nation amongst the European Navies, its expertise is used by African nations to develop their capabilities to protect their maritime area and their sea resources from foreign attacks. Moreover, the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT – GoG) is hosted by the MICA Center in Brest, France, and monitor piracy in the region sharing information with regional centers. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
July 13, 2021News / PiracyNigeria on the offensive in GoG Nigeria, the continent’s leading economic power, decided to take anti piracy action in the Gulf of Guinea, one of the world’s most dangerous waters. It is only a month since Nigeria armed itself heavily to conduct anti piracy action. It is an investment of $200 million on which the country would like to get paid back, by asking to be taken off the red list of countries with the most dangerous maritime waters. Strong pressure from shipowners and insurance companies Since the beginning of 2021, several shipowners and insurance companies have been lobbying on the international scene to call for a change of heart to curb what has become the epicentre of global piracy. With a record increase of 20% in 2020, pirates have moved away from cargo theft to the more profitable business of kidnapping crews for ransom. These methods are alarming to powerless shipowners, especially as 80% of these acts of piracy are carried out with weapons. 130 crew members have been kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea compared to 135 worldwide.On 17 May, 234 companies and shipowners called for an international coalition to secure the 5,700 km of the coastline (from Senegal to Angola) and its 20,000 ships in transit each year. The objective? The assistance of foreign (i.e. non-regional) navies to really apply international law and anti-piracy laws. New anti-piracy weaponry To deal with this, Nigeria has equipped itself with no less than 16 fast interception vessels and three helicopters, deployed in its Exclusive economic Zone. In addition, on land, there is a special trained force of 600 men, 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrols, two special mission ships, two aircraft for surveillance, and four drones.According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the area is the most dangerous in the world, accounting for 95% of the world’s maritime kidnappings.As reported by ECOFIN Agency, the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, declares the anti-piracy forces deployment “became evident within the framework of the Gulf of Guinea maritime collaboration recently established by Nigeria and the Yaoundé Interregional Coordination Centre through the facilitation of the joint industry-state task force to combat maritime security in the region”. Efforts still uncertain However, despite its efforts, Nigeria did not succeed in convincing insurers on 18 June to remove itself from the red list of countries with the riskiest maritime waters. The expected removal of this list, which allows insurers to charge higher insurance premiums to cover ships transiting through Nigerian waters, “will not happen for the time being,” replied the Lloyd’s Market Association, which groups insurance companies.It will probably take several years before any significant results are achieved to convince the international scene and probably rely on the support of the American and French navies, in particular, for some time to come. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
June 30, 2021News / PiracyCaptain Philips movie On October 11th, 2013, a movie called Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips, premiered worldwide. The movie received glowing reviews, and claims to be based on actual events. But what has actually happened? In April 2009, the Maersk Alabama cargo ship (now MV Tygra) was attacked and captured by four Somali pirates less than 300 nautical miles off the Coast of Somalia. The whole crew were taken hostage and the pirates took the captain Richard Phillips, off the ship into a lifeboat. On orders from former President Obama, the U.S. Navy, and specifically Navy marksmen, fatally shot all but one of the pirates and rescued Captain Phillips. The story made national and international news. But does Captain Phillips tell the whole story? And does the movie narrate it accurately? In fact, approximately half of the crewmembers, represented by Brian Beckcom, are claiming that the shipping company, Maersk Lines Limited, willfully allowed the Maersk Alabama to sail directly into pirate-infested waters despite receiving multiple warnings to avoid the area. And the lawsuit further claims that the Alabama didn’t have adequate anti-pirate security measures. That lawsuit settled before it went to trial in Mobile, Alabama, on December 2nd, 2013. “The real heroes are the men and women of the U.S. Navy who rescued the shipping company from its poor decisions and the brave crewmembers who actually fought back against the pirates once they boarded the ship – despite the crewmembers being unarmed while facing pirates carrying automatic