Lecture: The Security Situation in the Asia Pacific Region and Japan’s Role

The Utrecht Centre for Global Challenges (UGlobe) will host a lecture by Japanese Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr. Hiroshi Inomata, entitled, The Security Situation in the Asia Pacific Region and Japan’s Role, 15 January 2018, at Utrecht University (Utrecht, The Netherlands).

For more information and registration, see here.


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Australia: ship master convicted and fined for entering no-go zone

A master of a coastal trading vessel was convicted and fined in Australia’s Cairns Magistrates Court for being in charge of a ship that entered a shipping exclusion area in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The master pleaded guilty to entering an exclusion zone near the Turtle Group of Islands, 28km northwest of Cape Flattery, in November 2015. Under the Marine Park legislation, ships must only travel in designated shipping areas or general use zones to protect the marine environment, and commercial ships are monitored for their compliance. More information about this case may be found here.

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NGO: lawsuit launched to protect Pacific habitat for humpback whales

The Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation filed a notice of intent to sue the USA National Marine Fisheries Service for failing to protect humpback whale habitat in the Pacific Ocean, where the animals are said to be facing threats from fisheries, ship strikes and oil spills. The document, entitled “Violations of the Endangered Species Act; Failure to Designate Critical Habitat for Distinct Population Segments of Humpback Whales (Megaptera noveangliae)” may be found here.

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EU: Council approves agreement on working conditions for seafarers

On 7 December the European Council of the EU approved a directive which gives legal effect to an agreement between EU social partners in the maritime sector. As a result of the agreement with social partners, amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention made in 2014 can be incorporated into EU law. The objective of the agreement is to protect seafarers’ rights in case of abandonment; the agreement also provides compensation for contractual claims for death or long-term disability of seafarers due to occupational injury, illness or hazard. Thanks to the incorporation of the agreement into EU law, seafarers will be covered by a mandatory financial security system. More information about this agreement may be found here.

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India: M/V Seaman Guard Ohio crew and persons aboard aquitted

Dated the 27 November 2017, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court acquitted the 35 person aboard the M/V Seaman Guard Ohio, arrested four years ago for offences under the 1959 Arms Act. Of interest to law of the sea scholars, the case touched upon the drawing of baselines, innocent passage, and the stopping and anchoring rendered necessary by force majeure or distress (UNCLOS, art. 18(2)).

A copy of the judgement is available here.

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UNEP: draft resolution on marine litter and microplastics passed

The United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, has passed a draft resolution on marine litter and microplastics. This is in line with Sustainable Development Goal target 14.1, which seeks, by 2025, to “prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution”. The document, dated 5 December 2017, may be found here. More information about the meeting, which included thirteen draft resolutions and three decisions, may be found here.

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Arctic: commercial fishing moratorium agreement signed

The member states of the informal group “Arctic-five” (Canada, USA, Russia, Norway, and Greenland/Denmark), together with representatives of other states (Iceland, Japan, South Korea, China and the European Union)  have reached agreement on a legally binding international agreement that will protect nearly three million square kilometers of the Central Arctic Ocean from unregulated fishing. The initial term of the agreement is 16 years, after which it will automatically be extended every five years unless a country objects or until science-based fisheries quotas and rules are put in place. The NGO Ocean Conservancy has referred to this as an example of the precautionary approach. This accord comes two years after a previously set moratorium. Evidence of this new agreement may be found here: (Canada) (Norway) (EU).

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