Bimco warns on Brazilian coastal trades
Tanker-owners in the Brazilian coastal trade are facing a deteriorating situation, with authorities demanding exorbitant fines for visa 'infringements', the Baltic and International Maritime Council (Bimco) says.
It said owners also were barred from allowing their vessels to berth to discharge cargoes and crews had been denied permission to go ashore.
Bimco began monitoring the situation in November, when crewmen were fined about US$50 for failure to hold 'Visa No 5'.
The required visa can be obtained only by seafarers employed by Brazilian companies and cannot be issued by Brazilian consulates or embassies.
As such, foreign crews on non-Brazilian ships are not able to obtain the visa.
In late November the Brazilian Immigration National Council drafted regulations which would address the problems faced by foreign crews on ships in the area.
While the council deliberated on solutions, a grace period stopped foreign crews from being penalised for failure to obtain the visa. The grace period expired last month.
Recent reports indicate Brazilian Federal Police and Immigration Authorities have fined at least four tankers between $30,000 to $250,000 for crew not holding the visa.
Tankers trading to Vila do Condo (Belem) have faced severe problems, where agents received a circular prohibiting any kind of activities involving foreign vessels in the coastal trade under time-charter and indicating that the policy would apply at all Brazilian ports.
Bimco is advising members to take care in considering time-charters involving Brazilian coastal trade. It will monitor the situation and post developments on its Web Site at http://www.bim co.dk/ in the 'Latest News' section.
WONG JOON SAN