A Student Perspective: Can shipping succeed without seafarers?

With ships getting bigger, crews smaller and stays in port getting shorter, all in the pursuit to make more money; it is no surprise that every now and then short cuts are taken in regards to the welfare of seafarers. And rather than being viewed as one of the most essential industries, which carries more than 90% of the worlds trade and makes possible the import and export of goods on the scale necessary for our modern consumerist world, it is sad that ships are viewed as nothing more than delivery vehicles and the seafarers onboard as nothing more than the cogs on the wheels that are needed to make the vehicles mobile.

How is it that 1.5 million seafarers in the world, whose job it is to bring us almost all of our consumer products, can remain invisible to the majority of the people?. Seafarers work in hazardous conditions, spending prolonged periods away from their families and communities, so that the rest of us can enjoy the latest gadgets which were made on the other side of the world. It is for this invisible army that charities such as the Mission to Seafarers work hard to ensure are protected from abuse, and have direct access to someone other than their employers who can provide them with help when they get to a port.

One of the things seafarers normally complain about is the lack of recreational facilities onboard vessels. The lack of recreational facilities on vessels which seafarers have to spend prolonged periods of time can lead to cases of depression. The reason why an increasing number of seafarers point out recreational facilities as being extremely important is the dramatic change in the turnaround times. The vessels offload their cargo at port quickly and turn out to sea again for the next destination. This can lead to increased social isolation onboard, fatigue and limited opportunities for shore leave. When all this is added up, it can have a serious impact on the health and welfare of seafarers, which in turn can have a negative impact on their ability to do their job adequately.

Despite the existence of ILO’s labour laws that set out the minimum requirements for seafarers while on a vessel (e.g. hours of work and rest, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection) the enforcement of these laws has been a challenge. The recognition of the importance of seafarers to shipping has led to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC 2006), which came into force in August 2013. However, it is obvious from incidents that have occurred over the years that these laws are not foolproof and seafarers’ rights do sometimes get trampled upon.

In the event where the ship owner or ship master fails to fulfil their responsibility to the seafarers and the port authority is not aware, a seafarer is left with two choices. Either stay quiet or seek advice from others that are not connected with their employers that might be able to help them. This is where charities like the Mission to Seafarers who are dedicated to the promotion of the welfare of seafarers come in to play. Because no matter what laws are passed and what conventions come into force, there will always be seafarers who are in need.

Without seafarers the shipping industry simply cannot work. It is in the best interest of all concerned to ensure seafarers welfare is taken into consideration. What we hope for is that the promulgation of MLC 2006 will finally give the seafarers their rightful place in shipping.


Ahmed Ali Mohamed

MA International Maritime Policy

China’s rising energy imports: boosting global seaborne trade

Shipowners around the world have greatly benefited from China’s huge appetite for energy commodity imports, often involving long-distance voyages, over the past decade. Amid rapid expansion of economic activity and industrial output, China needed to supplement domestic energy resources with imported supplies, on an ever-increasing scale.

An optimistic view points to this strong upwards trend continuing. But how realistic is that prospect, in the light of accumulating signs indicating slowing economic growth in the years ahead? And what will be the impact of plans to enlarge the role of China-owned ships within these trades?  Image

Seaborne imports of coal, oil and gas into China, the main energy commodities received, are estimated to have reached about 620 million tonnes in 2013, based on calculations by Clarksons Research and Bulk Shipping Analysis. This massive total, comprising about 15 percent of all world seaborne trade in these categories, resulted from fast expansion in the past ten years. From about 130mt in 2003, the total almost doubled by 2008 and then more than doubled in the next five years. The annual increase last year apparently was about 9 percent.

Among the commodities, coal has been the star performer. China’s imports by sea of steam coal (used mainly in power stations but also in other industries) and coking coal (used in the steel industry) exceeded 300mt last year, growing from a small 10mt ten years earlier. Steam grades currently comprise roughly three-quarters of the coal volume. Seaborne imports of crude oil and oil products (refined oil) are almost as large, reaching over 290mt in 2013, more than doubling over the decade. Gas imports are much smaller, but growing quickly. The largest category of gas imported by sea – liquefied natural gas (LNG) – rose from nil a decade ago, to reach about 18mt last year. Imports of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) total around 3-4mt annually.

