The ecosystem of the English Channel has been transformed by fishing, report shows







A new report (10th July 2014) shows that many fish species, especially those at the top of the food chain, are faring badly in the English Channel.

The report’s authors say that this is evidence of “fishing down the food chain”. Since the 1940s, commonly-landed fish like spurdog, cod, and ling have come to be replaced in fishermens’ nets by fish such as small spotted catsharks, and shellfish such as scallops, crabs and lobster.

The authors recommend a network of fisheries closures to help get the ecosystem back on the path to recovery.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MCS senior biodiversity policy officer, says “This report adds evidence to what we have known for a number of years now – that the huge efforts of fishing boats from many nations are continuing to fish down the food chain in the English Channel – and elsewhere. We really need governments to take on board the urgent need to better protect our seas”.

Dr Solandt continues “There isn’t one square kilometre of the English Channel that is protected from all forms of fishing. Recently the government has applied pressure to stop destructive fishing in protected areas where reefs exist in the English Channel. This demonstrates that recovery is possible if areas are closed to damaging fishing gear.”

Overfishing and the Replacement of Demersal Finfish by Shellfish: An Example from the English Channel Molfese C,  Beare D,  Hall-Spencer JM  (2014)  PLoS ONE 9(7): e101506. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101506 Read the report at

A number of Channel sites are timetabled for consultation as “Marine conservation Zones” in Spring 2015. MCS will be keeping up the pressure on Government to designate these sites, and will be seeking your support nearer the time.

For more information visit the Marine Conservation Society


A maritime trade showpiece: starring China this year, old Soviet Union yesteryear

BLOG by Richard Scott, 30 June 2014

grain image grain on a ship grain-ship 2

Seaborne trade in cereals and oilseeds has been centre-stage in the maritime world for a very long time. From early civilisations to the present day, movements of these commodities have been a familiar feature of the international shipping business. In the contemporary era, what is referred to as grain and soya trade is broadly spread geographically, with many importers and many exporters participating. Among individual importing countries, one is now by far the largest and another, now a relatively minor participant, was the largest player three decades earlier.


China has emerged in the twenty-first century as the biggest single importer, mainly of soyabeans although grain (comprising wheat plus corn and other coarse grains such as barley) is becoming more significant. Not so long ago, in the nineteen-eighties, it was the old Soviet Union that was in a similar position of prominence. In those days Soviet grain imports – mainly wheat and corn, accompanied by limited volumes of soyabeans – were an especially difficult-to-predict element of global dry bulk commodity trade, and the sudden emergence of a large Soviet buying programme sometimes had a jolting impact on the panamax bulk carrier market and freight rates.

grain 3


During much of the 1980s, the Soviet Union’s demand for grain from foreign suppliers often mesmerised attention in both commodity and freight markets. At its peak this import demand comprised a maximum 25 percent of total global grain and soya trade, and was typically a lower percentage. So it was not really dominant but nonetheless was huge, very variable from year to year, famously unpredictable, and the abrupt changes in monthly shipment volumes gave the trade a reputation for highly erratic progress. Over the following decade it fell back to relatively small volumes.


By contrast the current number one purchaser China, which in 2013 comprised just under 20 percent of global grain and soya imports, exhibits steadier momentum. The usual pattern of activity does not have such a massive disrupting effect on markets as that of the previous top importer, thirty years earlier. Moreover, the longer-term trend for Chinese imports is, arguably, clear: substantial evidence points to vigorous further expansion through the 2010s and perhaps beyond.


Shipping’s Kremlin-watchers

In the decade or so prior to the break up of the Soviet Union into its constituent republics at the end of 1991, grain purchasing on international markets was tightly controlled by the state through its buying agency Exportkhleb. Consequently, Kremlin-watching in the grain and freight markets became an art form. Traders, shipbrokers and shipowners were looking for any signs indicating how much imported grain would be needed, the countries of origin, and what were the likely shipment periods. All these elements greatly affected bulk carrier demand and freight rates.


Dry cargo shipbrokers often focused intently on grain. Although by 1980 iron ore already had been for some time the biggest seaborne dry commodity trade, and coal trade volumes exceeded grain volumes by the mid-1980s, grain retained a disproportionately great influence on the freight market. A widely held view, much of the time, was that grain moved the freight market up and down (although this was not always meant completely literally: it was a broad generalisation).


Several factors explained grain’s market-moving ability. Substantial trade volumes typically entered the market abruptly and, often, unexpectedly. Demand for shipping capacity was augmented by longer loading and discharging operations (compared with mineral trades, for example) with slow discharge rates especially evident in many ports. Delays due to port congestion could be a feature. Relatively inefficient use of a ship’s deadweight (a measure of carrying capacity based on weight lifted) was observed, because some grains were ‘light’ and would fill a ship’s cubic capacity without making full use of the weight capacity available.


