Estonia the first to sign UN-backed sea wreck treaty

28 March 2008

Estonia today became the first country to sign up to an international convention on the removal of lurking shipwrecks that pose dangers to navigation and the sea environment, while the head of the United Nations marine agency urged other States to follow suit.

“The Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention, once in force, can fill a gap in the existing international legal framework by providing the first set of uniform international rules aimed at ensuring the prompt and effective removal of wrecks beyond the territorial sea,” Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), said at the London signing ceremony.

Although the incidence of marine casualties has decreased dramatically in recent years, the number of abandoned wrecks, estimated at almost 1300 worldwide, has increased along with the threat they pose to coastal States and shipping in general, according to the IMO.

The wreck convention, adopted in May 2007, will provide the legal basis for States to remove these hulks, or have them removed, in part by making the registered owner liable for costs of locating, marking and removing them and requiring insurance to cover this liability.

The Convention is open for signature until 18 November 2008 and, thereafter, will be open for ratification, accession or acceptance. It will enter into force 12 months following the date on which 10 States have taken such approval actions.


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