The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has represented shipowners at the United Nations (UN), as negotiations over a new legal instrument for the protection of the ocean began.
Government negotiators are currently gathered in New York to discuss the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a set of regulations that will apply to areas ‘beyond national jurisdiction’.
Esben Poulsson, ICS Chairman, addressed the officials, highlighting that the UN’s initiative must not “unwittingly” impact the effective future governance of global shipping.
This could include interference with principles such as freedom of navigation, as well as cutting across the work of shipping’s global regulator: the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
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Although ICS has expressed its full support for UN objectives, such as defending the ocean against potentially damaging activities like fishing and seabed mining, it has asserted that IMO’s comprehensive regulatory framework already governs maritime environmental protection.
Poulsson, discussing the negotiations, said: “As a result of the global rules already provided by IMO, ships are not operating in a regulatory vacuum. A shipowner’s activities are never beyond national jurisdiction, even on the high seas.”
In addition to this, ICS has insisted that any future measures which apply to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) should be determined by a specialist agency such as IMO.
“IMO should always be the lead organisation for developing environmental rules that may affect international shipping. IMO’s jurisdiction is broad and extends already to shipping activity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.”
UN negotiations for UNCLOS are expected to conclude by 2020, with the adoption of a new legal instrument.
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