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Canada fights overfishing: Canada's Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan has announced that Canada will spend $20 million over the next three years to combat overfishing. The money is in addition to funds announced in the federal budget for enforcement of international fisheries regulations outside of Canada's 200-mile limit off the East Coast. Over half of the funds will go toward scientific research, which had decreased in the past two decades. Much of the research will focus on the Grand Banks, where most of Canada's concerns about foreign overfishing are concentrated. The new funds will also pay for advocacy campaigns to promote global governance of fish stocks, and the creation of an ambassador for fisheries conservation to represent Canadian interests internationally. See "Ottawa antes up to combat overfishing," Dene Moore, Canadian Press at Canada.com, 4/30/05.
Australia, East Timor close to settling dispute: East Timor and Australia have come close to making a deal in their complex dispute over maritime boundaries and oil and gas revenues from the Timor Sea. Australia's foreign minister Alexander Downer said there had been "substantial agreement on all major issues" during three days of talks in Dili this week. Under the agreement, East Timor will receive up to $5 billion on top of the 90 per cent share of revenue it currently receives from the joint development area in the Timor Sea. In return, East Timor has agreed to postpone the final resolution of the sea boundary issue. The next round of talks will begin in Brisbane on May 11. See "Timor Sea deal struck," ABC News Online, 4/29/05.
East Timor is a little less optimistic about the recent talks. A statement from the government of East Timor says the two countries are on the brink of an agreement to unlock reserves in the region, but there are many details still to be worked through. See "Reserve deal details remain: E Timor," ABC News Online, 4/29/05.
SIEV-X people smuggling case goes to trial: The SIEV-X, being used for people smuggling, sank between Java and north-western Australia on October 19, 2001. Only 45 people were saved, 353 lives were lost. The only person to be charged in Australia over the incident, Khaleed Shanayf Daoed, will go on trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court on May 17. Daoed faces two charges of helping organize the illegal entry of people from Indonesia into Australia. People smuggling carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail. One of the most surprising things about the event is that the sinking went undetected for three days while an intensive Australian maritime surveillance operation was underway. See "SIEV-X accused to stand trial," Stefan Armbruster, ABC News Online, 4/27/05.
New phase of ballast water management project begins: The full-scale GloBallast Partnerships project ("Building Partnerships to Assist Developing Countries to Reduce the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms in Ships' Ballast Water") is planned to become operational in 2006/2007. Its main objective is to help particularly vulnerable countries to enact legal and policy reforms to meet the 2004 Convention on the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments. The issue of aquatic invasive species is seen as one of the greatest threats to global marine biodiversity, and will be even more controversial as shipping activity increases in the next decade. The next phase of GloBallast Partnerships was initiated on April 1, and is expected to provide the groundwork for the full-scale project over the next 18 months. GloBallast Partnerships is organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). See the briefing "GloBallast ballast water management project enters new phase" from the IMO, 4/26/05.
Tugboat pilot charged in Buzzards Bay oil spill: In April 2003, Franklin Robert Hill was the mate of a tugboat that went off course onto rocky shoals off the coast of Massachusetts. The crash ruptured one of the boat's oil tanks, and 98,000 gallons spilled into Buzzards Bay. Prosecutors say Hill was responsible for navigating and piloting the boat at the time of the spill; he was charged on Tuesday. The tugboat's captain, Milan LeDuc, was off duty at the time of the spill and has not been charged. The boat's owner, Bouchard Transportation, pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act in November, and agreed to pay a record $10 million fine. Hill faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted of violating the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. See "Tug pilot charged in '03 Mass. oil spill," Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press at The State.com, 4/26/05.
US shipyard denies production problems: The Savannah Morning News reported on Saturday that workers at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard took "shortcuts" in producing a protective foam used on aircraft carriers. Jerri Fuller Dickseski, a spokeswoman for the shipyard, said "There is no factual basis to support any of the allegations." Northrop Grumman hired an independent consultant to investigate the claims after a reporter brought them forward, she said, adding that the inquiry concluded that the foam was mixed and installed properly. Any problems with the foam would become evident only if one of the carriers sustained an attack and the material failed to perform as expected; once the material is pumped in and the hull sealed, there is no way to inspect it. The Navy hasn't reported any problems with the foam. The newspaper's executive editor said neither Navy nor shipyard officials had contacted the Morning News since the story appeared, and the editors stand by the story. See "Shipyard rebuts claim of dishonest carrier work," Dale Eisman, The Virginian-Pilot, 4/26/05.