weapons,” says Brian Beckcom. According to the lawsuit, Maersk essentially “outsourced” the security of the Alabama to the U.S. military, rather than providing basic anti-piracy prevention measures such as armed guards. Since the April 2009 attack, the Maersk Alabama has been approached by pirates on at least two other occasions.Hhowever, the pirates were quickly repelled by private armed contractors who now accompany Maersk vessels that travel in pirate-infested waters. Why was the Maersk Alabama hijacked in the first place? Although Captain Phillips is credited with saving the lives of his crew in the movie, the lawsuit filed by nine crewmembers sought to show that the real story was different from the movie. Captain Phillips’ crew who were on board the Maersk Alabama when it was hijacked say that their lives were put in jeopardy because of the decisions made by Phillips. They claim that:Captain Phillips risked lives when he ignored multiple warnings of pirate attacks in nearby waters. Instead of taking a safer route, he chose to sail the Maersk Alabama into pirate-infested waters. Captain Phillips claimed that he was not scared of pirates and ignored pleas from the crew to avoid the area, notorious for pirate attacks.Captain Phillips sailed the ship approximately 300 nautical miles closer to the coast of Somalia than was deemed safe by NATO, multiple military anti-piracy groups and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Nine of the crewmembers claim that the Captain and the shipping company acted irresponsibly by putting them in harm’s way to begin with. This is a far cry from the depiction of heroism in the movie that shows Captain Phillips offering himself as a hostage if the pirates let his crew go. Had Captain Phillips heeded all warnings, his crew would not have had to endure the emotional and physical trauma of the Maersk Alabama hijacking. How much of the story did Hollywood get wrong? While Hollywood’s version of events received critical acclaim, the version of events depicted in the movie “Captain Phillips” is highly inaccurate. These inaccuracies have caused the court of public opinion to cast judgment on what actually happened based on what they saw portrayed in the movie. The following are six misconceptions from the movie: First of all, the lawsuit filed by the crewmembers is not a publicity stunt tied to the release of the film. The lawsuit was filed in 2009, nearly three years prior to the conception of “Captain Phillips.” The defendants deliberately chose to not settle the lawsuit quickly, likely knowing the release of the film could benefit their case. Secondly, the real Captain Phillips is not the hero portrayed so well by Tom Hanks in the movie. The facts surrounding the event, as told by crewmembers and witnesses, along with the communications between the Captain and Maersk, reveal that Captain Phillips knowingly placed the lives of his crew in danger by sailing into dangerous waters in an effort to save time and money. Thirdly, the crew was not “lazy.”It was composed by experienced seamen who were not provided with adequate security or means for defending themselves against pirate attacks, despite their employer sending them – unarmed – into some of the most dangerous waters in the world. The crew fought back valiantly against pirates who were armed with automatic weapons, using primitive tools, such as pieces of pipe. Fourthly, the Maersk Alabama pirate attack was not the result of an unlucky or unpredictable event. Captain Phillips and Maersk received multiple daily reports of pirate attacks in the area and warnings to stay more than 600 miles from the coast. Instead, Captain Phillips chose to sail as close to 250 miles from shore, and the ship was within three hundred miles off shore when the ship was attacked. There had been attempted attacks on vessels in the same area as the Maersk Alabama the week before the April 2009 hijacking. Also, there have been several attempted attacks on the Maersk Alabama since 2009 in the same region, all of which clearly show how dangerous the area was. Fifthly, the “heroic” actions by Captain Phillips described in the movie resulted in the need for a rescue by the U.S. Navy. This rescue would never have taken place if Captain Phillips had heeded the warnings he received and sailed in safer waters. Sixthly, since the attack, Maersk Lines Limited didn’t settle the lawsuit brought by nine of the crewmembers but paid them a confidential amount in 2014, in order to not go to trial. Maersk, Captain Phillips and their lawyers fought to keep the facts about what really happened aboard Maersk Alabama confidential. “The investigative work regarding the trial has brought to light many facts which reveal the inaccuracies of the Phillips and Hollywood versions of events. Although we cannot speak to what really happened, we can say that the company was playing Russian roulette with its employees,” said Brian Beckcom. He added too that. “When we filed our lawsuit in 2009, one of our central claims was that the shipping company, knowing exactly where they were sending their