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The key characteristic of the contemporary world is the interconnectedness among societies and people across the national boundaries of nation-states. It is also necessary to note that nearly four fifths of international trade is being conducted by sea; only via the availability of commercial vessels, massive transport of goods in a society is made technically and financially possible. Among the several problems that can be encountered in short-distance navigation and in ocean-going navigation one must consider the potential for maritime accidents, sea and coastal pollution. Safety at sea is a key element of maritime transport policy with a view to protecting passengers, crew members, the marine environment and coastal regions. Given the global nature of maritime transport, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) develops uniform international standards. As a result of the pressure exerted by public opinion and the action taken by environmental organizations, the most important legislation and regulations of IMO were adopted following important maritime accidents. The primary international agreements include the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (OPRC 90). In addition, the International Safety Management Code (better known as ISM Code) is one of the most useful tools for the improvement of the safety of vessels and one of the pillars of the so called “quality navigation”. While prompt amendment of EU law to incorporate these international law-based agreements is a major objective of the EU’s maritime transport policy. EU participation in the development and improvement of the international agreements as well as the adoption of additional measures has been just as important. In recent years, European maritime transport administrations and the European shipping industry have made significant efforts to improve the environmental record of maritime transport. The EU regulatory framework has been strengthened and cooperation with Member States has been increased to tackle issues such as the prevention of accidents and incidents. Thus, European Union and its Member States have been at the forefront of improving maritime safety legislation and promoting high-quality standards. In the same context, the «Erika» and the «Prestige» accidents encouraged the Union to drastically reform its existing regime and to adopt new rules and standards for preventing accidents at sea, in particular those involving oil tankers. Looking ahead, the capacities of the EU’s maritime transport system are and should be strengthened by putting in place an integrated information management system [Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) for the EU maritime domain]. This system, in its final stage, will enable the identification, monitoring, tracking and reporting of all vessels at sea and on inland waterways to and from European ports and in transit through or in close proximity to EU waters. It will further exploit, through integration process, the existing related systems and technologies, such as AIS (Automatic Identification System), SafeSeanet, LRIT (Long Range Identification and Tracking of Ships) and VTMIS (Vessel Traffic Management and Information System). On the other hand, with regard to the international law of the sea context, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) gives full priority to maritime environmental safety. With the aim to preserve the maritime ecosystem, UNCLOS promotes international cooperation, through which all individual actions of the stateparties are coordinated. Last, but not least, many initiatives and agreements have been put into place at regional level, with the example of the Mediterranean Sea states being characteristic through the Barcelona Declaration, the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) and its related Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency. Obviously, cooperation of states – at global preferably or at least at a regional level - is a condition sine qua non for effective management of environmental problems, and especially those ones of the marine environment. This is because the oceans and seas of the world are not restricted by artificial human inventions, such as for example the political borders.

Publication Date



Academy for Strategic Analyses




safety; security; IMO; navigation; accidents


Defense and Security Studies | Transportation

Διεθνες και ευρωπαϊκο θεσμικο πλαισιο ασφαλειας του θαλασσιου περιβαλλοντος και συναφη συστη- ματα ελεγχου