Marine problems: Shipping
- Transfer of invasive alien species: through ballast water and on ship hulls
- Release of biocides: from toxic chemicals used in antifouling paints
- Dumping of waste: such as garbage and sewage
- Air pollution: through emission of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide
- Physical and other damage: through dropping of anchors, noise and wave disturbances, and striking of whales and other marine mammals
The threats posed by shipping are not spread evenly across the oceans, but rather concentrated in busy shipping lanes and ports.
As shipping lanes become more and more congested, the level of pollution caused by shipping increases - as does the chance of spills and accidents.
Increased shipping traffic also threatens natural habitats around ports and near shipping routes. Seagrass meadows, wetlands, and mudflats - which are increasingly recognized as fundamental elements of a country's natural environment and economic resource base - are often located near or in maritime port locations.
Over 90% of all trade between countries is carried by ships
Slow to change
However, the current approach to setting international standards for shipping tends to be reactive, slow, and based on industry-driven compromises.
The phase out of single-hulled oil tankers is a good example. It was only after the single-hulled Exxon Valdez went down off the coast of Alaska in 1989 that the US introduced a phase-out of these old tankers.
It took the sinking of the single-hulled Erika ten years later off the coast of France for the member states of the IMO to accelerate the global phase-out to match that of the US. Even then, the provisional target date for the phase-out of all single hulled vessels was 2015.
The sinking of the single-hulled Prestige tanker in 2002 - causing the fourth oil spill off Spain’s Galician coast in 30 years - promoted the IMO to further accelerate this phase out to 2010 for all tankers and 2005 for the largest oil tankers.