The Government of Japan has approved (15 May 2018) a new Basic Plan on Ocean Policy. Since its first adoption in 2008 (English version here), the ocean policy has been reviewed every five years. In this third stage of the document, reference is made for the first time to an Arctic policy and targets are defined for Japan to become “a new oceanic state”. The “Maritime Domain Awareness” capacity is strengthened and this item receives an independent treatment. In the item “Comprehensive Maritime Security”, the document refers to the strengthening of the “Coast Guard System”. The document also highlights other goals, such as methane hydrate development, the establishment of rules on the use of maritime zones and the improvement of the accuracy of resource evaluation. The official announcement of the approval of this document may be found here (video in Japanese). All the relevant documents of the approval process are here (in Japanese). The outline of the plan is here (in English).
Category Archives: State Practice
The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules a Portuguese tonnage tax scheme. Under this scheme, maritime transport companies will pay taxes on the basis of the net tonnage (i.e. the size of the shipping fleet) operated in maritime transport activities rather than on the basis of their taxable profits. In addition, for certain more environmentally-friendly ships, companies can achieve an additional reduction of 10% to 20% of the tax base under the tonnage tax scheme. Moreover, a seafarer scheme exempts seafarers employed on vessels that are eligible under the tonnage tax scheme from paying personal income tax. It also allows them to pay reduced rates of contribution for social insurance. Both the tonnage tax and seafarer schemes will remain in force for ten years. More information is available here. The proposal of the scheme (Proposta de Lei 111/XIII) may be found here (in Portuguese).
The Norwegian Parliament (Storting) has called on the government to implement requirements and regulations for emissions from cruise ships and other maritime traffic in tourist resorts as well as other suitable means to ensure phasing-in of low-and-zero emissions solutions in the shipping industry by 2030. This includes introducing a zero emissions threshold for ferry ships and ferries in the World Heritage fjords as soon as it is technically feasible, and no later than 2026. The decision is part of a broader set of recommendations from the Energy and Environment Committee on the climate strategy for 2030 to cut Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions. Those recommendations (3 May 2018) may be found here (in Norwegian).
Mandatory compliance with the USA Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) became effective 1 January 2018, but shrimp and abalone inclusion was stayed until comparable traceability requirements for domestic aquaculture could be established. On 23 April 2018, the stay was lifted and thus shrimp and abalone compliance will be mandatory by 31 December 2018. According to NOAA, “The inclusion of shrimp – the largest US seafood import- and abalone in SIMP nearly doubles the volume and value of imported fish and fish products subject to its requirements, further leveling the playing field for U.S. fishermen, aquaculture producers, and seafood producers around the world who play by the rules”.
Netherlands: court finds criminal liability for export of ships as waste under EC Regulation 1013/2006
The Rotterdam District Court has condemned a shipping company for the illegal export of ships for scrapping. A set of related decisions dated 15 March 2018 has led to the company Seatrade being fined, and to a temporary professional ban issued against two of its executives. The Dutch public prosecutor considered as facts the sales of ships for demolition in India, Bangladesh and Turkey in 2012. One of the justifications for these decisions has been that the “harmful consequences of scrapping ships on the beaches of India and Bangladesh, in particular for the environment and health, are far-reaching.” (translated from the Dutch: “De schadelijke gevolgen van het slopen van schepen op de stranden van met name India en Bangladesh voor milieu en gezondheid, zijn verstrekkend”). These decisions were taken on the basis of Regulation (EC) Nr. 1013/2006 on the shipment of waste, which prohibits EU member-states from exporting hazardous waste to countries outside the OECD. The court interpreted Recital 35 of that Regulation, which states that “[i]t is necessary to ensure the safe and environmentally sound management of ship dismantling in order to protect human health and the environment” as encompassing ships of all flags fall under its scope. The cases may be found in the list below:
Brazil: protected areas around Trindade e Martim Vaz and São Pedro e São Paulo archipelagos approved
The President of Brazil has approved on 19 March 2018 the creation of environmentally protected areas surrounding two of its archipelagos, including the creation of two natural monuments (as per Art. 12 of Law No 9.985 of 18 July 2000). The Decree No 9.312 creates the environmental protection area of the Tridade e Martim Vaz archipelago, creating also the natural monument of the Trindade e Martim Vaz islands and of the Columbia mount; it may be found here (in Portuguese). The Decree Nº 9.313 creates the environmental protection area of the São Pedro e São Paulo archipelago, creating also the natural monument of the São Pedro e São Paulo archipelago; it may be found here (in Portuguese). Whilst economic activities, such as sustainable fisheries, will be allowed within the environmental protection areas, the natural monuments will be areas of “integral protection”. The protected areas encompass the archipelagos’ Exclusive Economic Zones (c. 40 million hectares each). The protection of these areas will allow Brazil to accomplish Goal 11 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.