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News 2019

On 17 and 18 October, experts and policy makers discuss the United Nations' International Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its future at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg. The organizers of the event are Indiana University's Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, the University of Hamburg and the International Foundation for the Law of the Sea. There are still spots available for the conference.

25 years ago, the United Nations adopted the International Convention of the Law of the Sea. To mark this occasion, an international UNCLOS Conference is held in Hamburg. UNCLOS stands for United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The venue for the conference is the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea at Hamburg-Nienstedten. The white old-fashioned villa and the new building in a spacious park with view on the river Elbe house Germany's only international court of law. Since 1996, 21 judges of the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea have delivered judgements on disputes over the interpretation of the Convention of the Law of the Sea.


The convention was developed in 1994, after nine years of negotiations as a reaction to a long lasting dispute about the size of the area of the coastal waters. These kinds of issues become more and more important because many countries use marine resources and want to increase the size of their fishing and oil production areas. 165 states have so far ratified the convention; incidentally, the USA are not among them.

Major aspects of the Convention of the Law of the Sea are the determination of a 12 nautical mile zone as coastal waters as well as a continuous 12 nautical mile zone. The coastal waters are territorial waters, which means that the coastal state is able to punish violations. In the continuous zone, the state can decree customs, health or immigration provisions. The convention also deals with rights and duties within the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) as well as the exploitation of the high seas and the ocean bed.

At the conference in Hamburg, experts will review the current state as well as discuss the future of the Convention of the Law of the Sea. During the first day of the conference, the dispensation of justice regarding the usage of the sea areas and the settlement of disputes will be considered. The most prominent speaker of the day will be former US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel talking about the practical application of the Articles (altogether 320) of the Convention. Directing the focus onto the future, the second day features issues such as changes of marine policies as new technologies emerge.

Find out more under https://hls.indiana.edu/unclos/

In the course of the National Masterplan for Maritime Technologies (NMMT), the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy together with the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen invites to a symposium in Bremerhaven during 23-24 October 2019. At this symposium, enterprises and authorities from various countries of Europe present their projects of maritime safety and security technologies.

Already a day before the actual commencement of the notes and presentations, on 22 October at 4 pm, a live demonstration at the outside area of the Forum Fischbahnhof marks the beginning of the symposium. This live demonstration will be open to visitors throughout the two-day symposium. The event addresses the achievements and challenges of digital ship safety and security.

The first day of the symposium is about how digitalization is utilized in marine traffic monitoring, management as well as logistic chains, about maritime infrastructures in ports, on ships and of waterways, and about innovations for safeguarding and protecting for example coastal and offshore installations. Enterprises and public authorities will present their projects in connection with these themes. For the evening of the 23rd October, the Senator for Economic Affairs, Labour and Europe of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen invites the participants to a reception at the "German Immigration Centre" in Bremerhaven.

During the morning session of day two, risks and tasks of cyber security will be discussed. The speakers and participants will focus on digital avenues in environmental protection and the future of digital safety and security issues.

The symposium is part of the National Masterplan for Maritime Technologies (NMMT) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. With this masterplan, the coordinator for the maritime economy of the Federal Government Norbert Brackmann has set up a concept for the advancement of the maritime economy. As part of the Maritime Agenda 2025 of the Federal Government, the NMMT will depict the innovation and development requirements of the maritime sector.

The symposium takes place in English. Registration and the programme can be located on the website of the NMMT by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.

The Jens-Peter and Betsy Schlüter Foundation for Shipping and Environment holds an international symposium on the issue of "Anthropogenic Underwater Noise" on 10 September 2019. Top-tier experts from international organizations and academic institutions will report about the sources and impacts of underwater noise caused by humans and discuss with the audience how the noise might be reduced.

There are many sources of noise underwater: on the one hand, natural sounds like the wash of the waves or communication sounds of marine animals, on the other hand, sounds created by men. The underwater noise that is caused by merchant ships is significant and can harm marine wildlife, especially marine mammals. Ship propellers, but also on-board machinery, generate a constant sound in the water. This disturbs the communication and echo localisation of the animals among each other as well as of other objects which can lead to collisions. According to the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation underwater noise has doubled every decade over the last 35 years.

