June 5, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsAre you familiar with artificial reefs ? Artificial reefs are structures intentionally placed on the seabed. They are built from natural or artificial materials. They are designed to protect, enhance or restore components of marine ecosystems. Reefs improve organic plant production and animal nutrition by providing shelter and protection from predators. The beginning of the food chain is thus protected. What are artificial reefs made of ? They mimic natural reef system. They are made of concrete, whose composition is close to coral. Concrete offers a number of advantages. The material is strong, heavy, readily available and, above all, affordable. Its malleability means it can be shaped to suit a variety of habitats. Thus, holes and cavities can be included in structures to provide shelter. Over time, the concrete will be cover with algae and species of invertebrates, sponges and plankton. What are the goals ? We can identify three objectives for artificial reefs. First of all, the economic goal. It aims to develop biodiversity and biomass. The increase in marine wealth will lead to its exploitation for fishing. Secondly, environmental protection. The aim is to reduce the damage caused by trawling. In Morocco, reefs have been installed to combat illegal fishing. Above all, they prevent violations of maritime laws. They target the use of trawler nets in shallow waters. Finally, the recreational reefs. These are installed to attract divers. Sometimes, shipwrecks are deliberately sunk to create artificial reefs. A solution to reinforce, not replace However, fraud has occurred. Some companies use them to evade taxes. As a result, the proposed solutions are mainly a means of getting rid of their waste. Some of the proposed solutions are even polluting. Whether tires, PVC or plastic, waste does not constitute an effective artificial reef. Furthermore, this answer is only practical with quality water. It can only be applied if there is still hope of limiting the consequences of pollution and illegal fishing. It cannot create biodiversity, only enhance it. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
May 30, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsSea piracy has long been a global concern, posing a significant threat to maritime trade, security, and human lives. Over the years, naval powers and the international community have primarily focused on maritime strategies to combat piracy. However, it is essential to reverse this perspective and explore how addressing the land-based roots of piracy can contribute to a more comprehensive and effective solution. This article delves into the efforts made by maritime powers and the international community, analyzes the underlying land-based factors contributing to piracy in Somalia and Indonesia, and discusses long-term solutions that integrate both maritime and land approaches to eradicate piracy. Addressing Sea Piracy – Maritime Powers and International Initiatives Naval powers and international organizations have implemented various initiatives to combat sea piracy. Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) is one of the four Combined Maritime Force. Created in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, it aims to suppress piracy outside the territorial waters of coastal States. They work in cooperation with the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR). The collaboration target other maritime issues such as smuggling of goods and illicit products, human trafficking and IUU fishing. They are other operations: the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) and the Malacca Strait Sea Patrol are both some prominent examples. These initiatives have aimed to enhance maritime security, conduct patrols, and coordinate responses to piracy incidents. However, their focus has predominantly been on the maritime domain, which leaves room for exploring complementary land-based approaches. The Land Roots of Somali and Indonesian Piracy Understanding the land-based factors contributing to piracy is crucial for developing effective solutions. Prior to 1991, piracy was not a major threat in the Horn of Africa. In Somalia, the drought push nomad communities to the littoral. They then relied on fisheries to survive. However, the Civil War pushed the government interest away from the sea. Fishermen were left on their own against foreign countries greed. Indeed, new players came to fish in the waters, depriving the locals of resources. Thus, declining fish stocks in the High Risk Areas (HRA) exacerbate socio-economic issues. Communities were forced to turn to piracy as a means of survival. The lack of infrastructure, isolated fishing villages and uninhabited islands are ideal for pirate hideouts. Stabilizing the state, reconnecting pirate hideouts to administrative and political hubs, and addressing socio-economic challenges are crucial steps in combating piracy in Somalia. Similarly, Indonesia faces its own set of challenges. Remote islands, weak governance, and limited law enforcement presence provide a conducive environment for piracy. The archipelagic nature of Indonesia poses difficulties in patrolling and securing vast maritime areas effectively. To combat piracy in Indonesia, efforts should focus on controlling criminal flows, improving infrastructure, connectivity, and strengthening governance in isolated regions. Failed-states or, at least, fragile ones make propitious environment for maritime piracy to thrive. It creates an area without governmental monitoring and harsh living conditions. Hardskills are transferable to illegal activities. Small-scale fishermen have seafaring abilities and are familiar with the waters. Futhermore, the pay-check, between 2 and 5 times their former wages, is attractive. Abandoned by the state authorities, joining pirates gang could be a solution to fight foreign industrial and illegal fishing in their waters while earning a living. Long-Term Solutions : Integrating Land and Maritime Approaches To eradicate piracy within the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) and particularly around chokepoints, a comprehensive approach that addresses both maritime and land factors is essential. Long-term solutions should involve the enhancing of maritime security. States should continue to realize naval patrols. There is a need of a collaboration between international naval forces, coast guards, and local law enforcement agencies. They could deter and provide a rapid response to piracy incidents. International cooperation have to go through sharing intelligence, information and best practices. Countries and regional organizations could then improve their practices and adopt a collective response against piracy. The establishment of an intelligence exchange group can facilitate timely information sharing and enhance coordination between stakeholders. Initiatives as the Djibouti Code of Conduct and the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), can foster collaboration among states and contribute to effective anti-piracy efforts. But, as our article demonstrates, land-based measures have to be strengthened. Governments must invest in infrastructure development, connectivity, and social welfare programs to address the socio-economic issues that fuel piracy. This includes improving education, healthcare, job opportunities, and sustainable livelihoods in affected coastal areas. By helping to create a solid legal framework, improving law enforcement capabilities and strengthening governance structures, the long-term stability of affected countries will improve. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
