Friday, September 27, 2019

Ports Concerned Over Trade Policy

By Karen Robes Meeks

Leaders from the six biggest ports on the West Coast endorsed a letter to President Donald Trump raising their concerns over the potential long-term effects to the region if the US and China continue to escalate their trade dispute.

“A long trade war could mean more shipping time for western producers and fewer work opportunities for West Coast workers,” said Clare Petrich, Port of Tacoma commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance.

The letter, sent by the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma, says the trade dispute “will create irredeemable economic harm to employers, workers, residents and international partnerships along the entire coast and throughout the country.”

“US trade policy impacts not only our core businesses, but also the success of our customers, and the livelihoods of our local communities,” the letter states. “Collectively, our trade and logistics operations employ hundreds of thousands of family-wage workers whose jobs rely on dependable trade flows. In addition, the cargo handled at our ports flows to and from every corner of the country – from the Atlantic seaboard through America’s heartland to the West Coast – to support American businesses of every size. In fact, 38 percent of all US exports to China by value go through our six ports alone.”

USCG Supports Arctic Exercise

By Karen Robes Meeks

This month, the US Coast Guard offered coverage for Navy and Marine Corps personnel who took part in the Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise (AECE) 2019 in Alaska, making sure participants were safe during the exercise.

Coverage included supplying search and rescue, law enforcement crews, and assistance in navigating Alaskan waters at exercise locations.

"As one of the nation’s Armed Forces, the Coast Guard integrates with the Department of Defense, including the US Navy and the US Marine Corps as evidenced during this exercise," said Capt. Melissa L. Rivera, chief of staff for the Seventeenth Coast Guard District. "Our helicopters, planes, equipment and personnel can fully integrate with the other military services as our HC-130 airplane is conducting refueling operations with the Navy and Marines, our MH-65 helicopter is landing on US Navy assets, our Maritime Safety and Security Teams are enforcing security zones around US Navy assets, and our deck watch officers embarked on US Navy ships to provide local knowledge and guidance to ensure safe passage."

New Float Lab in Oakland

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Oakland and the California College of the Arts recently launched a new Float Lab at the Port’s Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Acting as a reef, Float Lab seeks to curb shoreline erosion caused by waves and draws mussels, crustaceans and other sub-surface marine animals.

The college staff will study the buoyancy of structures in a marine environment and biologists will examine the Lab’s sub-surface environment. The Bay Conservation and Development Commission and other members of the regulatory community will have a chance to delve into how “pilot structures, designed to study and combat sea-level rise, fit into the regulatory framework,” according to the port.

“Float Lab is a collaboration between academic and community stakeholders to help us better prepare for the port’s climate future,” said Port Director of Environmental Programs and Planning Richard Sinkoff. “At the same time, students, through a partnership with local schools, will learn about the importance of marine communities and biodiversity.”

Redwood City PortFest

By Karen Robes Meeks

The 10th Annual Redwood City PortFest will take place on Oct. 5.

This year’s event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature a day full of family-friendly activities, including Sea Scout Boat Rides on the Gryphon and Marine Science Institute Harbor Tours aboard the Robert G. Brownlee, as well as Working Waterfront tours and a Kids Cool Game Truck video game experience. Free sailboat rides by Spinnaker Sailing, food, and Kids Zone with bounce house, carnival games and prizes will add to the experience.

Cover band Brickhouse will headline the entertainment portion of the event. Music from the West Bay Community Band, Sequoia High School Band and the Woodside String Orchestra will also be featured on the program.

Visit for more information.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

New Symphony Venue Coming to Port of San Diego

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of San Diego and the San Diego Symphony recently broke ground on the Bayside Performance Park project in the Port’s Embarcadero Marina Park South.

The waterfront-enhancing “park within a park” project will feature a new, permanent performance venue for the symphony, a wider public promenade and new or upgraded benches, basketball courts and exercise equipment, gazebo, lighting, and restrooms.

"Today marks the end of a nearly four-year process that brought together the Port of San Diego and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in creating a new vision for the tidelands,” said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. "Now we begin working together to build a remarkable project designed to bring this park alive with music and activities for everyone in our community.”

Construction is expected to be completed by next summer, in time for the beginning of the Bayside Summer Nights concert series.

“The San Diego Symphony is a wonderful partner. We couldn’t be more pleased that we’ve moved into the construction phase with the first concerts scheduled to begin next summer,” said Chairman Garry Bonelli, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “The Symphony’s $45 million minimum investment will create a stunning year-round performance venue right on the San Diego Bay waterfront and provide a new and improved public park that everyone can enjoy.”

Pollution Down at Long Beach

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Long Beach’s latest annual emissions inventory study showed dramatic decreases in operations-related pollution. Since 2005, nitrogen oxides have been down by 56 percent, sulfur oxides by 97 percent, diesel emissions by 87 percent and greenhouse gases by 16 percent when compared to 2018 numbers.

“We’re seeing the results of the hard work by the port and the goods movement industry, and we’re showing the world that sustainable cargo movement is possible,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bonnie Lowenthal. “There’s work to be done to get to our ultimate goal of zero-emissions operations, but I’m confident we will get there together.

Because of last year’s record cargo numbers, the 2018 inventory showed a slight increase from the previous year’s inventory. The 2017 numbers posted an 88 percent decrease in diesel particulates and an 18 percent decrease in greenhouse gases when compared to 2005.

“We’ve accomplished these reductions even while container traffic has risen 21 percent since 2005,” said Port Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We are proud of what we’ve done in cooperation with our many partners, but we’re not finished. The port is managing $150 million in projects all across our port, all in the name of cleaner air. This includes $80 million in grant funding to demonstrate zero emissions equipment and advanced energy systems in port operations.”

Fishing Boat Burns Off Oahu

By Karen Robes Meeks

No lives were lost following a fire that consumed a commercial fishing vessel off Oahu, the US Coast Guard said Wednesday.

The vessel Miss Emma caught fire Tuesday approximately eight miles from South Island. It burned through the night before sinking at 7:22 a.m. in 2,700 feet of water seven miles south of Barbers Point, according to the Coast Guard. “We’re pleased there was no loss of life in this case, and there are no current reports of pollution,” said Lt. j.g. Seth Gross, a command duty officer for Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.

The agency is investigating the cause of the fire. The Coast Guard first heard about the blaze via mayday call from the crew of the Miss Emma at 4:29 p.m. Tuesday.

A Coast Guard Station Honolulu 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew headed to the scene, rescuing the six crew members and a NOAA observer on a life raft. They arrived uninjured to Pier 38 in Honolulu.

Redwood City Dredging Underway

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Redwood City Harbor Channel Maintenance Dredging Project is currently underway to restore the channel depth lost to accumulated sediments.

The $7.95 million project by the US Army Corps of Engineers calls for contractor R.E. Staite Engineering to carve out the channel back to its depth of 30 feet, which would allow bigger cargo vessels to use the Port of Redwood City, bolster the area’s economy and recreational uses and eliminate trucks from roads.

According to the port, by the time the project is completed at the end of October, crews will have dredged 416,000 cubic yards of bay mud. Approximately 70,000 cubic yards will go toward wetlands restoration for sea level adaptation in the Bay.