A vast energy market

With a population of 1.35 billion people, the world’s most populous country, and a very rapidly growing and industrialising economy over many years, China’s demand for energy has risen enormously. Among the different contributors, coal is dominant, supplying about two-thirds. Oil is the second largest, at under one-fifth. The remainder is comprised of mainly hydro-power and natural gas, accompanied by nuclear power and renewable sources.

The largest portion of energy consumption consists of power stations generating electricity. These power plants are predominantly coal-fired, but alternative fuels used are gas and uranium (nuclear generation), supplemented by hydro-electricity. Generation from renewables, especially wind, is becoming much more significant. Several other industries also use steam coal. In the steel industry mills based on the blast furnace method producing pig iron, for conversion into steel, consume coking coal. The main contribution of oil is within the transport fuel market – road vehicles, aircraft and ships.

A large part of China’s market is supplied by domestic energy producers – coal mines, and oil and gas fields. Home production of the three fuels has increased over the past decade. But demand from consumers rose more rapidly than producers were able to raise their output. Rising imports trends resulted.

Coal is produced on a gigantic scale in China, the world’s largest producer (as well as consumer) of this energy source. Last year’s output was about 3.7 billion tonnes and although only slightly above the previous year’s figure, it was double that seen ten years earlier. The country’s remarkable economic development has been underpinned by coal, but resulting pollution has led the government to re-evaluate its contribution and to encourage use of alternative, cleaner, fuels.

Domestic crude oil production has also risen, reaching an estimated 213mt in 2013, about 25 percent higher than the volume seen a decade earlier. Most of China’s output is derived from mature fields where it has proved difficult to improve yields. Elsewhere, both onshore and offshore in coastal waters, extra oil production is evolving positively. Currently, the natural gas production sector is much smaller, although output has more than tripled in the past ten years, reaching an estimated 115 billion cubic metres in 2013. This upwards trend is being strengthened by the official policy to promote gas consumption. A small but growing contribution is obtained from shale gas deposits.

Adding to the positive impact on coal import demand, of a shortfall between the amount consumed and the amount produced, were more specific influences. Coal movements over long distances (from mines located mainly in the north, to consuming areas in the south or to the coast for onward transhipment) have been constrained by rail transport capacity and freight charges. Imports became even more competitive when international prices and the delivered cost (including ocean freight) was below domestic prices. Limited volumes, in domestic mines, of the high-grade coking coal used by the steel industry also boosted imports. Conversely, rising land movements from Mongolia were partially offsetting.

Huge imports of oil, gas and coal

China’s need to secure increasingly large volumes of the main energy commodities, from foreign suppliers, has been a great advantage for the global shipping industry. Employment opportunities for bulk carriers, tankers and gas carriers have mushroomed so much that, in all these trades, Chinese import demand is one of the principal influences and a major focus of attention for shipowners and operators.

A key question, therefore, arises. Will this favourable pattern persist, and to what extent, not only in the immediate future but further ahead? Given that, arguably, there are no other signs of growing import demand for these energy commodities around the world of a similar magnitude to that of China, the significance of the answer is crucial for shipping markets. What we can, perhaps, foresee is a somewhat mixed picture evolving, with strong positive elements.

Assumptions about China’s economic growth, and the pattern of its components, are a vital aspect. In both 2012 and 2013, gross domestic product (GDP) increased at a 7.7 percent annual rate, compared with an average 10 percent growth in the previous twelve years. An extended slowing trend is almost universally expected by forecasters, but opinions vary about the pace.    

Prospects for seaborne oil imports are widely seen as promising. Consumption of oil in China is growing rapidly, especially in the transportation sector where surging road vehicle numbers are boosting demand for motor gasoline and diesel oil, a trend which is expected to continue. In a recent report Australia’s Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) emphasised that increasing household incomes are likely to enable a rising proportion of Chinese families to purchase cars, substantially adding to fuel usage.  However, a partial offset is envisaged: steps being taken to lower the economy’s energy-intensity by improving the efficiency of energy use, and also by encouraging consumption of alternative fuels.

