It is important to study the current situation of the coastal areas of Iran, especially in the ports in the south of Iran in the Corona era. To investigate the situation in these areas, we interviewed one of the experts in this field. He has decades of experience in studying and investigating the coastal areas of Iran, especially the coasts in the south of the country. According to him, one of the most important projects he has completed in recent years is the "Integrated Coastal Zone Management" project. Although this project started in 2001, it is still ongoing and is so extensive that it covers areas such as exploitation management, supervision, protection and even development of city structures. Dr. Fereydoun Oufi is the academic member of the Iranian Fisheries Science and Research Institute. He was honored as the exemplary marine researcher at the ceremony which was held on the occasion of the Day of Seafarer and World Maritime Day on August 18, 2019. He is going to tell us about the current situation in the ports in the south of Iran, especially Hormozgan; Ports that until recently, from the point of view of government managers and business owners in non - governmental companies, were opportunities to expand economic activities and increase Iran's share in the maritime economy through them. However, the situation in these areas is not very good and needs serious attention from managers, planners, economists and experts in various fields. The following is a description of the interview of the Atiyehno weekly newspaper with Dr. Fereydoun Oufi, the academic member of the Iranian Fisheries Science and Research Institute:
The port economics in the southern provinces, especially in the ports of Hormozgan province, is divided into three parts: Fishing, transit and coastal. What is the current situation in each of these sections?
While all the attention was on the new world fuel law, the second big shock, the news of the outbreak of the coronavirus from China surprised the world's second largest industry, the shipping industry. The outbreak was so deadly that it directly affected part of the international trade and in the next wave, involved maritime transport. Many ports around the world are on standby, and others have refused to accept Chinese ships or send cargo to this Asian country. For the first time in a decade, the world economy will not experience any growth. Iran is not safe from this global storm. Therefore, in the coastal provinces of the country especially in Hormozgan province which is the hub of fisheries and maritime industries in the south of the country, we must know what the situation is and prepare ourselves for the coming days. In general, maritime activities and related industries in coastal provinces and cities as well as small and large ports should be divided into three sectors: Fisheries and fishing industry, maritime and coastal transport, transportation of passengers and goods, and related activities in the land sector including unloading and loading, warehousing as well as supply of products to other areas of the country. Despite the seemingly independent activities of each of these sectors and separate managements for the beneficiaries and users of the segregated units, it should be noted that these sets of loops actually form a chain and the vulnerability and disruption in a loop will eventually hamper the production process and efficiency in the maritime sector. In other words, the economy of ports and maritime activities will face critical conditions. With this explanation, the pathology study of each sector will require a research study program based on maritime economics models, which requires considering all socio - economic, political, security, cultural and educational aspects. In this regard, determining the contribution and the share that can be withdrawn for each of the stakeholders is one of the most important issues that should be considered. At present, it seems that due to the turbulent economic conditions caused by sanctions and economic constraints, the escalating trend of inflation and the unruly and uncontrollable trend of rising commodity prices, it is not possible to plan and policy in the short term to get out of this crisis; As a result, with documented and accurate information and data in a medium or long term period, the influencing factors should be identified and the indicators of executive approaches should be presented.
In those days, people came to Hormozgan province as travelers and at one point a campaign was formed by the people of Hormozgan to ask people not to travel to this province. What were the results of this campaign and the continuation of the desire of the Iranian people to travel to the ports of the southern provinces at this time of the year?
The spread of the coronavirus has had a significant impact on the transportation sector. Providing public transportation services on the one hand is essential and can increase the prevalence of the virus on the other hand. The challenge of public transportation is how to ensure physical distancing. This issue is of special importance for metropolises and mainly cities with the ability to attract travelers and tourists. Meanwhile, the unique natural features and nature - based tourist attractions, especially the coastal and marine areas of Hormozgan province, have become a threat during the coronavirus crisis. Despite serious government recommendations regarding the dangers of unnecessary transportation and travel during the coronavirus outbreak period and the role of this factor in the widespread prevalence of the virus, it can be said that the presence of careless travelers and tourists is considered as a serious threat for the province. If the protocol announced by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education is fully implemented in the transport sector, a significant part of the capacity of the public transport system will be used for a relatively lower number of passengers. Despite using a large volume of transport system capacity to move a small portion of normal demand, social distancing will be difficult in different places such as escalators, entrances and exits at stations (especially exchange stations), ticket purchase queue (even with the removal of one - way tickets) and on the platforms.
