With the recent ratification of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004, it will soon be necessary to assess ships for compliance with ballast water discharge standards. Sampling skids that allow the efficient collection of ballast water samples in a compact space have been developed for this purpose. We ran 22 trials on board the RV Meteor from June 4–15, 2015 to evaluate the performance of three ballast water sampling devices (traditional plankton net, Triton sampling skid, SGS sampling skid) for three organism size classes: ≥ 50 μm, ≥ 10 μm to < 50 μm, and < 10 μm. Natural sea water was run through the ballast water system and untreated samples were collected using paired sampling devices. Collected samples were analyzed in parallel by multiple analysts using several different analytic methods to quantify organism concentrations. To determine whether there were differences in the number of viable organisms collected across sampling devices, results were standardized and statistically treated to filter out other sources of variability, resulting in an outcome variable representing the mean difference in measurements that can be attributed to sampling devices. These results were tested for significance using pairwise Tukey contrasts. Differences in organism concentrations were found in 50% of comparisons between sampling skids and the plankton net for ≥ 50 μm, and ≥ 10 μm to < 50 μm size classes, with net samples containing either higher or lower densities. There were no differences for < 10 μm organisms. Future work will be required to explicitly examine the potential effects of flow velocity, sampling duration, sampled volume, and organism concentrations on sampling device performance.
Vessel Traffic and Tracking, Shipping, and Ports
To prevent new ballast water-mediated introductions of aquatic nonindigenous species (NIS), many ships will soon use approved Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS) to meet discharge standards for the maximum number of viable organisms in ballast water. Type approval testing of BWMS is typically conducted during warmer seasons when plankton concentrations are highest, despite the fact that ships operate globally year-round. Low temperatures encountered in polar and cool temperate climates, particularly during the winter season, may impact treatment efficacy through changes in plankton community composition, biological metabolic rates or chemical reaction rates. Filtration + UV irradiance is one of the most common ballast water treatment methods, but its effectiveness at low temperatures has not been assessed. The objective in this study was to examine the efficacy of filtration + UV-C irradiation treatment at low temperatures for removal or inactivation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations during simulated ballast water treatment. Organisms from two size classes (≥ 10 to < 50 μm and ≥ 50 μm) were identified and enumerated using microscope and culture techniques. The response of organisms in both size categories to UV-C irradiation was evident across a range of temperatures (18 °C, 12 °C and 2 °C) as a significant decrease in concentration between controls and treated samples. Results indicate that filtration + UV-C irradiation will be effective at low temperatures, with few viable organisms ≥ 10 to < 50 μm recorded even 21 days following UV exposure (significantly lower than in the control treatment).
Ship traffic in Northwestern European seas is intense and continuing to increase, posing a threat to vulnerable seabird species as a result of disturbance. However, information on species-specific effects of ship traffic on seabirds at sea is limited, and tools are needed to prioritize species and areas to support the integration of conservation needs in Marine Spatial Planning. In this study, we investigated the responses of 26 characteristic seabird species in the German North and Baltic Seas to experimental ship disturbance using large datasets collected as part of the seabirds at Sea counts. We developed a Disturbance Vulnerability Index (DVI) for ship traffic combining indicators for species’ shyness, escape costs, and compensatory potential, and analyzed the relationships among shyness, escape costs, and vulnerability. The DVI was calculated using the following eight indicators: escape distance, proportion of escaping birds, proportion of birds swimming prior to disturbance, wing loading, habitat use flexibility, biogeographic population size, adult survival rate, European threat and conservation status. Species-specific disturbance responses differed considerably, with common scoters (Melanitta nigra) and red-throated loons (Gavia stellata) showing the longest escape distances and highest proportions of escaping individuals. Red-throated loon, black guillemot (Cepphus grylle), Arctic loon (Gavia arctica), velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca), and red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator) had the highest DVI values, and gulls and terns had the lowest. Contrary to theoretical considerations, shyness correlated positively with escape costs, with the shyest species also being the most vulnerable among the species studied. The strong reactions of several species to disturbance by ships suggest the need for areas with little or no disturbance in some marine protected areas, to act as a refuge for vulnerable species. This DVI can be used in combination with distribution data to identify the areas most vulnerable to disturbance.