crew, should have provided the crew with adequate security for when they traveled through some of the most dangerous waters in the world. Among other things, we claim in our lawsuit that the ship should have had armed guards. The shipping company and others in the industry claimed at that time that arming commercial ships would make piracy events more dangerous, not less”. Has anything been done to make things safer for crews on ships navigating pirate-infested waters since 2009 ? In addition to amping up the security on vessels traveling in pirate-infested waters, countries have formed coalitions of vessels that patrolled the Indian Ocean, deterring and preventing pirate attacks. By 2013, the rate of successful pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean had dropped to zero and and over 1,000 pirates had been captured prosecuted by authorities in over 21 countries. The lead pirate from the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, Muse, had been captured alive by the U.S. Navy and was sentenced to 33 years in jail in the United States for his crimes. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 21, 2021News / PiracyMDAT-GoGVoluntary Reporting Area (VRA) While the world’s attention was diverted by COVID-19, piracy and armed attacks against ship crews remain a serious problem, requiring a concerted response from the international community at the highest level. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 135 maritime kidnappings were recorded in 2020 – and 130 of them took place in the Gulf of Guinea. This maritime zone is more dangerous than the Somali coast and the European Union (EU) wants to do something about it. The merchant vessel « Mozart » was one of these ships attacked by pirates, while she was sailing 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) off the coast of Nigeria in January 2021. Several medias published reports of the dramatic scene which happened onboard. During the attack, the ship’s crew reached the safe room (Citadel) fearing for their lives while the pirates boarded. After six hours they succeeded to open the gate to the so-called Citadel. They killed one crew member and kidnapped 15. The crew-members have since been released, but it is still unclear whether a ransom was paid or not. “We are seeing that pirates operate with greater impunity,” IMB director Michael Howlett told to the German newspaper Deutsch Welle (DW). “They spend more time on ships. In one case, they were on a ship for more than 24 hours, without any dispute.” Previously, many of these attacks were primarily motivated by the intent to steal goods. However, more and more seafarers are regularly kidnapped and taken to Nigeria where they are held for ransom in horrible conditions. Different types of vessels are targeted, including container and bulk carriers, as well as tankers and offshore support vessels. The Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GOG) has been created by French Navy and Royal Navy to establish and monitor a Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) system where all merchant vessels are encouraged to declare position information when they are operating in this area. In January, EU heads of state and government took another step forward with collaborative initiative among military vessels sailing in the Gulf of Guinea in order to communicate patrol responsibilities and exchange information on pirate activities. Nevertheless, Kamal-Deen Ali executive director of the Center for Maritime Law and Security in Africa in Accra does not think this is a long-term solution. He asks for more trainee program to African neighbour states in order to develop efficient local navy officers and material such as radar systems. The Ghanaian executive director reported that most of the pirates came from the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, a very poor region where the drill of vast oil reserves contaminated local land and water. Because the two most important economic sectors of the region- fishing and agriculture – were destroyed, many people looked for other sources of incomes, which helped criminal gangs to recruit new pirates. Admiral Kamal-Deen Ali concluded that if it doesn’t change, attacks could increase despite the EU’s best efforts. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 15, 2021News / PiracyMiddle-East map background with United Kingdom flag/Source MTC How Iran fooled the British: The Iranian tanker, arrested in July 2019 in Gibraltar for violating sanctions against Syria and Iran, landed safe sound back in Iran landed safe and sound back in Iran. The British Foreign Office qualified as “Deeply troubling” the satellite images taken in September 2019, showing the tanker “Adrian Darya-1” flying the Iranian flag, now renamed as Grace 1, anchored off Tartus’s port in Syria. London raised its voices days later, accusing Iran of “breaking its assurances and calling the delivery of oil to the murderous el-Assad regime”. In a press release, the British Ministry qualified this act as an “unacceptable violation of international standards”. The