Saturday, May 9, 2020

70000 NM around the world

Martin Keruzoré: "70,000 nautical miles is the distance I've covered around the globe over the past three years. This 3-minute film is a tribute to the women and men with whom I have shared more than 200 days at sea and who have enabled me to produce these images. »
courtesy of V&V

Friday, May 8, 2020

252 days of solitude

Epic journey around the world and into the human soul.
Golden Globe Race is the unique sailing race where solo sailors make the non-stop journey around the world not using the modern technique.
Uku Randmaa is the first Estonian to pass this journey. 
This was his biggest dream to take this challenge even knowing that there might be no return.
Leaving his wife and twin babies home put his into biggest emotional journey where every day is a fight for life.
With intimate film material the film opens up the deepest layers of human limitations.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Scientists explain magnetic pole's wanderings

The North Magnetic Pole has moved rapidly in recent years away from Canada towards Russia.

From BBC by Jonathan Amos 

European scientists think they can now describe with confidence what's driving the drift of the North Magnetic Pole.

It's shifted in recent years away from Canada towards Siberia.
And this rapid movement has required more frequent updates to navigation systems, including those that operate the mapping functions in smartphones.

A team, led from Leeds University, says the behaviour is explained by the competition of two magnetic "blobs" on the edge of the Earth's outer core.

Changes in the flow of molten material in the planet's interior have altered the strength of the above regions of negative magnetic flux.
"This change in the pattern of flow has weakened the patch under Canada and ever so slightly increased the strength of the patch under Siberia," explained Dr Phil Livermore.
"This is why the North Pole has left its historic position over the Canadian Arctic and crossed over the International Date Line.
Northern Russia is winning the 'tug of war', if you like," he told BBC News.

Artwork: Earth's magnetic field is generated in its fluid outer core 
ESA

Earth has three poles at the top of the planet.
A geographic pole which is where the planet's rotation axis intersects the surface.
The geomagnetic pole is the location which best fits a classic dipole (its position alters little).
And then there is the North Magnetic, or dip, Pole, which is where field lines are perpendicular to the surface.

It is this third pole that has been doing all the movement.

When first identified by explorer James Clark Ross in the 1830s, it was in Canada's Nunavut territory.

Back then it didn't wander very far, very fast.
But in the 1990s, it took off, racing to ever higher latitudes and crossing the date line in late 2017.
In the process, it came to within just a few hundred kilometres of the geographic pole.

Regions of negative magnetic flux have been in a "tug of war"

Using data from satellites that have measured the evolving shape of Earth's magnetic field over the past 20 years, Dr Livermore and colleagues have attempted to model the North Magnetic Pole's wanderings.

Two years ago when they first presented their ideas at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington DC, they suggested there might be a connection with a westward-accelerating jet of molten material in the outer core.
But the models were a complex fit and the team has now revised its assessment to align with a different flow regime.

"The jet is tied to quite high northern latitudes and the alteration in the flow in the outer core that's responsible for the change in the position of the pole is actually further south," Dr Livermore said.
"There's also a timing issue. The jet acceleration occurs in the 2000s, whereas the pole acceleration begins in the 1990s."


The team's latest modelling indicates the pole will continue to move towards Russia but will in time begin to slow.
At top speed, it's been making 50-60km a year.

"Whether or not it will move back again in the future is anyone's guess," the Leeds scientist told BBC News.

The pole's recent race across the top of the world prompted the US National Geophysical Data Center and the British Geological Survey to issue an early update to the World Magnetic Model last year.
This model is a representation of Earth's magnetic field across the entire globe.
It is incorporated into all navigation devices, including modern smartphones, to correct for any local compass errors.

Dr Livermore and colleagues lent heavily on the data acquired by the European Space Agency's Swarm satellites.
The team has published its research in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Links :

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Canada (CHS) layer update in the GeoGarage platform

53 nautical raster charts updated

‘Prisoners at sea’: stuck on board cargo ships, crews find their mental well-being under threat

A container ship at sea.
Photo: Basil PaoA container ship at sea.

From SCMP by Kate Whitehead

They man the merchant ships that keep global trade flowing, but coronavirus restrictions mean thousands of seafarers are unable to return home.
After months at sea, stress, fatigue and time away from loved ones is taking its toll.

When Captain Bejoy Kannan boarded the oil tanker China Dawn on December 1, 2019, he expected the voyage to be much like any other during his 25-year career at sea.
He would work hard, do his time and likely be home before his four-month contract ended.
But coronavirus restrictions have meant that “there are seven of us who have exceeded our contract”, says Kannan, speaking by phone from his ship in the South Atlantic Ocean.
“We are stuck at sea, we are prisoners at sea.”
Sailing from Australia to South Africa in mid-March, Kannan and six of his crew expected to be relieved and fly back home to their families, but four days before the China Dawn reached Port Elizabeth, he received the news that South Africa had banned entry to seafarers.
Three days later, his native India went into lockdown and all flights were cancelled.
“We have nowhere to go,” he says.
“The company was trying its best to take us off, but where will we get the relief, where will they let us off?”
The pressures kept mounting.
From Port Elizabeth the ship sailed to Brazil, where it was expected to load cargo, presenting another challenge – were the dock workers coronavirus-free?
From the deck, Kannan and his crew observed that no one was wearing a face mask, nor were they social distancing.

Captain Bejoy Kannan, of Wallem Group.
Photo: courtesy of Captain Bejoy Kannan

Kannan stood his ground and refused to let anyone on board while he contacted his ship’s manage­ment.
This was a bold move.
Chartering an oil tanker costs tens of thousands of dollars a day, so every hour lost eats into profits.
Fortunately, the Wallem Group is one of the more supportive ship management firms and it negotiated that only eight men would come aboard, all wearing face masks and gloves, but “[the pilot] was touching things on the ship”, says Kannan.
“We were worried that if the gloves were infected, they might infect some of the equipment.
We will only know in 10 days or more.
We’ve been checking the crew’s temperatures daily.”
As the head of his household in India, Kannan feels unable to protect his elderly parents.
His crew are also worried about their families and Kannan does his best to reassure them and keep up morale.
He speaks in a calm, measured tone, but even so the strain is apparent – he has an infection in his left eye, perhaps the result of stress, and he has been speaking to the fleet’s psychologist.