On an international symposium supported by the IMO this increasingly important environmental topic becomes the focus. On 10 September 2019 experts of various maritime areas engage with the phenomenon of noise in the sea. In the morning and early noon experts will report about the sources and impacts of anthropogenic underwater noise. In the afternoon, the focus lies on the exploration of solutions: How can the underwater noise caused by humans be reduced?

The symposium is held in English. For more information, the programme and registration refer to the website of the foundation.


With its "Day of the Seafarer" on 25 June, the International Maritime Organization IMO draws attention to 1.2 million seafarers worldwide and their interests. This year the day is themed "gender equality". The IMO arranges their campaign mostly in social media. Some seamen's missions celebrate this day together with the seafarers.

I am on board

This year the maritime world is dedicated to women. And such the World Maritime Day makes Empowering Women in the Maritime Community the subject of discussion. The motto of the Day of the Seafarer on 25 June takes up this topic too: "I Am on Board with gender equality". The IMO calls to participate under the hashtag #IamOnBoard on their presences on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and to witness interactively how the community picks up this topic. Another way to participate is offered on the IMO website where suggestions to achieve gender equality in seafaring can be made on a virtual wall.

Some seaman's missions also seize the Day of the Seafarer as an opportunity to draw attention to the hard work of seafarers with events to celebrate them. For example: the Seamen's Mission Cuxhaven organizes a barbeque party from 5 pm (rsvp until 21 June cuxhaven@seemannsmission.org) and the Seaman's Mission Bremerhaven throws a party at the Seamen's Club Welcome from 5 pm with a game of basketball cheered on by the local cheerleader team and food off the barbeque.

Reflective close proximity clothing must meet EN 1486 or ISO 15538

Close proximity clothing for fire fighting as maritime equipment in accordance with the European Marine Equipment Directive 2014/90/EU (hereinafter MED) must successfully undergo a specified conformity assessment procedure ("EU approval") prior to their supply on the European single market and their subsequent use on board an EU ship as defined by the MED.

The relevant testing standards for the conformity assessment procedure stem from the provisions of the current implementing regulation of the European Commission on design, construction and performance requirements as well as testing standards for marine  equipment. In the implementing regulation – which is currently regulation (EU) 2018/773 – the testing standards EN 469(2005), EN 1486 (2007) as well as ISO 15538 (2001) are listed under item "MED/3.3 Fire-fighter's outfit: protective clothing (close proximity clothing)".

A ruling on 20 October 2017 (under the number 3 Bf 152/16) of the higher administrative court of Hamburg has bindingly found that for reflective close proximity clothing and close proximity clothing with a reflectiveouter surface only the testing standards EN 1486 or ISO 15538 are to be applied in a MED conformity assessment procedure. The testing standard EN 469 is not pertinent and therefore may not be the basis of an "EU approval procedure".

Reflective close proximity clothing, which has solely been tested in accordance with EN 469, lacks the proper conformity assessment procedure and the proof that the clothing conforms with the applicable legal requirements for the product and may therefore be indicated as MED conform and bear the wheel mark.

All economic operators , manufacturers and distributors in particular, are legally obliged to ensure that they are not responsible for any reflective close proximity clothing solely tested with EN 469 to make it available as a MED conform product on the German market and consequently used.

The BSH, as the competent market surveillance authority explicitly reserves the right to take the regulatory measures against the economic operators  concerned in case an infringement of the legal prohibition is established.

Market surveillance department is at your disposal in case of any questions.

Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie
Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 78
20359 Hamburg

Marktüberwachung / market surveillance

Mail: marktueberwachung@bsh.de

Ingolf Eckert
Phone: +49 40 3190-7110
Fax: +49 40 3190-5000
Mail: ingolf.eckert@bsh.de

In March of last year, the BSH tested the first maritime Galileo satellite navigation receiver worldwide to be used on board.