This study presents an overview of the context and global impacts of recent International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations on the marine fuel oil refining industry, future marine fuel mix and ship emissions. IMO limited marine fuel sulphur content in both Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) and Nitrogen Oxide Emission Control Areas (NECAs) to 0.1% (wt. %) by 2015, and to 0.5% globally by 2020. It is anticipated that the newly implemented IMO regulations will help to mitigate negative impact of ship emissions on public health and environment. IMO regulations require significant changes to refineries to increase the production of low sulphur fuels through a shift to distillates, use of novel deep desulphurization techniques, or fuel blending. Changes to the refinery processes can bring forth increases in greenhouse gas emissions and high capital investments. Alternative fuels will need to meet the required reduction of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in coastal areas. Alternative marine fuels consisting of liquefied nature gas (LNG) and biofuel may be suitable fuels to meet both targets. These two fuels are predicted to account for 50% of shipping energy demand by 2050, while the remainder will still be supplied by conventional heavy fuel oil (HFO)/marine gas oil (MGO). Switching to low sulphur fuels as a results of the new IMO regulations has led to measureable reductions in ship emissions generally. This fuel switching also resulted in changes in engine emission characteristics, especially on particulate matter chemical composition.
Promising approaches for indicative analysis of ballast water samples have been developed that require study in the field to examine their utility for determining compliance with the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments. To address this gap, a voyage was undertaken on board the RV Meteor, sailing the North Atlantic Ocean from Mindelo (Cape Verde) to Hamburg (Germany) during June 4–15, 2015. Trials were conducted on local sea water taken up by the ship's ballast system at multiple locations along the trip, including open ocean, North Sea, and coastal water, to evaluate a number of analytic methods that measure the numeric concentration or biomass of viable organisms according to two size categories (≥ 50 μm in minimum dimension: 7 techniques, ≥ 10 μm and < 50 μm: 9 techniques). Water samples were analyzed in parallel to determine whether results were similar between methods and whether rapid, indicative methods offer comparable results to standard, time- and labor-intensive detailed methods (e.g. microscopy) and high-end scientific approaches (e.g. flow cytometry). Several promising indicative methods were identified that showed high correlation with microscopy, but allow much quicker processing and require less expert knowledge. This study is the first to concurrently use a large number of analytic tools to examine a variety of ballast water samples on board an operational ship in the field. Results are useful to identify the merits of each method and can serve as a basis for further improvement and development of tools and methodologies for ballast water compliance monitoring.
The Mediterranean sperm whale population is listed as ‘Endangered”. The Hellenic Trench is the core habitat of the eastern Mediterranean sperm whale sub-population that numbers two to three hundred individuals. Major shipping routes running on or very close to the 1000 m depth contour along the Hellenic Trench are causing an unsustainable number of ship-strikes with sperm whales reviewed in this paper. Sperm whale sighting and density data were combined with specific information on the vessel traffic in the area (e.g., types of vessels, traffic patterns, speed and traffic density), in order to estimate the risk of a whale/ship interaction. Routing options to significantly reduce ship strike risk by a small offshore shift in shipping routes were identified. The overall collision risk for sperm whales in the study area would be reduced by around 70%, while a maximum of 11 nautical miles would be added to major routes and only around 5 nautical miles for the majority of ships. No negative impacts were associated with re-routing by shipping away from sperm whale habitat and there would be additional shipping safety and environmental benefits. A significant contribution to the overall conservation status of the marine Natura2000 sites in the area and very important population units of threatened species such as Cuvier’s beaked whales, monk seals and loggerhead turtles would be achieved, by the reduction of shipping noise and reduced risk of any oil spills reaching the coasts, which are also important touristic destinations in Greece.
