The Maritime Advocate–Issue 834



1. More carefully to carry
2. Equity index
3. IACS debates
4. BIFA emissions survey
5. Seafarers’ welfare coalition
6. Sailing cost calculator
7. Bills of lading errors
8. Alcohol issues
9. Challenges to jurisdiction
10. Fundraiser for children
11. Getting to zero
12. Global levy
13. Illegal employment fees

Notices & Miscellany

Readers’ responses to our articles are very welcome and, where suitable, will be reproduced. Write to:

1. More carefully to carry

By Michael Grey

You might think that insurers would have been more vocal about the risks they are taking on with bigger car carriers carrying apparently ever more “problematic” (here is my chance to employ a fashionable word) cargoes which cause a lot of grief. It took five days to extinguish the inferno which engulfed the vehicle decks aboard Grimaldi’s con-ro Grande Costa d’Avorio last week. Worse still, two firefighters lost their lives as they raced aboard the ship, alongside in Port Newark after the emergency had ben declared, when fire broke out as the vessel was completing her loading of new and used vehicles.

It was emphasised that electric cars were not involved in this fire, which broke out on deck 10 in the vehicle-carrying superstructure of the vessel abaft the bridge. It rapidly spread to the two decks above it, burning with great ferocity and producing a great deal of smoke. Before it was brought under control, fireboats and shore side pumps were employed and the ship had taken on a list. But it is clear that the cost of this conflagration will be huge, with much of the rolling cargo destroyed and damaged along with the ship itself.

While the shipping industry has been spending a great deal of time worrying about fires in containers, it might be argued that similar efforts should be made to confront the known risks of carrying vehicles en masse after so many serious losses. It would also seem that while the carriage of new vehicles is not always trouble free, by far the greater risks are run when used, or even damaged units are carried. With some fuel in their tanks and batteries connected in every unit, any fire in a cardeck has the potential to take out the whole ship, and the risks are well understood. But while the quality control in the terminal focuses on new cars, that surrounding used vehicles may not be of such a quality, other than cursory checks to ascertain that a car is not dropping oil.

The highest risks of all, according to the US Coast Guard, which has become increasingly concerned with these regular fire outbreaks, is with the trade in old and damaged vehicles which rather than being scrapped locally, are shipped from developed to developing nations, where they might be repaired or broken down for spares. These potentially dangerous wrecks may have their batteries connected, they may be driven aboard or towed, but have sparked (literally) a number of emergencies. And while the advice from the authorities is sensible and precautionary, in ensuring such cargoes are properly inspected on the terminal prior to being loaded, with batteries disconnected and close attention to any leaks, the whole ethos of a car carrier is on speed and uninterrupted activity.

It might be suggested that this trade perhaps ought to be discouraged, with the looming image of thousands of elderly or damaged EVs turning up for shipment as the automotive business electrifies. But you can put money on its continuation, which leaves the carriers holding the baby with mitigating measures. Better training for crews, more supervision in the terminals, perhaps even slowing down the frantic pace of cargo handling, tighter regulation of what happened to time-expired or damaged vehicles – all are indicated, but will it make any difference?

If you are going to break down, that famous law will almost guarantee that it will be in the most embarrassing situation. The image last week of the big Cobelfret ro-ro Mazarine lying aground practically alongside the dreaded Wolf Rock off Cornwall, will be one that will remain in the memory. The Wolf is one of the most remote of the rock lighthouses, which is often used to illustrate the terrible power of the sea, with photographs showing it almost vanishing under spray and green water in Atlantic storms.

Today it is automated, like all Trinity House aids to navigation, with a helipad above the lantern, but it was known to be a real hardship post for the light keepers, who might spend weeks waiting for relief while the storms raged. Thank goodness that while the tide might have been unkind to the disabled Mazarine, the weather did not show its uglier face and the ship was towed to safety.

Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List

2.   Equity index

The Women in Transport Equity Index survey has recently been launched. This initiative, introduced at the Women in Transport Annual General Meeting on 26 June 2023, aims to revolutionise the industry by providing crucial baseline data, recognising best practices and driving positive change.

The Women in Transport Equity Index survey went live and open for registration from 3 July 2023.