Also, characteristically, much grain cargo transportation was arranged on a ‘spot’ basis. Movements often did not form steady flows but were ‘bunched’ (due to the nature of grain buying activity with its fluctuations both in timing and geographically). The related predominant single-voyage charters, as the main chartering mode, amplified the impact of the other features.


All these ship demand enhancing and market-moving aspects were prominently displayed in the Soviet grain import trades. But it was the sheer magnitude (relative to other dry cargo movements in that era) of the Soviet Union’s requirements, and the variability of volumes coupled with forecasting difficulties, which magnified the freight market impact.


Conversation among shipbrokers meeting on the trading floor of the impressive old Baltic Exchange building in St Mary Axe, London had often turned to grain trade. One familiar refrain was “people need to eat” and, as if to underline the point, this discussion might be soon followed by a visit to the luncheon room downstairs to consume a healthy repast. Although perhaps simplistic, the identification of necessary food intake based on imported grain, as justification for a positive view of grain trade and its requirement for shipping capacity, was essentially correct. In the second half 1970s world seaborne grain trade had increased by an average 7 percent annually, although in the 1980s growth was much slower, averaging under 1 percent annually.


More sophisticated arguments were discussed in the 1980s when analysts visited the US Department of Agriculture’s sprawling complex in downtown Washington DC. Talk immediately turned to the Soviet Union’s grain imports. Questions included how much would they buy, over what period, and from where. USDA economists wanted to know whether there were any indications of unusual large-scale activity in the charter markets which could give advance clues to the Kremlin’s import programme ahead, and what might be the impact on ocean freight rates. Answers, if there were any, were often hazy. Most of the time, nobody really knew until the anticipated activity actually happened.


Potent performer: the old Soviet Union

What was the extent of Soviet grain imports in the 1980s and why were the volumes so changeable? Annual imports, mainly wheat plus corn and other coarse grains, together with relatively small quantities of soyabeans, varied between 29 million tonnes and 56mt. For six individual years within the decade, the range was fairly narrow, at between 29mt and 35mt. Three years saw 40-49mt. Within these totals, soyabeans comprised about one million tonnes annually.


The Soviet grain imports peak occurred in trade year 1984/85 (a twelve months’ period measured from the middle of one calendar year to the next, commonly used in agricultural trade statistics) when 56mt was recorded. It was preceded and followed by volumes at the low end of the range, 34mt in 1983/84, and 32mt in 1985/86. This surge and retreat, and some other sizeable year-to-year changes during the decade, had a great impact on short-term demand for bulk carriers.


Large annual variations in the Soviet Union’s domestic grain production, and associated variations in state procurements, mainly explain the fluctuations in foreign purchases, although numerous other factors were reflected in import changes as well. When a poor harvest (compared with the previous harvest) was experienced, mainly caused by changed weather patterns, higher imports were arranged in the ensuing twelve months to offset the shortfall. Conversely, a good harvest was followed by reduced imports. For example, a 20mt (20 percent) fall in grain output in the 1984 harvest, reducing the total to 173mt, prompted the following 23mt imports increase to 56mt.


Production variations (both volume and quality) and, especially, severe shortfalls in some years were not entirely due to weather changes. Temperature or rainfall extremes were detrimental, as in most other grain producing countries. Varying degrees of ‘winterkill’ were experienced, while an occasional sukhovey (extremely hot, desiccating wind) sweeping across the Steppelands of Kazakhstan and Western Siberia severely cut grain yields. Additionally, Soviet farm operational efficiency was not always adequate, and sometimes noticeably lacking, partly reflecting state organisational deficiencies. The results were seen in avoidable planting delays and insufficient seed supplies; inadequate fertiliser or pesticide supply, or mistimed application, or both; and farm machinery shortages or breakdowns and lack of spare parts (for tractors, combine harvesters and other machines).


Another clearly observable influence affecting Soviet grain import requirements was rising demand. Consumption as human food remained fairly static over most of the 1980s period, at about 47mt per year. By contrast, consumption within the feed sector (livestock feed) rose by over 2mt annually, or about 20 percent cumulatively during the decade, amid intentions to boost meat and dairy products availability.


On the supply side, an endemic problem was the large amount of the domestic grain harvest wasted as a result of system inefficiencies. Losses before and after harvesting, and in transport, storage and processing, were proportionately much higher than seen in other countries. USDA economists made estimates for ‘dockage-waste’ varying between 16mt and 30mt annually during the 1980s (10-15 percent of gross harvest output). These amounts included allowances for above-average moisture content (exaggerating the grain volume), and extraneous matter included such as weeds, soil and pebbles which also inflated the total, as well as transport and handling losses.


Soviet Union imports were also affected by changes in grain stocks, and in availability of other domestic crops contributing to livestock feed, known as forage crops. Finally, the amount of grain bought from foreign suppliers depended upon hard currency availability (earnings acquired from oil exports were influential), payment terms, international grain prices, and foreign exchange rates. Ocean freight costs were significant as well.