Sailing to Singapore, Kannan plans to divert the ship to India to allow disembarkation of Indian nationals.
If that is not permitted, “Very soon we are coming to the stage where we have to go on strike,” he says.
“How long can we endure it? People want the cargo but what about the sea­farers? Everyone talks of the doctors, the army and the police, but I don’t think people even know we exist.”
There are more than 50,000 merchant vessels in the world, including 5,150 container ships, each with an average crew of 22 persons – that makes for a work­force of well over one million people, responsible for deliver­ing 90 per cent of the world’s goods stocking our shops.
These men (and some women) are continuing to work seven days a week through the pandemic, their contracts extended because they are unable to disembark their ships.
“We all recognise the heroism of the health workers going the extra mile,” says Bjørn Højgaard, chief executive of Anglo-Eastern Univan Group, a Hong Kong-based firm that manages about 600 vessels.
“But the coronavirus has also meant the normal turnover of seafarers is not taking place, or is in limited numbers.”

Seafarers’ contracts range from four to nine months, depending on their rank.
A ship’s master (or captain) usually has a four-month contract while lower ranked seafarers can expect about eight months.
Anglo-Eastern has around 15,000 seafarers at sea currently, and if travel restric­tions continue, Højgaard estimates that 23 per cent of them will be working on extended contracts by the end of this month.
“We shouldn’t feel sorry for the seafarers, we should celebrate them, praise them for what they are doing,” says Højgaard.
“They are proud of what they are doing, fulfilling a service to the world.”

Kannan (left) on board the China Dawn with a Brazilian pilot and a crew member on April 11.
Photo: courtesy of Captain Bejoy Kannan

But extended contracts and the uncertainty surround­ing corona­virus are placing increasing pressure on the mental health of crew members.
“In the long run, if people can’t get relief and go home, they will eventually burn out and be incapable of doing their jobs,” says Højgaard.
“The longer this drags on without people being relieved, the more pressure will build up and, at some point, that pressure might boil over.”
There is an increasing awareness in the maritime indus­try of mental health.
A study by Yale University, published last October, spoke to 1,572 seafarers of different ranks around the world and found that within the two weeks prior to being surveyed, 20 per cent had contemplated suicide or self-harm, 25 per cent had suffered depression and 17 per cent had experienced anxiety.
Key factors were violence and bullying, a lack of job satisfaction and not feeling valued.
David Heindel, chairman of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust charity that commissioned the study, said in November: “The more we talk about mental health, the more we reduce the stigma associated with it.
This report really helps us to understand the contributing factors and provides a basis for demanding some fundamental changes in the way the shipping industry operates.”
“Then coronavirus hits and what happens is that the stress level goes up – worry about getting infected, worry about family back home, worry about when they get into port will they be infected by people on shore,” says Frank Coles, chief executive of Wallem Group.

Captain Rajnish Shah.
Photo: courtesy of Captain Rajnish Shah

Coles tells of a Chinese captain who wanted to dis­embark at a Chinese port and threatened to discharge his cargo if he couldn’t go home.
That captain was eventually persuaded to do one more voyage.
And another captain, concerned about his crew getting infected, refused to allow Singaporean officials to board.
“Crews are becoming more concerned and upset, afraid of being infected by what they see as the dirty side of being on shore,” says Coles.
Captain Rajnish Shah has stood up for his crew, demand­­ing that their lives not be compromised for the sake of profit.
When he boarded the bulk carrier Tomini Destiny on a four-month contract on August 28 last year the world was a very different place.
An error surrounding his expec­ted relief meant he and some crew members were not able to disembark in Switzerland and return home at the begin­ning of the year, but he took it in his stride.
“We thought it was a one-off thing,” says Shah.
“We said we have to move on, we had an important Gulf of Aden transit coming up and had to take precautions against pirates in Somalia.”
He and his crew succeeded in avoiding the pirates, but there was more danger ahead.
As the Tomini Destiny approached Chittagong port, in Bangladesh, Shah made plans with the ship’s owner for the cargo to be offloaded using trains, avoiding the need for dock workers.
But when the ship reached port at the end of March those plans had come to nothing and 60 local workers demanded to come on board.
“Under the situation of the pandemic that was not acceptable because the exposure risk to the crew was huge,” says Shah.
“Bangladesh had also gone into lockdown.”

Shah and his crew on board the Tomini Destiny.
Photo: courtesy of Captain Rajnish Shah

