October 31, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsIn the quest for sustainable and eco-friendly dietary options, the development of algae-based seafood substitutes has emerged as a revolutionary breakthrough. Spearheaded by the Seafood Algternative project, supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, this initiative represents a significant stride in the pursuit of more environmentally conscious and health-conscious food alternatives. With an innovative approach and a commitment to addressing pressing ecological concerns, the project aims to revolutionize the seafood market while ensuring a delightful culinary experience. A Novel Culinary Approach to Sustainability The inception of the Seafood Algternative project, led by Algama SAS, has garnered considerable attention for its groundbreaking endeavor to introduce a comprehensive line of seafood substitutes derived from non-animal compounds. As an extension of their success in the vegan food industry, Algama SAS has channeled their expertise and resources into the innovative integration of algae-based ingredients into the realm of seafood production. With an unwavering dedication to sustainability and natural food production, the project has identified a niche in the market and has gained notable traction within the industry. The recent participation of the project team in international exhibitions and fairs has underscored the surging demand and interest in alternative food products. With the market landscape rapidly evolving, the concerted efforts of the project team signify a remarkable stride towards the structuring and development of a sustainable and promising market segment, driven by a commitment to environmental responsibility and consumer health. Paving the Way for Sustainable Gastronomy and Environmental Conservation In an era marked by heightened environmental consciousness, the imperative to seek viable alternatives to traditional seafood production has never been more pressing. The Seafood Algternative project, cognizant of the perils posed by practices such as overfishing and the burgeoning threat to marine life, has endeavored to address these ecological concerns by introducing plant-based alternatives crafted from algae. By championing the utilization of algae as a primary ingredient, the project aims to create a positive impact not only on human health but also on the preservation of oceanic ecosystems. With an unwavering commitment to harnessing creativity, expertise, and technological advancements, the project founders seek to democratize access to sustainable and nutritionally rich seafood alternatives. By advocating for a shift in dietary habits and promoting the integration of algae-based ingredients, the project aims to usher in a new era of sustainable gastronomy, one that harmoniously balances the preservation of the planet and the well-being of its inhabitants. Conclusion The groundbreaking efforts of the Seafood Algternative project underscore the pivotal role of innovation in fostering sustainable food practices. By harnessing the potential of algae-based ingredients, the project not only contributes to the diversification of culinary offerings but also champions a holistic approach to environmental conservation. As the project moves forward to consolidate its industrial scalability and market presence, its vision for a more sustainable and planet-friendly culinary landscape remains a beacon of hope for a healthier and more ecologically conscious future. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
October 30, 2023MiscellaneousA year following the Nord Stream sabotage, the pipeline connecting Estonia to Finland has suffered damages once again, implicating a Chinese container ship in the crosshairs of investigators. The events of the early morning of October 8th, where the Balticconnector subsea gas pipeline experienced a significant pressure drop, have not only raised concerns but have also highlighted vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure. This article delves into the recent sabotage, the potential implications, and the ongoing investigation into the incident. Sabotage and Investigation: Unveiling the Suspects As the investigation unfolds, it becomes increasingly evident that the damages caused to the Balticconnector gas pipeline and the accompanying telecommunication cables were not isolated occurrences. The Finnish government, in collaboration with Estonian and Swedish authorities, has been meticulously connecting the dots to identify the cause of the damages. The initial findings point to an external force causing the harm, leading to speculation about potential sabotage or a grave maritime error. The presence of a heavy anchor found near the damaged pipeline site has intensified suspicions and raised critical questions about the sequence of events that led to the damages. In recent developments, the focus has shifted to the Newnew Polar Bear, a Chinese container ship navigating the region during the time of the incident. The ship’s movements align closely with the timeframe and location of the damages, prompting authorities to scrutinize her role in the unfolding events. However, challenges in