transporter’s journey began on July the 4th off Gibraltar. British Navy commandos boarded the Iranian tanker, flying the Panamanian flag and carrying 2.1 million barrels of crude oil. The tanker was suspected by British authorities of transporting the cargo to Syria, thus violating the EU sanctions against Bashar el-Assad’s regime. Two weeks later, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized in the Strait of Hormuz, “the Stena Impero”, a Tanker flying the British flag. The vessel was transported to the port in Bandar Abbas, where the authorities indicated that an investigation was under way following the tanker’s collision with a fishing vessel. The Iranian authorities pledged the law, stating that “According to law, after an accident, it was necessary to investigate the causes”. They denied any link between this case and the seizure by the UK of the Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar. British diplomat Jeremy Hunt qualified this act as “unacceptable” and considered the boarding to be “worrying signs that Iran might choose a dangerous path of illegal and destabilizing behavior”. France and Germany supported the British position and called on Iran to release the British vessel “without delay”. A Diplomatic-legal negotiation was committed on the 15th, August; Gibraltar’s Supreme Court allowed the Iranian tanker to leave after Tehran assured the cargo would not be delivered to Syria. Adrian Darya-1, now renamed Grace 1, was released the next day. At the same time, Gibraltar’s authorities refused to maintain the seizure of the ship as demanded by Washington. The latter then contacted the Indian master of the ship and offered him a substantial amount of money so that he would not sail to Syria but in a route where the US could seize the tanker. On 26 August 2019, Iran claimed to have sold 2.1 million barrels of oil, valued at 125 million euros, stored on board of a ship, without specifying who the buyer was or whether the sale was concluded before or after the seizure of the tanker. The Adrian Darya 1 was sailing in the Mediterranean sea with no known destination, when the specialized website “Marine Traffic” reported on 30th August 2019 that tanker was located in the north-west of Cyprus and heading for the port of Iskenderun in Turkey. The Turkish Foreign Minister replied that the “tanker was not actually on its way to Iskenderun, but to Lebanon” and that “Lebanon was not necessarily the ship’s final destination”. Nada Boustani, the Lebanese Energy Minister, assured that her country had not received any request for the ship to be anchored off its coast. The minister added on Twitter that “The Ministry of Energy doesn’t buy crude oil from anyone. Lebanon does not have a refinery for crude oil”. While everyone was shifting the blame of the ship’s seizure on others, a Russian official announced on 6th September 2019 from Teheran, that 7 of the 23 sailors from the British tanker who boarded in July had been released by the Iranian authorities and had arrived in Dubai. Two days later, satellite photos of Adrian Darya 1 off the Syrian port of Tartus were broadcasted by Maxar Technologies Inc. Conflicting information was circulating about the unloading of the tanker’s contents days later. British intelligence’s sources assured that barrels of oil had been unloaded on small boats that could be shipped to Syria. Meanwhile, the specialized website TankerTrackers.com continued to claim, based on satellite images, that the tanker off Tartus still contained all of its cargo. A statement from Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization said the ship had been released “despite there being an open court case” against it. The release comes amid high tensions in the region. There have been a series of confrontations over tankers in the Gulf, as well as a recent attack on Saudi Arabia have blamed on Tehran. Tensions between the US and Iran have been escalating, following former President Trump’s rejection of a deal aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear activities. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
Smuggling of Illicit Goods
April 6, 2021Drug Trafficking / Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / Smuggling Of Illicit GoodsThe smuggling of illicit goods, in particular fish the Totoaba that is as lucrative and much less dangerous in terms of penal sanction than the traffic of cocaine. In 2018, according to an article published in The Guardian, the Mexico City police found 416 swim bladders in the suitcases of a Chinese tourist. The man was arrested and later released after paying a $600 fine. The Totoaba is a protected endemic species. While scientists believe it to be a cultural fantasy, Chinese medicine believes it to have various medicinal and cosmetic properties, allegedly due to the protein contained in the fish’s swim bladder. According to a study made by ADM Capital Foundation, a philanthropic group, three quarters of sales of products from endangered wildlife are destined for the traditional Chinese medicine industry. Because of this Chinese market, the