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MMEA reports Johor eastern waters to be ‘hotspot’ for vessels to anchor illegally

‘These vessels often conduct other unlawful activities such as illegal oil transfers, releasing waste into the waters and unauthorised crew changes,’ said MMEA.

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The Johor state division of Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Monday (22 March) said it has discovered waters east of Johor has become a “hotspot” for foreign vessels to anchor illegally and conduct unlawful activities such as illegally releasing oil into the ocean, reports Berita Harian.

The three hotspots include the Tompok Utara anchorage area, Eastern Bank (Permatang Timur) and the Ramunia Shoal.

MMEA explained the western coastal area is less ideal for such vessels as the straits is narrow and it is part of the main vessel route along the Straits of Malacca.

“Many of these vessels stay for a long period of time and try to avoid paying for an anchorage permit by anchoring illegally,” said Johor Maritime Director Nurul Hizam Zakaria.

“During their stay, these vessels often conduct other unlawful activities such as illegal oil transfers, releasing waste into the waters and unauthorized crew changes.

“There are also reports of such vessels utilising these spots as a transit location to smuggle migrants.”

In the past year alone, 23 vessels were detained and 18 of these cases were compounded under Section 491B(1)(L) of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952 for anchoring without a permit.

Maritime Director Hizam added these vessels pose a risk to the health of marine life as well as to the navigational safety of other vessels as they could cause collisions.

“Companies and shipowners have to cooperate with the relevant authorities to make it accessible to conduct operations and to take action in case of any emergencies,” noted Maritime Director Hizam.

Separately, the Marine Department of Malaysia said it had detected about 100 foreign vessels anchoring illegally in the Tompok Utara anchorage area, about 12 kilometres from Sedili Kecil beach on Saturday and was immediately concerned about possible illegal oil spills.

An oil spill was detected by the department around 7.40 pm on Saturday, 20 March and estimates it to be 6 kilometres long.

The Marine Department then partnered with MMEA to conduct investigations on Sunday but it was inconclusive as it is believed the spill has been moved by the ocean’s waves.

Nevertheless, the Department said it will continue its investigations via drones to get a better aerial view of the area. 

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A series of earlier MMEA detentions have been reported by Manifold Times (below):

Related: MMEA detains Liberian registered tanker for allegedly anchoring illegally in Perak
Related: MMEA detains Panama registered tanker for allegedly anchoring illegally in Selangor
Related: MMEA detains Thailand registered tanker for allegedly anchoring illegally in Selangor
Related: MMEA detains Singapore flagged tanker suspected of illegal oil transfers in Selangor
Related: MMEA detains Panama flagged tanker for anchoring illegally in eastern Johor
Related: Malaysia: MMEA detains loaded oil tanker for allegedly anchoring illegally in Perak
Related: MMEA detains tanker ‘MT Tahiti’ in Malacca waters for anchoring without a permit
Related: MMEA detains St Kitts & Nevis registered tanker for anchoring illegally in eastern Johor
Related: MMEA detains Malaysia & Mongolia registered tankers for anchoring illegally in Johor
Related: Malaysia: MMEA detains tanker for anchoring without a permit in southeastern Johor

Photo credit: Marine Department of Malaysia
Published: 22 March, 2021

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Vessel Arrest

Vietnam: Fishing vessel TH-92237-TS arrested over 80,000 litres of illegal diesel oil

Ship first spotted being surround by several other wooden hull fishing boats at a location about 100 nautical miles southeast of Con Da on 7 June.

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The Vietnam Coast Guard on Saturday (8 June) said it arrested fishing vessel TH-92237-TS over the carriage of about 80,000 litres of illegal diesel oil.

It first spotted the vessel being surround by several other wooden hull fishing boats at a location about 100 nautical miles southeast of Con Da on 7 June.

The authority proceeded to inspect the vessel and found it to be transporting about 80,000 litres of diesel oil with no invoices or documents proving its legal origin.

Following, the coast guard conducted a record of administrative violations, established initial records, and sealed the violating goods.

It escorted the fishing vessel back to the port of Squadron 301 (in Vung Tau City) and handed it over to the Command of Coast Guard Region 3 for further investigation and handling in accordance with the provisions of law.

 

Photo credit: Vietnam Coast Guard
Published: 13 June 2024

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Alternative Fuels

IUMI: How can liability and compensation regimes adapt to alternative bunker fuels and cargoes?

Existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative marine fuels will bring.

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Dangerous cargo

By Tim Howse, Member of the IUMI Legal & Liability Committee and Vice President, Head of Industry Liaison, Gard (UK) Limited

The world economy is transitioning, with industries across the board seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and embrace more sustainable practices. As part of this, there is a huge effort within our industry to look to decarbonise, using alternative fuels such as biofuel, LNG, LPG, ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen.