South Korea will measure Dokdo islets: The data currently available on the Dokdo islets was measured in 1961, and is considered unsuitable by international standards. South Korea's Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) has announced it will conduct a new geographical survey in the next month, using global positioning equipment. The ministry will announce the results of the new survey as early as the end of May. The MOGAHA hopes the results will rebuff Japan's claims to the islets in the East Sea. The ministry will also set up a permanent observation facility on Dokdo, as well as measure the size of both Tongdo and Sodo, the main eastern and western islets of Dokdo, and smaller parts of the easternmost territory of South Korea. See "Dokdo Survey Planned to Rebuff Japan's Claim," Lee Jin-woo, The Korea Times, 4/26/05.
Indonesia denies Sulawesi Sea agreement: Indonesia's General Endriartono Sutarto has said he has not received confirmation of claims by Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak that the two sides have agreed to scale back their fleets in the Sulawesi Sea off eastern Borneo. Tensions have been high between the two countries because of competing claims over oil reserves in the area, particularly since their warships collided on April 10. The Malaysian navy chief reported that he and his Indonesian counterpart agreed to reduce naval deployment in the area to one vessel each. But Sutarto, who is the head of Indonesia's armed forces, says he hasn't seen a report of the agreement. See "Jakarta denies deal over sea dispute," The Australian, 4/25/05.
UK unions fear that shipyard skills will be lost: The Amicus trade union fears there may be insufficient skilled shipyard workers available when work eventually starts on the UK's aircraft carriers. The Swan Hunter shipyards on the Tyne and the Tees will both work on the project, but the start date for the work has been pushed back until 2008. The Tyneside yard has work until 2006, but the Teeside yard is already effectively shut down. Swan Hunter management and unions have been urging the Ministry of Defence to bring the project forward. They fear that by the time the work finally starts, their skilled workers will already have moved on. Regional union official Davey Hall says, "we could actually be faced with having to bring in migrant workers from Europe to get the work done." See "Union fears shipyard skills gap," BBC News, 4/25/05.
Controversial ship arrives at Alang: A ship which reportedly gave Danish authorities the slip last month arrived at Alang for scrapping. The environmental group Greenpeace has been protesting the transfer. (See "Greenpeace begins stir against toxic ship," The Financial Express, 4/21/05.) Danish Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard had warned her Indian counterpart A Raja earlier this month, as the 51-year-old ship reportedly had asbestos on board. The ship started its journey as King Frederik IX, and later changed its name to Frederik before settling for Riky during transit. On first review, the ship appeared to contain no toxic material, and some speculate it was stripped during transit. Careful inspections are planned. The UN Basel Convention prohibits the export of hazardous materials. See "Toxic ship sails in," Express News Service at Indian Express Newspapers, 4/23/05.
Malaysia, Indonesia to limit military assets in the Sulawesi Sea: Malaysia and Indonesia have competing claims over an oil-rich area in the Sulawesi Sea. The dispute became more tense on April 10, when the Malaysian ship KD Renchong, and the Indonesian warship KRI Tedung Naga collided while both were patrolling the area. Royal Malaysian Navy chief Laksamana Datuk Seri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor, and his Indonesian counterpart Laksamana Madya Slamet Subidyanto, met last Friday to try to negotiate the situation. Both agreed that each side will only have one ship at the disputed border, and that this should help ease tensions. See "Navies to limit ships in disputed area," New Straits Times, 4/22/05.
Former head of Staten Island Ferry pleads guilty: Patrick Ryan, the former head of the Staten Island Ferry service, pleaded guilty to negligently causing the death of 11 people in the October 2003, crash of the Andrew J. Barberi. Ryan admitted that he didn't enforce the two pilot rule, which required that there be two competent operators at the helm at all times when a vessel was under way. He also admitted he lied to investigators when he said last June that he followed the two pilot rule nearly all of the time when he was a ferry captain. In a rather weak plea deal, Ryan now faces a sentence of no more than 12 months. Many lawyers believe that by admitting he willfully and knowingly caused the negligence that led to the Barberi crashing, Ryan put the city's attempt to defend itself against billions of dollars in claims on shaky ground. See "Ferry official pleads guilty," Anthony M. DeStefano, NYNewsday.com, 4/22/05.