Totoaba is on the verge of extinction, with only a few specimens left in the waters of the Gulf of California. It is this scarcity that is driving up prices, to the point of calling it the cocaine of the seas as sales prices soar from $20,000 to $80,000 per kg. In its downfall, the Totoaba is bringing with it the disappearance of the smallest harbour porpoise, also known as the little cow of the Pacific Vaquitas. In fact, this could be seen as collateral damage, taking into account the entrapment in the illegal fishing nets used by Totoaba fishermen in the Sea of Cortes. Factfile on the Totoaba and Vaquitas The international community and important personalities such as Leonardo Dicaprio are standing up to try to save what can still be saved, even if today the hope of avoiding the extinction of these two species seems very complicated. In July 2020, the release of the film “Sea of Shadows” directed by Richard Ladkani, highlights the war waged by environmental activists alongside the Mexican Navy against the Mexican cartels and the Chinese mafia. Finally, If this decline continues, it is likely to be extinguished in 2021. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
Weapons Trafficking
May 13, 2022News / Weapons TraffickingAs of May 2022, Operation IRINI (or EUNAVFOR MED IRINI) has been in effect in the Mediterranean Sea for just over two years, having been initiated on March 31st, 2020. The operation has attracted international criticism, and nations around the Mediterranean Sea are divided over whether it should continue. But what is Operation IRINI? What are its aims? And are they achievable? Background In 2011, the Arab Spring spread across the Middle East, inspiring revolutions in many Arab-majority nations, and Libya was no exception. Diverse factions arose to oppose Muammar Gaddafi’s authoritarian rule, and the first of two bloody civil wars began. Before long, governments of other nations started supplying weapons to their favored factions, inflaming the situation further. In response, the UN announced an arms embargo still in force today. The First Libyan Civil War ended in the same year, giving way to an uneasy peace. However, tensions remained high, with sporadic fighting continuing until 2014, when the violence escalated and the Second Libyan Civil War was officially declared. As the crisis continued, a refugee crisis began to grow, human trafficking and fuel smuggling became rife, and it was apparent that the arms embargo was having largely no effect. By 2020, the crisis was having a significant impact on the EU, with waves of refugees exploited by human traffickers crossing the Mediterranean Sea. As the war continued with no end in sight, EU leaders met to discuss solutions. On March 31st, 2020, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EU Commission, announced a new initiative, known as EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, or Operation IRINI. Operation IRINI’s Aims and Resources Operation IRINI was announced as a “CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) crisis management operation in the Mediterranean Sea” and given the key goal of enforcing the UN arms embargo with the hope of bringing the long-running conflict to an end. Secondary tasks were to be: Prevention of fuel smuggling Building capacity for the Libyan coast guard and providing training ;Supporting the battle against human trafficking networks. These goals were to be achieved using a combination of naval and aerial military assets from EU nations, including France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal, with varying degrees of contribution from each. This would include frigates, submarines, long-range surveillance aircraft, small patrol vessels and light aircraft. Operation IRINI was only one aspect of a more integrated EU approach, including other EU civilian support missions. France : one of the main actors Although seven nations were providing the resources for Operation IRINI, the bulk of the commitment fell to Italy, Greece and France. The current task force includes three frigates, one each from Italy (ITS Grecale), Greece (HS Themistokles) and France (FS Blaison). French MPA regularly provides air support to the operation. The French government has retained a keen interest in Operation IRINI, with two members of the National Defence and Armed Forces Commission of the French Parliament visiting the IRINI Joint Operation Centre in Roma in December 2021. The Rear Admiral Stefano Turchetto in charge of Operation IRINI was quoted at that time as saying that France was the “backbone of the operation, protecting the European interests, providing deterrence and at the same time promoting stability and security in the Mediterranean Basin”. On May 2022, the Commander-in-chief of French Forces in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, Vice Admiral Gilles Boidevezi, visited the Headquarters to share with the Operation Commander their view and perspectives on several topics including Security Challenges and new Maritime Scenarios for the region. France reinforced also its leading position on staff level, holding the position of Deputy Operation Commander (currently Rear Admiral J.de Muizon). Results Since the beginning of operation, EUNAVFOR MED IRINI has monitored more than 800 suspected flights, 25 airports and 16 ports. 