Hazardous ship wrecks can cause many problems. Depending on its location, a wreck may be a hazard to navigation, potentially endangering other vessels and their crews.
It may also cause substantial damage to the marine and coastal environments, depending on the nature of the cargo. On top of this, there is the issue of costs involved in marking and removing hazardous wrecks.
International Maritime Organization (IMO)'s Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention goes some way to resolving these issues. It covers the legal basis for States to remove, or have removed, shipwrecks, drifting ships, objects from ships at sea, and floating offshore installations.
To help spread knowledge of the specific aspects of the Convention, IMO’s Jan De Boer provided
an update to the Royal Institution Of Naval Architects (RINA) on the HQS Wellington, London (9 April).
The Convention entered into force in 2015, filling a gap in the international legal framework on liability and compensation by providing the first set of uniform international rules aimed at ensuring the prompt and effective removal of wrecks located in a country’s exclusive economic zone.
The Convention covers shipowners’ liability for costs of locating, marking and removal of hazardous wrecks; compulsory insurance
to cover shipowner liability; the criteria for determining the hazard posed by wrecks, including environmental criteria.
The treaty also includes an optional clause enabling States Parties to apply certain provisions to their territory, including their territorial sea.