Canada improves marine security: Several Liberal MPs outlined a plan on Friday that will bolster security along Canada's waterways and maritime borders. Details of the $300 million plan include a new multi-agency policing center, more patrol vessels, and increased screening at ports — including expanding the use of radiation detection equipment. See "Marine security to get boost," CP at Canoe, 4/22/05.
New solutions reduce the accidental death of marine life: Last year WWF launched the International Smart Gear Competition to find the most practical, innovative design for fishing gear that reduces the accidental catch of species like sea turtles, marine mammals, sea birds and juvenile fish. The winner was Steve Beverly, who developed a fishing line that allows long line fishermen to minimize encounters with sea turtles while maximizing their tuna catch. Runners-up include a North American team that worked with the chemical properties of fishing ropes and nets to help marine mammals detect and avoid them; and a team of Indian scientists that developed angled metal grids and net meshes that catch and sort mature shrimp and finfish while allowing juvenile shrimp and fish to swim away unharmed. See "Winners of international competition to reduce marine bycatch announced," WWF, 4/21/05.
Canada's TSB releases Statendam report: In August 2002, the main circuit breaker for one of the diesel generators on the passenger vessel Statendam failed, less than four hours into a cruise. This started fires in the main switchboard room and the adjacent engine control room. The crew successfully extinguished both fires, and the vessel returned to Vancouver under tow. There were no injuries. During its investigation, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) uncovered deficiencies in both requirements for structural fire protection, and competency standards for ship's electrical officers. The final report (M02W0135) was just released. The Board recommended that Canada's Department of Transport bring the issue to the attention of the International Maritime Organization, so that the provisions of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) dealing with structural fire protection and fixed fire-extinguishing systems are addressed. The Board also suggests that knowledge requirements for ship's electrical officers be reviewed on an international level. See "TSB Calls for International Review of Fire Protection Standards on Cruise Ships and Ships Engaged in Global Trade," Canada NewsWire Group, 4/20/05.
Politics may change the Navy's plans: Facing budget cuts from the Pentagon, the US Navy decided to cancel the overhaul of the John F. Kennedy — one of only two conventionally powered aircraft carriers still in service — and mothball it later this year. The service plans to apply the money set aside for the overhaul on repair and maintenance of several other ships. Navy Secretary Gordon R. England, whom President Bush has nominated to be deputy defense secretary, believes the Navy can meet its commitments around the world with only 11 carriers. But Republican Senator John W. Warner has introduced legislation that would require the Navy to proceed with an overhaul of the Kennedy or forfeit the $288 million Congress provided for the job last year. Much of the overhaul was to be conducted in Warner's home state of Virginia. Warner's proposal has support of other senators, and US Representative JoAnn Davis has already promised to push it in the House should Warner prevail in the Senate. See "Legislation could stall mothballing of Kennedy," Dale Eisman, The Virginian-Pilot, 4/19/05.
Seaweed may fight global warming: Researchers from Mitsubishi Research Institute, Tokyo University and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology are studying the viability of building a seaweed plantation in the Pacific Ocean to absorb carbon dioxide and produce biofuel. The plan is to place 100 floating fishing nets in the Pacific Ocean, each measuring 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) square. Seaweed absorbs carbon dioxide, which should help the current trend of global warming, and it discharges hydrogen and carbon monoxide gases when it is exposed to extremely heated water vapor. Methanol and other biofuel can be synthesized from the gases. The seaweed will also attract plankton and fish, which should increase fishery resources. Placement of the nets will be tricky, since the scientists must account for strong currents, shipping traffic, and effects the structure may have on the surrounding ecosystem. See "Japan researchers look to seaweed in fight against global warming," Jun Sugimori, The Yomiuri Shimbun, 4/19/05.
Dams have affected the flow of half the world's major rivers: Two studies, published in Friday's issue of Science, discuss the effects that dams have had on the world's major rivers. Areas upstream of dams are flooded to create reservoirs, while wetlands downstream can dry out, and the fertility of flood plain soil can decline. One study, led by Christer Nilsson of the Landscape Ecology Group at Umea University, Sweden, assessed the extent to which dams affect 292 large river systems. The team found that river flow has been strongly affected in four of the world's ten largest river systems and moderately affected in the other six. They strongly suggest that the severe ecological effects of building dams must "be accounted for in global planning for sustainable river management." Another study led by James Syvitski of the University of Colorado, US, found that overall, the positive and negative influences of human activities on water flow and sediment balance each other out. But there are considerable differences on the regional level. See "Dams disrupt world's major rivers - study," Catherine Brahic, Independent Online, 4/19/05.