A week-long stand-off ensued, during which the crew closed the hatches and rigged up razor wire to prevent access to the ship.
Shah reached out to non-government organisation Human Rights at Sea, requesting better protection for his crew during cargo operations in port.
His determination paid off and on April 6 the personal protective equipment (PPE) came through and the local workers used it while offloading the cargo.
The incident marked a critical point in the pandemic – a ship’s captain invoking Master’s authority (under the International Safety Management Code) in the interests of his crew, bringing him into direct conflict with the owners’ interests.
“I’m a master with 16 years’ experience and this is the first time I’ve ever had to exercise Master’s authority over owners to protect my crew,” says Shah.
“The owners are in it for commercial interests, every day’s delay costs them.
But the whole world is in turmoil.
It’s unfortunate when the concerns of the crew are ignored for the sake of profit.
Someone needs to stand up.”
The issue has now been brought to the attention of the Indian government through the Directorate General of Shipping, the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh, port authorities and unions.
We have seen a real lack of information, either under-reporting or negligence in reporting the issues.
They just want to be told the truth, people can deal with the truth
David Hammond, founder of Human Rights at Sea, says the lack of access to good-quality PPE is a key issue.
“You rarely see masters taking such stands because they can get blacklisted.
But masters are becoming more vocal and they come to organisations like ours to fight their corner.
The master isn’t just protecting his crew, he’s protecting the global sea lanes,” says Hammond.
Human Rights at Sea has a number of WhatsApp groups it uses to keep in touch with seafarers of all ranks.
Since March 22, there has been a surge in demand for PPE on these informal channels, as well as in queries about when they can sign off.
“We have seen a real lack of information, either under-reporting or negligence in reporting the issues,” says Hammond.
“They just want to be told the truth, people can deal with the truth.
A lot of the crew are saying, ‘We just want to know what is happening.’”
Kishore Rajvanshy is managing director of Hong Kong-based Fleet Management, which manages about 520 ships.
Before taking a management role, he was a seafarer and served as chief engineer.
“What keeps me awake at night is worrying how long this will last,” says Rajvanshy.
“For staff on board, one or two months [of extended contracts] is OK, but eventually there has to be a way to relieve people.”
Mental health is still something that people neglect and that is stigmatised.
It’s important that people on land understand the pressures and issues that seafarers face so they can be better supported
Rini Mathew, clinical psychologist
Fleet Management is giving crew members who have their contracts extended a 25 per cent pay rise as well as an increased daily internet data allowance, so they can keep in contact with family.
Five months ago, the firm set up a dedicated division, Fleet Care, staffed by a team of eight and offering support to seafarers, from managing grievances to reaching out to family members to celebrate birthdays.
On March 23, with the support of the charity Sailors’ Society, it launched a 24/7 helpline, Crisis Response Network, to offer confidential advice and support.
“We’ve already had quite a number of people use the helpline, about 25 people in one week,” says Captain Randhir Mahadik, the Mumbai-based head of Fleet Care.
“Our ships are multilingual, so the support is available in Mandarin, Tagalog, many Indian languages and others.”
With an average of 22 men on each of the 520 ships, those 25 calls represent a fraction of the fleet’s staff, but also a turning point in addressing seafarers’ mental-health needs.
Rini Mathew, Fleet Care’s full-time clinical psychologist, says that when she tells her mental-health colleagues that she works with seafarers they are usually surprised and unaware of the specific challenges that they face working away from home.
“Mental health is still something that people neglect and that is stigmatised,” says Mathew, who is also based in Mumbai.
“It’s important that people on land understand the pressures and issues that seafarers face so they can be better supported.”
She offers one-on-one counselling sessions for Fleet Management’s crews, but the logistics of remote therapy can be challenging.
Confidentiality is the cornerstone of the therapeutic relationship, but seafarers often have to take the session by phone in a ship’s communal area, which means the captain must ask others to leave the space.
“And then there’s the challenge of the person on the vessel talking to a complete stranger who they can’t even see,” she says.
“It takes time to build that relationship and trust.
But often these people are reaching their threshold – they can’t take it any more, they need help.”
Problems can quickly escalate in the enclosed environ­ment of a ship, so Mathew usually offers a session once every four days, rather than weekly, and follows up by sending psycho-education materials.

A member of the Mission to Seafarers delivers toiletries, snacks and a SIM card to a Myanmese seafarer aboard the KMTC Qingdao in Hong Kong on April 22.
Photo: Mission to Seafarers

Most of her sea-bound clients experience depression or anxiety, sometimes a combination of the two, which is exacerbated by a sense of isolation and distance from home.
“When you are working at a stretch for so long it can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome.
Once you start feeling that it often leads to other problems – not being very active or not being able to do duties well, which can lead to accidents,” she says.
The longer the pandemic goes on and contracts are extended, the more serious fatigue becomes.
A typical shift pattern might be to work from 12am to 4am, have eight hours off, and then work from noon to 4pm.
Doing so seven days a week for six to nine months takes a toll.
Go beyond that and tensions mount.
The Mission to Seafarers is a Christian welfare charity serving merchant crews around the world.
It has operated in Hong Kong since 1863 and offers a friendly ear to visiting seafarers as well as international legal advice and coun­selling.
Reverend Stephen Miller, the mission’s regional director for East Asia, says, “the Maritime Labour Convention exists because if you work shifts seven days a week for more than a year then you become fatigued, [suffer] sensory overload and your mind switches to some­thing else.
That’s when accidents happen – collisions at sea, accidents on board the ship, all these things happen when people are fatigued.”
This virus is a great opportunity for us to initiate change and put in procedures to call on in future, because it will happen again
Tim Huxley, chairman, Mandarin Shipping
Coronavirus restrictions mean mission staff can no longer go aboard ships in Hong Kong, so instead they mask up and go as far as the gangplank at Kwai Chung container port to deliver newspapers, toiletries, snacks and entertainment such as pre-recorded football matches.
“It makes them feel more human if we can buy snacks from their home counties, India or the Philippines, anything that can give them a bit of comfort,” says Miller, whose mission is in touch with thousands of seafarers through Facebook and WhatsApp, and is trying to maintain calm.
“It’s a pretty lonely and isolated life for a seafarer, but they are even more isolated now.
There’s only so much you can do before people start losing it.”
Tim Huxley, chairman of Hong Kong-based Mandarin Shipping, says seafarers have to be seen as essential workers and an accommodation must be made to allow them on and off ships.
“This means we need to get various stakeholders in the business – the International Maritime Organisation, the United Nations body that oversees ship­ping; the flag states; immigration; and medical depart­ments in their representative ports – to work together, which is going to be a groundbreaking move by the ship­ping industry.
“This virus is a great opportunity for us to initiate change and put in procedures to call on in future, because it will happen again.
This experience will allow us to be better prepared next time.”

A seafarer on an OOCL ship with a shipping magazine he received from the Mission to Seafarers in Hong Kong on April 23.
Photo: Mission to Seafarers

For Hammond, the solution is “ring-fenced global hub points” for the safe onload and offload of crew in order to keep global trade flowing.
“People need to understand that there are 1.4 million to 1.6 million people moving 90 per cent of the world’s goods,” says Hammond.
“If they want that to continue, we need to support that workforce, which has an immense impact on all our lives.”
“People would not get on a plane if they thought the pilot never got off the plane,” says Wallem’s Coles.
“But they are quite happy to let these [seafarers] sail around for months at a time.”
“If people want the shipping industry to survive, there should be an opportunity for us to get off and go home,” says Captain Kannan.
“Don’t only think of commercial gain, spare a thought for us. We are tired and depressed and want to go home.”

