Marine Life: All Creatures Great and Small

Marine Life: All Creatures Great and Small

The container shipping industry has a profound effect on marine life. From the smallest bacteria to the biggest beasts, ships are a direct threat to wildlife and habitats.

Underwater Noise Pollution

The Port of Vancouver recently announced a project to monitor underwater noise pollution in the Haro Strait, running from August to October this year. Marine life conservationists suggest that noise pollution has brought Orcas in the Salish Sea to near extinction, so the announcement of this study is welcomed by the industry. This could provide an important insight into how Orcas are affected by noise pollution and how we offset the problem.

But the issues extend far beyond North American waters. Ambient noises produced by ships disturb all cetaceans around the world. This group of marine animals rely on sound to communicate, navigate and find prey by transmitting and receiving acoustic information. Scientists call this process ‘echolocation’ and it is vital for their survival. However, noisy ship engines make it much harder for these creatures to thrive.

Various solutions have been discussed. For example, slower sailing speeds are thought to reduce noise pollution thus lessen the disturbance. As a part of their study, the Port of Vancouver has limited vessels to 11 knots to test this hypothesis.

As with so many aspects of modern life, commercial pressures can be used to adjust behaviour. Underwater noise reduction technology exists and the Port of Vancouver offers lower port fees to vessels with the technology installed. Noise reduction measures can be as simple as insulating engine rooms as well as regular maintenance of propellers and hull but the Port of Vancouver can only promote this through this incentive. Vancouver is a world leader in marine conservation but it is fair to say that this technology should be mandatory across all international shipping. The conservation of marine life is a global concern so worldwide legislation is necessary.

Ship Strikes

A ship strike is when a vessel and whale collide nevertheless this can be prevented with slower speeds. It’s predicted when a ship travels at 15 knots or above there’s a 79% chance a strike will be lethal. Considering average cruising speeds are around 20-25 knots it is no surprise this is a serious danger to whales, ships and crews.

Strikes are common occurrences. WWF (the World Wildlife Fund) predicts that, in the Canary Islands, 8 out of 10 known whale fatalities are as a result of collisions.


Chance of Whale Fatality at 15 knots

Average Cruising Speed (in Knots)

Dr Jeremy Goldbogan of Stanford University suggested that strikes happen due to the evolutionary makeup of a whale. The sheer size of these beasts means they have never had to defend themselves from predators. There is no innate ‘fight or flight’ mode, so whales don’t know how to deal with the threat of a ship.

Their size makes it hard to dive fast enough to clear a vessel’s path. Some of the most affected species are the biggest, the Humpback Whale and Blue Whale, but ships are getting larger and this adds to the problem. Post-Panamax ships find it difficult to notice whales in the water. Sometimes the ship doesn’t know when they have struck a whale and carcases can become stuck on the bulbous bow and carried for some distance.

To curb this problem the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) have introduced speed limits and Areas to be Avoided (ATBA) for ships. Areas around the Bay of Fundy, Panama and Spain have permanent restrictions while some correspond with the seasonal behaviour patterns. Whale’s behaviour is easily predicted so the IMO can implement seasonal routeing measures in areas such as the Roseway Basin and the Great South Channel which sees seasonal whale distribution. The IMO has also implemented whale reporting and detection networks which allow ships to locate whales in real time. And as numbers of Blue Whales and Humpback Whales are steadily increasing the mitigation measures seem to be working.

Ballast Water and Invasive Species

The shipping industry affects not just the biggest creatures but also the smallest.

Ballast water is an essential part of nautical technology. It gives stability, balance and trim to a ship in poor weather conditions and during voyages without cargo. It works by sucking up water at the port of discharge and stores it in the ballast tanks in the ship’s hull. Once the port of loading is reached the tanks are then unloaded.