communication and cooperation with the vessel’s crew have complicated the investigative process, requiring international cooperation and transparency to ascertain the truth behind the incident. Infrastructural Vulnerabilities and Global Concerns The sabotage of the Balticconnector pipeline has raised crucial concerns about the vulnerabilities of critical maritime infrastructure. With thousands of kilometers of vital cables and pipelines traversing the Baltic Sea and other essential maritime routes, the incident serves as a stark reminder of the susceptibility of these infrastructures to potential external threats. Amid growing geopolitical tensions and regional power plays, the need to bolster security measures and fortify the protection of these critical undersea assets has become increasingly paramount. The fallout from the recent events highlights the imperative for enhanced collaboration between public and private entities, particularly in the realm of safeguarding critical infrastructure. The swift response from international bodies, including the NATO, in launching dedicated initiatives to protect strategic undersea infrastructures underscores the global significance of the issue. With concerted efforts, it is hoped that a robust framework for protecting such crucial maritime assets will be established, mitigating the risks posed by potential future incidents. Conclusion The recent sabotage of the Balticconnector gas pipeline and the subsequent damages to the accompanying telecommunication cables have sent shockwaves through the international maritime community. As investigations continue to unfold, the need for collaborative efforts among nations and stakeholders has become increasingly pronounced. The significance of securing critical maritime infrastructure, especially in the face of escalating geopolitical tensions, cannot be understated. It is imperative for global stakeholders to prioritize the development of comprehensive security protocols and measures to safeguard undersea assets, ensuring the uninterrupted flow of critical resources and communications across vital maritime routes. As the investigation progresses, a transparent and fair process is essential to establish accountability and prevent similar incidents in the future. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
October 27, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsIn an era characterized by technological advancements, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into various industries has sparked significant transformations, leading to increased efficiency, safety, and productivity. The article explores AI advances in maritime, highlighting Lynx Power Catamarans’ breakthrough in Cape Town, South Africa, redefining boat design. Lynx Power Catamarans recently completed the construction of a cutting-edge multi-role vessel (MRV) that incorporates Artificial Intelligence to revolutionize its operational capabilities. This MRV, designed in collaboration with KND Naval Design, is set to undertake a range of critical maritime missions, including security patrols, surveillance, firefighting, and search and rescue operations. AI-Driven Navigation System: Revolutionizing Maritime Operations One of the most prominent aspects of Lynx Power Catamarans’ MRV is its integration of an advanced AI-driven navigation system, a product of the collaboration with autonomous technology specialist Robosys Automation.This proprietary navigation system not only enables the vessel to operate as a fully autonomous unmanned platform but also facilitates independent navigation, collision avoidance, and dynamic route optimization in accordance with the stringent IMO degree four autonomy standards. With its adaptable nature, this system can be installed on existing vessels, elevating their operational capabilities to meet the demands of modern maritime challenges. Designed to undertake a spectrum of specialized maritime tasks, ranging from surveillance to patrolling, this 11-meter aluminum twin-hulled marvel operates adeptly even in challenging conditions, boasting a speed range of 30-35 knots. Robosys Automation emphasized that the AI system, even in its basic configuration, can provide crucial collision avoidance decision aid (CADA) support in compliance with COLREGS (International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea). This significant enhancement in safety measures empowers operators to mitigate potential risks effectively while simultaneously boosting overall productivity and operational efficiency. Furthermore, in the context of a fully-fledged unmanned surface vessel (USV), this AI system enables remote piloting, autonomous navigation, and precise control, incorporating obstacle, collision, and grounding avoidance mechanisms through AI-enabled vessel identification and perception systems. This marks a significant milestone in the realm of maritime technology, heralding a new era of safer and more efficient maritime operations. Transformative impact with Artificial Intelligence and the future Lynx Power Catamarans’ pioneering use of AI technology in its MRV not only signifies a transformative shift in maritime operations but also sets a precedent