Category Archives: News


On the first Friday in November, the maritime world is in Hamburg to celebrate the annual Hamburg Shipbrokers’ Dinner, also known as Eisbeinessen. From its humble beginnings in 1948, this event has grown to include a main dinner for up to 4,000 participants and numerous other dinners held elsewhere in the city. With an estimated 10,000 ship brokers, ship agents and other maritime professionals in the Hanseatic city during the days leading up to the Friday night dinners, Hamburg becomes the centre of the maritime world.

FONASBA is been proud to have been a part of this celebration for many years, with General Manager Jonathan Williams attending as a guest of the association and other FONASBA associations being nominated the “partnerland”. In recent years, our members in Turkey, the USA, Denmark, Sweden, Brazil, Dubai and France have been so honoured.

Similar to many other events in 2020, Eisbeinessen fell victim to the COVID pandemic and the dinner was cancelled. In order to keep sprits up, and to remind the world that Eisbeinessen will be back in 2021 however, Evangelos Efstathiou, CEO of Burmester & Vogel, a freight technology company based in Boston and Hamburg, offered to make a video to celebrate the event. FONASBA was honoured to be invited to participate in the video and it features clips from General Manager Jonathan Williams, Swedish Shipbrokers’ Association Director Berit Blomqvist and Executive Committee members (and Ship Agent Committee Chair and Vice Chair ) Waldemar Rocha jnr., representing Brazil, and Simone Carlini, representing Italy.  As may be expected, Christian Koopman and Dr. Alexander Geisler, Chair and Director of the German shipbrokers’ association, ZVDS, also feature.

FONASBA congratulates Evangelos Efstathiou and the Hamburg Shipbrokers Association on producing such an excellent video, which can be viewed below.


How might the traditional role of the ship agent and the ship broker change?

FONASBA General Manager Jonathan C. Williams FICS has joined with colleagues Associate Professor Mikael Lind of Research Institutes of Sweden, Sue Probert, Chair of UN /CEFACT and Juan Carlos Croston VP Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Manzanillo International Terminal  to look at the way new technologies in information sharing will change how ship agents and ship brokers work and interact with other players in the international maritime chain.

The article suggests that ship agents and ship brokers should leverage the unique level of information they already  possess to become hubs for the exchange of data across the ship/port interface and drive changes in the way business is carried out, whilst at the same time adding even more value to the services provided to their principals.

The article has also been published in The Smart Maritime Network , the Maritime Executive and Shipinsight  (Please note that this latter article requires a sign-in).


FONASBA has joined with other members of the international industry group coordinated by the International Chamber of Shipping in supporting IMO Circular Letter No. 4204/Add. 23, that calls on national governments to allow access by seafarers to medical services ashore during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IMO letter recognises that in some states the provision of medical care to crew members has been restricted due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19 but urges those states to put measures in place to ensure that crew members can access medical care at all times and for any reason. It also reiterates the guidelines issued previously in relation to the precautions to be taken by ships and shore authorities in relation to suspected cases of COVID-19.

The introduction to the letter states: “The Secretary-General endorses these Recommendations and urges their dissemination and implementation. Member States, in their capacities as port and coastal States, are invited to apply the Recommendations and bring them to the attention of all concerned, in particular border control and port health authorities”.

FONASBA has once again urged its member associations to continue to engage with national authorities to ensure they do allow seafarers to access medical treatment ashore at any time and for any reason.

A complete copy of the Circular Letter can be found here.

Governments Must Allow Crew Changes – FONASBA Statement

FONASBA is joining with the other members of the international maritime industry group on COVID-19, coordinated by the International Chamber of Shipping, in raising awareness of the plight of 400,000 seafarers who are currently unable to return home at the end of their contracts or join their ships. This situation has arisen as result of a lack of action by some national authorities in recognising the special status of seafarers, and their importance to the global supply chain, and so allowing them to travel without needing to obtain visas or comply with other immigration rules.

The importance of seafarers in maintaining supply lines is vital to ensure that the world is fed, kept warm and moving, and provided with essential supplies, has been the subject of statements by the International Maritime Organisation and others across the entire spectrum of the maritime sector. Significant efforts have been made by IMO, the International Air Transport Association, the maritime sector and airlines to work together and put in place procedures and protocls to allow the physical movement of seafarers whilst negotiating the significant problems arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some national authorities have worked closely with maritime organisations to allow crew changes to take place and they are to be commended for their efforts. The top 10 countries for crew changes identified in May by the International Chamber were: The Netherlands, Germany, China, the United States, Belgium, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, Spain, Norway and the Republic of Korea. In total, crew changes were recorded as having taken place in 50 countries. Unfortunately, the refusal of other countries to roll back their normal procedures is placing lives, and the international supply chain, at significant risk.

Of the 200,000 seafarers still stranded on their ships, many will not have been home for 14 to 16 months, having already had their contracts extended as an immediate and necessary response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The same number are waiting to replace them. The nature of seafaring has always brought with it significant mental health risks but these have been significantly exacerbated by the current situation around repatriations and suicides amongst trapped seafarers have risen sharply.

FONASBA members worldwide are joining with their counterparts in the ship owning, crewing, port and related sectors to lobby immigration authorities to lift the restrictions on seafarer movements. In support, FONASBA and the other industry group members have issued a common statement that sets out the situation in clear and unequivocal terms. It is reproduced below but can also be downloaded as a .pdf here.