But marine life can get into the ballast tanks when water is being taken on. That marine life is then placed into a foreign habitat when the ballast is discharged and newly introduced bacteria, plants and animals can have a devastating effect on ecosystems. Scientists call this a bio-invasion because foreign species can become invasive for native species. Foreign marine life can kill off native species by controlling food resources and this starts a chain reaction as prey dies out.

Throughout history, environmental and humanitarian problems often stemmed from bio-invasions. For instance, problems were seen in the Great Lakes after the Lamprey Eel was introduced. The eels were native to the lakes in the east and were able to move west using newly opened canals in the late-1890s. The eels completely turned the eco-system around by killing off 90% of the native trout in the western lakes. This made many unemployed in the towns around the lakes as the fishing industry vanished.

But a more recent demonstration of a deadly bio-invasion is due to ballast water. In 1991 a type of cholera, only seen in Bangladesh, broke out in Peru. The disease killed over 10000 people in the South American state through the early-1990s. Ballast water introduced the disease to Peruvian waters but a poor public health infrastructure spurred this into a pandemic.

The Deadly Effects of Bio-Invasion:


Trout Population Decrease

Deaths from Cholera in Peru

To solve this problem the IMO has adopted the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC). The convention requires all ships in international transit to carry a ballast water record and meet regulation standards using ballast water management systems. All ships, both new and existing, must install technology which monitors and manages ballast. This is predicted to cost some ship owners up to USD 5 billion to meet the new IMO standards.

Some have opposed the original enforcement date that was set for 2017. The ICO (International Chamber of Shipping) proposed a further two years to allow existing ships adequate time to implement the changes required by the convention. At the 71st Maritime Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting in 2017, the ICO’s wish was granted. So we will have to wait until 2019 to see this tech in action across the entire world fleet.

Maritime industries such as fisheries and shipping share the same waters and have to work side by side. Often they are subject to the same regulations. Changes made for the good of one should be beneficial in time for all seafaring industries, and this may explain why shipping is tackling marine conservation proactively. Unlike the problems of greenhouse gases and global warming, there has been a punctual reaction. Perhaps the problems caused by maritime industries are quicker and easier to fix. Of course, there is still a long road ahead. It will be hard to find a full solution but our industry must persist. We need to implement, develop and improve our efforts for the conservation of marine life.

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Zero Emissions – Facts and Figures Infographic

Zero Emissions – Facts and Figures Infographic

One of our writers, Rhys Rodriguez, recently wrote an in depth article on how the shipping industry is planning to combat climate change, introduce new was to use fuel and become a zero emission industry.

Carbon emissions are destructive to the Earth, and the supply chain is partly accountable for releasing them. The global logistics industry contributes a combined 4% of the world’s carbon emissions a year, yet was not formally cited in the Paris Agreement (PA) on climate change. Instead, the PA tasked the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) and the IMO (International Maritime Organisation)to regulate in accordance with the 2°C by 2020 target.

Rachel Finch from the design and marketing team has put together an infographic of the key points raised by Rhys on how the industry is planning to change, grow and become greener.

To read Rhys full article, click the link below.

Port Focus: Mexican Ports

Port Focus: Mexican Ports

During last few years Mexican authorities have been working on the major port modernization program for Mexican ports to meet the increased demand for logistics and supply services. They are investing about 48 billion pesos ($3.2 billion) in the projects...

Port Focus: Mexican Ports

Port Focus: Mexican Ports

During last few years Mexican authorities have been working on the major port modernization program for Mexican ports to meet the increased demand for logistics and supply services. They are investing about 48 billion pesos ($3.2 billion) in the projects...

Zero Emissions: Are we any closer?

Zero Emissions: Are we any closer?

The logistics industry must achieve zero emissions. If we continue to burn the 4 billion tonnes of crude oil we go through every year, then all known oil deposits will be gone by 2050. But the question of what shape the industry takes after fossil fuels still lingers despite the answer being in everyone’s best interest.

Carbon emissions are destructive to the Earth, and the supply chain is partly accountable for releasing them. The global logistics industry contributes a combined 4% of the world’s carbon emissions a year, yet was not formally cited in the Paris Agreement (PA) on climate change. Instead, the PA tasked the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) and the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) to regulate in accordance with the 2°C by 2020 target.

