Ships sail on the Caspian Sea, Bautino Bay, southwest Kazakhstan. Credit: ENKA
Kazakhstan’s parliament has ratified UN protocol to ensure the safety and security of ships under the Kazakhstan flag on the high seas as the country targets to expand cargo flows between its ports on the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea countries via the Volga–Don Canal.
In February, the Kazakhstan parliament ratified the 2005 Protocol to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, which provides legal guarantees that other countries will undertake necessary actions to protect ships under the Kazakhstan flag from, and to react to, any unlawful acts including terrorist attacks.
This is particularly important as the country’s flagged vessels will now be sailing to Turkey, and sometimes close to Syria; both regions that have experience political unrest.
The increased cargo traffic with ports on the high seas for Kazakhstan is the result of an agreement with the Russian government to simplify the transit of Kazakhstan ships via Russian water ways, according to Zhenis Kasymbek, the minister of Investment and Development.
The volumes of general cargo transportation from the port of Aktau to the ports of Turkey had reached 35,000 metric tonnes in 2017, said Kasymbek. However, this figure is projected to rise threefold in 2018 to nearly 105,000 metric tonnes, according to his estimations.
“The protocol expands the list of the acts classified as terroristic and defines the response mechanisms and mutual help in the event of assault on ships. Today 40 countries have joined the protocol, including almost all Baltic and Black Sea countries,” Kasymbek said.
“The ratification of the protocol contributes to the strengthening of legal guarantees for ensuring security of Kazakh ships floating in the high seas”, he stressed.
The man-made Volga–Don Canal is a through-passage linking the enclosed inland body of water of the Caspian Sea with the Black Sea. The annual traffic on the canal is estimated at 12 million metric tonnes per year, although it is projected to grow in the coming years, in part due to the adoption of the simplified transit rules for the foreign ships recently approved by Russian officials.