Expansion of oil refining capacity, at coastal locations, is another clear sign pointing to strongly advancing seaborne crude oil imports. Further large capacity additions are scheduled during 2014, following last year’s increase. Moreover, China is implementing plans to substantially expand both strategic (state-owned) and commercial crude oil reserves, and new strategic inventory tankage is opening this year. But a proportion of the incremental quantities required will be derived from domestic production. And imports are not entirely delivered by ship: pipeline connections with adjacent countries Kazakhstan and Russia are alternative, land-based routes. Increased refinery capacity may both restrict imports of refined oil products and boost exports.           

The outlook for seaborne imports of gas also seems bright. China’s natural gas consumption is set to grow vigorously, with added support from the government’s intention to encourage usage in preference to other hydrocarbons. As well as increasing domestic production, pipelines bringing gas from neighbouring countries, including the huge-capacity pipeline linking China with Myanmar which opened in 2013, will contribute large supplies. But nine LNG terminals at ports are already operating, and a further five are under construction, adding justification for expecting a strong upwards trend in seaborne imports, as emphasised in a recent report published by the US Energy Information Administration.

Overshadowing this view is shale gas. If China’s known gigantic reserves can be developed to ramp up production quickly on a colossal scale, then all other energy consumption and seaborne import predictions for fuels may be proved invalid. This scenario seems unlikely to happen in the near or medium-term future. Exploitation of shale gas is problematical in China. The geology is much more complicated than in the USA, where shale gas has been developed rapidly, requiring the drilling of many more wells. Expertise and equipment on the scale required for truly massive exploration and production could remain limited in China for some time, while the large water supplies also needed are not always available. Moreover, the essential pipeline connections for distributing the gas nationwide are not yet in place.

The prognostications for seaborne coal imports into China are more hazy. Some forecasts a few years ago indicated a strong expansionary trend continuing for many years. That view has proved correct so far, but there are now much greater uncertainties surrounding the outlook. The Chinese government’s intensifying emphasis on shifting energy consumption towards cleaner fuels is prominent, amid a slowing economy.  This policy focus could reduce the large volumes (60mt in 2013) of low-grade, highly polluting lignite which is imported mainly from Indonesia. Also, an intention to make the economy’s capital investment spending and infrastructure-building a lower priority, implies that the heavy industry with high energy usage supplying materials such as steel will not be growing as quickly as seen in the past.

These prospective changes have implications for power stations, steel mills and other industries using coal. Although the balance of factors still, arguably, suggests that further growth in China’s seaborne coal import demand is a realistic idea for the years ahead as a trend, the pattern of annual progress may not be steady and could be subject to large variations.                  

Another feature of shipping demand related to energy commodity imports into China is the trade distances involved. Currently, large cargo volumes are seen on long-haul routes, but there are many examples of short-haul routes as well. Middle East countries together are the largest oil supplier, while Qatar alone supplies a high proportion of LNG imported. Seaborne crude oil imports from West Africa (especially Angola), Venezuela and Russia are prominent. Gas is imported also from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and other countries. Within the coal segment, Australia and Indonesia are the biggest suppliers, accompanied by Russia, Vietnam, South Africa and others. Any changes in these patterns affect tonne-miles and required shipping capacity.

Promising signs for shipping

This analysis suggests that the clearest indications of future growth, in China’s imports of energy commodities, during 2014 and probably for an extended period, are visible within the crude oil and LNG trades. These commodity purchases seem set to continue increasing strongly despite an envisaged slowing of the economy’s growth rate. There is some justification also for optimism about further coal imports expansion, but the reasoning is more tenuous, especially given the government’s focus on restraining industrial pollution as a means of improving the environment and air quality.

Finally, how much of this increased cargo volume will be carried by China-owned tonnage? Many additional bulk carriers, tankers and gas carriers are joining the fleets of shipowners based in China. Orders for newbuilding vessels listed by Clarksons Research, mostly scheduled for delivery by the end of 2016, amount to a large volume. Among these, Chinese shipowners at the beginning of March this year were awaiting delivery of 38 capesize bulk carriers totalling 8m dwt; 27 VLCC (very large crude carrier) tankers totalling 8.2m dwt; and 6 VLGCs (very large gas carriers) totalling 1m cubic metres capacity. Numerous other ships were on order.

The China-owned share of the global fleet participating in energy commodity import trades has been growing strongly, and seems set to continue enlarging. Nevertheless, shipowners of other nationalities probably will be carrying larger quantities of expanding trade volumes, even if their percentage share is diminishing.

