The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted a resolution targeting the illicit shipping practices of the so-called unregulated “dark fleet” in a move to clamp down on unsafe activities at sea.
The world’s “dark” or “shadow fleet” comprises hundreds of ageing vessels, including oil tankers, which form part of a parallel fleet of vessels that continue to transport oil for countries like Iran and Russia, which are facing sanctions and the Group of Seven regulation that caps its oil exports at $60 with penalties imposed on those that transport it at higher prices.
The resolution, adopted at the IMO’s governing assembly in London on Wednesday, called on flag states to “adhere to measures which lawfully prohibit or regulate” the transfer of cargoes at sea, known as ship-to-ship (STS) operations.
The IMO resolution also called for shipping lines to ensure that they updated their operation plans for STS transfers, particularly where these involved a mid-ocean transfer with another vessel. And it recommended that port states, which become aware of ships intentionally attempting to avoid detection by switching off tracking responders or concealing their identity, “should subject such ships to enhanced inspections”.
In October, Russia accused the IMO of wavering from its impartial role as a result of “external pressure” which it said was impacting the fair treatment of member countries.