International Maritime Organization Welcomes GOC Report

by | Thursday, August 28, 2014 |

This month, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) welcomed the newly-published report by the Global Ocean Commission (GOC), From Decline to Recovery: A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean, as well as the report’s call for increased action to mitigate the threats on global oceans.

IMO Letter to GOC Co-Chairs

In his letter to the co-chairs of the GOC, IMO Secretary-General, Koji Sekimizu, noted that the IMO plays a key role in furthering the report’s critically important agenda, and that the IMO has adopted necessary treaties addressing several of the threats described in the report. Mr. Sekimizu also noted that the IMO works actively through several existing organizations to ensure that all joint efforts are maximized, and that duplication is minimized.

Says Mr. Sekimizu, “In my view, thoughtful development of ocean regulations, coupled with early entry into force, effective implementation, stringent compliance oversight and vigorous enforcement of international standards are the best ways to protect and sustain the precious marine environment and its resources. Through the application of these principles, for example, the average number of large oil spills (>700 tonnes) during the 2000s was just an eighth of that during the 1970s. This dramatic reduction has been due to the combined efforts of IMO, through its Member Governments and the oil/shipping industries to improve safety and pollution prevention.”

Pollution Reduction and Sustainability

Mr. Sekimizu highlighted other examples of IMO’s ongoing work to address many of the challenges discussed in the report, including pollution reduction through the MARPOL Convention and other agreements, in conjunction with capacity-building efforts. With regard to sustainability, Mr. Sekimizu talked about IMO’s work with the Food and Agriculture Organization, which addresses unreported, illegal, and unregulated fishing.

Mr. Sekimizu also discussed the need to strengthen the governance of the high seas through promoting recovery and care, pointing out the IMO’s role in the development of ecosystem-based management tools, as well as the designation of 14 “Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas”.

Safety Standards and Liability for Offshore Oil and Gas

He also addressed the IMO’s Code for the Construction and Equipment of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (The MODU Code), which provides international standards that support the implementation of the GOC Report’s proposal for establishing binding international safety standards and liability for offshore oil and gas. The IMO, in fact, has been working on this since 1996, utilizing its International Convention of Oil Pollution Preparedness, response and Cooperation to increase preparedness and response capacity for spills at worldwide priority locations, regardless of whether or not the spill originates from a vessel, an oil facility or offshore.

Mr. Sekimizu stated to the co-chairs that “[t]here is no question that your important work will spur meaningful progress in the common quest to preserve and protect our oceans, while ensuring their sustainable use as an irreplaceable mode of transportation, communication, industry and livelihood.Thank you again for producing this important report, and I look forward, along with my sister agencies in the UN system and our Member States, to meeting the challenges ahead.”

You can download a copy of the full GOC report here.To read a full text of Mr. Sekimizu’s letter to the GOC, please click here.

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