Links :


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

From food security to terrorism: How subsidy driven illegal fishing is a global problem


From Investigative Journal by Joseph Hammond

Busa in western Ghana is close to a tropical paradise.
The waters are warm.
Tropical fruits and what have to be some of the world’s largest avocados are easily available.
Cafés and hotels that service the backpackers and surfers cluster around the picturesque beach.


Yet, below the waves, local fishermen describe an ocean that is more like a desert.
“You know I never used to question it. It isn’t like it was before,” says Micheal Akwasi, a Ghanian fisherman, “…some days I wonder what is the point?”

Ghana’s fishermen are feeling the impact of over-fishing and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing operations.
Many fishermen are seeking new livelihoods on land.
Akwasi says that some of his colleagues given up the sea entirely in order to pursue job opportunities in Accra – Ghana’s capital.

Artisanal fishing vessels in Western Ghana.

Fishing provides livelihoods for roughly 10 percent of the world’s population.
Last year an investigation from the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) uncovered how modern trawlers are illegally fishing in Ghana’s waters making it difficult for artisanal fishermen traditional and their often colorful canoes.
With limited options, the fishermen often buy some fish back from the industrial trawlers a trans-shipment practice known as saiko fishing.
The practices costs the Ghanaian economy some $50 million a year and has led to a 40% decline in the salaries of Ghanaian fishermen in the past decade.

Seafood Demand Is Rising

More importantly, IUU fishing poses a serious risk to a valued part of global food security.
Yet, IUU also contributes to other problems such as terrorism and a growing number of maritime border disputes that are often rarely discussed.
IUU is a crime facilitated by harmful subsidies in countries around the world from Europe to East Asia.

Thus to understand why the fishermen’s nets in Ghana are increasingly empty one must look at the industry from a global perspective.

World-wide sea food consumption has continued to climb in recent years as the unprecedented growth of a middle class around the globe has resulted in an increased demand for the salty flesh of sea creatures.
At least 3 billion people rely on farmed or wild-caught seafood as their primary source of protein, while over 4.3 billion people get at least 15% of their animal protein intake from fish and other seafoods.

Some 90% of the world’s fish stocks are currently being over-fished as a result of this demand.
Rare species and endangered species also suffer due to over-fishing and in particular IUU practices.
A report released last year concluded that 90% of the Indian Ocean’s dolphin had disappeared due to over-fishing.
Many sea creatures end up as unwanted “bycatch” in a fishermen’s net.
Ironically “saiko fishing” was originally intended to ameliorate this problem by allowing commercial trawlers in Ghana to sell some of this “bycatch” to the locals.


A Chinese Connection

A large number of fishing trawlers involved in IUU fishing hail from China a country which since 2002, has also been the world’s largest exporter of sea food.
China’s rise to dominance in the sea food industry was rapid.
In less than two decades the Communist country built the largest deep-water fishing fleet in the world with some 3,000 vessels.
Yet, that number fails to show Chinese influence on the global fishing industry.
Indeed the EJF report revealed that 90% of Ghana’s industrial trawl fleet is linked to Chinese owners though often locally registered under Ghanaian companies.

Chinese authorities have reluctantly admitted to having a problem.
Several new regulations have been announced including a blacklist for Chinese company executives and boat captains who engage in IUU fishing.
Furthermore, under the current Chinese policy, no vessel is supposed to fish within three miles of the exclusive economic zone of any country (EEZ).

“In the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea and most of the East China Sea (in waters they have clear jurisdiction over), they are taking IUU fishing very seriously because IUU fishing has a directly felt impact on domestic sustainability and food security…,” says Tabitha Grace Mallory, a leading expert on Chinese fishing practice, “China’s annual fishing moratorium only extends to 12*N latitude, so any fishing below that (which is where the Spratly Islands are) is pretty much a free-for-all.” China provides large subsidies to fishing fleets that operate in that area.”

Former U.S. Navy Admiral and NATO commander James Stavridis in a 2017 article drew attention to the fact that China was spending hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize vessels involved in IUU fishing.
Late last year the United States government has warned that China’s illegal fishing practices could start a conflict in the region.

Provocative incidents in recent weeks seem bear out that claim.

Last month the Japanese destroyer Shimakaze received a one-metre hole in its hull after colliding with a Chinese fishing vessel 650km west of the Japanese island of Yakushima.
Two fishermen aboard the Chinese vessel were reportedly injured.
That violent confrontation came weeks after a alarming incident involving the Taiwanese Coast Guard and a clash with Chinese speed boats who pelted them with debris as they attempted to enforce fishing regulations.
Farther afield the Argentine coastguard fired upon a Chinese vessel illegally fishing in Argentina’s exclusive economic zone last year.

Of course, China isn’t the only country using its fishermen in this way.
Vietnam and the fishing fleets of other countries have been accused of using their fishing fleets as “militia”.
When Indonesia last year launched a major operation to crack down on IUU fishing it its territorial waters, it destroyed 51 foreign vessels but, only two of which were Chinese flagged.

Catching Terrorists

In Africa IUU fishing is linked to an entirely different security problem: terrorism.
IUU fishing was one of the underlying causes which led to the creation of Somali piracy as local fishermen found it impossible to make a livelihood from fishing and found another use for their boats.
Some analysts have argued the rise of Somali piracy was linked to the rise of the Al-Shabab terrorist organization, and there is no doubt both groups rose to prominence around the same time.

In West Africa, the link between IUU fishing terrorism is even easier to establish.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control placed sanctions on six individuals and seven fishing companies across West Africa for funding the operations of the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah in 2018 – including one in Ghana.

“The inclusion of fishing operations in Hezbollah’s global financial support network is alarming but not surprising,” Peter Hammarstedt, a director with Sea Shepherd, “Almost ten years ago, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) designated IUU fishing as a transnational organized crime–and Hezbollah-connected businesses have long been linked to other transnational organized crime including drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and arms dealing,”

Hammarstedt’s NGO fights IUU fishing and other maritime environmental crimes around the globe.
He is quick to point out that IUU is not simply a Chinese problem.

