Maritime industry has been the oldest and most dependable of all trade routes since civilizations flourished. With every passing day, the trades have increased and so has the dependency. Not very long ago did the world realize that there was a flip side to too — marine lives were being threatened.
Several studies, reports and investigations led to astonishing facts on how the by-products of shipping — oil, SONAR, sewerage and trash was limiting, worse – killing marine life. The oil spills and sewerage were leading to acidification of the marine eco-system, leaving several species injured, diseased and some even got wiped out because of their inability to adapt to the changing environment. The sea ecosystem, down below – is a dark world where light percolation is negative.
The animals’ communication, mating, survival depends on their sonic-communication. Our SONAR (sound navigation ranging) technique disrupts sea creatures’ ability to communication i.e. challenged their survival. All these reports were vetted and it was found that 1000s of sea creatures were being adversely affected. Thoughtful humans of the world then decided to roll it all back and then began the Eco-friendly wave into the shipping industry.
Major steps were taken to check every aspect of shipping. It includes emission standards, type of fuel, type of paint used for the ship, port management and waste disposal. As per a report by the International Council of Clean Transportation, “Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the IMO was assigned responsibility to limit GHG emissions from international shipping, which fall outside of national borders. It wasn’t until 2011, with the passage of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), that IMO adopted its first mandatory requirements for GHG emissions from oceangoing vessels (OGVs).”
Technology has been instrumental in making the shipping industry green. Some of the important developments include eco-friendly paints, use of renewable energy at the ports, eliminations of diesel-driven transport networks at ports.
Clean Energy: Several companies today are eyeing renewable resources for any additional energy production at the ports. In case, the ports need supplementary energy, they are mooting to provide it from waste to energy augmentation or by using solar panels. Those areas where wind is an advantage, off-shore wind mill energy are also being looked into.
Cleaner Ports: A new ‘easy overhead transport network’ has been introduced at the ports for the purpose of unloading and uploading of containers to and from the ships. This eliminates the pollution caused by the diesel trucks. With the introduction of the overhead network, there are no long waiting hours or congestion at the ports, thus supporting emission standard maintenance.
Anti-fouling Paints: Health of the hull of a ship is crucial to its fuel-efficiency. This hull needs to be protected against bio-fouling or marine fouling – accumulation of marine organisms onto the hull. This new paint called the anti-fouling paints is now used to make the hull surface smoother. This prevents the accumulation of the organisms and less engine force is required by the ship. In the early 1970s, a type of anti-fouling paint called Tributyltin or TBT was used. It was a biocide and thus adversely impacted the marine organisms. IMO phase-wise banned TBT. After this, a number of environment-friendly hull paints have been introduced in the market.
MARPOL Law: The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) was adopted on 2 November 1973. The IMO states that: “Today, MARPOL is recognized as the most important set of international regulations for the prevention of marine pollution by ships and figures show that marine pollution has declined over the years. According to the environmental group Greenpeace, 77 percent of all polluting substances in the marine environment come from human land-based activities, while shipping and dumping at sea are thought to contribute to the remainder.”
Over the year, this law included all that proved harmful for the sea environment.
- Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil (entered into force 2 October 1983)
- Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk (entered into force 2 October 1983)
- Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form (entered into force 1 July 1992)
- Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships (entered into force 27 September 2003)
- Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships (entered into force 31 December 1988)
- Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships (entered into force 19 May 2005)
These annexure have from time-to-time been revised and as the industry people would say – “made stringent”.
The focus remains intact: Multiply the trades without having to compromise on the health of the marine environment. A very senior officer with sails experience of decades said: These laws have restricted and complicated several things, while at sea but to remain sailing for another 100 or 200 years, seas and the marines have to be protected!
Sea News Feature, March 26