The Index seeks to identify and address the real gender diversity in transport-related positions, fostering an environment where all individuals have equal access to opportunities and resources.

The Women in Transport Equity Index survey consists of 10 mandatory and 10 optional questions, carefully designed to ensure efficiency while capturing essential data. Optional questions include intersectional aspects, further enhancing the understanding of workforce dynamics within the sector. Participants who complete the index questions will gain free access to a light version of the information hub, which offers invaluable resources and templates for fostering diversity and inclusion within their organisations.

Upon completing the full survey, participants will receive an overall score across the ten equity standards, individual scores and a comprehensive 25-page report featuring benchmarking data. Top-performing companies will be featured in the comprehensive report (with their permission), with the top five companies in each sector index (at their discretion) receiving a prestigious certificate of success recognition and a marketing badge dated to signify their commitment to diversity and equity.

Link to register for the Equity Index 2023:

3. IACS debates

The IACS Council met in Gdansk, Poland recently for its 87th session (C87) where decarbonisation was high on the agenda. The Council welcomed the recent decision by IMO to adopt a new output to develop a framework for the safe decarbonisation of shipping, the result of a two-year effort by IACS to ensure that critical safety concerns were not overlooked in the collective drive to lower carbon emissions as far and as quickly as possible.  In support of the work at IMO, C87 also noted the rapid progress being made by the Safe Decarbonisation Panel with regard to alternative fuels and new technologies along with the provision of expert input to a wide range of industry and regulatory forums addressing CO2 reduction measures.

C87 further agreed to sign a Letter of Intent with the Singapore MPA to work with them to accelerate the safe and practical implementation of low or zero carbon technologies, through increased collaboration and information sharing.

Recognising the power of digitalisation to support and drive decarbonisation, C87 also committed to optimising its various working groups engaged in the digital transformation of the industry to ensure IACS plays its full role in supporting industry on this journey.

Quality matters featured heavily in discussions with C87 welcoming the fact that all Members had successfully met their triennial assessment to ensure that they have remained in constant compliance with the IACS Membership criteria.  Also on Quality matters, Council welcomed that each member has had its quality performance endorsed by IQARB and emphasised its commitment to the strengthening of IQARB and to seeing it established as a permanent entity with appropriate secretariat support.

C87 recognised the potentially significant impact the EU’s Maritime Safety Package could have on their work as Recognised Organisations and committed to working constructively with the Commission on its development.  Also in an EU context, C87 also reviewed IACS’ ongoing contributions to EU environmental legislation stemming from the ‘Fit for 55 package’ and particularly around the inclusion of shipping in the EU ETS and the Fuel EU Maritime Regulation.

Finally, and to ensure continuity in its extensive work programme and engagement with industry, C87 elected Mr. Roberto Cazzulo of RINA as the incoming Chairman of IACS as from 1 Jan 2024.

Speaking at the end of C87 IACS Chairman, Nick Brown of Lloyd’s Register, stated “IACS’ significant contributions to safe decarbonisation, both in terms of keeping safety at the forefront of IMO discussions and through the substantive technical contributions it is making to support the introduction of alternative fuels and technologies, demonstrate the value that a non-commercial, impartial association brings to this debate.”  He went on to congratulate Roberto on his election and looked forward to a smooth handover over the next six months.  Responding, Mr. Cazzulo said “It is an honour for me to be elected and I look forward to building on the excellent work done by Nick Brown in ensuring IACS is well positioned to meet the environmental and technological challenges faced by shipping.”

4.  BIFA emmissions survey

An industry survey on carbon emissions within the logistics sector conducted by the British International Freight Association (BIFA) has revealed that it is not just legislation that is driving change, but client pressure and internal initiatives are also increasingly significant factors.

The survey was conducted in association with Pledge, a decarbonisation software platform for transport and logistics, with which BIFA is in partnership, to evaluate how much the growing awareness of the importance of this issue, tempered by some scepticism, is impacting on the business activities of freight forwarders and logistics service providers.

There were four straightforward questions which yielded some interesting results.

The outcome can be summarised as indicating that there is growing awareness of measuring carbon emissions from the shipment of freight amongst BIFA members. The results showed that for 69.05% of the respondents, calculating emissions was playing some sort of role within their day-to-day activities, whilst for 15.48% it was deeply rooted in their business activities.