So, what are the ICAO and IMO doing?

The ICAO proposes levies, emissions trading and offsetting with CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme). Airlines can implement the scheme according to their business’s needs. Over 80% of the international aviation community already intend to participate in CORSIA, which comes into action in 2020.

Whilst the IMO proposed an initial roadmap which runs from 2018 to 2023, after which a revised strategy is implemented. The plan includes mandatory data collection of fuel oil consumption, a global sulphur cap by 2020 and further GHG (Greenhouse Gases) studies.

Although these steps should be welcomed, carbon-emitting fuels are still being burnt. Alternative energy solutions must be found for the sake of environmental protection and international trade. Long-term alternatives must come to the forefront of the ICAO’s and IMO’s mind, not the short term observations they propose. Consequently, the private sector has become the driver for enduring green innovation.

The answer seems simple in some areas; electrification. We have hybrid and fully electric cars and trucks on our roads on a commercial scale and such technology can move into container handling equipment.

This is becoming the case with Hyster’s recent announcement of an electric container truck, capable of carrying 48-tonne loads. Though only in early stages of development, it’s a step in the right direction.

Ports have to lower their GHG emissions and swapping diesel vehicles is the place to start and despite Trump’s decision to exit the PA, some American ports continue to pursue zero emission promises. Los Angeles and Long Beach ports have aimed for this by 2035. The renovations include a fully automated electric gantry and new adjacent rail line to eliminate thousands of truck journeys thus eliminating emission.

Air freight is also becoming greener. The JKIA (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport) cargo facility recently began using renewable energy to power their cold stores, cutting the terminal’s energy bill by 33%. There is also space for swapping diesel engine vehicles for electric power in air terminals.

But the biggest long-term goal has to be zero emissions from vessels and aircraft.

For maritime travel, this end may be close. MOL’s fleet includes Emerald Ace, a hybrid car carrier using solar panels and lithium-ion batteries, the only operational ship of this kind. When in berth the ship uses its stored solar energy to power the electricity on board as opposed to a diesel generator. This is an exciting development albeit a small one as the vessel still uses its diesel engine in transit.


Although, expect a fully electric container cargo ship by late 2018. The chemical company YARA plans to launch YARA Birkeland, the zero emission vessel which will haul between their Norwegian production plant and the cities of Brevik and Larvik. This will replace 40000 truck journeys needed every year for the company’s haulage. Birkeland’s service will only be small voyages, exclusive to YARA but will act as a rehearsal for further electric nautical development. The industry shall eagerly observe the vessel and if it proves successful, we shall certainly witness a movement towards electrification.

Greener aviation is not as developed as the maritime sector but there is movement from passenger aircraft companies. EasyJet unveiled a hydrogen aircraft concept in early 2016. It uses the energy from the aircraft’s breaks and stores it in hydrogen cells. The cells will power the aircraft’s taxi to the runway and the electronics when grounded, estimating to save EasyJet up to £27 million in fuel. No information has emerged regarding tests since the concept was revealed.

On the other hand, the Dutch airline KLM has made a significant development as they started operating biofuel flights out of Los Angeles and Oslo in 2016. The biofuel is produced from plant oils and agricultural waste and has a 70% reduction of CO2 emissions compared to kerosene.

This may suggest biofuels are the best alternative for aviation because they are already operating and proving successful, but these flights are not completely running off biofuels. They use a ‘drop-in’ technique; a mixture of 50% biofuel and 50% conventional kerosene fuel, so the aircraft does not need to undertake modifications to accept the biofuel.

Drop in‘ fuel used on KLM biofuel flights:





These are important steps towards sustainability but as a whole, the industry has fallen behind. It is imperative to reduce carbon emissions yet we continue to burn away. But developing alternatives is a serious cost. Currently, biofuel is 3 times the price of kerosene and it was recently revealed that the Long Beach renovations will cost £1 billion. But it’s the private sector who are the driving forces behind better efficiencies and current financial pressures on logistics providers make research and development nearly impossible.

