OECD calls for clampdown on rogue ship owners

International licensing and compulsory insurance could help banish substandard oil tankers from the seas. The international community needs to strengthen shipping laws and find ways to weed out unscrupulous ship owners, says the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The OECD has reaffirmed its commitment to tackling the environmental and social costs of substandard shipping, illustrated by the recent sinking of the single-hull tanker, ‘Prestige’, off the coast of Spain (see related story).

OECD countries are calling on the International Maritime Organisation to strengthen its enforcement of regulations on international shipping, to weed out unscrupulous ship owners who reap big cash benefits from ignoring international safety guidelines.

The OECD’s Maritime Transport Committee urges governments to strengthen international standards of flag and port states to reduce the number of substandard ships at seas. Incentives could be used to reward responsible ship owners and overcome unfair competition from substandard vessels.

The Committee also wants to renew discussion on whether an international licensing system, along with more stringent rules on insurance cover, would be more effective at clamping down on rogue ships. Compulsory insurance could ensure victims were compensated for their losses, and would make ships more difficult to operate if they failed to comply with safety rules.

More transparency in ownership, along with a better exchange of information between countries, would also increase the likelihood of owners being held accountable for incidents involving their ships, says the OECD.

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