Powerful player: China      

Compared with the predecessor prime player the factors explaining China’s emergence, as the top individual importer of grain and soyabeans, have been more transparent. The country has remained largely self-sufficient in wheat, corn and other coarse grains (as well as rice), although there are now signs of greater dependence on foreign supplies. For soyabeans, which comprise the biggest proportion of overall grain and soya imports into China, there has been a strong upwards trend over many years as domestic production remained limited amid vigorously expanding consumption.


In calendar year 2013, China’s imports of grain and soya reached 75mt, comprising approximately one-fifth of global seaborne movements in that category. The annual total had expanded rapidly over the preceding decade, from 23mt in 2003, a cumulative 234 percent rise. Within this total, the dominant soyabeans imports more than tripled, to reach 63mt last year. Moreover, a sustained expansion seems likely to continue in the years ahead, based on evidence of underlying influences.


Consumption growth was an especially notable trend affecting imports. The capacity of Chinese oilseed crushing mills has been greatly enlarged so that imports of soyabeans, the form in which most foreign soya is purchased, can be processed into the required meal and oil output. Soyameal is a key high-protein ingredient of livestock feed, usage of which has expanded amid increasing domestic production of animals providing meat and dairy products to satisfy rising consumer demand and amid large-scale poultry exports. Soyaoil consumption in food manufacturing and home cooking has risen greatly, resulting from growth in these activities.


The strong soyabeans import trend also has reflected lack of growth, and subsequently reduction, of domestic soyabeans production in China. During the period of five years up to and including 2010, soyabeans harvests averaged just over 15mt. The next three years saw a declining trend to about 12mt in 2013. Another factor boosting imports was the government’s policy of building up strategic reserve stocks (responding to growing dependence on foreign suppliers).


China has been successful in raising its wheat, corn and other coarse grains output in recent years, despite limiting factors such as land and water availability. This trend was encouraged by continuing reforms over an extended period, as the agricultural sector experienced a transition from a planned economy to a market based economy. Last year’s harvest, totalling 346mt, was 51 percent higher than average annual output in 2003-2005. But the domestic market for these grains has tightened, amid rising consumption. Consequently imports, while still relatively small, have increased. In 2013 the total reached over 12mt, an almost seven-fold rise compared with a decade earlier.


Beneficiary: the shipping industry

Both these examples – yesterday’s Soviet Union and today’s China – show how, in different periods, a grain and soya importing country became a very prominent maritime trade feature. In each case the impact on the global shipping industry created substantial additional employment for bulk carriers. Much of the trade involved long-distance voyages from loading ports in the USA, Canada and South America (Brazil and Argentina), as well as shorter voyages from elsewhere, further enhancing ship employment. China is expected to remain an expanding user of maritime transport capacity for this purpose, over the decade ahead.


Direct effects on the ocean freight market, especially when sharp changes in chartering activity occurred, were more prominent during the earlier episode. Soviet chartering often had a great impact on market conditions and freight rates for panamax and other size bulk carriers, although not always for extended periods. The intensity of impact varied amid differing tonnage (vessel) supply/demand balances and amounts of tonnage available on the open market for spot employment. In the early- to mid-1980s, a general global tonnage surplus tended to mitigate the positive impact on freight rates of temporary extra trade volumes.


Although the ‘China effect’ from this commodity category in the present era has not been as striking as the earlier ‘Soviet effect’ was at times, it looks set to be longer-lasting. But all predictions should be treated with caution. As the Chinese proverb says: “he who lives by the crystal ball will die of ground glass”. A useful reminder!


Richard Scott

Visiting Lecturer, Greenwich Maritime Institute and MD, Bulk Shipping Analysis

New safety device tested which looks to help save lives in helicopter crashes at sea

In a recent report from the BBC’s Richard Westcott he was given the opportunity to try out a new safety device that could save lives in the future for those who have a helicopter crash at sea .

The new concept combines a life jacket with a very small aqualung – and the Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates safety, is rolling them out 15 months early as one of a number of new rules.

Before Richard tried out the new jacket he got to try out the current one in comparison which involved being strapped into a pretend helicopter, upside down in a swimming pool, being battered with rain, waves, wind and fake lightening- all in the dark.

underwater training

The current system is called a hybrid re-breather, which is a life jacket with a rubber bag full of air that you continually re-breathe through a tube.  This gives you a few precious extra minutes if the helicopter sinks or flips over – that’s the worst bit, when the aircraft spins over so you’re upside down.

Here’s a terrifying fact, about 60% of helicopters invert or sink either straight away or after a short delay once they hit water.


Emergency drill

“Don’t try to get out straight away,” the instructor Kieran Morrison told Richard. “Once the water goes over your head, count to seven. And stay strapped in until the last minute.”