The ICAO and the IMO look to reduce emissions but fear investment. It has fallen on the brave few companies to invest heavy sums into new technology. But these high prices will fall once the supply chain realises its responsibility. Ports, liners, fuel companies and vehicle manufacturers, both sea and air alike, must make zero emission commitments to stimulate a competitive market and achieve long-term sustainability goals.

But we must also see the ICAO and IMO take up some of the slack. We, therefore, welcome the inauguration of the GIA (Global Industry Alliance). The 13 company alliance who will work with the IMO to develop and implement zero emission solutions right across the maritime industry.

We also advocate the CBP (Corporate Biofuel Programme) initiated by KLM to sustain and develop their biofuel operations. Once again it has been the private sector investment as the major contributors to this programme and a public/private bridge must be constructed with this programme, or similar synergies, to develop better efficiencies in aviation.

Port Focus: Mexican Ports

During last few years Mexican authorities have been working on the major port modernization program for Mexican ports to meet the increased demand for logistics and supply services. They are investing about 48 billion pesos ($3.2 billion) in the projects...

Not so objective 2017 review

We’d like to talk about the topics that have touched the shipping industry the most, inspired vibrant discussions and made us feel more human during 2017.

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Sign up to Tuscor Lloyds monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about news and offers as they are released and gain access to our latest project case studies!

The Oil Boom

The Oil Boom

The oil industry is now recovering from a heavy slump over the last few years, and with the environment remaining at the forefront of policy, you might expect the Arctic to be the last place that the industry is setting out to find new resources.

Prospectors now have their eyes set on the Barents Sea off Norway’s northern tip, with companies Lundin, OMV and Statoil expected to begin drilling up to 15 new wells. Assisting them will be Statoil’s Songa Enabler, a floating drilling machine the size of 2 football fields. The Songla Enabler is an innovative concept which was developed by the industry for Statoil and the firm will use the facility to drill the first 5 wells. The Enabler is also designed to be ‘Winterized’ so it can withstand temperature drops of up to -25 Degrees Celsius.

The Barents is a key region yet to be explored. Its gulf stream means it’s largely ice free unlike Arctic regions such as Alaska and Greenland, places which have been abandoned by oil majors like Royal Dutch since 2014. The shallow water of the Barents means it’s more cost effective, and these projects have huge potential. The 4th well to be drilled by the Enabler will be Korpefjell, which is the largest prospect to be tested since the 1990’s.

Norway is hoping the unexplored Barents Sea will boost their oil industry, after crude production fell by half since the early 2000’s. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has estimated almost 65% of Norway’s total undiscovered resources could be lying in the Barents Sea – equivalent to 17 Bbbl.

The regional oil hub is the town of Hammerfest where the Polarbase AS serves ships supplying the Enabler and other rigs. The current boom in oil is a welcome one for Polarbase. In 1990, exploration was halted and the base had to survive by selling snow scooters and farming salmon. Kjetil Holmgren, manager of the Polarbase has said that they can “now focus on oil and gas”. Despite the slow start Statoil, Lundin and OMV have still managed to extract more than a billion barrels in the Barents Sea since 2010. Last year, Eni SpA started producing oil from Goliat (the areas first platform). Statoil plan to make a final decision for the investments on the Johan Castberg Project this year as well after reducing operational costs by more than 50%.

The Government has proposed a record number of Barents blocks in its next licensing round yet not withstanding industry optimism, Arctic drilling remains a controversial subject. Norway, with just 5.3 million people became one of the world’s richest countries after striking oil back in the late 60’s, yet environmental groups still have a strong influence over policy decisions.

