BIMCO proposes reporting system for containers lost at sea


BIMCO and the World Shipping Council (WCS) have launched a proposal for a mandatory and standardized reporting system to be developed, to address the safety and environmental risks associated with containers lost at sea.

Dumping plastic into the ocean from ships has been banned since 1 January 1989. The suggestion is part of a wider effort proposed for consideration at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, to launch an action plan that focuses on minimizing the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean.

A number of avenues are suggested for addressing pollution caused by the loss of containers at sea. A proposal by member states to track lost containers has been put to the table. In BIMCO’s view, tracking the approximately 25 million containers that are currently in service around the world would be very costly and would require solutions with substantial technological, operational, and infrastructure challenges. BIMCO therefore does not recommend this form of substantial tracking.

A better solution would be an obligation to report when and if a container is lost. The idea put forward by BIMCO and WSC is to develop a system that requires a minimum of data elements that could include description of the container's identification and cargo, as well as an assessment of whether the container poses a risk to other ships or the environment.

“A standardized reporting template will benefit safety of navigation and help to protect the marine environment. We are asking for a simple and streamlined reporting process that will create transparency of containers that are lost at sea,” says BIMCO’s Head of Maritime Technology & Regulation, Aron Sørensen.

The development and implementation call for a number of questions and issues to be addressed, including which communications channels ought to be used, and to which authorities the reports should be submitted. Other questions to be answered are which data elements the standardized list should include, and which instrument would serve as the most appropriate vehicle for establishing a mandatory reporting system.


Mette Kronholm Frænde
in Copenhagen, DK


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