US Navy costs keep spiraling: Vern Clark, the US Navy's top admiral, told Congress last week that shipbuilding costs are "out of control." Costs for new ships have increased significantly just in the last six months: the first two DD(X)s by $1.5 billion, the new aircraft carrier by $2 billion, the new Virginia-class submarine by $400 million. Part of the problem is the format of the military shipbuilding industry. Two contractors own six shipyards, in six states with supportive members of Congress. Shipyard contracts support thousands of smaller suppliers that are often the sole sources for what they make. Admiral Clark noted the system is not competitive, but apportioned; and "apportionment is costing us money." The shipyards point out that Navy spending has been sporadic, and insist the cost per ship would go down if Congress and the Navy would spend more money more steadily. The Navy wants more fast (and smaller) boats and aircraft, but Congress wants to sustain yards by ordering as many big ships as possible. Clark says both strategies could be sunk by soaring costs. See "Navy of Tomorrow, Mired in Yesterday's Politics," Tim Weiner, The New York Times, 4/19/05.
Canadian report on submarine acquisition released: A Commons committee report on Canada's acquisition of four used subs from Britain has been released. The committee made a dozen recommendations, including reviewing the way the navy trains its submariners, providing bilingual documentation, and reviewing defense policy and procurement practices. Jean Chretien may also face blame, as he delayed acquisition of the submarines for four years after cabinet approval because of political concerns — all the while, the boats were unused and deteriorating. A navy report on the tragedy has been completed but not yet released. See "Report on acquisition of submarines calls for review of training," Canadian Press at myTELUS, 4/18/05.
Pleasure cruise turns nightmare: A pleasure cruise to the Caribbean turned into a terror trip for thousands of passengers when their ship, the Norwegian Dawn, was crushed by a freakish seven-story wave that reached as high as deck 10 on the ship while trying to return to New York from the Bahamas over the weekend. Windows were broken, 62 cabins were flooded, four passengers were injured, and the ship had to be diverted to South Carolina for repairs before finally arriving in New York on Monday morning. Norwegian Cruise Line said the safety of the ship "was in no way compromised by this incident." About 300 passengers decided not to return by ship from Charleston. About 100 were flown back to New York and the rest made their own arrangements. See "Battered cruise ship docks in New York," Russell Berman and Pete Bowles, NY Newsday.com, 4/18/05.
Russia offers its ship scrapping facilities: Russia is currently receiving funds from several countries to dismantle its own nuclear submarines. Close to 120 have been scrapped, and there are about 80 still to go. At the current rate of scrapping, it will take about five years to finish the task. But Alexander Rumyantsev, chief of Russia's Federal Nuclear Power Agency (Rosatom), has now offered Russia's scrapping facilities to other countries, saying they will save money if they don't have to build their own infrastructure. Under his plan, all secret components — and at the start of the program, depleted nuclear fuel — would be removed before delivery. See "Russia offers facilities to dispose of other countries' nuke subs," Russian Information Agency Novosti, 4/17/05.
Taiwan still wants to build its own submarines: Several legislators have criticized Taiwan for "having no strategy" to promote the nation's submarine-building capability. They fear Taiwan's defenses rely too heavily on support from the United States. But the Industrial Development Bureau and the state-owned China Shipbuilding Corp (CSC) believe that the CSC is close to being able to build its own submarines without a large investment in infrastructure. However, submarine blueprints and weapons systems will have to be obtained from the US. The Bureau's director has requested that the defense ministry negotiate with the US for a phased approach, where the first two boats would be built in the US, the next four started by the US and finished by Taiwan, and the last two vessels built with no US help. However, the Vice Minister of National Defense said the US does not support the idea of US-Taiwan cooperation in building the subs. See "Agencies at odds over submarines," Taipei Times at e-Government Website, 4/15/05.
Canada's cruise ship docks may go green: City council members at Ogden Point are supporting a temporary use permit for wind energy testing. Wind turbines and solar panels on the roofs of warehouses at Ogden Point could generate enough electricity to power docked cruise ships. This would reduce local air pollution by eliminating the need for ships to burn bunker oil for their electrical needs while tied up. Council members hope the wind turbine, which could be as tall as 30 stories, could become an icon that would convey a "green city" image to the many cruise ship passengers who come to Victoria's docks. The idea is based on Canada's first urban wind turbine built in 2002 at Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition site. That structure was 94 meters (308 feet) tall, but testing at the Ogden Point site will take some twelve months, and a different design may come out of that. See "Roping the Wind," Malcolm Curtis, Victoria Times Colonist at canada.com, 4/15/05.
Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard gets contract: Kvaerner ASA of Norway formalized a contract Thursday to build 10 double-hulled tankers at the Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard by mid-2010. The company hopes to capitalize on demand for double-hulled tankers. Under the contract, the shipyard will build 10 tankers at a cost of about $80 million each, in five years. Kjell Inge Røkke, the yard's owner, has created a subsidiary, American Shipping Corp., that will both own the shipyard and lease the ships it builds. Røkke signed a deal with Overseas Shipholding Group Inc., of New York, which will operate the ships at a cost of $500 million over five years. There is also an option to build two more ships. See "Kvaerner makes deal for 10 ships official," Henry J. Holcomb, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/15/05.
Singapore's land reclamation projects slow down: Island countries can reclaim land by dumping sand into bodies of water or low-lying swamps, and then leveling it off and building a wall around the new shoreline to prevent erosion. In the 1960s, Singapore did just that, virtually flattening the island in the process. Now Singapore buys sand from Malaysia and Indonesia — but Indonesia, which had supplied about 80 percent of Singapore's sand, stopped selling it in 2003. Indonesia was concerned that Singapore was redrawing its maritime boundaries, and feared damage to its own environment. Environmentalists are pleased, saying decades of land reclamation have devastated shallow marine life and birds that sought refuge in the fragile ecosystems consisting of inlets, mangroves and shoals that once ringed the island. Singapore may now focus on its own undeveloped land. See "Singapore Finds It Hard to Expand Without Sand," Koh Gui Qing, Reuters, 4/14/05.
Environmental group names US endangered rivers: American Rivers has released its "2005 America's Most Endangered Rivers" report. The group has called on federal lawmakers to reject the cuts in clean water investment proposed by the Bush administration, which would take federal assistance to an all time low. The group also wants more oversight for the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has proposed allowing sewage treatment plants to skip certain treatment steps when it was raining — discharging wastewater with high concentrations of germs. The Susquehanna River is named America's most endangered river for 2005. See the press release "Most Endangered Rivers of 2005 announced," Amy Souers Kober, American Rivers, 4/13/05.
Tensions soar as Japan grants drilling rights in disputed waters: Tokyo gave the go-ahead for exploratory drilling at the East China Sea site disputed by the two countries just days after the mass anti-Japanese protests in China, and despite China's warning that the move would "further escalate the situation." China has slammed Japan's decision to allow drilling as a "provocation." Japan and China are two of the world's biggest energy importers, and both are seeking alternatives. The gas issue will likely come up in the upcoming meeting in Beijing between Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and his counterpart Li Zhaoxing. A 1999 Japanese survey estimated the disputed undersea fields may hold some 200 billion cubic meters (seven trillion cubic feet) of gas. See "China berates Japan drilling move," BBC News, 4/13/05.
Staten Island ferry case re-worked: In October 2003 the passenger ferry Andrew J. Barberi crashed into a dock and killed 11 people. Originally, federal prosecutors alleged that former head of ferry operations Patrick Ryan was responsible for the deaths because he was negligent as either a "public officer" or "executive officer" by not enforcing ferry safety rules. But a US district judge has cast doubt on whether either of those labels are true. So prosecutors have changed the indictment to also accuse Ryan of contributing to the deaths by aiding misconduct that led to the crash. See "Prosecutors retool S.I. ferry crash indictment," Anthony M. DeStefano, NY Newsday, 4/12/05.
Outrage as Japan plans more whaling: Japan is proposing to expand its controversial whaling research program by nearly doubling its catch of minke whales, and adding humpback and fin whales to the species it currently hunts. Any increase in whaling will anger international environmental groups, who believe Japan's research program circumvents a ban on commercial whaling — the meat from the animals killed during the research program is sold commercially. According to sources cited by Japan's Kyodo news agency, the new plan is based on Japan's argument that there is a need to increase hunting activities in order to analyze the ecosystem of the Antarctic Ocean. The plan will be submitted to the International Whaling Commission in May, although it does not need approval. See "Japan to expand whale hunt," Elaine Lies, Reuters at swissinfo, 4/12/05.
