ocean horizon with World Oceans Day 2023 logo superimposed

BIMCO marks World Oceans Day 2023 – “Planet Ocean: tides are changing”

Published: 07 June 2023

World Oceans Day was established by the United Nations to remind everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet, a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere- and of course vital to support world trade through shipping.

The purpose of the day is also to inform the public of the impact of human actions on our oceans and to mobilise and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world's oceans. With this in mind, it is timely to remind people of the contribution of the shipping industry to addressing one of the greatest challenges facing the ocean: marine plastic litter.

In 2008, led by Canada, the UN General Assembly resolved that 8 June would be designated “World Oceans Day” with the theme of the inaugural day being “Our Oceans, Our Responsibility”. The first observance of World Oceans Day allowed us to highlight the many ways in which oceans contribute to society as well as to recognise the considerable challenges faced in preserving their capacity to regulate the global climate, supply essential ecosystem services and provide sustainable livelihoods and safe recreation. Now, 14 years after the first observance, the focus has shifted to “turning the tide” with the emphasis on building community efforts to put the ocean first.

On World Oceans Day, we at BIMCO want to remind our members of the significant role they can have in reducing the industry’s impact on marine plastic litter. A collective movement presents an opportunity to remove over one billion plastic bottles that travel the world and are used by seafarers. Removing them from ships removes the chance that they will eventually reach the ocean through the mismanagement of waste on land. When looking at a waste hierarchy, removal is clearly the most impactful action that can be taken.

A survey of BIMCO members carried out early this year showed that over 15,000 ships and 35,000 seafarers use more than 3.5 million bottles a year. What’s more, 90% of those responding were either concerned or very concerned about plastics, and shipowners are prepared to take action. Half of those are already pledging to remove single use plastics from onboard and 60% are committed to not discharging plastics at ports with poor waste management. Many shipowners have already successfully eliminated plastic bottles onboard (other than for emergency supplies) and have gained a significant amount of experience in selecting, installing and maintaining systems- as well as instilling confidence in crew.

All these best practices are now being compiled and will form the basis of our best practice guide to be published later this year - but we still need input from our members. If you are taking action or want to take action please do get in touch to share your experiences and support others to follow your lead.

And when better to do so then on World Oceans Day?


Beverley Mackenzie


Dr. Bev Mackenzie

Head of Intergovernmental Engagement

London, United Kingdom