Chamber of Shipping Calls for Canadian Gov’t Triage on Coastal Management

  • As Polaris Shipping’s Premises Raided amid Stellar Daisy Probe

As a new report reveals that shipping is of great value to Canadians across the country, the industry, represented by the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia (COSBC), seeks assurance from the Government of Canada that coastal management will recognize the need to secure marine trade corridors through a focused spatial planning effort.

The Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping recently released a study, “The Value of Commercial Marine Shipping to Canada”, estimating the economic value of commercial shipping at CAD 30 billion (USD 22.3 billion). At 1.8% of the Canadian economy, ships move more than CAD 200 billion worth of goods to and from global markets.

According to the Chamber of Shipping, these figures reflect a dependence on marine transportation to support trade activity as Canada pivots its focus to markets overseas and increasingly away from a historic over-reliance on its US neighbor.

While Canadian international trade continues to grow, the federal government is moving to meet its commitment to protect 10 percent of Canada’s coastal waters by 2020. This includes an announcement dated May 24 of establishing a large marine protected area to the approaches of binational waters and major ports in Canada and the US on the west coast.

“As important as this effort is, government actions to date lack integration of risk planning and mitigation, conservation and protection, and trade objectives,” The Chamber of Shipping said.

“Coastal management must also address areas of high activity where the need for sustainable growth should be proactively managed,” Robert Lewis-Manning, Chamber of Shipping President,commented.

“This should include the establishment and management of marine trade corridors with provisions that build confidence for indigenous and coastal communities. The current federal approach is overly focused on large area targets and does not appropriately address current and future trade needs,” Lewis-Manning added.

The Chamber said it supports and recognizes the importance of the protection of the country’s pristine coast.

At times when the shipping industry continues to invest heavily to reduce the environmental impact of its operations both locally and globally, ports in British Columbia were the first to implement ballast water exchange programs and shore power technology in Canada, according to the Chamber. Furthermore, in August 2017, vessels will support a voluntary speed reduction trial in Haro Strait to assist in the development of a recovery strategy for Southern Resident Killer Whales.

In the meantime, Busan Coast Guard raided the South Korean shipping company Polaris Shipping on Thursday, May 25 in relation to the sinking of the ill-fated Stellar Daisy, Yonhap reports quoting a statement from the coast guard officials.

As disclosed, the raid of the company’s offices located in Seoul and Busan was aimed at collecting information that might help disclose the reason behind the sinking of the converted VLOC at the end of March this year.

The raid is part of the Coast Guard’s recently launched investigation into the incident, the aftermath of which has put into the spotlight the company’s operation of the vessel and its conversion, along with the alleged “slow reaction” to distress calls sent from the ship at the time of the sinking, among other things.

The 1993-built ship was carrying eight South Korean and sixteen Filipino sailors. Two of the sailors were rescued on April 1, while the remaining 22 crew members remain missing and are presumed dead.

Initial findings indicated that the converted ship had split in half following a hull crack that caused shifting of cargo and subsequent sinking of the bulk carrier. However, an official cause of the incident has not been provided yet.

Just a few days after the incident, Polaris Shipping confirmed that another of the firm’s vessels reported a crack on the outer hull of a tank- the 1993-built bulk carrier Stellar Unicorn, and sent it for repairs.

Cracks have also been found aboard Polaris-operated Stellar Queen, following an inspection of the ship which was conducted in Sao Luis, Brazil.

As a result, the company launched fleet-wide inspection of its ships.

Polaris Shipping is said to have agreed to provide the families of the victims with a compensation now that the on-site search has ended.

The company is yet to provide World Maritime News with a comment concerning the raid reports.

World Maritime News