Finland to crack down on maritime emissions: Ships sailing in Finnish territorial waters account for up to 96% of the sulfur emissions from transportation interests. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides are also problematic. Under new emission standards to take effect next May, vessels sailing in the Baltic Sea will be required to use fuels containing no more than 1.5% sulfur. Shipping lines have noted that low-sulfur fuel is expensive, and not always easy to find in the Baltic Sea area. Current sulfur content use varies in the area — Sweden offers lower fees to ships with lower emissions, and Finland's ferry system already uses low-sulfur fuel. But many shippers are using fuel with an average 2% sulfur content, and foreign cargo vessels often use cheaper fuel with high sulfur content. See "Emission standards to be set for ships sailing Baltic Sea," Helsingin Sanomat, 4/11/05.
South Korea, European Union continue argument over shipyard subsidies: Last month, the World Trade Organization cleared South Korea of EU accusations that it committed wide-ranging breaches of trade rules by helping its shipyards restructure. However, the WTO upheld another part of the EU complaint, focusing on some of the export financing given by the government-owned Korean Export-Import Bank. South Korea has 90 days to show it has fallen into line with the decision. But at the WTO meeting on Monday, Seoul's delegation said South Korea already had complied with the ruling. EU trade officials remain unconvinced, and have requested more details. See "EU, South Korea Face Off at WTO Meeting," Jonathan Fowler, Associated Press at Yahoo! News, 4/11/05.
Tanker spills oil into Kenya's harbor: The India-registered oil tanker Ratna Shalini crashed against a dock at Kenya's port of Mombasa last Thursday, puncturing its hull and spilling 150 tons of crude oil into the harbor. Emergency workers placed booms around the vessel to contain the spill. Kenya Ports Authority officials said a combined team of pollution control experts had brought the oil spill under control, although mangrove trees have been affected. Unfortunately, Kenya hasn't yet ratified the International Maritime Organization's Civil Liability Convention on International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund. Instead, the country is still operating under the Merchant Shipping Act, which lowers the amount of compensation available. See "Outdated Laws Deny Kenya Sh530m," Patrick Mayoyo, The Nation at allAfrica.com, 4/10/05.
Malaysian and Indonesian ships collide: The Indonesian navy ship KRI Tedung Naga collided with the Malaysian naval vessel KD Rencong off the coast of Borneo island; both ships were damaged. An anonymous Indonesian navy officer spoke about the incident to the Sinar Harapan evening daily, although a spokesman with the Indonesian navy's eastern fleet said he had no knowledge of the incident. The oil-rich area is claimed by both countries, but officials from Indonesia and Malaysia have begun peaceful negotiations to end the dispute, and plan to meet again in May. See "Navy ships collide in dispute," The Australian, 4/9/05.
Canada's submarines could be costly: Canada's military has issued a call for proposals from private industry to provide engineering and logistical support for the Navy's four submarines, in much the same way it did for its coastal defense vessels. Because the four Victoria-class submarines are the only ones of their kind in the world, some analysts fear that costs for maintenance and spare parts could be higher than average. And since the boats were sidelined soon after entering service, the technical expertise and maintenance history associated with the boats is extremely limited. Canadian engineers may have to find their own solutions to technical problems and upgrades. However, a Defence Department spokeswoman said the military has not encountered any problems acquiring spare parts for the submarines, and is confident it will be able to keep doing so in the future. See "Subs could be 'strategic orphans' when it comes to parts: analyst," Murray Brewster, Canadian Press at canada.com, 4/9/05.
Russia to register ships: Russia's federal Cabinet has approved plans to create a national maritime vessel register. The country has built over 200 ships since 1992, but 90 percent are flying foreign flags. By creating its own register, Russia hopes to gain two to two and a half billion dollars, and overseas investment in Russian shipbuilding. See "Russian ships to fly Russian flag," RIA Novosti, 4/7/05.
Brazil's growing shipbuilding industry: Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva issued a directive soon after he took office in 2003 aimed at boosting employment and supporting a shipbuilding revival. While this is good news for the country's workers and economy, it has investors at Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) concerned. Petrobras may pay as much as 25 percent more for the 42 tankers it needs over the next decade than it would have if they were made in South Korea or China. But the contracts have been prepared in a way that will encourage shipbuilders to become more efficient in the long run. And shipbuilders will be able to reduce their prices in the future. Thanks to contracts from Petrobras, Brazil's shipyards now employ 25,000 workers, or 50 times more than in 1998, and the number is expected to double in the next two years. See "Petrobras Overpays for Ships to Heed Lula's Jobs Plan in Brazil," Bloomberg.com, 4/6/05.