So in effect, you have to sit quietly, strapped in, and count, while gallons of water rush over you and you flip over. Talk about fight your instincts.

But as Kieran explained, if you unstrapped too soon you’d float to the top of the helicopter, which is what used to be the floor, and that makes it incredibly hard to pull yourself down to your escape hatch, the window.



The survival suit makes you float, which is a good thing unless you’re still inside the aircraft. You also have to put a nose clip on one-handed, which is incredibly fiddly. The other hand stays, at all times, on the window release lever.  Richard had quite a few goes and found he could breathe OK with the re-breather, but it’s not clean air, it feels a little strained. And the rubber bag you’re filling is just that. Rubber. It can potentially wear, or leak.

There’s also a metal pin you have to remember to push in as soon as you reach the surface. Otherwise you might get a stomach full of sea water. Richard thought the whole thing felt fine to use, but those fiddly little things, the nose clip, the pin, well, would you really remember them if it was a real crash?


Long-term plan

By contrast, the new system is like a mini-version of scuba gear.

It’s heavier, because of the small cylinder of compressed air, but it’s also less bulky. The nose clip is attached to the mouth piece and is far easier to put on, especially one-handed. Richard believes, that this makes a big difference. And once he was under the water, it was far more comfortable to breathe.

The unions have also given it their seal of approval. “It should deliver greater confidence with the workforce,” says Jake Malloy from the RMT. “But the long-term plan must be to keep the aircraft in the air… safer, more reliable aircraft. Newer aircraft, bigger windows, more space.”

Hopefully with these new developments it can help increase survival rates as these transfers of oil and gas workers over the North Sea have had a poor safety records over the past few years

For the full story click here 


Exclusive one day short course- Britain’s Oldest True Police Force: Policing the River Thames

Saturday 13th September 2014

Led by security expert Professor Chris Bellamy, Director of the Greenwich Maritime Institute, this course tells the tale of protecting life and property and preventing crime from the foundation of the Marine Police in 1798. Now known as the Metropolitan Police Service Marine Policing Unit (MPU), it inspired Robert Peel’s creation of ‘The Met’ in 1829, and was incorporated into it ten years later.

Today, the MPU is still based on the site of its original headquarters at Wapping, and is responsible for 47 miles of the river Thames and 250 miles of canals, lakes and inland waterways within the capital. They are now supported in their rescue duties by RNLI lifeboats, a London Fire Brigade fire boat, and Coastguard services.

This course will look into the history of the MPU, the challenges it faced and its development into the force we see patrolling the River Thames today.


Location and Duration of the Course

This course will take place from 9.30am – 4.30pm on Saturday 13th September 2014 at the University of Greenwich, Queen Anne Court, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS.


How to Apply

The cost of the course is £90 per person and will include course materials, lunch, refreshments and a certificate of attendance.

All places must be booked in advance by Sunday 31st August 2014. Please use our booking website

Fifty shades of … goods by sea!

Yet another advantage of studying at GMI is that we have two great ports within an hour’s drive of Greenwich. The further is the new London Gateway port, the largest container port in the UK, some 33 km downriver from Greenwich. The nearer, about 25 km downriver and forty minutes away across the Thames via the Blackwall or Dartford tunnels, is the historic port of Tilbury. Tilbury is still the third largest container port in the country but handles many other commodities, and is in many ways more interesting. London Gateway has only recently opened and getting a visit there is still difficult. But Tilbury is more varied, fascinating and a real eye-opener. On Friday 16 May, a beautiful clear sunny day, eleven staff and students headed for the port.


GMI Field Visit to Port of Tilbury, 16 May 2014.   GMI students and staff : from left to right: Michael Olanipekun, Nigeria, MSc Maritime Security; Ian Robertson, UK, MA Maritime History; Pengfei Zhang, China, PhD candidate; Prof Chris Bellamy, UK, GMI Director; Gina Balta, Greece, PhD candidate; John Whiteley , UK, Business Faculty and GMI Visiting Lecturer; Eniola Ogundele, Nigeria, MA International Maritime Policy; Leo Balk, USA, MSc Maritime Security; Akash Raj, India, MSc Maritime Security; Ahmed Mohamed, Somalia, MA International Maritime Policy. Behind: standard shipping containers – the Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU)- what else?.

John Whiteley from the Business School, who teaches the Maritime Business Environment and Economics of International Shipping on our International Maritime Policy and Maritime Security programmes, organised the trip, re-establishing a link with Tilbury which had somehow become broken. Thanks to John and to Natalie Coonz, the Port of Tilbury training coordinator, the link has been re-established and GMI hopes to organise another visit, probably in the first term of the new academic year.

The objective of the visit was to see how a multi-faceted port handling diverse types of cargo operates and, in particular, to look at the implications of implementing the 2004 International Ship and Port facility Security (ISPS) Code.