The answer to ‘what factors were driving this change?’, produced an unexpected response – the perceived wisdom has always been that regulation would drive change and for 15.48% this was still the case.

However, for 28.57% of members, client pressure is the main contributor, whilst even more surprising, internal initiatives accounted for 30.95% of replies to this question.
The findings of the survey support BIFA’s belief that the use of IT systems to facilitate the integration of transport management with carbon calculation systems is key to the successful recording and reporting of carbon emissions. This is the first step to considering how to reduce these emissions, potentially via modal shift and, where that is not practical, via measures such as carbon offsetting.

The final question concerned funding of programmes designed to calculate carbon emissions. Whilst 22.62% of respondents had an annual budget of less than a £1,000 to spend on carbon emissions calculation, a much healthier 30.95% had between £1,000 and £9,000 to spend. The financial budgets of a further 14.29% of members exceeded £20,000. The balance preferred not to say.

BIFA director general, Steve Parker comments: “The conclusion of the survey is that there has been growing awareness of environmental issues amongst the BIFA membership and, to some extent, a growing awareness of the need to measure carbon emissions and provide that information to clients.

“It will be particularly challenging for SMEs to determine how they will use this data and what they can actually do to reduce their carbon emissions – the general consensus is that significant changes will be required. Although what these will be are not clear at the moment.”

5.  Seafarers welfare coalition

A coalition of UK based organisations concerned about seafarers’ welfare have come together to address abuse, bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence at sea.
The organisations – The Seafarers’ Charity, The Nautical Institute, the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), Human Rights At Sea (HRAS), Safer Waves, the UK Sailing Academy (UKSA), the Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP Maritime), Befrienders Worldwide and Tineke Zoet (a maritime wellbeing ambassador) – believe that their unified voice will send a powerful message that there is support for seafarers and seafarers do not, and should not, have to tolerate inappropriate behaviour and toxic leadership when working at sea.

The UK-based organisations each have international reach and shared values, and have agreed to form a network to support the personal and psychological safety of seafarers working in the global maritime industry. The network aims to promote effective joined-up working, avoid duplication and to complement, contribute to, accelerate, and amplify existing initiatives to create safe, positive working cultures for all seafarers.

A focus of the network will be to empower seafarers with education, awareness, support, and solutions which centre around their personal and psychological safety. The network intends to increase understanding of the prevalence of abuse, bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence in maritime, and to coordinate effective, preventative solutions to these issues. As a network, the organisations will come together at regular intervals to share ideas and updates, identify opportunities for collaboration and support, identify gaps in services and resources, consult on important decisions, and work together on a joint, long-term, sector-wide campaign which raises awareness of the importance of the personal and psychological safety of seafarers.

Several charitable welfare support services already exist to support seafarers impacted by bullying, harassment, and sexual violence at sea. These include the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) who provide free, 24-hour multi-lingual helplines SeafarerHelp and Yacht Crew Help; Safer Waves, who deliver an email-based emotional support service to seafarers who have experienced sexual assault or harassment onboard; Salute Her UK who offer women-centric trauma therapy and counselling; Befrienders Worldwide, who offer emotional support in response to suicide ideation; and a number of ship visiting maritime ministry charities with global networks of staff offering practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers.

The network also includes Human Rights At Sea (HRAS), who maintain an independent role in investigating cases brought to the NGO’s attention alongside state authorities’ interventions, and CHIRP Maritime who maintain a confidential accident and incident reporting programme. As part of a potential longer-term solution, The Nautical Institute, who represent and support the career development of seafarers, are currently developing new training which aims to enhance the leadership and management skills of seafarers.
The Seafarers’ Charity, a significant maritime grant funder of maritime welfare services, is also a member of the network and is a funder of all of the charities involved, as well as funding CHIRP Maritime and the new leadership and management training from The Nautical Institute.

The Seafarers’ Charity Chief Executive, Deborah Layde said, “I am saddened by seafarers’ reports of the issues they face while working at sea. But I am delighted to see so many organisations willing to come together to work on potential solutions to support the personal and psychological safety of seafarers. The Seafarers’ Charity is committed to ensuring that this network has the resources needed to build the evidence and support required for seafarers experiencing bullying, harassment, discrimination and sexual violence onboard.

