August 10, 2021 / 1:40 PM The United Nations Security Council member countries issued a call Monday for strengthened cooperation to counter piracy, terrorism and other threats on the high seas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken were among those who took part in a special Council meeting dedicated to that topic, the first of its kind to be held by the UN’s top body.

Meeting via video conference at the initiative of India, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency, the 15 member states discussed the deteriorating maritime security situation and pledged to do more in that regard, although no concrete measures were announced.

According to the UN, the security situation on the world’s oceans is worsening at “alarming levels” due to disputes over maritime boundaries and routes, armed attacks carried out by pirates and terrorists and an increase in illegal fishing.

“Despite an overall decrease in the volume of maritime traffic due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the first half of 2020 saw a nearly 20 percent increase in reported acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide over the previous year,” said Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Chef de Cabinet of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The UN said there has been a sharp increase in the number of maritime security incidents in Asia and pointed to several hotspots such as the Strait of Malacca, the Singapore Strait and the South China Sea.

The most problematic region for piracy, however, continues to be Africa and especially the Gulf of Guinea, where the current level of insecurity is unprecedented.

According to figures from the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB), those waters off the coast of West Africa accounted in 2020 for more than 95 percent of crew members kidnapped worldwide (130 out of a total of 135).

The Gulf of Guinea also accounted for nearly half (43 percent) of all reported piracy incidents in the first three months of this year, the IMB said.

The UN said combating impunity is one of the key actions needed to improve maritime security.

In that regard, not a single piracy suspect in the Gulf of Guinea had been convicted until Nigeria and Togo handed down their first sentences last month, the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Ghady Waly, said Monday.

Maritime security issues, however, are not restricted to the actions of pirates, terrorists and criminal groups. They also include numerous disputes and clashes among countries.

The US and other Security Council members on Monday pointed to China’s role in various territorial disputes over islands, reefs, banks and shoals in the South China Sea that have intensified in recent years.

“In the South China Sea, we’ve seen dangerous encounters between vessels at sea and provocative actions to advance unlawful maritime claims,” Blinken said Monday, warning of the dangers created when governments are not accountable for their actions.

He also denounced a recent drone attack on a tanker operated by an Israeli firm in the Gulf of Oman. The US, the United Kingdom and other countries immediately placed the blame on Iran.

Blinken said the US is confident that Iran carried out the attack, saying it was unjustified and “part of a pattern of attacks and other provocative behavior.”


August 9, 2021 / 2:00 PM Modi is the first Indian prime minister to preside over a UNSC open debate focussed on ways to effectively counter maritime crime and strengthen coordination in the domain. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Monday adopted the first-ever presidential statement on maritime security soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a virtual open debate focused on global cooperation for maritime security. India, as the UNSC president this month, noted the threats to maritime safety and security and called upon the members to consider implementing the 2000 UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. External affairs minister S Jaishankar later thanked all members for “supporting the first signature event of Indian Presidency” after the statement on maritime security was unanimously adopted by UNSC. “Ten non Council members sent their written position underlining that the debate was timely and relevant. PM articulated five key maritime principles- on trade, disputes, natural disasters, environment and connectivity,” Jaishankar tweeted.

Prime Minister Modi called for a “framework of mutual understanding and cooperation” on maritime security as he outlined five principles, including the settling of maritime disputes peacefully and in accordance with international laws. Among the four other principles proposed by PM Modi as chair of a high-level debate were free maritime trade, jointly fighting maritime threats from natural disasters and non-state actors, preservation of the maritime environment and promoting “responsible maritime connectivity”.

August 6, 2021 / 12:00 PM The Port of San Diego is inviting the public to review and provide input on its Draft Revised Maritime Clean Air Strategy, it was announced Thursday.

The policy document is intended to help the port identify future projects and initiatives to improve health through cleaner air for all who live, work and play on and around San Diego Bay while also supporting efficient and modern maritime operations.

Collaboration with community residents, industry, businesses, public agencies and non-government organizations helped produce the goals and objectives identified in the MCAS discussion draft issued for public review and feedback in March. With changes made based on that feedback and direction by the Board of Port Commissioners, the Port is seeking additional community and stakeholder feedback.

To review the Draft Revised MCAS, go to Written feedback will be accepted via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. through Sept. 3. During the review period, the public is also invited to participate in an MCAS virtual update on Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:30 p.m.

As an update to the port's 2007 Clean Air Program, the MCAS "identifies a vision centered on health equity, with ambitious goals for 2030 that will contribute to improved air quality," a statement from the port reads.

In support of the 2030 goals, the MCAS establishes more specific, near- term emissions reduction goals and objectives to be accomplished within the next five-year period between 2021 and June 30, 2026. Collectively, in conjunction with the near-term goals and objectives, the MCAS identifies approximately 34 potential projects, partnerships, initiatives and/or studies. 

Some of the goals include making 100% of cargo trucks and handling equipment calling on the Port of San Diego cargo maritime terminals zero emissions vehicles by 2030, the first all-electric tugboat in the U.S. in 2026 and doubling shore power for cruise ships by 2023.


August 4, 2021 / 2:00 PM From August 1 to November 30, 2021, the Panama Canal will once again promote the implementation of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) speed and navigational recommendations to protect whales, dolphins, and other large aquatic animals, as they start their nearby seasonal migration.

In accordance with the IMO’s recommendations, ships traveling to and from the Canal via the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean during this period must stay within designated navigation areas known as Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS), which decrease the overlap between vessels entering or exiting the Canal and migrating marine life. Vessels traveling through these areas on the Pacific side of the Canal should also proceed at a speed of no more than 10 knots, a practice known as Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR).

These measures, first implemented and promoted by the Canal in 2014, have significantly reduced the likelihood of interactions and serious incidents involving whales and other cetaceans, while assuring maritime safety and control of vessels transiting the waters surrounding the Canal. Compliance with the TSS measures by the Panama Canal has proven critical, as the Gulf of Panama is an important wintering ground for migrating humpback whales.

“When we talk about sustainability at the Canal, we take into account the protection and wellbeing of our entire ecosystem and biodiversity,” said Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. “These measures show that a small change can mean a huge difference when our industry works together to prioritize sustainability. We are grateful for our customers who continue to recognize the value of these measures and the Panama Canal’s offerings as a green route for global maritime trade.”

A study commissioned by the Panama Canal also found that the TSS program garnered significant emissions reductions. Analysis of the speed, position and heading data from vessels’ automatic identification systems (AIS) confirmed that compliance with the annual recommendations lowered a vessel’s greenhouse gas (GHG) and pollutant gas emissions by an average of 75 percent. The savings varied by the vessel type, size, and fuel, but resulted in over 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) saved in total between 2017 and 2020.

Being an all-water route, Panama Canal recognizes first-hand the impact of rising global temperatures and the importance of protecting our oceans. The waterway is focused on elevating its sustainable operations and value for the global supply chain, and these efforts are just another example of its commitment towards mitigating the effects of climate change, ensuring ocean conservancy and protecting biodiversity.


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