Breaking down the large container loads at the port and having customers pick up smaller items from a distribution area at the port reduces distribution costs and saves fuel. Simon proudly said that Greenwich had been named the ‘greenest’ port in the UK. Chris Bellamy told him that was appropriate as Greenwich – the ‘greenest’ University in the UK!

An example of the savings made possible by port-centric logistics came from the Italian beer manufacturer Peroni. Peroni had traditionally brought their beers into Felixstowe. From there it was transported to a distribution centre in the Midlands. But the biggest market for trendy Peroni beer is – where? Answer – north London. So the beer was coming into Felixstowe, being unloaded en masse, transported to the Midlands and then the largest consignment headed for London. Peroni therefore shifted their operation to Tilbury, where the green bottles arrive quite close to their final destination – the bars of Islington, Hampstead and Highgate!

Simon was followed by the Port Facility Security Officer and Port Security Officer, Tony Catling. Tony had served as an officer in the Port of Tilbury London Police, which is an independent police force, one of 42 in England and Wales. It is also the second oldest true police force in the country. The first was the Marine Police, founded in 1798, which is now part of the Metropolitan Police into which it was incorporated in 1839. The Port of Tilbury London Police was founded in 1802, and remains an independent force with 15 officers. They have the same powers as regular constabulary, and a few more besides, and carry similar equipment.


Tony had been appointed to his present post immediately before implementation of aftermath of the introduction of the 2004 code, in order to help the Port adapt. The costs of implementing ISPS were considerable: an extra 30 port security officers (in addition to the Port police) from the outset and £4m-£5m per year, he said. This information chimed with Akash Raj’s research on the implementation of ISPS in India, where cost had been cited as a key problem. The port normally operates at State 1, where the whole site is broadly open to the public and only certain areas are secure. State 2 – heightened security alert – is the problem. Areas which are normally open for the traffic of goods have to be sealed off and extra port security officers brought in. State 3 – imminent attack on that particular location – is less of a problem. In that event, the port simply shuts down.

The standard of security Tilbury is well above the norm. Every container that comes in is scanned. The global norm is one percent. The security officers cannot open sealed containers but, if they are suspicious, the Port Police can. Similar rules affect people who enter restricted areas. A security officer can warn them not to, but if they do, only the police can drag them out. Tony noted that there are wide variations in the implementation of ISPS. In British ports, all restricted areas are sealed off with fencing to the required standard – BS 1722. Some countries just paint yellow lines with warning signs.

The team then headed for the Enterprise Distribution Centre (EDC) which specialises in handling paper from Storenzo, a Finnish company. The EDC is the most advanced and sophisticated computer controlled storage and distribution facility in the UK, and possibly in the world. Storenzo’s paper is used by News International for newspapers and by many book publishers. Appropriately dressed in high-visibility jackets and new dark blue ‘bump-hats’, which resembled those now worn by competitors in equestrian events, we salled into the vast computer-controlled facility, 30 metres high, and containing 29,000 huge rolls of different types of paper, weighing about a tonne each. When the rolls need to be loaded, the request is passed automatically through to the giant robot arms which select the paper from one of the 29,000 locations – which may be up to 30 metres in the air. James Smoker, the Operational Supervisor for the Enterprise Centre, said that the paper was imported and stored for News International and Inland Revenue and Customs, for tax returns, among others.

‘When 50 Shades of Grey won a prize’, James said, ‘we had twelve trucks a day – 52 reels each. We had the same when Harry Potter went big…’


The team then took a tour of the rest of the port. As the team toured the port, our guide pointed out the ship Radio Caroline, one of the pirate radio stations active just off the British coast in the early 1960s. The ship is no longer seaworthy but she is in safe keeping in Tilbury. In those days the BBC, funded through the licence fee, had a state monopoly on radio transmission. However, – before UNCLOS in 1982 – territorial waters still only stretched three miles – the range of an old cannon. A ship outside that distance was on the high seas, and could broadcast with impunity and be picked up across the UK. Radio Caroline had worked just off the Essex Coast. The pirate radio stations provided such stiff competition for the BBC that the Government had to give way. Many of the Disc Jockeys who had braved the elements and stormy seas on board the pirate radio ships were recruited by the BBC and joined the new Radio 1. This was useful information for the Maritime Policy and Security students, underlining the significance of territorial waters and EEZs.

Another specialised terminal is the grain terminal, shown below. Grain is brought in by sea, stored, and then distributed through pipes into trucks waiting at ground level.


This is another specialised facility, underlining the ‘port-centric’ concept.

The variety of goods flowing into and out of Tilbury is highlighted by the last photographs. The next two show standard TEUs, which can contain anything.


The last picture shows raw steel. Whether for import or export is unclear, as is its ultimate destination. Clearly a recycled product, and one of the products fuelling globalisation, especially the development of the burgeoning economies of China and India.