Greenpeace and WWF say drilling rigs are going too close to the edge of the polar ice sheet. This could pose a catastrophic threat in the case of a spill. With a fragile ecosystem that sustains thousands of different species from plankton to mammals, a debate is raging over whether oil and gas in the relatively unspoilt Barents is morally justifiable, or commercially viable even as climate change policies cause demand for fossil fuels to plummet.

If Arctic projects don’t go ahead, it could mean billions of lost revenue for the Norwegian government, which offers generous refunds and deductions for exploration and investment in a trade-off for imposing a high tax rate on oil production.

“There’s a very high probability that these investments will be stranded assets,” said Jens Ulltveit-Moe, a Norwegian investor who made part of his $400 million fortune in oil-related projects. Statoil and Norway’s Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Soviknes doesn’t agree.


“With a break-even price of $35 a barrel, we’re competitive and then some,” he said in an interview on board the Enabler, referring to Statoil’s Castberg project. “That makes a lot of the stranded-assets debate disappear.”

Statoil’s Barents Sea wells are among the cheapest in its global exploration portfolio this year, at $25 million apiece at most. That’s good news for Hammerfest, where the oil industry has created 1,200 jobs since Statoil decided 15 years ago to build a liquefied natural gas plant to process production from the Snovhit deposit, the Barents Sea’s first field.

The town used to be a “run-down” place from which you moved away if you wanted to get ahead, said Polarbase’s Holmgren, now 55 years old and from Hammerfest. Now, “young people who leave have plans to come back.”

Source: Bloomberg

Shipping Emissions – Finally on Board?

Shipping Emissions – Finally on Board?

90% of global trade travels by sea. Without international shipping, the modern world would not be able to exchange goods at the level it currently does. Over the past few months there has been increasing reports of the IMO stepping up their road map to control shipping emissions, as well as large scale investments from the EU towards the sustainable future of our maritime industries. We take a look at just some of the initiatives aiming to make waves in shipping’s sustainability.


During the 70th session of Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) walked away with clear aims.

  • A Global Sulphur Cap by 2020
  • Road mapping to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Mandatory data collection system for Fuel Oil Consumption
  • New protected territories
  • New guidelines for Ballast Water Management
Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport said: “The maritime sector must play its part in tackling climate change. In the near future, ships will have to emit less sulphur and efforts to cut CO2 emissions have been stepped up. This will require immediate investment.”

1st January 2020 has been set as the deadline for companies to implement reduced sulphur content in fuel oil used on board. The global sulphur cap will stand at 0.50% m/m (mass/mass), cut from the 3.5% m/m global limit currently in place. Ships will be able to meet the new requirement by using low-sulphur compliant fuel oil, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) or methanol, or by fitting exhaust gas cleaning systems, commonly known as “scrubbers”, which strip the pollutants from the emissions before they are released into the atmosphere.


Under the roadmap, which will run from 2017 through to 2023, MEPC is tasked with sorting out the role of the international shipping sector in supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement (the Paris climate change deal aims to curb emissions to levels that would prevent the world temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius).

The plan so far includes a ‘to-do’ list containing tasks like further greenhouse gas (GHG) studies. Basically, MEPC are going to decide if ‘technical and operational measures’ are going to work well enough to meet IMO’s CO2 reduction commitments – so far they have reduced this by 10%.


Another measure taken has been the introduction of the data collection system (MARPOL Annex VI). This will require ships to record and report on their fuel oil consumption. The data will be collected and reported to the Flag State at the end of each year, when the ships will then receive a Statement of Compliance (as long as the ship passes). This will come into effect on the 1st of March 2018.

MEPC have also ruled in favour of making the North Sea and Baltic Sea Emissions Controlled Areas (ECA’s) for nitrous oxides (NOx). Starting January 2021 Marine Diesel Engines passing through the North Sea or Baltic Sea will have to comply with the Tier III NOx emission limit.

The IMO are doing their best to add areas of our seas to the list of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA). One of the new additions is the Jomard Entrance in Papua. It has joined the list of outstanding beauty and great environmental significance which is what the PSSA is there to protect.