6. Sailing cost calculator

Coach Solutions, a leading provider of maritime data solutions, has released a calculator to enable vessel operators to calculate sailing costs under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

Integrated into the Coach Solutions voyage optimisation platform, the calculator provides a simplified means of estimating the additional voyage costs of buying EU ETS carbon allowances against a specific vessel. Users can adjust parameters based on voyage length and speed to understand the impact of slow steaming or different route options.

The calculator uses a dynamic model for the cost of EU emissions allowances, allowing for price changes as the shipping industry joins the scheme and the availability of credits changes over time.

The EU ETS becomes a reality for the maritime industry from January 2024. To ensure a smooth transition, vessel operators will be given a three-year phase-in period where they will surrender allowances for a portion of verified emissions, from 40% in 2024 to 70% in 2025 and 100% in 2026.

Emissions allowances can already be bought on the open market and many owners have begun doing so already in the hope that they will pay a lower price now than they would next year or to cover cargoes already in the book.

However, for vessels not operated by the owner – which is the case for large parts of the bulker and tanker industry – the owner may transfer the responsibility of the allowances to the charterer as part of the charter contract. This will involve a transfer of emissions allowances from the charterer to the owner, either during the charter period or upon completion.

“We talked with our clients and sought their views on the ETS and their forward planning and found that despite the noise around this subject there was no tool that could help them understand what it means for them,” says Christian Råe Holm, Head of Performance Management, Coach Solutions. “Our customers work across the different tramp segments in wet and dry bulk and it seemed obvious that this kind of functionality could help our customers prepare and plan for this new era.”

7. Bills of lading errors

The International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has urged shipowners, charterers and brokers to be vigilant in reviewing bills of lading (BoL) for potential errors or oversights.

In the latest edition of the Claims Review, which is a collection of recently closed claims, ITIC highlights a case where errors on updated bills of lading resulted in an oil cargo being collected by the wrong consignee and a three-way split for the cost of damages.

In the example case, a ship was headed to a discharge port carrying a petroleum product cargo. The charter party contained a clause which allowed the charterers to change the port of discharge and, subsequently, request new bills of lading in exchange for a Letter of Indemnity (LOI). The charterers invoked this clause.

The owner prepared new bills of lading and sent these to the shipbroker to pass on to the charterer. However, the shipbroker neglected to pass the new bills of lading to the charterers. In the meantime, the charterers authorised the Master to sign the new bills of lading, assuming that everything else, except the new port of discharge which they had requested, had stayed the same. However, the consignee’s name was erroneously changed for unknown reasons on the new bills.

The new consignee collected the cargo before the error had been spotted. The actual consignee and the bank who had provided the letter of credit took action, which delayed the ship. These delays caused an initial loss to the charterer in the region of US$ 400,000.

The charterers claimed against the shipbroker for not passing the amended bills to them for review; as they say, they lost the chance to spot the error. ITIC reminded charterers of their duty to mitigate their losses and pointed out that they had authorised the Master to sign the new bills of lading without seeing them.

After the charterers mitigated the claim, the damages amounted to US$ 75,000, split three ways between charterers (as they had authorised the signing without seeing the bill of lading), owners (as they made the error with the consignee’s name) and shipbrokers (for failing to pass the document to the charterers for review). ITIC paid US$ 25,000 in respect of the shipbroker’s share.

“As a provider of professional indemnity insurance to transport intermediaries operating in the marine, offshore, renewable and aviation industries, ITIC regards the sharing of case studies and learnings as an important part of helping industry and individuals to better understand and mitigate risk. This case study highlights how seemingly simple errors can have significant implications and serves as a reminder of the need for vigilance by all parties in completing important documentation such as bills of lading.” said ITIC’s Claims Director, Mark Brattman.

8. Alcohol issues

The British Ports Association (BPA) recently renewed its call for the UK Government to close the two-decade-long loophole allowing non-professional mariners to navigate vessels under the influence of alcohol.

The Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 received Royal Assent and became law on 10 July 2003. Part 4 of the Act allowed Ministers to place limits on the amount of alcohol that professional and non-professional mariners may have in their system whilst navigating a vessel in UK waters or on UK flagged ships. However section 80, relating to non-professional mariners, was left out of the order bringing these provisions into force in 2004 and has been left that way ever since.

BPA Chief Executive Richard Ballantyne has written to Maritime Minister Baroness Vere to ask that section 80 of the 2003 Act be brought into force in its entirety. The letter can be found here.

He said “It is 98 years since driving a car on the road whilst drunk was made illegal. It would be a shame if we reached a century without the same provision being rolled out to recreational boating. This change does not require primary legislation. The Secretary of State just needs to make an order to bring existing provisions into force.

“We have seen serious and fatal accidents on the water where alcohol has been a factor in recent years. Harbours should not have to wait for an accident to be able to take action against irresponsible users who put themselves and others at risk.

“This change would not mean people could not enjoy a drink whilst on the water – although they should be responsible given the dangers – it’s just the person navigating the vessel that would be subject to the law. It is not unreasonable to have a ‘designated driver’ on the water.”
Driving a car whilst drunk was made illegal in 1925.

The relevant part (section 80) of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 can be found here. Most of Part 4 of the Act – focused on alcohol and drugs in shipping – was brought into force by the The Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2004, but subsections 1-3 of section 80 were left out due to pressure from lobby groups.

9. Challenges to jurisdiction

Brian Perrott and Stephanie Morton of HFW have drawn our attention to a   recent case1 demonstrates how the legal concepts relating to contract formation are important to questions of jurisdiction.

In 2018, a number of shipping companies including Gold Star Line (“GSL”) entered into a memorandum of understanding (the “2018 MOU”). The 2018 MOU concerned the operation of a shipping line and sharing of vessels by the participating companies. Notably, it contained an LMAA arbitration clause.

Emirates Shipping Line (“ESL”) then entered into negotiations with GSL to join the consortium. Around 21 October 2019, it was agreed that ESL would contribute its vessel to the liner service on 20 January 2020. Further discussions were then held regarding price and quantity of slots. On 31 October 2019, ESL and GSL entered into a slot purchase agreement.

A copy of the 2018 MOU was sent to ESL on 20 November 2019. On 15 January 2020, ESL advised that it would require a new MOU to cover its inclusion in the liner service. In February 2020, a new MOU was entered into by all parties.

In the meantime, a cargo carried pursuant to the slot purchase agreement was damaged on 30 November 2019. ESL incurred liability in connection with this damage. ESL then commenced LMAA arbitration against GSL seeking an indemnity for its liability. GSL subsequently challenged the Tribunal’s jurisdiction. The Tribunal held that it did not have jurisdiction since ESL had not shown it was a party to the 2018 MOU (and importantly, the arbitration provision contained therein).

ESL brought an application under s.67 of the Arbitration Act 1996 to challenge the Tribunal’s award on jurisdiction in the English commercial court. It argued that jurisdiction could be established by an express / implied contract on the terms of the 2018 MOU.

The Judge conducted a detailed review of the facts and chronology. He concluded there were two separate agreement: one for the purchase of slots and one to join the consortium. The former arose when the slot purchase agreement was entered into. The latter only arose once the 2020 MOU was entered into.

On the facts, the Judge did not find that the parties intended the 2018 MOU terms to apply to the slot purchase agreement. Indeed, the 2018 MOU was only shared with ESL after the slot purchase agreement had been entered into. He therefore upheld the Tribunal’s finding that it did not have jurisdiction.

This case showcases the challenges of assessing contract formation, contractual terms, and the implications for determining jurisdiction.

Commencing proceedings in the wrong jurisdiction can lead to wasted time and expense, but may also lead to claims becoming time barred. This case serves as a good reminder to clearly address jurisdiction in commercial agreements, but also to carefully determine the correct jurisdiction when bringing claims.

1 Emirates Shipping Line DMCEST v Gold Star Line Ltd  [2023] EWHC 880 (Comm)

10. Fundraiser for children

Mediator and barrister Jonathan Lux is getting on the road to raise funds for Australian children’s charity Variety. The challenge involves a rather rugged drive diagonally across Australia in aid of Variety  as part of the Variety Bash to spread the word and get out on the road for kids in need.