 Richard Scott

China Maritime Centre, GMI and MD, Bulk Shipping Analysis

A Story Dated Back to 1877: recollecting the maritime nexus between China and Greenwich

In October 1877, six odd-looking young Chinese “clad in richly figured flowing garments” wandered in the streets of Greenwich, with their long pigtails swaying behind their half-bald heads. Their destination was the Royal Naval College (RNC).

The six Chinese soon left Greenwich in a year or two. The RNC itself was amalgamated into the Joint Services Command and StaffCollege in 1998, leaving GMI to continue its “maritime history of Greenwich and connections with the Royal Navy” on the same ground. The site is now renamed with an adjective “Old” put in front of “Royal Naval College”, suggesting a strong nostalgic aura. All visible or physical remainders of these Chinese visitors seem to have vanished in the abyss of centuries of history as if they had never been to Greenwich. But –

137 years later, four ordinary-looking Chinese came to the same place. They were so similar to other Chinese tourists now crowded around the World Centre that no one would ever pay them a glance, until they set up their tripod, raised their huge round reflectors and operated their shooting “cannons” (specialist cameras). They were a TV crew invited by Greenwich Maritime Institute (GMI) and China Maritime Centre (CMC) to retrospect the adventure of the six Chinese in the RNC. They were thus made explorers of a piece of long overlooked history of the Sino-Anglo maritime interactions.

The sky was unusually clear all the time – in late January. The tranquility of Greenwich campus was broken only by occasional cries of jolly seabirds. The sublime buildings of the ORNC, the thin prime meridian line between the east and the west hemispheres and the maritime tide regularly running through the Greenwich U-turn of the Old Father Thames idly enjoyed sunshine like taciturn aged sea dogs in the Greenwich Hospital. Veterans were reluctant to open their toothless mouths to strangers, especially after experiencing the vicissitude of the Royal Navy and the British Empire on which the sun never set.

But GMI and CMC knew their forefathers’ secrets behind the mist of history, – their ditty bags had been thoroughly searched for numerous times. They confirmed to the TV crew that the six young men from China were early foreign naval students trained in the RNC. Their names are Yan Fu, Fang Boqian, He Xinchuan, Lin Yongsheng, Ye Zugui and Sa Zhenbing.

They were also the earliest overseas students ever dispatched by Chinese government in the 5k-year history.

With the time-honoured centralised, self-sufficient, looking-inward, complacent Confucian social structure, Chinese authorities and commoners still took for granted in the mid 19th century that the Celestial Empire was the centre of the cosmos (interestingly Greenwich claims so now!) and that it would be a special bounty granted to its vassal states if their literati subjects were admitted to be fostered with and benefit from the unchallengeable superiority of the only civilised nation. Never had they considered from a reverse angle. They did not perceive how far they had been left behind by the achievements of the Industrial Revolution taken place in Britain until they were unexceptionally defeated by invading guns and warships. While the Qing government eventually suppressed the Long-haired Rebels sweeping more than half of China’s territories with the assistance of modern weapons mainly provided by British mercenaries, a maverick decision was immediately made to study the “sophisticated western science and techniques”. Imaginably this initiative greatly toppled Chinese people’s traditional confidence in their cultural supremacy and encountered fierce critiques. Nevertheless, a naval and shipbuilding enterprise (comprising a “ForeSchool” engaged in shipbuilding education, an “AftSchool” in naval navigation and associated shipyards to construct steamships) was founded in 1867 in Mawei, Foochow, Fujian Province. MaweiNavalCollege retained shipwrights from France and naval officers from Britain to teach its difficultly recruited students including the six ones.

With endeavours rendered by the “foreign” teaching staff, the new-fashioned education proved very successful. The Six graduated together with their fellow students to become the first-generation naval officers in modern sense in China. However, in an era of rapid naval development, Qing government soon realised that the capability to manoeuvre individual warships was far from sufficient. It needed naval officers with modern knowledge and global strategy to command its newly forged fleets and to protect its coastlines. After lengthy consultation between China and the British Admiralty and Foreign Office and subject to “preliminary exams”, the most promising six Chinese naval officers were accepted by the recently established RNC for further training in 1877. They were taught the subjects including mathematics, physics, steam and steam engine, field fortification, etc. In the following decade, more Chinese naval officers graduated from Mawei Naval College were sent to Greenwich for advanced training.

