From a practical guide on avoiding collisions to calls for improved sustainability reporting, we’ve been keeping track of the news that reflect the important and interesting issues affecting the maritime industry. Here are a few recent stories.

North P&I Club issues guide to avoiding collisions – The North of England P&I Club has published a new guide for watchkeepers entitled ‘Collisions: How to avoid them’. Designed for use on ship’s bridges, the guide provides a reminder of the most important ‘rules of the road’ as set out in the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS).  It emphasises the importance of deck officers applying the navigation rules set out in the COLREGS and describes the 12 regulations that North believes are most often misinterpreted, including look-outs, action to avoid collisions, crossing situations and conduct of vessel in restricted visibility. As well as setting out the basics of the COLREGS, it also uses case studies of recent collisions to illustrate their importance.  The guide is being circulated to all North’s members and entered ships.  Non-members can buy a copy from marine bookshops or the Club’s distributor.

IHO contributes to the IMO Polar Code – The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) began work on a Polar Code in 2010, with the aim of improving the safety of shipping operations in the Arctic and Antarctic.  The International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO), which represents the hydrographic authorities of member states, has now contributed to the development of the Polar Code by providing feedback on its hydrographic aspects.  The IHO highlighted a number of hydrographic and security issues for polar shipping, including the risks of poor hydrography, due to ice coverage, and the limits of chart coverage.  This may increase the risk of groundings, at the same time that access to search and rescue services is more limited.  It advised navigators to keep to charted areas and to cross-check positioning information at all times, as well as to report additional information to the relevant hydrographic authorities in order to improve the quality of chart coverage in Artic and Antarctic waters. The Polar Code is expected to be implemented in 2014.

Maersk Line hits emissions target, but shipping urged to improve sustainability reportingMaersk Line has reported that it reached its own voluntary target for cutting carbon dioxide emissions from its container shipping fleet at the end of 2012, eight years ahead of its target of 2020.  Maersk Line set itself the target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 25% from its benchmark 2007 level.  Having reached that target, it has put in place a revised target of a 40% reduction in emissions by 2020. At the same time, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has called for shipping companies to improve their sustainability reporting. According to their latest Global Shipping Benchmarking Survey, shipping is lagging behind other industries, with just 24% of shipping companies providing some form of sustainability report, compared to 38% in the airline industry. Within shipping, the container sector sector leads the way, with 56% of companies surveyed by PwC reporting on sustainability, followed by 40% of ferry companies. Commenting on the results, PwC argued that it expects sustainability to become a competitive driver for shipping companies as it increasingly impacts upon the bottom line, either directly or indirectly, and as customers increasingly look for sustainable transport options for their products.

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