In your opinion, how effective was the simultaneous outbreak of coronavirus in Iran and the Nowruz holiday in worsening the situation?
The coronavirus outbreak coincided with the New Year holidays, which dealt a significant blow to the tourism industry. Based on estimates from the last five years, it can be said that every year from the beginning of March to the end of April, about one million international trips were made by the Iranian tourists and about 850,000 foreign tourists entered the country during this period. Also during this period, about For about 20 million people, domestic travel with 75 million overnight stays (based on the average of Nowruz in 2019) has been recorded by domestic tourists; The outbreak of coronavirus in March and April 2020 caused a significant drop in all of the above events. Businesses in the field of tourism (domestic, inbound and outbound tourism) have been virtually shut down in the current situation, in other words, the wheel of this employment - generating industry has stopped. Postponement of employer's share premiums, postponement of electricity and gas costs, non - implementation of deprivations and prohibitions on returned checks and postponement or complete forgiveness of rents of tourist places and spaces assigned to the private sector, etc. are measures taken to support the tourism industry. But these measures are unlikely to improve the situation of the main body of the tourism sector. It should be mentioned that more than two - thirds of tourism activists work indirectly and informally in the industry and are not employed by tourism companies.
Is Corona currently causing problems in the transportation of Iranian ships?
Analyzing the events that have taken place in the world since the outbreak of Covid - 19, it seems that these events will be the beginning of a renaissance period for the maritime industry and maritime transportation. Undoubtedly, the effects and consequences of this crisis around the world have weakened the global economy and prompted the world to choose the latest methods to do business. If the events that have taken place are carefully and thoroughly investigated and analyzed, with a little thought, we will surely come to the conclusion that many new innovations and ideas in the field of the sea have taken place since the outbreak of the Covid - 19, which often comes as a surprise, because such new solutions have been defined that have so far received little attention. What we have experienced in the last months of 2019 and the last few months of this year in the world and in the country has been unparalleled in the maritime industry in the last 30 years, and in other words, we have not witnessed such developments. Although global trade, job security, health and well - being have been challenging, both at sea and on land, all people are gaining experience to reduce and overcome such crises. Since the 90 % of world trade is performed by sea and ports, the quarantine of Iran has raised concerns including the reduction of our country's trade by sea. Following the announcement of the outbreak of coronavirus in Iran, neighboring countries that share a border with Iran including the five countries of Iraq, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, implemented measures to restrict travel to Iran. These measures include closing land, air and sea borders and suspending flights to and from Iran. In fact, closing the borders of these countries makes the import of foreign currencies into the country challenging and slows it down. During this period, even a number of Arab countries bordering the Persian Gulf imposed bans and restrictions on the movement of Iranian ships, which caused many problems for Iranian vessels. On the other hand, due to sanctions, many shipping companies are not able to send their ships directly to Iranian ports and they unload cargo belonging to our country in the ports of neighboring countries, and these cargo indirectly enter our ports with other merchant ships or small and traditional vessels.
In your opinion, what is the solution to get out of the unhealthy situation of ports in this situation?
The era we are currently going through will cause that advanced and modern information technology infrastructure with digital tools become more operational; Although many of the questions that occupy the minds of all managers and experts today remain unanswered, it is believed that the maritime community has learned from the circumstances and all of these coronavirus challenges will turn into a maritime renaissance in the future. Upgrading remote control systems as well as digitizing maritime transport systems and modernizing port terminals in both unloading and loading, as well as reviewing the regulations and guidelines of inspection and classification institutions can be the result of these current critical days.
What is your assessment of the state of the sea and ports in the industrial sector?
In the industrial sector, the most vulnerability of industrial production units is related to three factors: a) arrears of production units (banking, social security and tax insurance), b) uncertainty of production units due to uncertainty in government decisions, c) contract problems of project - oriented companies in the epidemic situation. The outbreak of the disease has led to unintended changes in the tax situation and tax revenues, the most important of which is the decline in tax revenues due to the simultaneous decline in supply and demand in the economy. This is a serious issue for our country, which is facing a budget deficit. The outbreak of the coronavirus also makes it difficult for taxpayers to pay their taxes due to problems in the business environment and manufacturing activities. It is important to note that due to declining tax revenues and the issue of budget deficits, tax relief should not be in the form of tax exemptions, rebates or credits, but should be put on the agenda in the form of deferral and extension of tax deadlines.