The team left at about 3 p.m. It was a relatively short but hugely important day, highlighting many aspects we had studied in the classroom: ISPS, Law of the Sea and territorial waters, and port-centric logistics, as well as underlining the enormous volume and variety of goods carried by sea. GMI will return!


Chris Bellamy

Director, Greenwich Maritime Institute

FREE Conference Places – Food, Fisheries and Tourism: New Opportunities for Sustainable Development


The INTERREG 2 Seas Programme Authorities and the TourFish (Tourism for Food, Inshore Fishing and Sustainability) cluster partners have the pleasure of inviting you to:

Food, Fisheries and Tourism: New Opportunities for Sustainable Development

1724 shutterstock_58187899 tourists-and-boats-guilvenec

This two-day European event on 23rd and 24th June 2014 will focus on how agro-food, fisheries and responsible tourism can work together to deliver new opportunities for sustainable development along the coast and in the towns and countryside in the 2 Seas area.

Are you are a producer (farmer or fisher), tourism professional or provider, a planner or an educationalist? Would you like to learn more about new opportunities for sustainable development by bringing together food, fisheries and responsible tourism? Would you like to share your experiences and ideas with others who could work with you to develop a sustainable future for all three sectors?

If so, then do not miss this opportunity!


Day One: Monday 23rd June 2014, 10:00 – 17:30

Registration will be followed by the following activities:

  • Indoor and outdoor TourFish photographic exhibition
  • A guided tour of the working fishing beach
  • Fishmongery and Hawking educational session
  • Chef demonstrations

Welcome and Introduction to TourFish

The GIFS Project

The Fish & Chip Project

Keynote Address Responsible Tourism, Sense of Place and Local Economic Development, Professor Harold Goodwin, Manchester Metropolitan University and Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism

Session 1 Boosting your regional identity: Discover how regional branding can stimulate regional development, entrepreneurship and innovation – led by Vlaams Huis van de Voeding (Flanders House of Food)

Session 2 The Taste of Place: A curious journey to the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands – led by the Municipality of Middelburg with Dr Gerard van Keken

Day One will conclude with a networking reception.


Day Two: Tuesday 24th June 2014, 09:30 – 15:00

Keynote Address Clare Devereux, Food Matters

Session 3 Fish, Food and Festivals: Responsible tourism and fishing- led community regeneration – led by Sidmouth Trawlers, Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society and University of Brighton

Session 4 Education, fish and food: Raising awareness of food, sustainability and responsible tourism– led by University of Brighton, Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society, Flanders House of Food and Nausicaa

Session 5 From Catch to Plate & Plough to Plate: Sustainable seafood and local land products for today and tomorrow– led by Nausicaa and Taste South East

Conclusion: Interactive conference summary


This conference will be translated into French and Dutch

Delegates are also invited to attend the Hastings Mid-Summer Fish-Fest on the weekend of 21st-22nd June and will also receive a FREE ticket to a folk concert on the evening of Sunday 22nd June at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings. Please see our website for more details.


General Information

Conference Venue

St Mary in the Castle

7 Pelham Crescent


East Sussex TN34 3AF




Free Registration at


For more information please contact:

TourFish Communications Team

University of Greenwich

Tel: +44 (0)20 8331 7688

A Student Perspective: Major oil tanker maritime disasters and policies

Vessels carry an estimated 90% of the world trade and seafarers are to that effect essential to international trade and the international economic and trade system. There are at least 1.2 millions seafarers worldwide and around 200,000 seafarers in the European Union. During the last century and especially after some maritime accidents like the RMS Titanic (1912) it was important for some organizations such as IMO to introduce some safety legislation not only for human lives but also for the environment. There are many conventions introduced but the most important are: Maritime Labor Convention (MLC), Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), Standards of Training and Watch keeping (STCW) and International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships  (MARPOL).

 The problems involving oil tankers concerned the carriers from the beginnings because this type of scale transport was accelerated during a very short time (1950-2005). The weather, the geographical conditions and other objective factors play an important role in maritime accidents. The real environmental catastrophes were caused by shipping accidents involving large oil tankers, with the discharged quantities exceeding most of the times the 50 000 tones, reaching sometimes even the 287,000 tones, as in the case of the Atlantic Empress tanker. The Atlantic Empress was a Greek oil tanker that was involved in two large oil spills. The spills together are the third largest oil spill on record and the largest ship-based spill. On July 19, 1979, during a tropical rainstorm, the ship collided with the Aegean Captain, off Trinidad and Tobago, spilling 287,000 metric tons of oil. The damage incurred from the collision was never completely remedied, and while being towed, the Atlantic Empress continued to spill an additional 41 million gallons (all together being 276,000 tons of crude oil) off Barbados. The Aegean Captain also spilled a large quantity of oil from her tanks. The Atlantic Empress sank in deep water and her remaining cargo solidified. The spill from the two ships fortunately never came ashore. On the contrary, the infamous Exxon Valdez spill ten years later only saw 37,000 metric tons of oil released. We can mention that many accidents that occurred in North European waters during winter time, when the weather is getting worse and the crew members are forced to sail under extremely bad weather conditions. The two biggest disasters in maritime transport are the Erika tanker accidents (1999) and Prestige (2002). From these tanks an amount of 22,000 and 20,000 tons of oil, respectively, has leaked into the sea causing immense damage to the environment, fisheries and tourism industry.