“The long-distance water fishing fleet is responsible for the majority of IUU fishing incidents linked to Chinese-flagged dishing vessel – and considering that the operation of the foreign fishing fleet is only possible due to state subsidies – China needs to cut all of its fishing subsidies.
For that matter, the European Union needs to do the same with its long-distance fleet.”
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for countries to abandon fishing subsidies in the interest of food security.
The goals were approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and are meant to be achieved by 2030.
The fourteenth SDG goal “Life Below Water” calls on all nations to:
“prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing; eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and refrain from introducing new such subsidies.”
Despite this pledge the European Union quietly reintroduced subsidies to help overgrow its fishing fleet.

The Corona virus has disrupted global food distribution networks and in the aftermath of “World War Virus” food security will be more critical than ever.
Unless measures are taken to end the harmful subsidies, which drive IUU, the stomachs of those who live above the water will soon feel the impact as well.

Links : 


Monday, May 4, 2020

New Zealand (Linz) update in the GeoGarage platform

4 nautical raster charts updated

Arctic stress test

Data: Arctic Council, 2020; Chatham House, 2019; CRS, 2020; CSIS, 2020; IISS, 2020; Jane's Defence, 2019; Natural Earth, 2020; NSIDC, 2020; RUSI, 2018; Simons Foundation, 2019; SIPRI, 2018; USCG, 2020

From ISS by Simona R. Soare

Great power competition and Euro-Atlantic defence in the High North 

The Arctic is again becoming a region of strategic focus.
For three decades after the Cold War, when the region was at the centre of great power competition, successful cooperation transformed the Arctic into a ‘low tension’ zone and consolidated the perception of ‘Arctic exceptionalism’, the sense that the region is uniquely cooperative and immune from broader geopolitical tensions.
For the eight Arctic states that comprise the Arctic Council – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the US – there has been hope that regional dynamics can be insulated from global geopolitical shifts.

However, two phenomena are challenging the notion of Arctic exceptionalism and testing the limits of regional governance.
First, climate change is accelerating the melting of polar ice at a historically unprecedented pace.
Ever larger swathes of the Arctic are becoming accessible, and with them the region’s untapped natural resources, raising the prospect of increased human activity.
Second, great power competition between the US, Russia and China in and for the Arctic is intensifying, changing regional power dynamics and exposing the region to ‘spillover’ effects from competition in Europe and the Indo-Pacific.
These changes are accentuated by the erosion of the rules-based international order which underpins Arctic governance, the dismantling of the arms control regime, and the rapid proliferation of advanced military capabilities.
Physical presence and ownership of infrastructure are becoming vectors of influence, as evidenced by President Trump’s offer to ‘buy Greenland.’
Meanwhile, Russian bombers regularly approach European and North American airspace and Russian submarines are increasingly present in the Norwegian and North Seas, constantly probing the agility of Euro-Atlantic defences.
The growing Chinese presence in the region creates economic and financial dependencies.
Consequently, what happens in the Arctic affects more than just regional actors.

What does great power competition for access to and control of the Arctic mean for Euro-Atlantic security?
In answering this question, this Brief argues that the Arctic will be a strategic stress test for European defence and for the transatlantic bond.
The paper is structured in three parts.
The first part outlines the security challenges and the drivers of geopolitical change in the Arctic.
The second part examines the features of great power competition in this region and the implications for European and transatlantic defence.
The final section of the Brief offers policy considerations for European and transatlantic decision-makers on how to mitigate the negative consequences of these regional dynamics.


Arctic challenges

The Arctic is feeling the full brunt of climate change.
Polar temperatures are rising faster than the global median.
Roughly 75% of Arctic ice has melted in the last century.
The effects of climate change are unequally distributed across the High North, with ice melting at a faster rate in the European and Eurasian sectors, due to the warmer Gulf Stream current.
Climate change in the Arctic is increasingly contributing to climate change elsewhere on the globe and is rapidly becoming a catalyst for broader changes in regional security, including environmental protection, biodiversity, food and economic security.
While the Arctic represents only 2.8% of the earth’s total surface area and is home to 0.5% of the world’s population (approximately 4 million people), new maritime routes are opening between the North Atlantic and the North Pacific and the region contains significant energy and mineral resources.

Regional security dynamics have strategic implications well beyond Arctic geographical boundaries and particularly for Euro-Atlantic defence.

Arctic governance is dense, and cooperation has become the prevalent practice over the past three decades, even amid tensions over the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea.
The main governance instrument is the Arctic Council (1996).
Regional states have traditionally emphasised their Arctic sovereignty and have been sceptical about allowing non-Arctic countries to influence regional governance.
This is reflected in long-standing practices in the Arctic Council, where a number of European and Asian countries are observers but are not involved in the decision-making process.
This is unlikely to change anytime soon, particularly as the Arctic states attempt to limit the ‘strategic spillover’ of great power rivalry from other regions of the globe.

Some argue that the return of great power competition signals the end of Arctic cooperation, while Arctic Council officials urge international actors to avoid fixing an instrument that is not broken.
First, non-Arctic countries like China are increasingly testing the limits of regional governance.
Unlike the EU, whose observer status was blocked by Moscow, China was accepted as an observer within the Arctic Council, and since then it has actively promoted broader, formal involvement of non-regional states in Arctic governance.
In its 2018 Arctic Strategy, Beijing describes itself as a ‘near-Arctic country.’
The US has officially rejected this Chinese self-designated status, but smaller actors like Iceland and Greenland are still carefully considering the balance between risk and opportunity in engaging Beijing.
Second, Russian military activities above the Arctic Circle expose a significant limitation of regional governance – namely, it does not cover military security.
Nevertheless, regional security dynamics have strategic implications well beyond Arctic geographical boundaries and particularly for Euro-Atlantic defence.
As demonstrated by the French (2016), British (2018) and German (2019) Arctic strategies, it is equally important to be vigilant about geopolitical spillover from the Arctic to neighbouring regions.

Arctic great power competition

The US, Russia and China actively compete in the Arctic to exploit energy and mineral resources and develop infrastructure.
They also compete for the Arctic, specifically for maritime and economic access in the region and for military dominance.
Secretary Pompeo’s 2018 speech before the Arctic Council signalled the return of great power competition to the Arctic: ‘We’re entering a new age of strategic engagement in the Arctic, complete with new threats to the Arctic and its real estate, and to all of our interests in that region.’
This increased competition is evident across a number of issue areas.