Pirates try to board oil tanker in strait: A gang of pirates attempted to board a Japanese-owned crude oil tanker in the Singapore Strait in the latest of a series of attacks on the region's strategically important shipping lanes. The Yohteisan was on an east-bound journey in heavy rain and poor visibility when the incident occurred off Indonesia's Karimun islands, where the southern tip of the Malacca Strait joins the Singapore Strait. The captain of the Panama-registered tanker took evasive measures and increased speed to escape the attackers. All the crew members were safe, and the tanker continued on its journey. See "Oil tanker fights off pirates," Reuters at swissinfo, 4/6/05.
Oil tanker shortage looms as UN sets ban: A United Nations ban on the use of single hull oil tankers took effect on April 5, 2005. Tankers of single hull construction must be phased out or converted to a "double hull" according to a schedule based on their year of delivery. The double hull requirements for oil tankers are principally designed to reduce the risk of oil spills from tankers involved in low energy collisions or groundings. All single-hulled ships will have to stop sailing by 2010, which means that about a quarter of current global tanker capacity will have to be scrapped. However, shipbuilders are less interested in building tankers than more profitable ship types like LNG carriers. Ship owners already will have to wait until 2008 to get new tankers delivered, since shipyards are full with orders. The ban may well have an impact on oil tanker rates. See "Shipping industry faces shortages," Will Kennedy, Bloomberg News at International Herald Tribune, 4/6/05.
Canada already looking to replace submarines: Canada's Navy officers had been planning to request initial funding soon to upgrade its four used submarines. The upgrade program was to start around 2012, but it could be delayed by problems the Navy has had in getting the boats operational. In addition, newly released records obtained through the Access to Information law show that officers hope to start examining a new submarine purchase in 2007. The upgrade program — which would focus on frequent improvements, rather than long-term upgrades — was priced at about $465 million, although no estimates were listed for new submarines. It won't be clear how much life the used subs still have left in them until the Navy is able to start operating the boats on a regular basis. The first was built in the mid-1980s, and they are generally expected to operate for 30 years. See "Upgrades to subs could cost $465M," David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen at canada.com, 4/5/05.
Shinei Maru No. 85 report released: On May 3, 2003, the Japanese fishing vessel Shinei Maru No. 85 ran aground near Portuguese Cove, within the limits of Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia. There were no injuries, but the hull was breached and marine diesel oil was spilled; later the vessel was refloated and repaired. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has released its report on the incident. The investigation found that the vessel wasn't monitored after the pilot disembarked, that safe bridge operating procedures weren't followed, and that communication was hampered by language barriers. The investigation also revealed that the fishing master/acting captain lacked proper certification to captain the vessel, and that he had consumed alcohol before the trip. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability, but the TSB investigation has spurred several safety and certification measures. See "Bridge Operating Practices Aboard the Shinei Maru No. 85 Contributed to Grounding at Portuguese Cove," Canada NewsWire, 4/5/05.
[Edited to correct facts]
Judge tells EPA to regulate ballast water aboard ships: US District Judge Susan Illston has ordered the repeal of a federal regulation that has allowed ships to discharge ballast water freely into US harbors and coastal waters. Illston said the 1972 Clean Water Act prohibits the practice, and the US Environmental Protection Agency's exemption of ballast water contradicted the clear meaning of the statute, and exceeded the agency's regulatory authority. The Ocean Conservancy, one of six environmental groups that sued the EPA, focused on San Francisco Bay and the Great Lakes. But unless reversed on appeal, the decision will apply nationally. See "Court Decision Reverses Ballast Exemption to the Clean Water Act," US Newswire at Yahoo! News, 4/5/05.
Shipping company Evergreen to pay $25 million for dumping waste: Panamanian shipping line Evergreen International has pleaded guilty to illegal dumping around the United States. The company was ordered to pay $25 million in one of the largest fines ever imposed on a company that deliberately polluted the ocean. Evergreen concealed the discharge of waste oil, obstructed Coast Guard inspections and altered records over a three-year period ending in 2001, federal officials said. The company entered its plea in US District Court in Los Angeles to 24 felony counts and one misdemeanor. US District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. ordered Evergreen to pay the five affected districts $15 million that they will split equally. The remaining money will be given to environmental community service projects in each area. See "Evergreen to Pay Largest-Ever Penalty for Concealing Vessel Pollution," US Newswire at Yahoo! News, 4/4/05.