for the integration of AI-driven solutions in the broader maritime industry. The successful implementation of AI-driven navigation systems in vessels, particularly in enhancing safety protocols and optimizing operational efficiency, highlights the immense potential for further advancements in the maritime sector. As the technology continues to evolve, we can anticipate a proliferation of AI-integrated vessels, leading to safer and more efficient maritime activities worldwide. Moreover, this groundbreaking achievement serves as a testament to the growing synergy between cutting-edge technology and traditional maritime practices. By embracing AI solutions, the maritime industry can ensure a more sustainable and secure future, effectively addressing the evolving challenges posed by an ever-changing global landscape. Lynx Power Catamarans’ AI-enabled MRV not only exemplifies the company’s commitment to innovation but also reinforces the significance of collaboration and technological integration in driving progress and sustainability within the maritime domain. Conclusion The successful integration of Artificial Intelligence technology in Lynx Power Catamarans’ MRV represents a significant milestone in the maritime industry, reflecting the potential of AI to revolutionize maritime operations. By harnessing the power of AI-driven navigation systems, the company has not only elevated the safety standards but has also paved the way for a more efficient and adaptive approach to maritime activities. As the industry continues to embrace technological innovations, the transformative impact of AI on maritime operations is expected to create a ripple effect, ushering in a new era of enhanced safety, productivity, and sustainability in the maritime world. Source : Baird Maritime Like this:Like Loading... [...]
October 26, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsRussian maritime forces no longer possess the logistical means necessary to renew their fleet. Impacted by the Montreux Convention, Russia’s fleet seems to be running out of breath as it is forced out of the Black Sea. On Saturday October 14th for the first time in years, the Russian submarine Krasnodar – previously in the Mediterranean Sea – crossed Gibraltar’s strait. The Russian Military Maritime Fleet (VMF) does not have any submersible left in the Mediterranean since mid-October. According to Belgian naval analyst Frederik Van Lokeren , on X, the VMF would currently have five units left, namely two supply ships, two corvettes (“Orehovo Zuyevo” and “Merkury”) and an electronic warfare vessel (“Kildin”). The Montreux Convention explains Russian fleet’s impediment in the Mediterranean sea. Since 1936, the international agreements made in the Swiss city have commanded free movement in the straits of the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles and within the Black Sea. The Convention, counting more than fifty signatory states, follows a long-standing geopolitical and strategic conflict in the area. For Turkish geopolitical analyst Yörük Işık: “These straits are real strategic nodes of Eurasia”, as they form the unique maritime routes between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. These straits are closed to all warships since February 28th, 2022 as Ankara engaged in the Convention. It states that navigation must preserve the security of Turkey, the Black Sea and the coastal states. The closing of the Turkish straits keeps Russian ships from entering the Mediterranean. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Russia has already violated this agreement, as merchant ships are used as naval auxiliaries to provide logistics for operations in Syria and Ukraine. A possible weakening of the Russian fleet The closing of the straits keeps the Russian navy away from its home harbors, forcing it to only rely onto its Syrian support point (Tartous harbour). This strategic point represents the only logistical support remaining for the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean. The lack of strategic support in such a large perimeter exhausts material resources of Russian ships (most of which suffer from serious damages). This might explain why the Krasnodar was spotted in Gibraltar’s strait while being towed by the Sergey Balk navy tug. Middle Sea’s waters are no longer home to any Russian submarines since then as the Krasnodar was not replaced. Everything seems to indicate a weakening of the Russian navy in the Mediterranean, which can not count on sufficient logistical support points for the renewal of its fleet. The Krasnodar has been confirmed to have crossed Gibraltar’s Strait, as it was seen in the south of Marbella, Spain. It could be now heading towards the Baltic Sea. For many analysts, the submersible’s trajectory suggests a possible return to the homeland. A return that appears to be anticipated by Russian navy’s inability to renew its equipment while at sea. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