The more people that know about Variety, the greater their impact, so please spread the word by sharing the page with friends and family. As Lux puts it:

Please help us help give kids in need a fair go!  I can’t claim this as a maritime adventure but nevertheless, I hope you agree, a worthwhile cause!

11. Getting to zero

A zero-emission future cannot be driven by the IMO alone, and global regulations need to be backed up by ambitious national and regional policies, as well as industry initiatives, to enable a full, just, and equitable Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -aligned transition, says the Getting to Zero coalition.

Last week, Member States of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted the revised Greenhouse Gas Strategy. The Strategy is an important milestone for the industry as it builds confidence in the transition by clearly indicating that a shift to zero-emission fuels is required at scale, starting now. While the Strategy is a major step forward, public-private partnerships across the whole value chain are now crucial to build on this momentum, manage risks, and further drive an IPCC-aligned transition, the coalition says.

“The Strategy’s updated target to reach net-zero GHG emissions by or around, i.e. close to, 2050, in combination with the indicative checkpoints for 2030 and 2040, is a strong improvement that shows that swift and radical change is necessary. By setting out a clear pathway, the IMO points to the necessity for the industry to invest in zero-emission fuels, vessels, and technology at scale.

“During the past years, the Getting to Zero Coalition has been highlighting the need for a five percent uptake of zero emission fuels by 2030, recognising that this near-term target is necessary to put the sector on track to reach the long-term goal of zero-by-2050. The inclusion in the Strategy of a 2030 fuel uptake target of at least five percent zero or near-zero emission fuels, striving for ten percent, is therefore an achievement. It is an ambitious and important signal to reduce emissions as soon as possible, rather than to delay action until the last decade, and provides assurance to first movers.

“Furthermore, the Coalition welcomes the inclusion of all emissions of the full lifespan of the fuels in the ambition as well as the references to ensuring the transition is just and equitable. We firmly believe that this is vital for achieving shipping’s full decarbonisation, leaving no one behind, and unlocking global opportunities for the production of zero-emission fuels.

“However, while the Getting to Zero Coalition welcomes the revised strategy, the levels of the indicative checkpoints fall short to put shipping on a trajectory that is IPCC-aligned. “Furthermore, ambiguity around the end date and the inclusion of net-zero and near-zero fuels could blur clarity on fuel pathways.

“The Coalition is calling on national governments, regional bodies, and industry to work together and maximise investment in zero-emission shipping and send firm demand signals to fuel producers. Industry leadership through public-private efforts such as green corridors are now key for unlocking decarbonisation potential by building confidence, showcasing opportunities, and managing risk. Such public-private efforts can provide a crucial bridge that further builds momentum and helps reach maturity of zero-emission technology before the policy measures enter into force. This can set the sector up for ensuring that the next revision of the strategy in 2028 addresses the current strategy’s shortfalls and resolves ambiguities.

“The two coming years provide the industry with a crucial window of opportunity to work with the IMO to ensure it adopts ambitious and unambiguous policy measures, including a global fuel standard and a sufficiently high price on emissions that provide the clarity that industry needs. The Coalition remains committed to supporting this development.”

12. Global levy

The maritime industry has re-asserted that a global levy on ship’s GHG emissions must now be adopted rapidly if the ambitious goals agreed are to remain plausible, the International Chamber of Shipping says.

Speaking at the close of the intensive two-week session of the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) negotiations in London, Simon Bennett, ICS Deputy Secretary General, remarked: “ICS greatly welcomes the ambitious agreement reached by governments at IMO today for shipping to achieve net zero emissions ‘by or around 2050’, in line with the Paris Agreement and the commitment made by the shipping industry at COP 26 in Glasgow back in 2021. This historic IMO agreement gives a very strong signal to ship operators and, most importantly, to energy producers who must now urgently supply zero GHG marine fuels in very large quantities if such a rapid transition is to be possible.”

Simon Bennett added “The checkpoints agreed for 2030 and 2040 are particularly ambitious. The industry will do everything possible to achieve these goals including the 70 to 80 percent absolute reduction of GHG emissions now demanded of the entire global shipping sector by 2040.  But this can only be achieved if IMO rapidly agrees to a global levy on ships’ GHG emissions to support a ‘fund and reward’ mechanism, as proposed by the industry. We urgently need to reduce the cost gap between conventional and alternative marine fuels and incentivise the production and uptake of new fuels at the scale now required to meet this accelerated transition. 2040 is less than 17 years away and the availability of zero GHG marine fuels today is virtually zero.”

