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Interferry Looks to the Philippines for Safety Lessons Learned
by The Maritime Executive
Monday, March 18, 2019

A four-man team from global trade association Interferry will be in Manila from March 18-22 in the first stage of a project to study significant safety improvements in Philippines ferry operations and produce a “lessons learned” report to help other developing nations.

The FerrySafe project team has arranged one-hour meetings with a wide range of stakeholders to learn how fatal incidents have been reduced to almost nil in recent years from a peak of 1,001 deaths in 2008.  

Following Manila, a second round of dialogue in the Philippines is scheduled for this summer with visits to shipyards and operators in the Cebu area.

FerrySafe furthers Interferry’s longstanding engagement with safety issues on domestic routes in developing nations, which account for 93 percent of an almost certainly under-estimated 1,200 fatalities per year. The project was conceived by the association’s domestic safety committee and is being backed by a £40,000 ($53,000) grant from U.K. charity the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. The grant covers all direct expenses of the project, while team members are contributing man-hours worth an additional £30,000 ($40,000).    

The team leader is Dr. Neil Baird, founder and chairman of Australia’s Baird Maritime, who last year completed a doctorate on the causes and prevention of fatal ferry accidents. He is joined by two fellow members of the domestic safety committee – Interferry regulatory affairs director Johan Roos and naval architect Edwin Pang, general manager of Leadship’s U.K. office and current chair of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects IMO committee. The team is completed by writer and editorial researcher Nelson Dela Cruz, a volunteer with Philippine non-profit organization the Maritime League, who is acting as facilitator.  

Preliminary findings from the two visits will be presented at Interferry’s 44th annual conference in London in October and the final report is due by the end of the year. Dissemination to other developing nations will be primarily through the association’s involvement with the ongoing ASEAN Regional Forum on ferry safety and through its consultative status at the IMO. 

“The ambition is to take the findings from our Philippines research to other countries and facilitate their implementation,” says Roos. “This will require additional external funding and cooperation. The largest improvement potential is found in S.E. Asia and Africa, but - apart from the funding - we would need political support from the respective countries as well as the IMO.”

Hashish On the Ocean Floor
Monday, March 18, 2019
CW4 Michael W. Carr – “Ok, everyone gather around, we have a new job, you are going to love this one,” said the Dive Team leader. They gathered in the middle of their large warehouse adjacent to the runway at US Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City NC. Surrounding them were pallets of equipment; SCUBA […]

Australian Government Wants More Live Export Observers
by The Maritime Executive
Sunday, March 17, 2019

Australia's Department of Agriculture has announced that it will sign an order prohibiting live sheep exports to the Middle East from June to August - Australia's winter time and the Middle East's summer time - although the industry already agreed to this voluntarily last year

The Department will also require independent observers on all voyages that can accommodate them, having already placed observers on a number of voyages last year and reviewed their reports.

The announcement is a response to on-going concern about whistleblower footage taken on five voyages including a 2017 Awassi Express voyage when thousands of sheep died of heat stress.  

The Department is now proposing a new requirement for vessels to be equipped with automated data logging equipment to record wet bulb temperatures and for that data to be reported to the Department for all voyages during northern summer. The Department will use the data to better understand sheep responses to heat. “This new evidence will be closely scrutinized to build a comprehensive evidence base for live export regulation,” says the Department, which remains committed to allowing the industry to continue.

The Department placed observers on a number of voyages last year. After a Freedom of Information battle, the RSPCA gained access to some of the observers' reports, although they were heavily redacted by the government prior to their release. Multiple reports documented symptoms of heat stress among the livestock over many days of the voyage. Some deaths were also attributed to heat stress, others to disease, infections, feeding issues and injuries - either sustained on board or as a result of shearing prior to loading.

The reports brought to light issues that could affect the information used to assess investigations into high-mortality voyages such as the Awassi Express one. The temperatures recorded around the ships were of variable quality on some voyages. One observer noted that temperatures were taken twice a day, not at the hottest part of the day. Another noted they were taken four times a day, again not at the hottest part of the day. On another vessel, they were taken once a day. Several observers noted faulty equipment, difficulty in taking readings and crew missing taking all measurements.

The observer reports also highlighted a range of animal welfare issues. Several observers noted that vessels approved by AMSA to carry livestock sailed a zigzag pattern to increase airflow across open decks to lessen the effects of heat stress on the livestock. Extra fans were installed on the closed decks of another vessel to boost ventilation, and on entering the Persian Gulf, another vessel's crew took particular notice of the weather report and avoided areas of high humidity. 