In icy waters

Climate change is a catalyst for strategic rivalry in the High North because of the progressive opening of new maritime routes.
By 2030 the region may have entirely ice-free late summers especially in the European and Eurasian sectors.
In the mid- to long-term, this opens up three Arctic routes: the Northeast Passage (NEP) alongside the Eurasian coast towards the North Pacific, the Northwest Passage (NWP) alongside the North American coast towards the North Pacific and the Transpolar Passage (TPP), across the Central Arctic Ocean.
Since 2014, 20-30 ships transit the NEP every year and cargo volume has risen steadily – although it is still significantly behind alternative routes through the Suez Canal and the Malacca Strait.
Although the NEP is potentially a faster route between Europe and Asia, harsh conditions, ice floe, partially uncharted waters, insufficient support and refuelling infrastructure, and the high cost of ice-reinforced ships and crew training make the route less economically appealing.
Fixing all these issues will take time – just charting Arctic waters may take decades – and will place a premium on law enforcement, to ensure compliance with navigation, environmental and border management regulations, and on improved emergency response, especially search-and-rescue capacity.

One area of contention is the freedom of navigation along these new Arctic routes.
Russia’s 2020 Arctic Strategy reaffirms that the region is critical to economic development, particularly in the Far North and East, and Moscow’s great power status.
Since 2016, Moscow has claimed the NEP as its sole sovereign jurisdiction, has introduced requirements for all foreign ships transiting the NEP (e.g. 45-days’ advance notice and presence of Russian ice-pilots onboard), and has warned that foreign ships transiting the NEP would be detained or sunk if they did not comply with Russian regulations.
Washington has rejected Moscow’s claims.
The Department of Defense 2019 Arctic Strategy states the US Navy will sail anywhere in the High North where international law allows, although the deployment of a US carrier group in the 2018 Trident Juncture exercise was the first large-scale American naval deployment north of the Arctic Circle in thirty years.
China has also claimed free navigation rights in the Arctic and has included the NEP in its Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI), as the so-called Polar Silk Road.
France, Germany and the UK also emphasise freedom of navigation as a fundamental principle in the Arctic.

One area of contention is the freedom of navigation along these new Arctic routes.

Situational awareness and physical access to the Arctic are still dependent on icebreakers and these capabilities are in short supply among European and North American Arctic states.
Russia operates over 40 icebreakers – 57% of the icebreaking capabilities of Arctic states – and is the only nation with heavy nuclear-powered icebreakers (capable of operating year-round and breaking ice over 1.5m deep).
In 2013, Washington announced plans to build six new icebreakers for the coast guard, including heavy-class vessels, although uncertainty remains over final numbers and delivery dates.
The US Navy, the largest in the world, only operates two heavy-class icebreakers, of which only one is operational.
China also has two heavy-class icebreakers, both operational, and is reportedly building its first nuclear-powered icebreaker.
European Arctic states possess significant civilian icebreaking capabilities, but these generally operate in the summer season (July-October) in ice thinner than 1m.
None of the European Arctic states operate heavy-class icebreakers.

Cargo between Europe and the Indo-Pacific represents 60% of all NEP transit.
Copernicus data shows that most of these transits will require icebreaking capabilities well into the 2040s.
Therefore, the Arctic icebreaking capability gap is consequential, particularly for commercial transport.
Military power projection does not entirely depend on such capabilities and European Arctic states, the US, the UK and France operate ice-hardened naval capabilities (e.g. frigates, offshore patrol vessels, etc).
Icebreakers can be effective signalling tools for long-term presence, law-enforcement and even defence (if armed, as is the case of Russia).
Commercial and research fleets aside, most Arctic countries have developed icebreaking capabilities in their coast guard forces (e.g. patrolling territorial waters or search-and-rescue missions) or research institutions.
Russia and Norway are exceptions because their territorial defence depends in some measure on these capabilities.
Meanwhile, China, France and the UK are developing icebreaking capabilities within their navies, to enable power projection in the Arctic over long distances.

Arctic energy

The 2008 US Geological Survey estimated that the Arctic has roughly 13% of oil and 30% of natural gas reserves yet to be discovered globally.
75% of Russian oil, 95% of its gas reserves and 65% of Norway’s oil reserves are in the Arctic, although exploration has yielded mixed results.
While Russia’s Yamal gas projects are rapidly developing, since 2013 several energy giants like Cairn Energy and Shell Oil have indefinitely suspended operations in the European and North American Arctic because of poor results.
Different regulatory approaches among Arctic states have diminished interest in exploiting energy resources, too.
Norway has limited drilling in the Norwegian Sea while the US and Russia have expanded drilling in the Alaskan Arctic and the Yamal peninsula, respectively.
Harsh weather conditions, environmental concerns, high risks of accidents (e.g. oil spills), insufficient support infrastructure, prohibitive insurance costs and low energy prices have also contributed to dampening investor interest.

France, the UK and China have a direct stake in Arctic energy projects, which are increasingly important to the security of their energy supply.
To diversify Russian energy markets, the Yamal peninsula gas projects will supply both the Asian and the European markets.
This may become a complicating factor in the transatlantic relationship.
The US has long opposed energy projects that increase European dependency on Russian fossil fuels, while seeking to increase American Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports to Europe.
Congress threatened to impose sanctions against North Stream participants while appropriating $1 billion in funding for various energy projects within the Three Seas Initiative, including projects for the construction of LNG terminals and interconnectors across Eastern Europe.

Arctic strategic minerals

Greenland holds a quarter of the world’s rare earths, making it a viable ‘alternative to China’s monopoly on these strategic metals.’
China is already the world’s largest rare earths exporter and has shown great interest in mining in Greenland and Iceland.
Beijing weaponised restrictions of rare earths exports during a 2013 Sino-Japanese boundary dispute and could employ dumping strategies to reduce European and American investor interest in exploiting Arctic rare earths.
During the Sino-American trade war, Beijing threatened to reduce strategic minerals exports to the US and any other state that engages in ‘suppression’ against China.