280 friendly approaches have been conducted and 22 boarding executed with one ship diversion. Furthermore, 36 special reports to the UN panel of experts on Libya have been provided. Thanks to all his efforts, arms smuggling was clearly slowed down in Libya. Criticism Operation IRINI has not been without its critics by countries sharing different interests and points of view on Libyan conflict. The government of Malta pulled out of the operation in May 2020, complaining that not enough was being done to help with the country’s immigration problem. Russia and Turkey also raised concerns, claiming that the operation was not neutral and was, in fact, supporting factions in Libya seen as friendly to the EU. Conclusion If Operation IRINI seems to be a success in terms of its mission goals, Human trafficking remains a problem in the Mediterranean Sea, although not at its peak levels seen in 2020. It’s probable that the reduction in arms smuggling helped to end the Second Libyan Civil War, although the security environment in the country remains volatile. Unfortunately, the support for the Libyan Coast Guard has been terminated due to hostility from Libyan authorities towards Operation IRINI’s mandate. For now, EUNAVFOR MED IRINI continues its mission of peace in the Mediterranean Sea. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
February 9, 2022News / Piracy / Weapons TraffickingEU Flag The Mediterranean Sea has always been a strategic maritime trade and transportation region. However, the numerous islands and peninsulas in the area have made it convenient for smugglers to operate. But, the rise of terrorist groups in North Africa has only compounded the problem. The European Union has developed a maritime security strategy that focuses on cooperation between member states and NATO to combat these threats. This strategy is implemented through various naval exercises and operations, such as Irini and Sea Guardian. The on-going deployment of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and the Task Force 473, composed of several European ships and sailors, is a new step for a coordinate European action in the Mediterranean Region. Thus, with tensions high in the region, all actors must work together to maintain security in the Mediterranean Sea. Read on to learn more about the maritime security strategy. Maritime Issues Regarding Security in the Mediterranean Region The Mediterranean Sea is a strategic region for maritime transportation, with significant volumes of oil and gas passing through its waters. Therefore, the security of this area is essential to ensure the free flow of traffic and trade. However, several issues are affecting maritime security in the Mediterranean that require attention: Maritime terrorism can take multiple forms: criminal activity at sea (e.g., drug trafficking or human smuggling) or terrorist attacks on commercial vessels such as ferries and cruise ships. Drug and weapon smuggling is also a security concern for many countries as illegal substances can finance criminal organizations involved with terrorist activities. The second issue refers to pirate attacks that have been recorded off the Libyan coast following the 2011 revolution. There are also concerns about boats being used by terrorists to transit across national borders undetected – this could pose significant risks if they plan an attack inside another country’s waters. European Union Maritime Security Strategy The European Union has developed a maritime security strategy to protect its interests in the Mediterranean Sea. Currently, the French-led Task Force 473 deployed in Mediterranean Sea is the result of EU Members defense partnership, which will strengthen interoperability and coordination between military assets in region. One of the strategy’s main goals is to improve cooperation between EU member states and NATO allies. Besides, the approach focuses on drug and weapon smuggling, piracy, and maritime terrorism. The following are the strategies that have been put in place to achieve this goal: The Irini operation– was a naval operation conducted by the European Union to disrupt illegal arms trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea. The procedure was launched in March 2020, as a successor of Sophia Operation started in 2015, and is still on-going. The main goal of the Irini operation is to stop weapons from being smuggled to terrorist groups in Libya. The process managed to seize over 6000 firearms. Below are some benefits of the Irini operation to maritime security: The procedure showed that the European Union could conduct complex naval operationsIt improved cooperation between EU member states and NATO alliesIt disrupted illegal arms trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea Naval exercises– are a vital part of improving maritime security. They allow navies from