The UK, US, Denmark, and other nations have called for more actions, including enhanced surveillance, over unregulated oil transfers at sea, as fears rise over potential pollution, per a paper submitted to the UN.
Such transfers undermine the rules-based international order and heighten the risks of pollution to nearby coastal States. This threatens global efforts to prevent pollution from ships, the paper mentioned.
The paper had been submitted to the UN shipping agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), by member states ahead of a major session conducted by a marine environment protection committee in July. It was also backed by Spain, Ukraine, Australia, and Canada.
Hundreds of “ghost” tankers that are not 100% regulated have joined the opaque parallel trade over the past few years, transporting oil from nations hit by Western sanctions and other restrictions, including Iran and Russia.
A Reuters investigation reflected that the number of incidents last year, including collisions, groundings, and near misses involving the vessels, touched the highest in years.
The paper mentioned that the risky practices, even under the jurisdiction of a flag state, unjustly expose local and national governments and authorities to paying for responses and clean-up costs and compensating victims.
Tactics used by such vessels include faking locations, switching off the tracking transponders, and conducting STS operations at locations that are outside authorized transfer zones and, in poor weather, sometimes for concealing activities.
The paper, which will be discussed at the IMO session, mentioned that deceptive shipping practices worked as serious threats to the safety and security of international shipping, including that of the crew members.
The nations recommended that as flag states become aware of these practices, they must examine those vessels and boost the monitoring of activity, including those around the territorial waters.
References: Reuters, News 18