‘Sea is an important component of the Cosmos’. Discuss in the light of the above statement the role of the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) in protecting environment and enhancing maritime safety and security.

Model Answer

Introduction

The International Maritime Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations which is responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent pollution from ships.

Body

IMOs role in protecting environment:

  • A new legally binding international instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, known as ‘BBNJ’ was agreed in 2023.
  • It led to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships that prevents pollution from ships by oil, by bulk chemicals, by packaged goods, by sewage and garbage& regulate air pollution and emissions from ships.
  • Special areas and Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas are designated to ensure higher levels of protection from shipping activities such as UNESCO World Heritage Marine Sites like Great Barrier Reef.
  • Polar waters benefit from special measures under the IMO Polar Code for ships operating in both Antarctic and Arctic waters.

IMOs role in enhancing maritime security:

  • The SOLAS Convention led by IMO is ensures safety of merchant ships. It specifies minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships, compatible with their safety.
  • The Djibouti Code of Conduct to support the repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. It also includes organized crime, maritime terrorism, human trafficking, and IUU fishing.
  • IMO’s International Ship and Port Facility Security Code is a mandatory instrument for all countries Party to the Convention, post 9/11. It allows ships and port facilities to co-operate by detecting and deter acts which pose a threat to maritime security.
  • The Suppression of Unlawful Acts of IMO provide the international legal framework against unlawful acts against ships such as seizure of ships by force.
  • It is currently ongoing development of a Code for maritime autonomous surface ships.

Conclusion

The sea is a vital cosmic element, nurturing life and demanding protection. Safeguarding its environment ensures ecological balance and sustains maritime security for a harmonious world.

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