Again, in Greenwich, Royal Naval Officers demonstrated their enthusiasm and professionalism to the Chinese students. On 3 October 1880, a certificate of award was issued by the Qing government in the name of the Chinese Emperor Guangxu (at the age of 9) to compliment John K. Laughton (the then Naval Instructor at the RNC) for his significant contribution to the Chinese naval officers’ successful completion of training courses. People who are interested in the details can approach our neighbouring NationalMaritimeMuseum to see the original award, referring to the Object ID “AAB0519”.

All the earliest Chinese graduates from the RNC later played influential roles in different dimensions in the course of Chinese modernisation.

After transfiguring himself from the President of the later Tianjin Naval School to a great enlightenment thinker in China in the late 1890s, Yan Fu introduced, inter alia, Adam Smith’s leading work “The Wealth of Nations” and Thomas Henry Huxley’s “Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays” to Chinese readers. He stayed in the position of the first President of the “Grand Capital University” (a combination of Ministry of Education of the Qing Empire and BeijingUniversity) until November 1912. Yan Fu’s favourite pupils in Tianjin included a naval officer named Li Yuanhong, later becoming the second President of the Republic of China.

Sa Zhenbing, in his naval career, was promoted to the Commander in Chief of the Imperial Admiralty. He revisited Greenwich 32 years later in company of His Imperial Highness Prince Zaixun to discuss with Admiral President Sir John Durnford of the RNC a rehabilitation programme for Chinese navy. But this was not yet the culmination of Admiral Sa’s success. He was nominated the Prime Minister in 1920. After the Communists took power of China in 1949, Admiral Sa still enjoyed the new government’s respect in the last three years of his life. He was one of the exceptionally prominent statesmen that could have survived all upheavals of three reigns of different natures.

Ye Zugui and Lin Yongsheng were promoted to the rank of Admiral. However, Admiral Lin soon sacrificed his life for his nation in a decisive naval battle. Other RNC trainees later formed a reputable “Fujian/Mawei Alliance” consisting of admirals and senior naval officers tenaciously dominating Chinese Navy until 1945.

Tracing footsteps of these remarkable historic naval images, the TV crew from the other end of this continent arrived on 20 January 2014 at GMI, the successor of the RNC’s maritime history & policy research and education heritage in Greenwich. To make sure that the Chinese guests would be satisfied with the visit and filming, GMI/CMC staff had exercised considerable effort to obtain permits for their access to the Painted Hall and the Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul (managed by the Greenwich Foundation), the National Maritime Museum, the National Archives in Kew, etc. Dreadnought Library’s specialist librarian of maritime knowledge arsenal Irene Barranco also extended her effective assistance on a very short notice.

In the interview with the director of the documentary programme Ms. Guo, GMI Director Professor Chris Bellamy briefly reviewed the early evolution of British naval education. Then he highlighted the British government’s key considerations to establish a new naval education institution in the home of the Royal Navy in the early 1870s. “Naval officers’ traditional knowledge of navigation and the skills in combating at sea were found not enough at this age”, Prof. Bellamy said, “when dramatic technical development and reshaping of the international political and diplomatic pictures demanded much more reflections of senior naval officers than ever.” Virtually Prof. Bellamy was explicating in his simplified language to Chinese audience the spirit of the RNC’s motto “Tam Marte Quam Minerva” (as much by wisdom as by war).

GMI’s naval historian Dr. Chris Ware was invited to depict, in the corridor in front of GMI’s classroom, the Windsor Castle, QA, a snapshot of major naval forces in the world at a time when steam-powered steel-hull warships were looming to overtake conventional sailing ships. The gross tonnage of steamships registered in the UK would soon surpass that of sailing ships in 1885. Emphasising the particular historic context, Chris continued to illustrate before the video camera the emerging notion of sea power, the interactions between naval force and seaborne trade, the importance of the Royal Navy in formulating new orders of the world after the Napoleonic wars, the influence of naval strategy on shipbuilding technologies, etc. Chinese viewers may particularly be interested in Dr. Ware’s analysis how a continental country could borrow the sophisticated expertise of great maritime power to protect its coastal interests.