A 2018 review of the US National Defence Industrial Base revealed 50% of defence contractors depend on rare earths imports from China which are used in radar and sonar systems, missile guidance, jet engines, and armoured vehicles.
The EU’s dependency on Chinese rare earths has also increased in the last decade.
A 2017 European Commission study revealed critical chokepoints in the supply chain of rare earths, with China providing 95% of Europe’s imports of these elements.
A 2016 study found the EU relies 100% on China as a single supplier for a majority of critical rare earths and semi-finished materials for specific European defence applications, with ‘the defence industry’s aeronautics and electronics sectors the most vulnerable to potential interruptions in the supply chain of materials.’
This is a critical vulnerability for the development of the European digital economy and the digitalisation of European armed forces.

Arctic states have been concerned about rapidly growing Chinese investment in the Arctic, seen as an ‘anchor’ for Beijing’s growing regional physical presence and influence.
American and European pressure on Iceland and Denmark/Greenland to limit Chinese access to mining and infrastructure projects has increased over the last four years.
The EU has developed tools to assist member states in assessing security risks posed by foreign direct investment (FDI), including from China.
Nevertheless, excluding Chinese participation does not automatically ensure control over these strategic resources.
Though obstacles persist, effective European exploitation of rare earths in Greenland would reduce a significant strategic EU vulnerability and would contribute to its technological sovereignty and the implementation of the Commission’s 2020 Industrial Strategy.
Failure to do so may threaten the Union’s ability to develop its defence industry and its digital economy and to remain competitive with the US and China.

Cinnecting the Arctic

With increased human activity in the Arctic come enhanced opportunities for economic development.
Modern economies, fuelled by rapid technological progress, require ever greater transport and communications connectivity, but these are not without significant challenges.
In 2015, Finland launched Arctic Connect, a project to build an underwater communication cable to connect Europe and Asia via the Arctic.
The cable – an alternative to existing but vulnerable underwater cables crossing the Red Sea – would provide faster and more reliable internet, data and communication connectivity between the two continents.

Effective European exploitation of rare earths in Greenland would reduce a significant strategic EU vulnerability.

The project was awarded to Huawei Marine, a branch of the Chinese high-tech giant Huawei, a decision supported by Beijing as part of its Digital Silk Road initiative.
However, this sparked Western concerns.
While Finland is interested in leveraging the project to develop data centres – a priority under the Commission’s 2020 EU Data Strategy – ensuring the integrity and security of this data is very challenging.
Concerns that the cable might be covertly used for Chinese intelligence gathering and underwater surveillance led to Western – particularly American – pressure to reallocate the contract.
Although Huawei Marine stepped back, its successor in the project is still a Chinese company.

The White House and Congress will maintain pressure on NATO allies and partners to reconsider Chinese involvement in critical digital infrastructure, with the US threat to stop sharing information with them still looming in the background.
The EU has new mechanisms in place to assist member states in screening and assessing the security risks from Chinese FDI projects in the field of digital and telecommunications critical infrastructure, but decisions remain a matter of sovereign authority and ensuring European consistency on licensing ­telecommunication and digital infrastructure projects is critical but challenging.

Arctic military competition

While all Arctic countries are modernising their military infrastructure and capabilities, it is Russia’s military efforts that are most concerning.
Since 2008, Russia has reopened and modernised over four dozen military bases and dual-use sites in the High North.
Moscow has established a joint military command and two new heavy brigades for the Arctic.
It has modernised surface and submarine components of its Northern Fleet, deployed advanced missile and air-defence systems along its Arctic coast, and deployed advanced dual-use cruise and ballistic missiles in the region.
Since 2008, Russia holds regular military exercises in the Arctic, including simulating offensive manoeuvres against Norway or in the Greenland-Iceland-UK (GIUK) Gap, jamming allied military equipment during the 2018 Trident Juncture exercise, and testing cruise missiles.

Some argue Russian capabilities are mainly defensive, related to the ‘Bastion concept’ designed to protect its strategic second-strike capability in the Kola Peninsula.
Russia is certainly rebuilding its Arctic military footprint and infrastructure from a historical post-Cold War low.
However, as demonstrated by numerous Russian exercises, Bastion defence is increasingly reliant on multilayered anti-access, area denial (A2/AD) capabilities and offensive power projection from the Arctic into the neighbouring North Atlantic and elsewhere – including by using Russia’s strategic nuclear submarines, attack submarines, and sea and air-launched cruise and ballistic missiles.
The density and variety of advanced weaponry in the Western half of Russia’s coastline is indicative of the intensifying strategic competition in the European sector of the Arctic.

Some are also alarmed by signs of strengthening Sino-Russian cooperation in the Arctic.

While the chances of regional military conflict remain low, Russian capabilities pose a significant challenge to NATO’s ability to protect the transatlantic sea lines of communications (SLOC) in the high North Atlantic and GIUK Gap, a strategic chokepoint for Euro-Atlantic defence and North American naval reinforcement of Europe during a crisis.
Indeed, ‘the unavoidable operational reality is that should conflict arise, whoever can exert control over this region can either protect or threaten all of NATO’s northern flank.’
Moscow’s advanced A2/AD capabilities in the High North (and in Kaliningrad) are a formidable challenge and hold at risk allied military bases above and below the Arctic Circle, from Norway to Italy and from the Baltics to the continental US.
Clearly, Arctic military competition directly affects Euro-Atlantic defence.

Alongside its growing economic, research and maritime presence, Chinese participation in Russian Arctic military exercises has sparked concern.
Washington claims ‘civilian research could support a strengthened Chinese military presence in the Arctic Ocean, which could include deploying submarines to the region as a deterrent against nuclear attacks.’
Some are also alarmed by signs of strengthening Sino-Russian cooperation in the Arctic.
While still preponderantly energy and commercially driven, the expected intensification of relations between Beijing and Moscow during the latter’s upcoming presidency of the Arctic Council (2021-2023) may still extend to military cooperation – a scenario most detrimental to European and transatlantic interests.

