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EU must act on containers lost at sea and agree a more coherent maritime strategy


21 Oct 2010


Climate & Environment

Strasbourg, 21 October 2010


ALDE MEP Gesine Meissner (FDP, Germany), Rapporteur on Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) whose report was adopted in the European Parliament this morning drew attention to the vast number of containers lost at sea from commercial shipping and the potential damage they are presenting both to the environment and to other shipping.


"Every year in the EU, approximately 2,000 containers are lost overboard accidentally, often because they are too heavy or not correctly stowed. We are not fully aware of the toxicity or hazardous nature of most of them. 15% of the containers eventually get washed up on the coasts while another 15% remain floating at sea endangering other vessels and the environment."


"Operators of short sea shipping often untie the lashings of containers before entering port for speed but in so doing are, increasing the risk of losing the containers overboard. Research shows also that only 45% of vessel operators store containers properly. EU regulations exist, so measures must be taken now to improve enforcement."


Improving our maritime environment is one of many issues the EU needs to tackle for a more integrated maritime policy:


"We want a safer, greener and more sustainable maritime sector given the importance to our economy. The EU has 320000 km of coastline, where a third of our population lives. Our economic activities in the sea and the coast produce 40% of European GDP and forecasts suggest there is still further potential."


"But recent events like the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico show the fragility of the marine ecosystem. Only 10% of the sea is now researched but nevertheless we receive 15 thousands different products from it.  It carries 90% of our exports, and 40% within the EU, but this means that we need to ensure our commitment to reduce CO2 emission and to mitigate the specific impact of climate change on coastal and island regions. In particular, shipping should be brought within the EU's emission's trading scheme, along with other transport modes."


"Sea is a great resource in term of fishing, aquaculture, energy production and extraction, tourism and blue technologies. We must improve our use of the sea in a more harmonious way while protecting it from overexploitation."


Note to editors:

In 2005, the European Commission launched the project to establish an integrated maritime policy and following extensive consultation it adopted on October 10, 2007 a Blue Book on an integrated maritime policy and plan of action to conduct in the short and medium term. The Blue Book intended to overcome the sectoral approach to management of maritime activities to develop instead an integrated approach to the management and governance of the oceans, seas and coasts while fostering interaction between all sea-related policies in the EU such as maritime spatial planning, maritime surveillance, transport, energy, fisheries, research and environment. On September 30 of this year, the Commission also proposed to continue financial support to the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy, allocating EUR 50 million for the period between 2011 and 2013.


For further information

Neil Corlett: +33-3-88 17 41 67 or +32-478-78 22 84


Federica Terzi: +33-3-88 17 35 53 or +32-494 18 88 31

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