October 25, 2023MiscellaneousIn a world increasingly shaped by connectivity and digitalization, the maritime industry finds itself vulnerable to the escalating threat of cyberattacks. The recent report “Shifting tides, rising ransoms and critical decisions” by Thetius, HFW, and CyberOwl underscores the pressing need for robust cybersecurity measures. With the average cost of cyberattacks soaring to $550,000 and ransom demands skyrocketing by over 350%, maritime organizations are facing an urgent call to fortify their defenses in the face of this burgeoning cyber threat landscape. Nick Chubb, founder of Thetius, warns, “The cost of cyber attacks is on the rise.” Vulnerabilities in Maritime Cybersecurity The proliferation of operational technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IoT) networks on merchant ships has heightened the vulnerability of the maritime industry to cyber threats. These digital systems present an ideal environment for both generic and targeted risks, with potential consequences ranging from business interruption and financial exploitation to critical system damage. The operational disruption caused by cyber breaches, as demonstrated by the Ever Given incident in 2021, emphasizes the potential scale of chaos that can be triggered by a cyber breach. The maritime sector has become an alluring target for cybercriminals not only due to the substantial ransom payments but also because of the heightened sensitivity of charterers and port authorities to potential reputational damage. Challenges and Solutions in Maritime Cybersecurity While the maritime industry has made strides in cyber awareness, the report highlights persisting challenges. The sector is undergoing significant shifts in roles and responsibilities, facing emerging risks, and confronting pivotal investment decisions. Managing these challenges goes beyond mitigating quantifiable costs; it necessitates protecting the industry’s reputation from the aftermath of cyberattacks. Building strong relationships with third parties and ensuring adequate resources to secure vessel systems remain critical for successful cyberattack prevention. The report underlines the industry’s struggle with cyber insurance, leaving many companies exposed to significant financial losses due to insufficient coverage. Path to Resilience: Cybersecurity Recommendations and Strategies The report provides six crucial recommendations to bolster cybersecurity within the maritime industry. These include recognizing evolving roles and forming cross-functional teams, making informed investments in comprehensive security programs, accounting for additional cyber risks with advanced satellite communication systems, effective collaboration with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), a clear understanding of cyber insurance policies, and the inclusion of well-drafted cyber security clauses in contracts. Recent cyber incidents in the maritime industry underscore the necessity of not only implementing protective measures but also developing robust response plans. Establishing internal threat assessment teams, implementing data protection and recovery strategies, and ensuring uninterrupted operations during and after cyberattacks are vital steps in enhancing cyber resilience. MarPoint offers comprehensive solutions that align with industry standards, providing tailored cybersecurity tools to protect the maritime industry against the evolving cyber threat landscape. Conclusion In the face of a dynamic cyber threat landscape, prioritizing cybersecurity has become paramount for the maritime industry. Proactive measures, comprehensive investments, and robust response plans are crucial to minimizing the impact of cyber incidents. MarPoint’s innovative solutions provide reliable and tailored cybersecurity measures to safeguard the industry’s assets, reputation, and bottom line, offering a beacon of hope for a resilient and secure maritime sector. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
October 23, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsOn 17 October, at a joint press conference in Gothenburg, the Swedish ministers for defence and civil protection, the head of the coastguard and the head of the navy announced that a telecommunications cable between Sweden and Estonia had been damaged. The incident occurred earlier this month and coincided with damage to the Balticconnector gas pipeline and the Elisa submarine telecommunications cable between Estonia and Finland. Neither gas supplies nor communications were disrupted. However, the operators estimate that repairs will take months. The damage was caused outside Sweden’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. The combination of incidents could be a deliberate act of sabotage. This is a matter of concern for Europe and NATO in a tense international context of energy supply and the entry of Finland and Sweden into the Atlantic Alliance. Although this case has attracted far less attention than the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines, two ships present at the time of the incident have attracted the attention of Finnish investigators. Two ships present at the time of the incident have attracted the attention of Finnish investigators. The Chinese container ship Newnew Polar Bear and the Russian nuclear-powered cargo ship Sevmorput. According to the AIS system, which tracks maritime traffic, these