different countries to train together and learn their procedures. This makes it easier for them to cooperate during real-world operations. The following are some examples of naval exercises that have been conducted recently: A multinational naval exercise called Poseidon 2018 was held in May of this year. The exercise involved ships and aircraft from 19 countries, including Italy, France, Greece, and Turkey. In June of the same year, the United States and France held a joint naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea. The exercise involved the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. In addition, the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) conducted an anti-piracy exercise off the coast of Somalia in September of this year. The exercise involved ships from 23 countries, including Spain, Italy, and Portugal. The cooperation between EU and NATO The collaboration between EU and NATO is crucial for ensuring maritime security in the Mediterranean Sea. NATO provides valuable resources and expertise, while the European Union offers several significant benefits, such as unity and cohesion. As an example, many European Union members, acting also as NATO allies, participate to Sea Guardian, a maritime security operation aimed at protecting vessels from piracy and terrorism threats in the Mediterranean Sea. The Sea Guardian operation was launched in October 2017 and involved sailors from several NATO members such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Greece or Spain. This week, three carrier strike groups from USA (USS Harry S. truman), France (FS Charles De Gaulle) and Italy (ITS Cavour) conducted joint activities to improve interoperability at the highest level. Overall, the European Union has put several strategies to improve maritime security for the Mediterranean Sea. However, more needs to be done to ensure that naval security remains a priority in the region. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
November 2, 2021Human-Trafficking / Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / Weapons TraffickingEastern Mediterranean flashpoint Eastern Mediterranean is a crossroads between continents. The complexity of the region and tensions between countries make the area a dangerous flashpoint. All kind of destabilization and maritime issues monitored seem to be linked to one actor, the president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Where is Eastern Mediterranean? Eastern Mediterranean is a meeting point between Southeast Europe, Western Asia and Northeast Africa. Sometimes considered as the cradle of humanity, it is now composed of several countries: Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Libya. The region has been a crossroads for cultural, economic and political exchanges over millennia. Nevertheless, the geopolitical situation made this maritime region a flashpoint based on maritime issues and the disrespect of international law, agreement and convention. A transit route for migrants and refugees The civil war in Syria, started in 2011, has been a major change for countries relationships. The flow of refugees, crossing Turkey to Greece through the Aegean Sea led to a European Union (EU)-Turkey joint action plan in 2015. The agreement was that every person arriving irregularly to the Greek Islands would be returned to Turkey. In exchange, EU would take one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian returned from Greece. However, it became for the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan a way to conduct a hybrid warfare against EU. Turkish government threated several times the Member States to “open the gates” to migrants into Europe in case of disagreement (such as what is now observed in Belarus). With the return of Talibans in Afghanistan, it is expected to have an increase of refugees trying to cross the sea through the Aegan route but also from Syria or Lebanon to Cyprus. The last route is getting more and more used, especially because of the strong economic and social crisis hitting Lebanon after the dramatic explosion in the port in Beirut in 2020. Oil and gas dispute In the early 1970s, exploration discovered oil and gas fields in south of Cyprus. But the invasion of the island by Turkey in 1974 froze the possibility of exploitation. Then, two large natural gas fields were discovered in the region: Leviathan in 2010 in Israel Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) and Zohr in 2015 in Egypt EEZ. In 2018, tensions increased between Cyprus and Turkey when the Turkish foreign minister announced the intention to carry out gas exploration in Cyprus EEZ. Turkey sent several times exploration ship, such as RV Oruc reis, escorted by frigates creating huge concerns for EU, which Cyprus is a member States. In reaction, the European Council decided to suspend several negotiations. Egypt, which had an agreement with Cyprus to exploit some of its gas fields, reduced also its relations with Turkey. Arms trafficking from Turkey The last factor of destabilization in Easter Mediterranean is the arm trafficking from