All of these measures are clearly a step in the right direction for shipping’s sustainable future but with time ticking, targets set 4 years away and the alarming rate of global warming you can argue that this is all a little too late.


Author Info


Rachel Finch

Rachel Finch

Marketing Assistant

Rachel is a new addition to the family. She’s already been making waves on our social media platforms and learning more everyday about the complexities of our industry. Yoga obsessed – she should be flexible enough to do the job!

Breaking Bad? The Story of Alang Ship Breaking Yards

Breaking Bad? The Story of Alang Ship Breaking Yards

As overcapacity plays havoc with the shipping industry, a record number of ships have been sent to scrap this year at ship breaking yards around the globe.

With many industry experts suggesting that ship recycling is a reluctant solution to industry woes, we take a closer look at ‘the world’s biggest ship graveyard’, Alang Ship breaking yard, India.

Where’d all the ships go?

On the search for economies of scale Maersk began building mega ships capable of handling greater capacity. With shipbuilding taking years and orders to honour from the glory days of growing global trade, the industry is now suffering large scale overcapacity, with the global idle fleet standing at 7.6% in October, an all-time high.

Subsequently freight rates have plummeted, hammering profits and even causing the collapse of the 7th biggest shipping line in the world. But even with Hanjin’s demise and idle box ship fleet at an all-time high the problem still remains. Shipping is in dire straits and the industry is hurting.

So how do you solve overcapacity? Re-balance the books. If there’s a slump in demand? Reduce the supply. Enter Alang, the world’s ship breaking capital.

Alang Shipbreaking Yard

The six mile stretch of land was once one of the poorest areas of India. Now at least 200 ships stand on the beach waiting to be dismantled by shipbreaking workers.

It takes anything from 2 weeks to a year to complete an entire ship, bringing in around a million dollars in steel alone. 2016 has seen a ship scrapping bonanza, with almost 147 vessels, around 507,000 TEU sent to ship breaking yards this year to date.

Working Conditions

Alang has been thrust into the spotlight recently after Maersk once again defended its controversial use of the regions shipbreaking yards.

It’s no secret that working conditions and safety measures on the beaches of Alang are some of the worst in the world, with over 50 people losing their lives since 2010, and some claiming that many deaths go unreported.

Alang Shipbreaking Yard

With high turnovers of largely migrant workers and uncooperative yard owners it has been difficult to establish any regulatory measures in the industry.

So considering Maersk’s stance on sustainability, it’s understandable why the news raised industry eyebrows. In May the company announced their commitment to more responsible recycling options with the delivery of the first two vessels to Shree Ram, a Hong Kong Convention approved facility in Alang.

But recent reports of a blast at Pakistan’s Gaddani shipyard, in which 20 workers lost their lives and over 100 workers suffered injuries, has once again posed the question how safe, responsible and ethical is the ship recycling industry?

Change to come?

This month the Indian Ministry of Shipping announced $1.5 million investment to support capacity building and safety training of the 20,000 workers based in Alang. But even with positive steps to improve working conditions the environmental impacts of ship breaking along the coast of Alang are undeniable.

Ship breaking releases harmful and dangerous pollutants into the coastal waters and surrounding sea bed, having a catastrophic effects on local marine life. In fact ship recycling is one of the most polluting industries in the world.

These hard facts make the sustainable initiatives celebrated by the world’s biggest carriers and their new super-efficient vessels all too ironic. When we build these new ships do we just brush Alang under the carpet? Dumping on those less armed to deal with our waste? Out of sight out of mind? Or is the ship breaking industry a much needed lifeline to developing regions that without it would starve?

It’s a question with a thousand responses. But the more the ship breaking industry faces such scrutiny, the harder it is to hide from the changes that have to come.

Find more industry viewpoints on our blog below…

Not so objective 2017 review

We’d like to talk about the topics that have touched the shipping industry the most, inspired vibrant discussions and made us feel more human during 2017.