Simon Bennett continued “It is very positive that a majority of governments now support a levy for shipping involving flat rate contributions by ships per tonne of GHG emitted to an IMO fund to expedite a rapid transition. The ICS ‘fund and reward’ proposal remains firmly on the table as a deliverable solution and will now be subject to a comprehensive impact assessment by UNCTAD to be completed by early next year, so that an economic measure can be adopted in 2025. This will be vital it we are to reach a take-off point by 2030 for the use of new fuels to achieve the extremally ambitious goal which IMO has now set for 2040.”

“ICS is confident that this economic impact assessment will demonstrate that the ‘fund and reward’ proposal, or something similar, is the only practical way forward if the ambitious GHG reduction targets agreed by IMO this week are to remain realistic and achievable.”

“This week’s agreement is historic for our industry and sends a very strong message that the maritime sector is serious about achieving net zero and addressing dangerous climate change in line with the Paris Agreement.” concluded Bennett.

Details of the ICS Fund and Reward proposal can be found here.

13. Illegal employment fees

The extent of illegal recruitment fees and charges being levied on seafarers, in violation of the Maritime Labour Convention, has been revealed in a research report and survey produced by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and leading maritime welfare charity, The Mission to Seafarers (MtS).

The report, titled ‘Survey on Fees and Charges for Seafarer Recruitment or Placement’, shines a light on instances in which seafarers are being forced into paying illegal fees and charges, further confirming the extent of this serious problem and providing a better understanding of how widespread the issue is.

The report includes a survey of over 200 seafarers, drawn from a wide variety of ranks, age and nationalities, and all data collected was processed rigorously in adherence to academic standards at Liverpool John Moores University. Almost 65% of respondents stated that they were aware of illegal demands for recruitment or placement fees, either through personal experience or the experience of a colleague.

Some 92% of respondents declared that these corrupt practices must come to an end; an important figure as it highlights an awareness that such fees and charges are not an acceptable part of the hiring process.

In terms of the nationalities and countries where illegal fees were most prevalent, 29% of cases were related to Indian citizens (followed by Filipino and then Burmese/Myanmarese citizens) and in 36% of cases, the demand for fees was made in India (followed by the Philippines and then Burma/Myanmar).

Some 58% of respondents also stated that the demand for illegal fees and charges were from the crewing agent appointed by the shipping company. A further 31% said it was from an individual with links to the crewing agent and 11% said the demand came from an employee of the shipping company. When asked about the nature of the demand, 56% responded that it was described as a ‘service charge’, 29% as ‘agency fees/registration fees’ and 29% as a ‘bribe’.

The sums involved varied from US$50-100 up to US$7,500, with the average being US$1,872. In 10% of reported cases, the seafarers affected are still in debt. Furthermore, 29% of respondents had experience of their documents being unlawfully withheld during the recruitment process; typically their Continuous Discharge Certificate/Seamans’s book, passport or Certificate of Competency.

Such behaviour is a clear breach of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), an international treaty adopted by the International Labour Organisation. The MLC entered into force in 2013 and is often referred to as the ‘Seafarers’ bill of rights.’ It makes clear that no fees or charges should be borne by the seafarers for their recruitment, placement, or employment, other than for their seafarers’ book, statutory medical certificate, and passport. All seafarers should be able to access employment without the payment of fees or charges to recruitment agencies or intermediaries. This report builds on the initial study carried out by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) in April 2023, and further confirms the prevalence of seafarers being coerced into paying illegal fees.

The impact of illegal recruitment fees on seafarers and their families can be very significant. In addition to the financial burden, the stress and strain inflicted can take its toll on the mental health of seafarers, while also limiting their career opportunities. In the worst cases, this exploitation can lead to serious human rights violations, with seafarers trapped in debt bondage and forced to endure exploitative working conditions. Extended family separation further compounds the distressing circumstances, as seafarers find themselves unable to speak out against other abusive or dangerous practices.