Rest assured that we will continue to lobby governments and their immigration authorities until free and unrestricted movement of seafarers can once again be undertaken.

We will bring our seafarers home!

FONASBA Joins Call To Accelerate Digitalisation of Port and Logistics Sectors .

FONASBA is one of a number of major maritime industry bodies to support a call from the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) to harness the pressure for change generated by the current COVID-19 pandemic to accelerate the pace of digitalisation within the international port and logistics sectors.

In a statement issued today (Tuesday 2nd June) IAPH, endorsed by FONASBA and a range of port, cargo handling, ship owning and ship operating organisations, have called on regulators, port operators and the wider supply chain to recognise the advantages and resilience provided by an increased use of digital technologies in ports. At present, less than 40% of the Member States represented in IMO have functioning port community systems and the statement calls on IMO to press forward with implementation of the mandatory requirements enshrined in the FAL Convention for Member States to introduce single windows and to press ahead with harmonisation of data sets for ship reporting, just in time arrival and streamlining of port services. Introducing the long-awaited electronic bill of lading is another objective.

The statement also calls on all stakeholders to cooperate on the development of platforms for the exchange of data and “smart working” along the entire supply chain, backed up by capacity building initiatives including workforce training and the introduction of enhanced cyber security provisions.

A copy of the statement can be found here.

Young Ship Agent or Ship Broker Award 2020

As a result of only three synopses being received for initial consideration by the YABA Review Committee, the Committee has reluctantly decided that the 2020 Award will be postponed. Unfortunately it is not feasible to hold a valid competition with five or less entries. It is however the intention to re-run the Award in 2021 and if the three prospective 2020 entrants decide to do so, their entries will be carried over until next year.

Further information on the conditions of entry for the 2021 YABA, along with the applicable deadlines and other guidance, will be circulated to members in October or November.

FONASBA Joins Industry Group in Drafting IMO COVID-19 Recommendations

A high-level maritime industry group representing ship owners, ports, classification societies, P&I clubs and marine equipment manufacturers, as well as ship agents and brokers, has come together under the coordination of the International Chamber of Shipping to  draft recommendations for the facilitation of maritime trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three papers have been endorsed by the International Maritime Organisation to date.

The first, general guidance to national governments and authorities on maintaining maritime trade and recognising seafarers and shore-side workers as essential personnel, has been issued as IMO Circular Letter No. 4204/Add.6, and can be found here.

The second, providing a set of protocols for the management of crew changes  whilst in the midst of a blanket ban on the movement of persons and international passenger flights, has been issued as Circular Letter No. 4204/Add. 14 and can be found here.

The third paper, Circular letter No. 4204/Add. 16 is intended to assist in  managing the ship/port interface to ensure the safety of both seafarers and shore-side personnel and prevent the spread of COVID-19. A copy of that paper can be found here.

FONASBA is pleased and proud to have been able to contribute to the drafting of these documents, and by so doing to assist in ensuring that the maritime sector can continue to operate in the most efficient means possible whilst giving due regard to the need for robust and effective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19: FONASBA Secretariat Arrangements

Due to the restrictions on travel put in place by the UK Government on Monday, 16th March to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and in common with many other organisations, the FONASBA Secretariat office will be closed until further notice. With immediate effect therefore, General Manager Jonathan C. Williams FICS and Assistant General Manager Victoria Marsh FICS, will be working from home.

Both our Secretariat email addresses, and continue to be monitored at all times and telephone calls should be directed to Jonathan Williams’ mobile number +44 7778 497707.

We will of course notify the reopening of the Secretariat office as soon as we are able to do so.

ECASBA Supports Opatija Ministerial Statement

Following the High-level Ministerial Conference held in Opatija, Croatia on 10th March, the country’s Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure issued a statement calling for the European Union to work towards the implementation of a 5 point plan for the future of Europe’s Waterborne Transport Sector.

The statement, issued on 11th March in the presence of European Transport Commissioner Adina-Ioana Vălean, calls for action to:

  • Ensure a carbon-neutral and zero pollution waterborne transport sector,
  • Maximise the use of digital solutions to enhance connectivity and ensure seamless multimodal transport operations,
  • Ensure the competence of future European seafarers and inland navigation workers,
  • Achieve zero accidents in the maritime sector and
  • Ensure the EU maintains an effective and competitive maritime transport sector

Whilst recognising the actions already underway in Europe following the launch of the Green Deal, and through the NAIADES programme, TEN-T Network, European Maritime Single Window environment and similar actions, the statement makes it clear that where possible, agreement on these measures should be achieved at international level, through action in the International Maritime Organisation and the World Trade Organisation.

Welcoming the Ministerial Statement, ECASBA Chair Marco Tak said “ECASBA supports the actions set out in the statement and is committed to working with our parent organisation FONASBA and our European partners to achieve the ambitious but nonetheless achievable outcomes, for the good of both our ship agent and ship broker members and the wider maritime community. ECASBA and FONASBA are already active within the European and international maritime sectors on these matters and we will continue to strive to secure their implementation at the earliest opportunity”.

A copy of the Ministerial Statement can be found here.