These maritime accidents were the major factor that forms MARPOL convention to appear as it is now. Despite having a well-developed framework in terms of international standards of safety at sea and maritime environmental protection – most included in conventions conducted within the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) – many countries and owners continue to break the rules, thus jeopardizing the crew and the environment and benefiting from unfair competition.

Romylos Kanakaris, MA International Maritime Policy 

A Student Perspective: The Role of the Trade Unions: ITF Seafarers Point of View

Nowadays, due to the globalized world economy there are tremendous numbers of shipping companies and port operators, which in order to be competitive and decrease their selling prices push their workers beyond their limits. Therefore, many trade unions have been created in recent years aiming at defending the seafarers all over the world. Their main objectives are to assure better working and living environment for all workers and to protect their human rights. Moreover, all these unions are trying to achieve good employment rates and higher payments for everyone no matter of their nationality.

Such a union is ITF, which is an international trade union federation of transport workers’ unions created in 1896 in London, UK. It represents millions of transport workers and seafarers in more than 150 million countries. Some of the basic purposes of the union is protecting of the crew members worldwide and working for peace and social justice. Furthermore, it is one of the global union federations cooperating with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) (Karavatchev 2014, p. 2).

The activities of the union can be summarized as following: representation, information, and practical solidarity. ITF promotes the seafarer interests in every country no matter of the ship’s flag they are sailing (Karavachev 2014, p.3). In my opinion, it is really hard to protect the workers everywhere in the world, because I am sure that one organization cannot solve every problem. It seems that ITF is trying to do its best by providing the mariners with good education and certificates and by training them according to the highest standards. However, we do all know that there are so many seafarers who do not have enough experience. Moreover, it is true that many seafarers have to pay a lot of money to get the necessary certificates because they do no have sufficient knowledge.

Despite these facts, such kinds of unions are extremely important for the seamen because the latter know that there is someone who is going to support them and their families without any discrimination. Furthermore, the ITF can handle the negotiations with the shipowner and any other parties if it is necessary and it does not tolerate any aggression in case the mariners are not treated as they should be; for instance, unpaid wages or lack of safe working conditions. In such cases the trade union assists and helps the mariners to deal with their problems.

Furthermore, the ITF is trying to deal with problems like maritime security and piracy. For example, one of the cases in which the trade union took action was in 2010, when the crew of the Al-Nisr Al-Saudi oil tanker was captured by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. And in addition of the stress that the crew and their families felt because of the pirates, the shipowner did not pay the seafarers salaries for a period of two months. What was the role of ITF? The ITF was trying to negotiate with the pirates and the shipowner so as to solve the seafarers’ problems and to end the piracy (ITF Seafarers, 2010). Based on such examples, what we can easily see is that a trade union, like the ITF, has to deal with very critical situations.

Every worker in the world needs to be treated well and his/her fundamental human rights to be respected. However, we all know that there are many cases in which this was not met by the employer. Therefore, I do strongly believe that the role of trade unions like the ITF is really important based on the fact that they can protect the seafarers and their families, when they are at sea or ashore. The main aims of the ITF union are to support the transport workers throughout the world, and to negotiate with any party in situation of conflict without any discrimination or aggression. Also, it is trying to provide them good living and working conditions.


• ITF Seafarers (2014), ITF Agreements [Online]. [Accessed on 4th March 2014] Available at:
• ITF Seafarers (2010), Pirates demand US$20 million to free oil tanker [Online]. [Accessed on 2nd March 2014] Available at:
• Karavatchev, R. (2014), The Role of Trade Unions: ITF Seafarers Point of View, Case Studies in Maritime Policy, Topic 7

Romina Ivanova, MA International Maritime Policy

A Student Perspective: IMO in Africa, piracy and the way forward

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the global regulating maritime organization, consisting of 170 member countries with 37 from the African region.

Piracy has increasingly threatened the maritime transport in Africa, particularly in places like the Gulf of Guinea and the Gulf of Aden.

The International Maritime Bureau indicates that piracy is on a steady decline since 2006 on a global scale. It opined that piracy attacks off the coast of Somali dropped to an all-time low of 10 attacks from January 2013 to September 2013 whereas about 70 attacks was recorded or between the same period of 2012.

This drastic drop in piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden was attributed to increased naval presence in this region and the increase in number of vessels compliance with IMO’s Best Management Practices BMP4) along the High Risk Areas (HRA) and the successful implementation of the Djibouti code of conduct which aims to enhance a regional cooperation, to eradicate, prosecute and punish criminals against ships in the region.