The issue of illegal fees also poses a serious reputational risk for the shipping industry, leading to a breakdown in trust between seafarers and employers. Moreover, it exacerbates existing labour shortages in the shipping industry, discouraging existing seafarers from returning to sea and putting off the next generation from considering seafaring careers.

The report formed part of a discussion at The Global Forum for Responsible Recruitment, a major international forum bringing together businesses, civil society, trade unions, government, and academia to discuss the global agenda on responsible recruitment. Ben Bailey, Mission to Seafarer’s Director of Programme, spoke at the Forum on the specific challenges faced by seafarers in terms of their employment and working conditions.

Further work is ongoing which builds on a series of recommendations to tackle this issue. These include better definitions of fees and charges, and increased education and awareness. It is intended that this document, along with the recent IHRB and SSI study, will inform discussion around amending the Maritime Labour Convention and other regulatory instruments dealing with the recruitment and retention of seafarers.

The scale of this problem also highlights the importance of financial literacy for seafarers and their families. The Mission to Seafarers is helping to address this important issue through its WeCare Financial Literacy programme, which provides informative money management tools which can help seafarers and their families have more control over their spending and how to better manage their income.

To download a copy of ‘Survey on Fees and Charges for Seafarer Recruitment or Placement’, please visit: 

Notices & Miscellany

Peter Mills, of Hart Giles, Solicitors & Notaries, Hong Kong has commented on the recent story on Colregs.

I noted the reference to Colregs 1972 in Issue 833 and Captain Bogdan Grabowski’s concern that they were drafted, not for the benefit of mariners but for that of lawyers. He also asked who had drafted them and I can confirm that this was initially undertaken by Capt. A. N. (Norman) Cockcroft. Norman had a distinguished career both in the Merchant Navy and as an educator at the City of London Polytechnic School of Navigation, at which he was a professor from 1956 to 1984. I had the pleasure of instructing Norman as an expert witness in a number of collision matters in the 1990s. He knew a great deal about navigation, both practical and theoretical.  I have attached a link with some bio-details for Norman from a New Zealand website, below.

WMU president

On 29 June, Professor Maximo Q. Mejia, Jr. assumed office as the eighth President of the World Maritime University (WMU). Appointed by the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), who also serves as Chancellor of the University, President Mejia assumes the role of Chief Executive Officer, overseeing and directing the academic programmes, operations and administration of the University. Professor Mejia is the first President from Asia and the first President who is a graduate of WMU.

Shore leave facilities

Manjit Handa has the following comment to make on our recent mention of shore leave facilities.

“It is highly unlikely that the seafarers shore leave facilities will improve. With increase in automation and loading/discharging technology, the vl turnaround time has reduced to less than a day. That duration is consumed in attending to ballast water management, to engine routines that can be done only in port and attending to audits and inspections.  If the terminal is located far from the town, transportation costs can be a deterrent.  Shipmasters continue to face restrictions of different degrees from ports and terminals regarding access for shore leave.

Ship recycling

The ICS Ship Recycling Guide, first edition, is out now. Place your order today.

Following the announcement from Bangladesh of its intent to ratify the Hong Kong Convention, a significant move towards ensuring that decommissioned vessels do not unnecessarily endanger human health, safety, or the environment, compliance with ship recycling regulations is now more important than ever. This essential new guide includes comprehensive guidance on the IMO) Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships and explains the differences between the European Union Ship Recycling Regulation and the Hong Kong Convention, ensuring that companies are in compliance with the applicable law. The Ship Recycling Guide, first edition, is priced at £130

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And finally,

(With thanks to Paul Dixon)

Puns: the lowest form of humour

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.

When chemists die, they barium.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.

They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Type-O.

Were going on a class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there’s no pop quiz.

I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?

I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.

Velcro: what a rip off!

The earthquake in Washington obviously was the government’s fault.

Thanks for Reading the Maritime Advocate online

Maritime Advocate Online is a fortnightly digest of news and views on the maritime industries, with particular reference to legal issues and dispute resolution. It is published to over 20,000 individual subscribers each week and republished within firms and organisations all over the maritime world. It is the largest publication of its kind. We estimate it goes to around 60,000 readers in over 120 countries.


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