International Shipping

Why it matters

Historically acute pollution incidents from shipping disasters affecting the UK shoreline prompted the founding of ACOPS. Shipping is also responsible for a range of other environment impacts resulting in pressure on the marine environment (greenhouse gases, the spread of non-native species, noise, operational discharges, anti-fouling chemicals, light, collision with marine wildlife, etc).

However, maritime transport is essential to the world’s economy as over 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea and it is the most cost-effective way to move en-masse goods and raw materials around the world.

Governments, industry and civil society must work together to regulate shipping impacts and balance freedom of navigation with other lawful uses of the sea.

ACOPS Activities

As an Observer to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), ACOPS can inform, advise and engage with government representatives who take part in IMO meetings, industry representatives, other NGOs as well as the staff of international organisations.; these meetings include the IMO Marine Environmental Protection Committee as well as the Pollution Prevention and Response and the Legal Committee as relevant.

We take part and support studies useful to support IMO’s work such as pollution from marine plastic from ships and ways in which areas identified as ecologically or biologically sensitive under the Convention on Biodiversity could be further protected from shipping impact through IMO measures

ACOPS also has a specific interest in Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas and other routeing measures to protect sensitive areas, as well as sensitivity mapping and contingency planning against oil pollution from shipping and offshore installations.  In this context, Youna Lyons prepared a report on the prospects for IMO shipping measures to be adopted in marine areas that have been identified as Ecologically or Biologically Sensitive Sea Areas under the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is now open for comments and will be widely shared with IMO members at the next MEPC meeting.

ACOPS has been working for over 30 years with the UK Maritime Coastguard Agency to produce an annual survey of reported discharges attributed to vessels and offshore oil and gas installations operating in the UK Pollution Control Zone.