US & UK Seek To Target Illicit Oil Shipping Transfers at Sea

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The US, UK, Denmark and others have warned about the booming practice of unregulated ship-to-ship oil transfers at sea, which increase the risk oysterf pollution, reports Reuters.

These transfers undermine the rules-based international order and increase the risk of pollution to nearby coastal States. This threatens global efforts to prevent pollution from ships,” the paper submitted to the UN said.

Unregulated ship-to-ship oil transfers

The paper was submitted to United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO), by the member states ahead of a major marine environment protection committee session in July. It was also backed by Australia, Canada, Spain and Ukraine.

Hundreds of “ghost” tankers, which are not fully regulated, have joined this opaque parallel trade over the past few years, carrying oil from countries hit by Western sanctions and restrictions, including Russia and Iran, whose oil exports have been sanctioned.

The number of incidents last year, including groundings, collisions and near misses involving these ships reached the highest in years, a Reuters investigation showed.

Deceptive shipping practices

These risky practices, although under the jurisdiction of a flag state, unjustly expose national and local governments and authorities to paying for response and clean-up costs and compensating victims,” the paper said.

Tactics used by such ships include switching off tracking transponders, faking locations and also conducting ship-to-ship (STS) operations at locations outside of authorized transfer zones and sometimes in poor weather to conceal activities.

The paper, which will be discussed at the IMO session, said deceptive shipping practices were also “serious threats to the safety and security of international shipping“, including crew members.

The countries recommended that when flag states became aware of such practices, they should step up inspections of those vessels and boost monitoring of activity including around territorial waters.

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Source: Reuters