We are all aware of the enormous contribution that global maritime shipping makes to the world economy, however there is a downside. So it is entirely fitting that the theme for 2017 World Maritime Day is multifaceted, addressing many issues including maritime security, efficiency and the protection of the marine environment. (photo – Global Trade Magazine)
International shipping industry is huge,,, with big problems!
“Shipping is a big sector. There are 100,000 ships that account for 3% of greenhouse gas emissions. In GDP terms, shipping would be the sixth largest country in the world,” says Peter Boyd, of Carbon War Room.
The problem is that ship engines normally run on very high polluting, heavy fuel oil. Consequently, their contribution to global pollution is toxic “just 15 ships emit the equivalent SO2 emissions of every car in the world,” Boyd says. (photo – splash247.com)
Making waves with sustainable shipping
As reported in the Guardian new regulations are forcing the shipping industry to clean up its environmental impact. “There have been a lot of changes in the industry over the past eight to 10 years, particularly in relation to regulations,” says Alastair Fischbacher, director of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI).
Reducing sulphur emissions is the most pressing issue facing the Shipping Industry especially in heavily populated and trafficked Emission Control Areas (ECAs) that include the North Sea, Baltic Sea, most of the US and Canadian coastline, and the US Caribbean. From January of 2015 onward ships transiting ECAs were required to burn fuel oil with lower Sulphur content and technological innovations can play a part in making future shipping more efficient.
Maritime shipping and the protection of whales!
One of the leading causes of whale mortality is collisions with shipping. Over the last several months this issue was in our face as we reported on the unprecedented loss of at least 13 North Atlantic Right Whales in U.S. and Canadian coastal waters. See What’s Killing Whales?
This has been a huge blow to a species that is endangered and number just over 500 individuals. Some of the deaths are a result of disease and entanglement in fishing nets. But approximately half of the whales died as a result, of collisions with shipping.
In August, Canadian Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the department would bring “absolutely every protection to bear” to prevent the deaths of any additional North Atlantic Right whales. Days later, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced a mandatory slowdown in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for vessels longer than 20 meters. In addition, the snow crab fishery was partially closed in an effort to save the remaining population of North Atlantic right whales.
Unfortunately, as we are aware several more whales have died even since those measures were put into place. Obviously this is an issue of enormous consequence that the maritime shipping industry needs to address as they move forward with initiatives to preserve marine life.
Protection of Fragile Coral Reef Ecosystems.
In March we learned of a cruise ship that had run aground on pristine coral reefs in Raja Ampat National Marine Park in Indonesia causing irreparable damage to an area of unique biodiversity and one of the world’s preeminent dive destinations.
There is continuing controversy over loss of coral reefs due to the construction or expansion of cruise ship docks in locations around the world. In particular we have been covering the hotly debated, plans for the expansion of dock facilities in Georgetown harbor in Grand Cayman.
So, while we celebrate World Maritime Day and all the good that international shipping brings to us, we must also remain aware of the cost that international shipping levies on the marine environment.
By Bob Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
See Related Blue Ocean Articles:
Sustainable Shipping Initiative
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