two ships were sighted at around the same time as the damage to the two communication cables and the gas pipeline. But other ships, whose identities have not been revealed, are also under suspicion by the Finnish authorities. They did not mention the Russian research vessel “Sibiriakov”, which had apparently taken a close interest in the Baltic link a few days earlier. Protecting cables and pipelines is extremely difficult. It requires permanent geographical coverage. What’s more, when damage occurs outside a country’s territorial waters – as has been the case in all recent incidents – the legal basis for investigations is difficult to establish. The decommissioning of the Nord Stream gas pipelines in 2022 sent shockwaves around the Baltic. Norway, which had become Europe’s leading gas supplier following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, deployed considerable naval and coastguard resources, as well as industry, with numerous underwater drones to inspect its 8,800 kilometers of pipelines. Last February, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the creation of a critical submarine infrastructure coordination cell at NATO Headquarters. It has decided to increase its surveillance resources in the Baltic Sea by deploying four minehunters, an Awacs surveillance aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft and drones. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
October 23, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsThe 16th Plenary Meeting of the North Atlantic Coast Guard Forum (NACGF) was held in Helsinki on 16-19 October. The meeting concluded the Finnish Presidency of the Forum and focused on the impact of the development of autonomous systems at sea on coastguard activities.A report on the work of the Forum’s 7 working groups and a first document on the impact of climate change and the greening of maritime activities on coastguard operations and organizations were presented. Since the explosion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the issue of critical infrastructure protection has also become a priority. At the end of the meeting, the chairmanship was handed over to the Swedish Coast Guard. The Swedish Coast Guard will continue to develop international cooperation within the North Atlantic Coast Guard Forum until 2024.The theme chosen by the new Swedish presidency is the integration of sustainable development into coastguard operations. The NACGF is a body that aims to facilitate cooperation in the field of coastguard activities. Established in 2007, it brings together the nineteen countries of the North Atlantic. Members of the Forum are coastguard authorities from the Baltic Sea Region, Western and Southern Europe and North America. Not all countries have a coastguard. For example, the French delegation was led by the Préfecture Maritime de l’Atlantique. Russia is a member but has not been invited since 2014 The European Union agencies EMSA, FRONTEX and EFCA, MAOC-N, Interpol and UNODC are associated with the work of the Forum. The French delegation was led by the Préfecture Maritime de l’Atlantique. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 16, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsThe Suez and Panama Canals, engineering marvels of the modern world, have long served as vital arteries of global trade and commerce. However, the adverse effects of climate change are casting a shadow over their efficiency and economic viability. The twin challenges of low water levels and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are impacting these vital waterways, causing restrictions on daily transits and significant financial losses. Low Water Levels: A Navigational Nightmare One of the most pressing consequences of climate change affecting the Suez and Panama Canals is the dwindling water levels. Rising temperatures lead to evaporation, reducing the volume of water available to maintain adequate depth for vessels. In the Suez Canal, situated in a region prone to water scarcity, the impacts are particularly stark. Reduced water levels make it challenging for large vessels to navigate safely through the canal, increasing the risk of grounding and accidents. Similarly, the Panama Canal faces the challenge of maintaining sufficient water levels to accommodate its lock-based system. As freshwater resources in the surrounding regions become scarcer due to changing precipitation patterns, ensuring a stable water supply becomes a critical concern. Lower water levels restrict the canal’s capacity to handle larger vessels, undermining its competitiveness as a global trade route. Restrictions on Daily Transits: A Sluggish Global Trade The combined effects of low water levels and unpredictable weather patterns have forced the Suez and Panama Canals to implement restrictions on daily transits, directly impacting global trade flows. In the Suez Canal, reduced water levels have led to narrower navigational channels, resulting in a decrease in the maximum allowable vessel draft. This restriction reduces the number of vessels that can pass through the canal each day, leading to delays in shipments and disruptions in supply chains. As a result, some estimates