Tuesday, June 18, 2013
World Wildlife Fund Study Results
According to a report commissioned by the WWF, the world’s most dangerous seas include the South China Sea, the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. These parts of the ocean are high-risk spots for shipping accidents, which in turn pose a huge threat to the health of the environment and humans alike. The North Sea and the British Isles are also hotspots for cargo incidents. Apart from the cost to the ship owners and loss of cargo, these particular oceans are also home to a diverse array of ocean life, which become threatened when accidents occur.
South China Sea
WWF Study Statistics
• Since 1999, there have been 293 shipping accidents in the South China Sea and East Indies.
• Over the past 15 years, the number of ships travelling the globe has increased from 85 000 to 105 000.
• The shipping process delivers over 90% of the world’s trade items.
• General cargo ships account for 50% of ships lost/wrecked at sea, whilst fishing vessels make up 25%.
• 50% of ship accidents are caused by foundering in rough weather, sinking due to leakage, and breaking in two.
• The Coral Triangle, located in the South China Sea, is home to 76% of the world’s corals, and around 120 million people depend on the area for their food and livelihoods.
• Risk factors for shipping include the use of vessels over ten years old, in addition to poorly performing flag states.
• The extent of a potential environmental disaster is dependent upon the type of cargo being transported. In 2002, the sinking Prestige oil tanker released over 70 000 tons of oil into the ocean, causing significant environmental damage and economic losses.
What Can Be Done?
The study, undertaken by scientists at Southampton Solent University, was released on the 8th June, which is World Ocean’s Day. WWF notes that with increasing ocean traffic and the effects of climate change, shipping accidents are likely to increase. The organisation recommends greater environmental regulation by governments, both at a local and international level. Furthermore, the WWF has called for shipping agencies to assume greater responsibility for their operations, in order to mitigate their risk of shipping accidents.
Marine manager at WWF, Simon Walmsley, says that “We really want to see the shipping industry promote greater owner and operator responsibility and encourage owners to register with better flag states, the country which a vessel is registered to. Additionally, irresponsible and badly performing owners and countries need to be exposed in order to motivate them to significantly increase their standards”. Walmsley also noted that the industry needs to become much more proactive; too often, regulation only occurs after a devastating accident has taken place.
Future Forward Thinking
However, if we are to truly preserve the diversity of our marine life, then we need to look further than the shipping industry. There need to be increased efforts to tackle water pollution, better regulation of the fishing industry, and greater efforts to combat the effects of climate change. The health of our planet is in our hands.
Grace Matthews is a London-based lifestyle blogger who puts her faith in Trade Ocean Port Agents to transport her cargo around the world.