The recent decline of the Arctic sea ice cover leads to an increasing number of vessels navigating through the Arctic shipping routes. Ballast water, essential for the vessel's safety during voyages and cargo transfers, however, is also considered one of the main vectors for transport and introduction of non-indigenous species. The aim of this paper is to investigate potential effects of the ballast water discharged in the main Arctic shipping routes on the local environment. For that a passive tracer was implemented in a fine resolution coupled ocean-sea ice model covering the entire Arctic and northern North Atlantic, to simulate the spread of the ballast water discharged based on release points along real ship positions from 2013. The model results showed that spring and summer were the seasons with the highest tendency for accumulation of ballast water tracer on the surface layers south of NovayaZemlyaand south of Spitsbergen, not only due to a higher number of vessels navigating in the area but also due to strong stratification. During winter and autumn, the tracer was mixed with and into deeper layers due to vertical convection. The simulated ballast water accumulation during spring and summer indicated that organisms, that survived the voyage in the ballast tanks, could establish a stable or growing population and eventually become invasive.
Anthropogenic effects have created various risks for wild animals. Boat traffic is one of the most fatal risks for marine mammals. Individual behavioral responses of cetaceans, including diving behavior such as changing swimming direction and lengthing inter-breath interval, to passing boats is relatively well known; however, the social function of cetacean responses to boat traffic in a natural setting remains poorly understood. We focused on describing the behavioral responses of single and aggregated finless porpoises to boats passing at Misumi West Port, Ariake Sound, Japan, by using a drone characterized with a high-precision bird’s-eye angle. During the study period, we collected 25 episodes of finless porpoise responses to boats passing by. A mean (± SEM) of 5.1 ± 1.0 individuals were observed for each episode. The primary response to passing boats was avoidance by dive, which implies boat traffic is a substantial disturbance to finless porpoises that travel along the seawater surface daily. The diving duration decreased significantly with an increase in the number of aggregated individuals. The diving and floating reaction times were 10.9 ± 2.3 s and 18.7 ± 5.0 s, respectively. There was no significant difference between the reaction times indicating that each individual was motivated to keep the group cohesion consistent when floating even after the risk had dissolved, which is comparable to the behavior of porpoises that dive when riskier conditions are present, such as when a boat approaches an aggregation. Our findings provide new insights on the sociality of finless porpoises even though there were limitations, like an inability to identify a specific individual. The drone enabled us to observe the social behavior of finless porpoises and other cetaceans at an unprecedented resolution, which may lead to a better understanding of the evolutionary diversity of intelligence and sociality and the bridge to human evolution.
As the Arctic continues to warm, summer sea ice will continue to recede and a greater expanse of Arctic waters will become navigable. These changes may result in an increase in vessel traffic to the region, including via the Transpolar Sea Route (TSR), through the high seas area of the central Arctic Ocean (CAO). This paper begins with a review of the literature on Arctic vessel traffic to assess the potential effects of various stressors related to vessel traffic in the Arctic Ocean. Available data concerning environmental and safety risks for the Arctic Ocean are used to propose vessel TSR vessel traffic routes that can reduce those risks. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of several examples of vulnerability assessments focused on impacts from vessel traffic in the Arctic as potential models for future work specific to the CAO. The results from this review indicate vessel oiling, air pollution, and noise from icebreakers are immediate concerns to the Arctic Ocean that will likely worsen as the region becomes more navigable and vessel traffic increases. The proposed vessel routes for the Arctic Ocean are meant to serve as a starting point for further discussions before the region becomes fully navigable. As additional data become available, these efforts can be refined further, and a rigorous vulnerability assessment may become possible. Designation as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area under international law could provide a useful mechanism for creating and updating precautionary shipping measures as more information becomes available.
The right to life is a basic and fundamental core human right. Despite the idea that the lives of all human beings are equal under the protection of the law, the special characteristics of the seafarers’ profession suggests that they should be granted additional attention and protection. In recent years, issues related to seafarers’ welfare have moved to the forefront of concern, however, discussion on seafarers’ right to life has drawn little attention. This paper is intended to contribute to knowledge in this aspect by drawing together themes from theoretical policy and governance studies and uses case studies that apply lessons from these disciplines to the practical context of the worldwide shipping industry. Specifically, the discussion clarifies the concept and dimension of the human right to life as well as seafarers’ right to life as a special group of industrial workers, notes the hazardous feature of seafaring as an occupation, identifies the sources of seafarers rights in the related maritime policies and international regulations and illustrates the obligation of the state from the perspective of the ‘flag’ and the ‘port’. The paper finally provides conclusions to the ongoing major issues and suggests a mechanism that should be established to ensure seafarers’ right to life is to be respected.