A new international convention on wreck removal has been adopted in Kenya.
The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007, will
provide the legal basis for States to remove, or have removed, shipwrecks
that may have the potential to affect adversely the safety of lives, goods
and property at sea, as well as the marine environment.
The convention was adopted by a five-day Diplomatic Conference - held in the
United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) under the auspices of the
International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized
agency with responsibility for safety and security at sea and prevention of
marine pollution from ships - which was addressed by His Excellency, the
President of Kenya, the Honourable Mwai Kibaki.
The Convention will fill a gap in the existing international legal
framework, by providing the first set of uniform international rules aimed
ensuring the prompt and effective removal of wrecks located beyond the
territorial sea. The new Convention also includes an optional clause
enabling States Parties to apply certain provisions to their territory,
including their territorial sea.
Although the incidence of marine casualties has decreased dramatically in
recent years, mainly thanks to the work of IMO and the persistent efforts of
Governments and industry to enhance safety in shipping operations, the
number of abandoned wrecks, estimated at almost thirteen hundred worldwide,
has reportedly increased and, as a result, the problems they cause to
coastal States and shipping in general have, if anything, become more acute.
These problems are three-fold: first, and depending on its location, a wreck
may constitute a hazard to navigation, potentially endangering other vessels
and their crews; second, and of equal concern, depending on the nature of
the cargo, is the potential for a wreck to cause substantial damage to the
marine and coastal environments; and third, in an age where goods and
services are becoming increasingly expensive, is the issue of the costs
involved in the marking and removal of hazardous wrecks. The convention
attempts to resolve all of these and other, related, issues.