In March of last year, the BSH tested the first maritime Galileo satellite navigation receiver worldwide to be used on board for an EU approval. This receiver of the company Fugro Norway AS with the name Fugro Oceanstar had already been approved as a receiver for GPS and the Russian system GLONASS.

Aside from the real satellite environment, the BSH also used an extensive satellite simulation for the testing. The simulation facilitates the near optional combination of all signals available for civilian application of the satellite navigation systems GPS, GLONASS and Galileo. The approval after the completion of the testing was carried out by DNV GL Group.

In its Annual Report 2018 on maritime labour rights, the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr shows at a glance how it monitored compliance with the provisions of the Maritime Labour Act over the last year. Since last year, the BG Verkehr has been issuing Maritime Labour Certificates and Fishing Labour Certificates electronically. The Ship Safety Division also published its MLC-Guidelines in a completely revised format.

Since 2013 the Maritime Labour Act implements the International Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) on ships under German flag. With these provisions, mandatory and comprehensive regulations regarding working and living conditions of seafarers have been established. Important topics like hours of work and rest, food and catering, payment of wages, occupational health on board and many more are now clearly regulated and are verified on a regular basis.

40 MLC surveyors inspect international ships abroad and nationally regarding their compliance with the requirements of the Convention for the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr. The employees of the ISM / ILO Department attend to complaints of seafarers about working and living conditions, approve private recruitment agencies and ensure that shipping companies under German flag are informed about current topics of this topic area. The ISM / ILO Department has now published its Annual Report 2018.

MLC Annual Report 2018

Since last year, the German Flag has been issuing Maritime Labour Certificates and Fishing Labour Certificates as electronic certificates. The validity of a ship certificate can be verified electronically with a certificate identification number on this website.

In the middle of the year 2018, the fully revised Guidelines on the implementation of the Maritime Labour Act on board of German flagged ships (this version in German only) was published. Compared to its previous version, the experts of the Ship Safety Division completely revised the topic area health and safety protection and accident prevention. New information about drinking water on sea-going ships as well as maps of the trading areas for medical equipment were added. For the first time, the Guidelines contain specific information about contracts of employment and hours of work and rest for work on board fishing vessels.

With this QR Code, you can download the MLC Guidelines directly to your phone and have them at the ready whenever you need them:

QR-Code MLC-Leitfaden

The German Flag State Administration gets more and more digital. In addition to e-certificates, online application procedures and many other interactive applications on the website, the Hamburg shipping register, as the first shipping register in Germany, will become digital. A user-friendly and time-saving procedure will facilitate the registration of ships for the shipowners and the administration staff.

"Time is money" – this is especially true for the shipping industry, because any day that a ship is not in transit, it is costing the shipowner money rather than making it. So far a ship registration may take up to a week. During this time the documents are being processed, handed from one department to the next and are thoroughly checked legally.

To considerably reduce this bureaucratic effort, the Hamburg shipping register has decided to undergo a comprehensive digitalisation. On 1. January 2020, the first digital shipping register in Germany will be able to carry out registrations and register entry changes in less than half the time thanks to online applications, automatic processes, such as call sign designation and verification of double naming, as well as digital files.

digital shipping register Hamburg

The Hamburg shipping register counts almost 7,000 entries of which 4,866 are of sea-going vessels. This makes it the largest shipping register in Germany. Last year it had 420 new entries and 3,500 applications for changes. The registration of a ship at the competent district court of the home port is required when a new ship is built or a ship changes flag. Applications for a change of the entry need to be filed when for example a ship undergoes a conversion or changes its name. The online application allows for a submission of the application forms independent of the opening hours of the authority from all around the world. It will also not be necessary to visit the shipping register personally for a file inspection, this can rather be done at one's own desk.

Some other shipping registers have already shown interest in this digitalisation project. The possible digitalisation of other shipping registers could facilitate a closer cooperation in the future. The digital shipping register will be a real gain for the maritime and legal location Hamburg and a valuable service for the shipowner.