However, the situation is different in the Gulf of Guinea: 40 piracy attacks were recorded between January and September 2013, 132 crew members were held hostage, and 7 vessels hijacked. Pirates in this region are equally heavily armed as their counterparts in the Gulf of Aden.

The major difference between the phenomenons of piracy in both regions (arguably) is that the business module of pirates in the Gulf of Aden is attacking vessels, taking captain and crew members hostage, and then demanding for ransom from the ship company. This is to say, pirates in the Gulf of Aden are strictly after money and careless about the ship, cargo and others.

The situation is, however, different with pirates in the Gulf of Guinea. They prefer to attack vessels, usually oil tankers and scoop fuel, steal money as well as take crew hostage (in the process of stealing the fuel). They are concerned with virtually everything valuable on board the ship, cargo, money etc.

The IMO has over the years worked with west and central Africa, which lead to the creation of Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA). It aims to a establish an integrated coast guard network not only to fight piracy but also to curb illegal fishing and armed robbery on the sea.

The International Maritime Organization has taking series of efforts at curbing the trends of piracy in Africa. In the Gulf of Aden, piracy has been on the decline, however there have been arguments from some quarters that the reduction in pirate activities in the region is largely due to the under reporting of piracy incidents and is not exactly a true reflection of the situation.

With the various programs and training initiated by the International Maritime Organization, if African leaders can give their full cooperation and are fully aware of the consequences of allowing piracy spread like cancer throughout the continent, then there will be a decrease of piracy in the region in the next 10 years.

Eniola Ogundele, MA International Maritime Policy

A Student Perspective: The four pillars of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping and the Greek paradigm

Quality shipping means promoting the highest standards of health, safety and environment protection, with these requirements covered under the ‘International Convention for the Safety Of Life At Sea’ (SOLAS), the 1978 International Convention on ‘Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping’ (STCW), the ‘International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships’ (MARPOL) and the ‘Maritime Labour Convention’ (MLC). To this end, these Conventions are characterized as the four ‘pillars of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping’.

– The SOLAS constitutes the first pillar of it, while under it, ships flagged by signatory-States comply with the minimum safety standards concerning construction, equipment and operation, with Greece having ratified the Convention in 1980. At this point, it is remarkable to mention that the first SOLAS Convention was adopted on 20 January 1914 and entered into force in July 1915. The sinking of the Titanic, on 14 April 1912, after colliding with an iceberg was the catalyst for its adoption.

– The STCW for seafarers, which entered into force in 1984, sets qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel, on seagoing merchant ships. It is the second pillar of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping. Greece ratified the above Convention, without delay in the same year 1984.

– The MARPOL was adopted in 1973 at IMO, covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes, is characterized the third pillar of it. At this point is has to be stated that in Greece the Convention was ratified by law No 1269 in 1982.

– In 2006, ‘the 94th International Labour Conference’ adopted the MLC, with the aim to provide international standards for the world’s first genuinely global industry, ensuring decent work for seafarers around the world. Being a convention of great importance, the ‘MLC 2006’ is expected to become ‘the fourth pillar’ of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping. It has to be mentioned that Greece had deposited with the ‘International Labour Office’ the instrument of ratification of the MLC, in January 2013, thus becoming the 32nd ILO member-State and the 10th EU member-State to have ratified this Convention.

The Greek State is among those States which have ratified all four Conventions, as already described above, while due to its compliance with their regulations, it is classified among the registers with the highest quality indices. To this end, Greece is assessed by the IMO as properly implementing the STCW Convention, thus included in the so-called ‘White List’. It has to be mentioned that a State-Party that is on this list may, as a matter of policy not to accept seafarers with certificates issued by non ‘White List-countries’ for service on its ships. In addition, Greece is included in the ‘US Coast Guard’ list of ‘Fully Qualified Flag Administrations that participate in the ‘Qualship 21program’, an initiative which introduced a system of quality valuation and incentive provision for foreign-flagged ships sailing to ports in the United States. Due to this inclusion, Greek-flagged ships enjoy a series of privileges, such as a reduced number of ‘Port State Control inspections’ and the supply of quality certificates.

It is obvious that compliance with the regulations of those Conventions has helped significantly to the fact that nowadays Greece has succeeded to conserve and further strengthen the power of its fleet, achieving to own a ‘leading merchant fleet in crisis’. Since quality shipping, apart from the above, means also high commercial competitiveness, it is worthy to mention that Greek-owned fleet, in 2012, accounted for 738 ships flying the national flag, including those registered in second registers and for 2.583 ships flying foreign flags, ranking 4th in the top country merchant fleets. Its transporting capability is estimated to 224.051.881dwt tonnage, ranking 1st in the world, covering the 16,10% of the world transportation needs. 

Charris Chryssanthakopoulos, MA International Maritime Policy