These trends challenge Arctic states’ ability to counter Russian and Chinese presence.
While Canada, Norway and Denmark have announced increases in Arctic defence spending (uncertain in light of the economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis), the US administration’s strategic commitment to the region is competing against other areas of more urgent concern.
The US is the only Arctic nation not to have a strategic Arctic port, and is evaluating the possibility of designating or building one, possibly in the Nome/Port Clarence region.
While this location has been considered previously, the Alaskan Arctic’s relatively shallow shores and the challenges to developing resilient military infrastructure in permafrost conditions have meant that so far American plans have been put on hold.
Unreliable signal and communications infrastructure remain a significant limitation for military presence above the Arctic Circle.

Enduring capability gaps are affecting the transatlantic allies’ situational awareness and power projection in the Arctic, too.
Canada and European allies lack sufficient maritime patrol, command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), anti-submarine warfare and electronic warfare capabilities.
Meanwhile, the Northern Warning System (NWS) – a 1990 North American network of sensors and radars, extending all the way into Greenland, and designed to provide early warning against incoming Russian nuclear attack – is increasingly unreliable in detecting sea or air-launched Russian cruise missiles and strategic bombers.
Ottawa and Washington are considering options for modernising the NWS, but the enhanced capability will not be available before 2035.
In light of Russia’s growing arsenal of cruise and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, capable of reaching any corner of Europe and most of North America, and its hypersonics capability development, European countries will need to consider bolstering their missile and air defences.

Breaking the ice? Implications for european and transatlantic defence

Great power competition in the Arctic is intensifying in its European sector.
The US, Canada, European Arctic countries and the EU need to redouble efforts at multilateral cooperation as a matter of priority, particularly through the Arctic Council.
Nevertheless, strategic rivalry will inevitably subject European defence and the transatlantic bond to an Arctic stress test.

First, transatlantic allies and partners need to overcome the deadlock on what, if any, NATO’s role is in the Arctic.
Finding the right role for NATO will not be easy, and NATO Arctic allies and partners need a strong voice in this process.
This is not about NATO permanent military presence or strategic parity in the region, which NATO has avoided in order not to provoke Russia.
Rather, measures could be stepped up on the Alliance’s ability to reinforce and defend all allies (art V), including Arctic ones, and acknowledging the relationship between the Arctic and broader Euro-Atlantic defence against Arctic-based Russian capabilities.
The Secretary General’s group of experts, appointed in March 2020, which includes three representatives from Arctic countries, presents an excellent opportunity to engage in this debate.

NATO’s recent adaptation is already addressing some of these challenges.
The establishment of the command in Norfolk, Virginia and the re-establishment of the 2nd US Fleet, both responsible for defending the transatlantic SLOC, consolidate allied maritime and air superiority in the North Atlantic against Russian capabilities in the Arctic without requiring extended allied presence in the region.
An increased tempo of Arctic military exercises and small rotational presence also helps to reassure Arctic allies and partners and maintain interoperability, including with enhanced partners Finland and Sweden.
Furthermore, Secretary General Stoltenberg recently argued, ‘we also need to make sure that NATO is present in the Arctic.
And some of the investments we make in new ships, maritime capabilities, surveillance capabilities, but also aircraft capabilities are relevant for the Arctic.’
This is all the more true in light of expected defence budget cuts as a result of a Covid-19-induced economic downturn.

The allies could consider developing a collective approach towards enhanced situational awareness in the High North, by pooling and sharing scarce capabilities and sharing data.
This could create a common operating picture of Russian and Chinese challenges and provide strategic-political guidance to mitigate the risk of possible sea and air incidents and miscalculations in the Arctic.
The collective approach would build on US interest in stronger cooperation with allies on layered enhanced domain awareness, real-time data fusion, multi-domain command and control, and capabilities suitable for defending the Arctic, and on Canadian, British and French visions of the region as a ‘laboratory for new technologies in information and communication, robotics, automation, airborne systems and sensors.’
Leveraging allied and bilateral military and diplomatic networks, a common NATO approach would incentivise American leadership and help Canada and European allies enhance their contributions to burden-sharing in niche areas while preserving regional states’ pragmatic cooperation with Russia in the Arctic.
European allies could consider a number of complementary measures, including the recent proposal by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) for an American Arctic Security Initiative (ASI) modelled after the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI).

Russia’s upcoming presidency of the Arctic Council is an opportunity for transatlantic allies to call on Moscow to adopt a more responsible regional posture.

Second, while the region is not a primary theatre of operations, Russia’s perception that it can use the Arctic for effective signalling to rival powers, through weapons testing or limited escalation, should be dispelled.
Russia is already using the Arctic to signal its defensive and power projection capabilities and test advanced standoff weapons, including missiles and hypersonics.
The transatlantic allies and partners could consider targeted, confidence-building measures with Russia in the Arctic to provide them with a better understanding of regional ‘tipping points’ (i.e.
issues likely to spark escalation) to prevent miscalculations.
Russia’s upcoming presidency of the Arctic Council is an opportunity for transatlantic allies to call on Moscow to adopt a more responsible regional posture, especially given the rapid erosion of the arms control regime, including the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and the recent discussions in Washington about withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty.

Third, European and transatlantic decision-makers need to start investing in Arctic economic development and infrastructure now and progressively enhance such investments over the mid-term.
Short of a broad and direct role, the EU still has an important role to play in the Arctic.
As European leaders have highlighted, ‘developments in the Arctic are progressing at rapid pace.
The European Union needs to ensure that its own policy approach would take account of relevant developments.’
Updating the 2016 policy is a good opportunity for the EU to develop a more comprehensive strategy for the Arctic if Brussels is to be a more influential regional player.
Brussels’ funding and regulatory power allow it to play an important role in supporting Arctic EU states in climate change, research, economic and infrastructure development as well as in harmonising the application of FDI risk assessment to Chinese projects among Arctic member states.
Horizontal linkage between the EU’s Green Deal and its updated Arctic strategy could be strengthened.
Cooperation on Arctic security could be considered as part of the future EU-UK security relationship.
Copernicus is already contributing significantly to Arctic situational awareness and research, but other EU instruments like Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the European Defence Fund (EDF) and EU-NATO cooperation are not yet fully leveraged by Arctic member states to jointly develop needed capabilities and build better regional situational awareness.

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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Cowes regattas, Isle of Wight in technicolor

Several 12-metres approaching the finish : Sceptre, Evaine, Flica II, Vanity V, Norsaga