suggest that daily transits through the Suez Canal have been curtailed by as much as 20 percent, causing ripple effects throughout the global shipping industry. In the case of the Panama Canal, water scarcity-driven restrictions affect the canal’s lock operations. The canal’s locks rely on freshwater to maintain the necessary buoyancy and functionality. Decreased water availability has compelled authorities to limit the number and size of vessels passing through, thereby reducing the overall throughput of the canal. These limitations have far-reaching consequences for industries dependent on just-in-time supply chains, potentially leading to delays, increased costs, and inefficiencies. Financial Losses: Sinking Profits The economic impacts of climate-induced disruptions on the Suez and Panama Canals are undeniable. The reduction in daily transits directly translates into financial losses for canal operators. The Suez Canal, for instance, generates billions of dollars in revenue each year from toll fees paid by shipping companies. A 20 percent reduction in daily transits equates to a substantial decrease in toll revenue, threatening the canal’s financial stability and its ability to invest in maintenance and upgrades. The Panama Canal, too, faces economic strains due to lower throughput. The canal’s revenue largely stems from toll charges based on vessel size, type, and cargo. Decreased transits result in reduced toll collection, impacting the canal’s operational budget and potential expansion projects. Conclusion The impacts of climate change on the Suez and Panama Canals underscore the interconnectedness of global trade, infrastructure, and environmental sustainability. The challenges posed by low water levels and restricted daily transits not only disrupt supply chains but also amplify the economic vulnerabilities of canal-dependent economies. Urgent action is required to mitigate these impacts, including innovative water management strategies, investments in canal infrastructure, and international cooperation to combat climate change As the world grapples with the reality of a changing climate, it is imperative to recognize that the health and viability of these critical waterways are at stake. Addressing the challenges posed by climate change is not just about safeguarding the navigability of the Suez and Panama Canals; it’s about ensuring the resilience and adaptability of global trade systems in the face of an uncertain future. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 10, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsWhales are hunted for their meat, skin, blubber and oil. Whaling is regulated by the International Whaling Commission. Established in 1946, it is responsible for the conservation of whales. Today it also deals with bycatch and entanglement, ship strikes, marine noise and pollution. It also monitors the sustainability of whale watching. There are three types of whaling: commercial, aboriginal subsistence and scientific. However, it is still legal in three countries. Whale hunting, a long tradition Japan, a member of the International Whaling Commission, is one of them. It hunts Antarctic whales every year for scientific research. But the International Court of Justice (IJC) ruled in 2014 that it was not doing so for research purposes. The ICJ ordered Japan to stop hunting under its permit. The second is Norway. It is the number one whaling country for commercial reasons. It has twice withdrawn from the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. Third time’s a charm, they finally accepted it with reservations. Whale hunting is a cultural tradition. It goes back to the Vikings in the 9th century. Today, Norway restricts hunting to the minke whale, which is not classified as an endangered species. An end to whaling ? The last is Iceland. The country left the International Whaling Commission in 1992 and has since resumed commercial whaling. However, following a report on animal welfare, Icelandic Food Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir suspended the whaling season until 31 August. The report indicates that 41 % of the whales targeted do not die immediately. They suffer after being harpooned. It can take up to two hours for them to die. Moreover, explosives could be used. This allows the whale to be killed more quickly byallowing it to bleed to death. The harpoon used to be hooked inside the whale. The whale would then pull the line to exhaustion, allowing the fishermen to kill it. The end of fin whale hunting is being supported by tourism. In fact, whale-watching tourism is on the rise. Income from tourism is greater than that from the sale and export of meat. The marine mammal also plays a key role in marine life. Their excrement stimulates the growth of plankton. This in turn can absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Plankton is also an important food source for small marine animals and fish. Ending whaling means preserving an entire marine ecosystem. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 3, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsIn 2018, around 6.9 million tonnes of plastic pollution was discarded by coastal countries in West Africa. Most of these are single-use plastic containers for drinking water or sanitary purposes. In West Africa, the use of plastic products is increasing with urbanisation. The cost of marine pollution in West Africa is estimated at between $10,000 and $30,000 per tonne of plastic in the ocean. Furthermore, Plastic can persist for centuries, making it a major stress factor in marine ecosystems. Fishing, biodiversity, tourism and ecosystems are all affected. Plastic waste can affect fisheries by reducing fish yields and damaging fishing gear such as nets and boat propellers. Accordingly, it drives down market prices for products contaminated by plastic and associated chemicals. Plastic pollution of beaches and offshore waters could also lead to a reduction in tourist activity. Biodiversity is declining and slowly dying out. Leatherback turtles, which nest on beaches, are among the victims. They die from ingesting plastic, which they mistake for jellyfish. The initatives to fight agaisnt plastic pollution That is why a number of initiatives have been launched in Gabon to put an end to plastic pollution. In Libreville, people have been fined for littering. Public awareness needs to be raised and people made more responsible.. That’s an important part of the fight against pollution. Everyone has to play their part. For instance, the NGO Réseau gabonais pour l’environnement et le développement durable (RGEDD), in partnership with the Autorité nationale des parcs nationaux (ANPN) and with the support of elements of the French army in Gabon (EFG), cleaned up the Raponda Walker Arboretum. Due to the difficulty to access the beach, The French Fennec helicopter was used to evacuate the 5 x 100 kg bags of rubbish. Collecting waste is not enough. It has to be treated to improve waste collection and recycling. In Gabon, the Mindoubé landfill receives 700 tonnes of waste per day, or 80% of the country’s waste. As a result, the landfill has been saturated since 2014. To tackle this problem, France and Gabon signed an agreement at the One Forest Summit in March 2023 to clean up the landfill. Thus, this operation will put an end to the safety risks, toxic fumes and air pollution. It will also help develop the local economy, create jobs and train young people in recycling. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
July 31, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsIn our articles, we often talk about AIS and VMS for ship tracking. But what exactly are these devices? AIS, a safety device AIS stands for Automatic Identification System. Its purpose is to transmit a ship’s position to others vessels. It is a safety requirement created in 2002. AIS is mandatory on all vessels over 15 meters. IMO requires large ships to broadcast their position with AIS in order to avoid collisions. AIS transmits a range of information : position, vessel identity with MMSI, course and speed are all reported. Ground stations and satellites receive this information. This data is then made available to the public. AIS uses a higher transmission frequency. However, In some cases, the AIS may have to be deactivated for safety reasons. For example, in areas at high risk of maritime piracy, ships deactivate their AIS. This reduces the risk of piracy. VMS, a monitoring tool VMS is the acronym for Vessel Monitoring System. It is one of the four worldwide positional data systems to exist. Positional data are used to study fishing effort and its effects on marine habitats. It was created in 1997 by the European Union to monitor the position of fishing vessel. It is compulsory for fishing vessels over 12 meters in length. However, under the impetus of the FAO, the VMS was not content with being a European standard. It has become an international system. Unlike AIS, VMS cannot be tampered with. It is also more difficult to lose data, and is subject to strict confidentiality rules. AIS and VMS, why choose ? The combinaison of both could help prevent illegal activities into marine habitats. Although not the first use, AIS help locate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. For instance, the globalfishingwatch website turns “big data into actionable information”. It does this by combining publicly available AIS with information obtained from vessel monitoring systems available through partnerships with governments. Thus, impacted areas can be better monitored, and action taken at sea. Some fishermen prefer to remove it to escape surveillance. This delays rescue operations in the event of shipwrecks, fires or other incidents. Events whose severity could have been minimized if the AIS had been effective or the VMS present. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