Poland to give subsidies to shipyards: Using the "temporary defense mechanism," introduced to protect industries from cheap Korean exports, the European Commission has given Poland permission to give subsidies to shipbuilders. The EU considers Korean subsidies to ship production illegal. The Netherlands, Italy, France, Denmark, Spain and Germany already aid their own shipyards. Poland will now be able to give state aid to ailing yards worth up to six percent of the value of the yard's contracts. See "EU approves shipyard lifeline," Warsaw Business Journal, 4/4/05.
Environmentalists fear ocean 'feedlots' on oil platforms: In the US, commercial fish farming has been limited to waters within state jurisdiction, where permits have been easier to get. The federal government has been reluctant to open up the oceans to farming, but last December President Bush proposed making it easier to launch fish farms off America's coasts. Some feel that the Gulf could be a great place to define federal rules regarding fish farming, since there are an estimated 3,500 idle oil and gas platforms there. So far, farming from the Gulf's platforms has been experimental, and costly. There are also a number of environmental concerns, such as pollution generated from confined feeding operations, escaped fish diluting wild stocks, and the potential to spread disease. See "Concerns raised over plan to turn oil platforms into fish farms," Associated Press at USA TODAY, 4/3/05.
Cruise ship sanitation inspectors stretched thin: Staffing at the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) of the US Centers for Disease Control — which was established to minimize gastrointestinal outbreaks on cruise ships — have remained at the same level for the last five years. Despite expectations that the cruise industry will continue to grow, the VSP's requests for more employees have been denied. Inspectors are still spending the same amount of time per ship, and technology advances have helped streamline paperwork. But David Forney, chief of the program, admits the group is stretched thin. This could spell trouble for passengers. See "Cruise inspectors are in short supply," Anne Belli, Houston Chronicle, 4/2/05.
Audit finds security concerns in Canada's coast guard: An audit of workers at Canada's federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans — which operates Canada's coast guard — found many problems, including poor communication, lack of accountability and a failure of senior management to oversee the department's security needs. With a publishing date of September 10, 2004, the audit was the first department-wide review of security since 1995. The report states, "Most DFO employees are still unaware of basic security requirements and responsibilities," and: "There remain serious weaknesses that expose the department and its employees to unnecessary risk." The department's chief security officer says management has resolved most of the problems uncovered by the auditors. See "Audit released on fisheries, security," Dean Beeby, CP at CNEWS, 4/2/05.
US Navy confirms plans to mothball aircraft carrier: Stating that they can meet the service's obligations around the world with a fleet of only 11 aircraft carriers, the US Navy has formally canceled plans for an overhaul of the John F. Kennedy. This underscores their plan to mothball the vessel. The Kennedy is one of just two oil-burning carriers in the US inventory. Navy leaders believe nuclear-powered ships can be operated more cheaply, and will use the money originally earmarked for the Kennedy to invest in more modern ships. Virginia and Florida lawmakers are co-sponsoring legislation that would require the Navy to keep at least 12 active carriers. See "Navy cancels overhaul for carrier Kennedy," The Virginian-Pilot at HamptonRoads.com, 4/2/05.
Open loop LNG system could harm fish: Conservationists are worried that "open loop" gas warming systems used by offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals may damage sport fisheries in the US Gulf of Mexico. Open loop terminals take in sea water to warm LNG from 260 degrees below Fahrenheit until it returns to gaseous state, then return the water to the Gulf. Water temperature in the area changes 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which could damage sea life. Many feel a "closed loop" system is the best solution for the environment, although it is more expensive. Three open loop terminals have been approved in the Gulf, and one is already in operation. See "Offshore LNG Terminals Worry U.S. Gulf Anglers," Mark Babineck, Reuters, 4/1/05.
Pirates attack vessel in Straits of Malacca: Pirates attacked a Japanese-owned bulk carrier Ocean Bridge in the Straits of Malacca, robbing the vessel of a large amount of money before escaping in a wooden boat. This is the fourth pirate attack in the Strait in just over a month. The attack occurred at the widely used One Fathom Bank, a narrow area of the Strait just north of Port Klang. Noel Choong, head of the Piracy Reporting Centre of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said the attack is particularly worrisome because it occurred so close to Malaysian waters, which are traditionally considered safe. Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia began coordinated patrols in the Strait last year; Malaysia is also stepping up security. See "Japanese bulk carrier raided in new Malacca Strait pirate attack," AFP at Yahoo! News, 4/1/05.
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