May 5, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsThe North Sea is a strategic place, especially for its richness. The richness of its fishy waters, but also for the richness of its seabed with the submarine cables. There are many submarine cables in the North Sea region and many Western countries depend on them. Incidents already happened. They have highlighted the fragility of the undersea infrastructures and the energy dependence has been emphasized. Although damage to submarine cables are common, the hypothesis of sabotage often hangs over the incident. Several suspicious Russian civilian ships have been spotted in the North Sea and monitored by various European intelligence agencies. To address the issue of energy dependence and foreign threats, European leaders, led by France and Germany, have come together to find an answer. National authorities have a responsibility to ensure that cable routes are sufficiently redundant and diverse to ensure overall resilience. The hazards threatening the submarine cables in the North Sea There are many submarine cables in the North Sea region and many Western countries depend on them. Cutting them would limit internet connectivity, especially across the Atlantic. The energy market could suffer significant damage if undersea power cables are sabotaged or damaged. One option might also be to harm communications or take down countries’ power systems to cause chaos. Apart from the material risks, there are other threats looming over the submarine cables. Foreign countries could tapped its to record, copy and steal data. They could therefore be used for espionage purposes. There are three ways to spy on undersea cables : by placing backdoors during the cable manufacturing process, targeting onshore landing stations and facilities connecting cables to terrestrial networks, or tapping cables at sea. The last option is more difficult but less traceable and one of the most effective. Incidents on submarine cables have already occurred recently An incident already happened in the South of Svalbard last year. On January 2022, the Svalbard Undersea Cable System was cut. It was a twin submarine fiberoptic communication cable connecting Longyearbyen with Andøya north of Harstad in northern Norway. The damage let the Faroe and Shetlands Islands without internet access. The incident happened a month after the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipeline. The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline was a trigger for the Western public. The weakness of the undersea infrastructure has been highlighted and energy dependence has been emphasized. As the Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said “The offshore windmills, but also the cables and the pipes on the ground, are prone to sabotage or espionage,”. The Ukrainian War draws attention to the European dependence on Russian energy. Although damage to submarine cables are common, the hypothesis of sabotage often hangs over the incident. The Shadow War, the threat of Russian spy ships Several Russian civilian ships have been spotted in the North Sea and monitored by various European intelligence agencies. They are disguised as research vessels or fishing trawlers. These ships are sailing on maritime routes near gas or oil fields, near wind farms and power plants, as well as in the vicinity of military training areas – including during NATO training exercises. The Admiral Vladimirsky would be one of them. Officially dispatched for oceanographic research, the reality might be quite different as revealed by the documentary “The Shadow War” produced by public broadcasters from Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway. The Admiral Vladimirsky is shown conducting a mapping of the seabed in the international waters of the North Sea. The ship is of particular concern for her interest and proximity to western wind farms. Legally, nothing prohibits Russia from making these observations. The concern lies mainly in the use that could be made of the collected information. Some see behind this mapping preparations for a possible war between NATO and Russia. Moscow would identify the vulnerabilities of energy infrastructures for sabotaging purposes. The response to the challenges raised by submarine cables To address this problem of energy dependence, European leaders, led by France and Germany, have come together to find an answer. Renewable energies, more specifically wind turbines, could meet the challenges of security and sustainability. Cleaner than fossil fuels and more difficult to sabotage than pipelines, wind turbines seem to be, indeed, the answer to European concerns. They covet to produce around 300GW between now and 2050. Protecting Europe’s seabed infrastructure is a current concern. In the past, being underwater was a protection in itself. Today, with technological advances, the risks are greater. Threats can now be hybrid: physical or cyber and the stakes are high. Cables are subject to cyberattacks that can cause malfunctions or hardware incidents. Furthermore, whether it is a ship’s anchor or intentional sabotage, the risks are numerous. Europe relies above all on its ability to react in the event of sabotage. Rapid repair limits the consequences of a cable rupture and the paralysis of companies and the continent. The resilience of the Old Continent, a must have The acquisition of drones and underwater robots would allow to Europe to acquire strategic autonomy. Whether to act, protect or repair, having access to the seabed up to 6,000 meters deep is a goal. With more than 1.3 million kilometers, submarine cables invisible but essential elements of Western life. Submarine cables, as telecommunication and energy infrastructures, are part of the vital systems on which Western society depends. According to UNODC, more than $10,000 billion in financial transactions transit daily through undersea cables. The creation of an international authority to protect the submarine cables The International Cable Protection Committee was created in 1958 “to improve the security of undersea cables by providing a forum in which relevant technical, legal and environmental information can be exchanged.” the ICPC is for now only an industry forum for cable owners and some governments. The more allied governments join the institution, the more legitimacy it gains. Even if submarine cables are private property, governments still have the duty to monitor them. National authorities also have a responsibility to ensure that cable routes are sufficiently redundant and diverse. They must ensure overall resilience and avoid security breaches. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
November 17, 2022FLASH NEWS / MiscellaneousIran has released two Greek oil tankers seized earlier in May ending the diplomatic impasse between Athens and Tehran. The Iranian foreign ministry said that an Iranian-flagged tanker seized in Greece had also left Greek waters. The parties have agreed to foster the cooperation necessary to improve maritime security Like this:Like Loading... [...]
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 25, 2021Miscellaneous / News / PiracyThe Maritime Information Cooperation and Awareness Center (MICA Center) is the French Center of Excellence for Maritime Security. Founded in 2016, it published the second edition of its annual review on piracy and robbery. In a world affected by the Covi-19 pandemic, the past year falls within the average of the previous five years, with 375 acts of piracy and robbery reported. MICA-Center-Annual-review-2020Télécharger Like this:Like Loading... [...]