Some noted flooding from rain or from ballast tanks in some pens, and on one vessel, the cattle were not washed down for eight days, as the relative distribution of livestock and fodder meant the vessel's trim could not be safely adjusted to allow the washwater to flow off the decks.

One vessel had a pen approved to hold livestock by AMSA that, in practice, needed the crew to erect an extra gate to stop livestock falling down grates. In the pens that are to have a different floor area depending on whether sheep or cattle are held, AMSA requires that a gate be put up. However, the observer noted that as soon as the vessel sailed, these gates were removed to give the livestock more space and because some animals tend to jump through and get caught in the empty space.

One observer witnessed an outbreak of pinkeye which resulted in around 20 percent of sheep infected in some pens. “At offload, I observed five or six sheep that were effectively blind and had to be kept within a group of moving sheep to prevent them colliding with fixed objects.”

Some observers noted occasions where water troughs were empty or where dusty or moldy food was found in troughs. One observer noted that, despite prolonged observation, it was not possible to validate that all sheep were getting their turn at the feed trough. Another noted a lack of fodder available once unloading had commenced and crew were busy with other tasks.

The RSPCA says it took nearly six months of fighting to obtain the observer reports which it says make it clear that, despite the redactions and the industry knowing it was being observed, the conditions on board the Awassi Express in 2017 weren’t the exception but the norm.

As a result of the whistleblower footage, and the observer reports, politicians and voters from a spectrum of political parties have spoken out against the live export trade. The Labor Party, currently in opposition, has committed to phase out the live export of sheep, a move supported by the Greens and the Animal Justice Party.

Sharks Left to Die Slowly in Great Barrier Reef Cull
by The Maritime Executive
Sunday, March 17, 2019

Humane Society International (HSI) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) have release graphic images of sharks left to die as part of Queensland's Shark Control Program in the Great Barrier Reef.

The images were obtained this month at drumlines set off the coast of Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. HSI and AMCS are calling for the immediate removal of the drumlines from the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

"Culling sharks is cruel and illogical, and we are frustrated that it is still happening in the Great Barrier Reef. These images show the intense suffering inflicted on marine animals by this outdated practice. Not only does the Queensland Government insist on slaughtering sharks, but it has recently passed legislation making it illegal to document the horror. The public has a right to see true cost of its Shark Control Program,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns at HSI.

The Queensland Government's Fisheries Amendment Bill 2018 outlaws being within 20 meters of shark control equipment on the grounds of "public safety” with fines of up to $26,110. This legislation will come into effect in a matter of weeks.

Tiger sharks are the most frequently caught shark in the Queensland Shark Control Program, and their numbers have dropped by up to three quarters in Queensland waters. Last week the first official Australian Shark Report Card was released and that indicated that tiger shark numbers will keep dropping unless their management is improved. If not, they could soon vanish entirely from Queensland waters. “The Government should not be sanctioning culling of a species in such perilous decline,” said Dr. Leonardo Guida, Senior Shark Campaigner at AMCS.

According to Queensland Department of Fisheries statistics, nearly 9,000 tiger sharks have been caught in the Queensland Shark Control Program since 1985.

Humane Society International is currently engaged in legal action against the Queensland Government and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for shark culling on drumlines within the World Heritage-listed reef. The case concluded in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in February and the Tribunal's decision will be made in the coming months. In the case, evidence was heard that if sharks were no longer killed in the Queensland Shark Control Program it would make no difference to the risk of a shark bite.


WesCom Signal and Rescue Renews Contract with Powerhaul International
by The Maritime Executive
Sunday, March 17, 2019

The world’s leading supplier of marine distress signals, WesCom Signal and Rescue has confirmed a new seven-year contract with U.K. logistics company Powerhaul International.

Powerhaul International provides the safe storage, warehouse and logistics function for WesCom Signal and Rescue in the U.K. and handles the safe removal of Time Expired Pyrotechnics (TEPs).

Owner of Powerhaul International, Peter Jenkins, comments, “We have been working with WesCom Signal and Rescue for over 30 years, and we’re proud to secure seven more years of providing highly specialised logistical support.”

WesCom Signal and Rescue manufactures world renowned commercial and leisure marine pyrotechnic brands, Pains Wessex, Comet, Oroquieta and Aurora.

Keith Bradford, Product and Customer Service Manager at WesCom Signal and Rescue, comments, “We have a long-established relationship with Powerhaul International, and we are pleased to renew our contract and commit to seven more years of steadfast and reliable continuity of supply – we know we’re in safe hands with the team.”


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The Tuna Clipper Marine Pier
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