Turkey to Libya. Libya faced a civil war since 2011 and the United Nations Security Council voted the Resolution 1973 to impose an arms embargo over the country. To enforce this resolution, mainly ineffective, the European Union launch in March 2020 the operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, using aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In that framework, the EU linked the merchant vessel Cirkin, now re-named Guzel, to transport military material to Libya between May and June 2020. According to the press agency Reuters, the ship was escorted by three Turkish vessels, preventing all cargo inspection. In September 2020, EU imposed sanctions on the Turkish shipping company Avrasya Shipping accused of breaking the U.N. embargo on Libya. The president Erdogan never recognised to conduct this kind of operation. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 6, 2021Miscellaneous / News / Weapons TraffickingLoitering munitions is not only a land problem. Maritime world must take seriously the issues caused by this kind of weapon in order to preserve the freedom of navigation. The recent attack in July on the oil tanker Mercer Street, off Omani Coast, is an example of problems led by local tension in the area of one of the most important maritime route. What happened ? According to the United Kingdom Trade Operations, the oil tanker Mercer Street, operated by the British company Zodiac Maritime but owned by an Israeli citizen, was sailing 152 nautical miles northeast of the port Duqm (Omani) when he was attacked by a drone, apparently a loitering munitions. Two crew members, a British and a Romanian citizen, died in the attack. The US Navy was called to rescue the ship and the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher escorted the tanker to the next harbour. Iran was accused by USA, UK and Israel to be responsible for the attack, even if Teheran denied these claims. Loitering munitions Known as a suicide drone or kamikaze drone, loitering munitions is a weapon which searches for targets in a specific area for some time. As an autonomous lethal weapon, this kind of drone enables fast reaction in a deny access area, which led to several discussion about international humanitarian law and ethical concerns. These drones may be as simple as an unmanned aerial vehicle with attached explosives or more complex such as IAI Harop, a purpose built munitions with on-board sensors and flight and control capabilities. Several countries are recorded as loitering munitions user, such as Iran, Israel or the USA. The proliferation of theses drones, and the relative low cost for some, is a global threat to maritime security because of their easy-use and efficiency against all kind of ships (even far from the coast). Several attacks in the region This attack is only one of many others which happened in Gulf of Oman for past years, especially in May and June 2019. In the past, ship faced several threats such as maritime mines, pirates, missiles or terrorist attack. The Gulf of Oman, and the Strait of Hormuz, is the maritime route for liquefied natural gaz and oil from Middle-east producers. Over 2 400 oil tanker sailed through this area every year. If the freedom of navigation cannot be maintained in the area, likely due to the tension between USA and Iran, therefore all the international economy will be definitely impacted. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 13, 2021News / Weapons TraffickingFear of a maritime conflict is increasing in Arabian Sea. The 6th of April, Iran’s foreign ministry reported an attack on the Iranian freighter “Saviz” in the Red Sea. The vessel was hit below the waterline around 06:00 local Time, near the coasts of Djibouti. Its origins and causes are still under investigation. Previously, the 25th of March, the Israeli-owned container ship “Lori” was struck by a missile attack off the Oman’s coast. According to Israeli media reports, no crew members were injured.These incidents are part of a series of maritime events blamed on Israel or Iran.In fact, mid-march, Tehran suspected Israel of being responsible for the attack on its ship “Iran Shar-e-Kord” in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship would be owned by a company blacklisted by Washington accusing it of transporting material linked to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.Conversely, Tehran has been accused of being behind an “environmental attack” caused by the Iranian vessel “Emerald”. The vessel would deliberately pollute the Israeli coastline on February 1st and 2nd. In addition to that, Tehran would also be responsible for the mysterious explosion of the Israeli transport ship Helios Ray while sailing in the Arabian Sea on February 26.The Wall Street Journal reported that since the end of 2019, Israel would have targeted a dozen ships smuggling of illicit goods and weapons trafficking to Syria.This maritime conflict is definitely a dangerous game play by two regional protagonists with the risk of triggering a flash-over in the whole Middle – East. Like this:Like Loading... [...]