July 10, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsAlthough most of our planet is covered in water, only three percent of it is freshwater, and only a third is available to man, the rest being frozen in glaciers or inaccessible deep underground. The ocean accounts for 95% of available water. But this is salt water. Desalinating this water could therefore be the solution to the problem of water scarcity… Water resources are threatened by unpredictable weather conditions. Heat waves are more frequent as temperatures rise. Population growth is increasing the need for water, while resources are dwindling. Desalination plant : a game changer If the Earth is called the blue planet, it’s because of the ocean. The ocean accounts for 95% of available water. But this is salt water. Desalinating this water could therefore be the solution to the problem of water scarcity… To achieve this, desalination plants are set up. Several techniques can be used. The first is thermal distillation. This produces steam by boiling seawater. This operation leaves salt and minerals behind, but the steam is collected. It is then condensed by a cooling procedure to produce pure water. For years, this was the main method, but a cheaper and easier-to-implement solution has now emerged. This is membrane filtration, also known as reserve osmosis. Seawater is sprayed at high pressure through a membrane. This separates the water from its various minerals and salts. Although this technique is less difficult, it requires a great deal of energy, and not just renewable energies. Only wealthy countries where water is scarce use this technique. Australia was the first country to adopt this process. The Millennium Drought, between 1997 and 2009, had serious consequences, and desalination plants were a great help. Spain now ranks fourth in the world for desalination capacity, accounting for around 5% of the global total, behind Saudi Arabia, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. However, many plants in the Middle East use older, fossil-fuel-powered thermal plants. As a result, desalination plants are currently responsible for the emission of 76 million tonnes of CO2 per year. As demand for desalination is set to grow, global desalination-related emissions could reach 400 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2050. The issues raise Saltwater extraction in desalination plants can harm fish and other marine life if not carried out with care. Brine is the hyper-concentrated salty liquid that is removed from freshwater. For every 100 grams of brine, there are 70 grams of salt. This can be harmful to fish and marine life if not treated with care. If it’s simply pumped directly into the sea, this dense substance sinks to the bottom of the ocean and suffocates marine life. Brine is denser, sinking to the seabed and creating a stratification that asphyxiates bottom-dwelling species. Brine can contain toxic metals such as mercury, cobalt, copper, iron, zinc and nickel, as well as pesticides and acids that cause irrevocable changes to the environment. There are techniques for distributing it over a larger area in the sea, thus diluting its impact. Brine can contain toxic metals such as mercury, cobalt, copper, iron, zinc and and nickel, as well as pesticides and acids that cause irrevocable changes to the environment. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
June 15, 2023Miscellaneous / NewsDuring the 20th century, 2 million dolphins lived in the Black Sea. They were threatened by fishing, pollution and bycatch but they remained numerous. However, in 2020, the dolphin population has collapsed to 250 000 individuals. The population has been divided by 20 since the Russian invasion. Thousand of Black Sea Dolphins have been killed. By May 2022, 1500 dead dolphins had been reported on shore. Moreover, only a small number of the dead cetaceans washes ashore. The remaining carcasses sink to the bottom of the water. All Black Sea coastal states, such as Ukraine and Turkey, have noticed dead dolphins on their beaches. Research has determined that the 2500 documented strandings are just the tip of the iceberg. It is estimated that between 37,500 and 48,000 animals died in the space of just three months of war. How is the war in Ukraine affecting marine animals? Radioactive and chemical pollution caused by missiles is threatening Black Sea wildlife . However the effects will probably not be visible until later. As always in times of war, there are several versions of events. According to Russian scientists, the morbillivirus is to blame. This virus is a common killer of the species. But the images and dates converge on an explanation that focuses more on the consequences of conflict than disease. Dolphins die from injuries caused by explosions. They suffer burns or decompression sickness after escaping the blast. Dolphins also suffer of acoustic trauma. Sonar technologies affect a part of the dolphin’s brain called the melon. This organ plays a major role in communication and echolocation. Military sonars destroy the dolphins’ inner ear and blind them. As a result, they are unable to navigate and hunt. This leads to the disappearance of their very thin layer of blubber. Weakened, they die of starvation, hypothermia, or of disease due to a weakened immune system. Their sonar communication system, is both a weak point and a much-appreciated tool. In fact, combined with their deep-diving capabilities, this makes dolphins effective underwater detectors. They are said to be more effective than any technological device. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
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... [...]