Launched on 20 July 2012 in GMI in response to the recent surge of China’s maritime interest, CMC is keen to pull these two maritime powers closer to each other. Despite profuse preparations done for production of the programme, Dr. Minghua Zhao, the CMC Director, happened to be traveling back in China when the crew started their fieldwork in Greenwich. Therefore she authorised Yifan Liao (a GMI/CMC PhD student) to accommodate the crew on CMC’s behalf.

Yifan led a walk around the ORNC campus, showing to Chinese audience the east corner of the north pavilion of King Charles Court, where most lectures for the Chinese naval students were held. Yifan explained, “From the riverside windows of these classrooms, Young Yan Fu and Sa Zhenbing would be able to observe many ships running up and down the River Thames every day. Apart from the courses provided by the RNC, we can imagine how much the Oriental students were impressed by the Victorian achievements and prosperity represented by the powerful Royal Navy and Merchant Navy they saw in Greenwich.” While being asked why he was interested in the history of the RNC and Yan Fu (a domain seemingly irrelevant to his current research), Yifan replied, “The maritime heritage of Mawei and Greenwich is not ancient, remote legend to me. It’s living blood injected into my vein by my Fujian origin, my maritime family and education.”

After filming in Greenwich, the crew moved to Kew and Portsmouth to continue the exploration before they went back to China. It would take another half year to complete the postproduction. This series programme will then be shown by the end of 2014 on CCTV (China Central TV Station) with a nationwide coverage of billions of Chinese viewers. They will for the first time be able to see how the early Chinese naval officers were nurtured with modern science in Greenwich on the screen. GMI and CMC also expect that this documentary will help encourage more researchers and stakeholders to focus on this fascinating story linking Greenwich to China and the past to the future.

Yifan Liao, PhD Student

China Maritime Centre, Greenwich Maritime Institute

New Book: Sea Devils – Pioneer Submariners

Congratulations to MA Maritime History graduate John Swinfield, who has recently had his latest book published.

Sea Devils is a compelling account of pioneer submariners and their astonishing underwater contraptions. Some made perilous voyages, others sank like stones. Craft were propelled by muscle-power or had steam engines with chimneys. Some had wheels to trundle along the seabed, others were used as underwater aircraft carriers.

John Swinfield traces the history of early submarines and the personalities who built and sailed them. From a plethora of madcap inventors emerged a bizarre machine that navies of the world will reluctantly acquired but viewed with distaste. It matured into a weapon that would usurp the mighty battleship, which had for centuries enjoyed an unchallenged command of the oceans. In its long and perilous history and the submarine became subject to fierce business, military and political shenanigans. It won eventual acceptance amidst the chaos and carnage of the First World War, in which pathfinder submariners achieved an extraordinarily high tall of five Victoria Crosses, Britain’s highest military decoration.

Sea Devils brims with daring characters and their unflinching determination to make hazardous underwater voyages: an immensely readable, entertaining and authoritative chronicle of low cunning, high politics, wondrous heroism and appalling tragedy. (Quoted from book cover)

John is a writer, historian, documentary film maker and former Fleet Street and TV journalist. He completed his MA Maritime History with the GMI several years ago and won the Marine Society prize for outstanding dissertation in maritime history. He built on the work he completed for that dissertation and subsequently published, Airship: Design, Development and Disaster published by Conway Maritime and the United States Naval Institute Press.

Sea Devils Image

A Student Perspective: Maritime Press in Greece

Nowadays, it goes without saying that the media influences not only the policy of the maritime industry but the whole world’s in general. This is the reason why the role of news is so important. In Greece maritime industry is one of the most important industries and although the country’s economy is in crisis, the specific industry shows an upward trend. Thus, maritime news is essential for the maritime industry in Greece.

Greece is the top ship owning country in the world, consequently, business owners as well their employees want to be informed constantly. Whoever is interested gets updated by newspapers, magazines and the internet. “Naftemporiki” is the most well known newspaper in Greece that has news of general interest but specializes in news concerning the maritime industry. Also, in Greece a lot of magazines are being released regarding the maritime industry and the most recognized is “Efoplistis”. The precise magazine is dealing with maritime news all over the world and often has articles about success stories of Greek ship owners. This is very useful for young people who are new in business because they can follow the example of these stories and maybe have a success story of their own.