Until now there has been much focus on carbon emissions and operational risks associated with the use of alternative fuels. This includes increased explosivity, flammability, and corrosivity. An ammonia leak causing an explosion in port could result in personal injuries, not to mention property damage, air, and sea pollution. In addition, alternative fuels may not be compatible with existing onboard systems, increasing the risk of breakdowns and fuel loss resulting in pollution. Apart from these safety concerns, which particularly concern crew, air pollution and other environmental impacts need to be addressed.

However, the green transition also presents us with a separate regulatory challenge, which has received less attention so far. So, whilst carbon emissions and safety concerns are rightly on top of the agenda now, the industry also needs to prioritise the potential barriers in the legal and regulatory frameworks which will come sharply into focus if there is an accident.

If anything, historic maritime disasters like the Torrey Canyon spill in 1967, have taught us that we should look at liability and compensation regimes early and with a degree of realism to ensure society is not caught off-guard. With our combined experience, this is perhaps where the insurance industry can really contribute to the transition.

Currently, existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative fuels will bring. For example, an ammonia fuel spill would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (Bunkers Convention), potentially resulting in a non-uniform approach to jurisdiction and liability. Similarly, an ammonia cargo incident would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC). Uncertainties may also exist in the carriage of CO2 as part of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects, which may be treated as a pollutant, with corresponding penalties or fines.

A multitude of questions will arise depending on what happens, where it happens, and the values involved, many of which may end up as barriers for would be claimants. How will such claims be regulated, will there be scope for limitation of liability, and would there be a right of direct action against the insurers? In the absence of a uniform international liability, compensation and limitation framework, shipowners, managers, charterers, individual crew, and the insurers may be at the mercy of local actions. Increased concerns about seafarer criminalisation (even where international conventions exist, ‘wrongful’ criminalisation does still occur) may emerge, creating another disincentive to go to sea.

When being carried as a cargo, the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS), which is not yet in force, may resolve some of these issues for alternative fuels and CO2. However, until HNS comes into force, there will be no international uniformity to liability and compensation for the carriage of alternative fuels and CO2 as cargoes. This creates uncertainties for potential victims and their insurers, who may face increased risks and costs, due to the potential inability of existing regulations to provide protections.

The situation is even less clear in the case of bunkers. The rules for using alternative fuels as bunkers might require a separate protocol to HNS, a protocol to the Bunkers Convention, or a whole new convention specifically for alternative fuels.  Relevant considerations for the appropriate legislative vehicle include states’ preparedness to reopen the Bunkers Convention, the ability to conclude a protocol to HNS before it comes into force, and whether a multi-tier fund structure is needed for alternative fuels as bunkers (perhaps unnecessary because bunkers are usually carried in smaller quantities compared to cargoes).

Until then, what we are left with are the existing international protective funds, designed to respond at the highest levels to pollution claims resulting from an oil spill, without any similar mechanism in place to respond to a spill of alternative fuels, which are themselves so central to a green transition. Somewhat perversely, victims of accidents involving an oil spill may therefore enjoy better protections than victims of an alternative fuels spill.

In summary, while the use of alternative fuels will no doubt help to reduce the industry's carbon footprint, there are safety and practical hurdles to overcome. Stakeholders must also come together to find solutions to complex - and urgent, in relative terms - legal and regulatory challenges.

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Source:  International Union of Marine Insurance
Published: 13 June 2024

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Legal

Malaysia: MMEA detains Singapore tugboat, barge for illegal anchoring in Johor

Inspection found that both vessels from Singapore were suspected of committing offences for failing to report their arrival and anchoring without permission from Malaysian Marine Department Director.

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Malaysia: MMEA detains Singapore tugboat, barge for illegal anchoring in Johor

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Tuesday (11 June) detained a Singapore-registered tugboat with a barge at approximately 3.5 nautical miles west of Pulau Harimau in Johor.

Mersing Zone MMEA director Maritime Commander Suhaizan Saadin said the tugboat and barge were apprehended at 11.00am by a MMEA patrol team during Ops Jaksa and Ops Tiris. 

“Inspection found that both vessels from Singapore were suspected of committing offences for failing to report their arrival and anchoring without permission from the Director of the Malaysian Marine Department,” he said. 

Investigation also revealed all seven crew members from both vessels were Indonesians, aged between 25 and 44 including the captain.

The detained vessels and crew were taken to Mersing Maritime Jetty to be handed over to MMEA investigators for investigation under the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952.

“MMEA will not compromise on any activities that are against the law and will always be committed in continuing operations and patrols along Malaysian Maritime Zone (ZMM) to curb illegal activities in the country's waters,” said Suhaizan.

 

Photo credit: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
Published: 12 June 2024

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