IMO New Ocean Treaty Goes Into Force Sept.20, 2023; Seafarers Celebrate

By Stephen Ubanna

Kicktact Lim, Secretary General, International Maritime Organisation, IMO, is a happy man. Lim’s source of happiness is the ‘’newly adopted Ocean Oceans Treaty’’ by member States to protect marine diversity on the high seas which is expected to be opened for Signature on September 20, 2023.

Going by the content of  the new legally binding instrument  on conservation and sustainable  use of marine biological  diversity  in areas of  national jurisdiction,  BBNJ,  which was said to have been adopted on June 19, 2023,  at the United Nations , UN, Headquarters in  NewYork, in the North American country of the United States, US, the treaty will enter force after ratification by the 60 member States of the Organisation.

An elated Lim, the IMO Secretary General of the IMO, who was said to have ‘’congratulated all the parties’’ on the successful adoption of the new legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction had said that’’ the Landmark achievement  will no  doubt reinforce  efforts  to protect  biodiversity  in line with the aims  of the 2023  Agenda for Sustainable Development  and the Kunming  Montreal  Global Framework  for Biodiversity’’.

Given an insider information on the New Oceans Treaty,  the IMO  Secretary General had said that the Organisation    has participated  throughout the negotiations  given its ‘’mandate and expertise’’  in developing  universally  accepted  regulations  for international shipping   to ensure  shipping’s sustainable   use of the oceans ,through the more than  50  globally –binding  treaties.

 The UN, maritime agency, under the Leadership of Lim could do all that because ships plying their trade across the world’s oceans are subject ‘’to stringent environmental, safety and security rules’’, which maritime analyst had said apply throughout their voyage. Note that IMO regulations are enforced throughout the more than 50 member states   through a well –established system of flag and coastal port state control.   

Again, Lim had said  that the IMO has actively operated  with the,   D world body Division for Ocean Affairs  and the Law of the Sea , DOALOS, of the office  of the global body International Seabed Authority, ISA,  and with other  specialized agencies  like the Food and  Agricultural Organisation, FAO, Intergovernmental  Oceanographic  Commission  of United Nations Education, Scientific and Culture  UNESCO,  and International Labour Organisation, ILO.

This may have informed why Lim, had said that ‘’it will continue to participate in the implementation of the new legally binding instrument by member-states, the UN Family and all other stakeholders’’.

Informed sources told the online Magazine that the new ocean  treaty  is expected ‘’to  address issues relating  to the conservation and sustainable  use of marine beyond national jurisdiction,  marine energetic  resource,  including questions  on benefit sharing, MGR, Area Based Management  Tools , ABMT,  including  marine protected areas. This is in addition to   Environmental Impact Assessments, EIA, and capacity ubilding and the Transferof Marine Technology, CB and TMT.

There is no gain saying the fact that many  IMO measures  adopted in the past had   actively  contributed  to the conservation  of marine  biological diversity  in areas BBJ,, including  the international  Convention  for  Prevention  of Pollution of Ships , MARPOL and  the International Ballast Water  Management  Convention , which , according to experts  aims ‘’to prevent  the transfer  of potentially  invasive  aquatic  species  as well  as the  London Convention  and Protocol  regulating  dumping  of wastes at sea’’.

Maersk Container ship On The High Sea Guided By IMO, Regulations On The Oceans

There were also   numerous  protective measures  that were said to have been adopted  which all ships  had adhered to, both in and outside designated  sensitive  sea areas , PSSAs,  and in  special areas   and emission control areas. The Magazine learnt that the measures include strict rules on operational discharges as well as areas to be avoided and other ship routing system including those aimed at keeping away from whales’ breeding grounds.

A source  confirmed  that  that the IMO’s  Polar Code  is equally  mandatory  for all ships  operating in the  Artic and  Antarctic  regions. Recall that the World maritime agency has issued guidance on protecting marine life and underwater ship noise.

Indeed,  the urgent need  to protect  the world’s oceans  and the habitats within them   for sustainable  shipping industry   to  ensure  the essential  transportation of  goods and commodities  across the globe  and of passengers, may have informed why the IMO Leadership are after the Safety of the seafarers.

Seafarers Celebrate

In his message  for the seafarers worldwide during the International Seafarers Day , Lim  was said to have outlined  the part  they  play  in ”conserving  the state of the oceans  , as the global maritime sector  works towards  making  shipping  more environmentally  sound and  sustainable”.  He has told those  that cares to listen that   Seafarers have  always  played a critical role  in ‘’helping  to protect  the  health of the ocean  and planet ‘’, noting that  ‘’every day at sea , they  help to enforce  IMO’s  environment related treaties  by implementing rules  on garbage and sewage  and air pollution prevention’’.

Lim may have used opportunity of the   International Maritime Day to celebrate the 50- year anniversary of the agency main environment instrument –the MARPOL Convention to celebrate its support  of the global  efforts  to combat  climate change  by moving towards  decarbonization , to state that  ‘’Seafarers voices and actions  are  key to ensuring  just transition  to a zero-carbon at sea’’.

He may have gladdened the heart of the seafarers when he disclosed that ‘’the world sees the ocean through their eyes of the vital work they undertake which protects the ocean every day’’. He Would want the seafarers ‘’to share a picture  of the marine environment  surrounding them while at sea   to show  why the marine environment is worth protecting’’,  in line with the  2023,World Maritime  Day Theme ,’’MARPOL at 50-  our commitment goes on’’, as ‘’they spend much time at  sea’’.

Appealing to  member states’ governments, shipping organisations, companies , ship owners and all other parties involved in shipping business  to duly promote and celebrate  the seafarers, world –wide,  the IMO  Secretary General had said that they have  no option but to do so  because  ‘’the UN has recognised  the Day of the Seafarer  as an observable  day’’.

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