Nowadays, most people want to learn their news from the internet because it has easy access but, more important, the news is released 24/7. Thus, people can stay up to date more easily. Moreover, magazines and newspapers have realized this situation and they upload their news on their sites like “Nafetmporiki” in http://www.naftemporiki.gr/ and “Efoplistis” in http://www.efoplistis.gr/index.php . In this way they try to approach the new generation; these days, people are getting more and more familiar with the internet and they use it more than newspapers and magazines. The online daily newspapers are getting more frequent and they are used more than the others. The benefit of this is that people who live abroad or travel abroad can see the news in a easier way. It is commonly known that news concerning maritime news of world is fascinating for the whole world since Greece is one of the most important shipping countries in the world. Some of the most well-known online news papers are “Hellenic Shipping News” http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/ , http://www.ship.gr/ and “Greek Shipping News” http://www.greekshippingnews.gr/.

Moreover, Greece is a very lucky country since it has so many positive models in the field of the maritime industry. Consequently, young people entering this industry will have many examples and media can forward them. Since the media is expressing the public opinion, they also influence the policy of the maritime industry not only in Greece but also globally. Taking everything into consideration, I believe that since maritime press is so important people working in the maritime industry should be more active and if they see some mistakes in the articles they should contact the editors to make the proper corrections. Maritime news of Greece is fascinating for the whole world since Greece is one of the most important maritime countries in the world.

Michaela Sympoura, MA International Maritime Policy Student

A Student Perspective: Maritime and Coastal Access Act 2009: ambitions and historical continuity. How the implementation is going?

The UK has built its history throughout the exploration and exploitation of the sea on a global scale. Goods, spices, raw materials, food, animals, labour force and so on, help us to obtain a clear view of what this island would have been, without its predominance above the oceans. In spite of the normal flow of time, the UK still today would not be able to cope with a lack of imports that probably might lead to cripple. Just think that the 15% of GDP relies on fishing! UK has been an island, is still an island and will remain an island. As a result, a good management of the sea and its resources still appear crucial for the country’s wealth and safety especially now where the North Sea is considered will be a fundamental crossroad for shipping. Now, the Maritime and Costal Access Act 2009 (the Act) guidelines framework can be summarized as follow:

a) Marine Management Organisation

b) Marine Planning

c) Marine Licensing

d) Marine Nature Conservation

e) Fisheries Management and Marine Enforcement

f) Environmental Data and Information

g) Migratory and Freshwater Fisheries

h) Coastal Access

i) Coastal and Estuary Management

From this framework lots of organizations at regional and national level have been spreading, which have the aim of implementing the Act in the manner that best suits them and that reflect the guidelines. For instance, there is a common thought within the Maritime Actors that the UK’s Marine System is full of flaws and as a result “Marine planning will be the hot topic in the next decade” and, as we can see from the range of topics covered by the Act, there are few doubts about it.

However, perplexities arise and the ambitious goals of the Act, seems to me quite pretentious. Firstly, being a long term plan, most of the NGO promoters involved in, may find on their way impediments in fund raising and therefore in the implementation. In detail, most of NGO are self-funded by their members, but who ensure that the amount of resources is going to be sufficient?

Secondly, due to the number of actors involved and to the absence of an authority and/or strict deadlines for implementation, what may occur is not a collaboration but conflicts amongst scholars, entrepreneurs, policy makers, councils and so on.

Thirdly, what is important is the development of a common communication system in order to avoid misunderstanding and promote clarity. UK is formed by different people, speaking different languages and having slightly different cultures. I think that the need of intercommunication and understanding of each other are the key words for establishing a better functioning teamwork.

Fourthly, there are still big data gaps. What is really interesting is that only 10% of the UK seabed is mapped.

Fifthly, most of the outcomes been forecasted turn out to be “no more than a guess”, whilst the risk is higher as well as the cost.

According to my opinion, Marine Sea Planning is certainly a good idea, actually a very good one. However, it seems to me that we are still in a theoretical stage instead of a practical one, due basically to the impediments and the lack of clarity concerning the implementation. Nevertheless, the numbers of actors involved and the efforts being made not only demonstrate the importance of the sea and coast for the UK but provide a substantial guarantee for the success of the whole work, as well.

Andrea Giannotti, MA International Maritime Policy Student