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;   The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, adopted in 2007, entered into force on 14 April 2015. Under the Convention, for wrecks that are deemed to be a hazard by posing an impediment to navigation or expected to cause harm to the marine environment, liability is placed with the owners to locate, mark and remove wrecks.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Convention applies to wrecks located in a country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or equivalent 200-nautical-mile zone. It makes State certification of insurance, or other forms of financial security for such liability, compulsory for ships of 300gt and above, and grants Parties a right to take direct action against insurers.

Parties to the treaty are: Antigua and Barbuda; Bulgaria; Congo; Cook Islands; Denmark; Germany; India; Iran; Liberia; Malaysia; Marshall Islands; Morocco; Nigeria; Palau; and the UK.

In addition, the Convention will come into force for Malta on 18 April 2015, and for Tuvalu on 17 May 2015.

Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention enters into force – IMO Press Release

The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks enters into force on Tuesday (14 April 2015). The Convention places strict liability on owners for locating, marking and removing wrecks deemed to be a hazard and makes State certification of insurance, or other form of financial security for such liability, compulsory for ships of 300 gt and above. It also provides States Parties with a right of direct action against insurers.

he Convention provides a legal basis for States Parties to remove, or have removed, wrecks that pose a danger or impediment to navigation or that may be expected to result in major harmful consequences to the marine environment, or damage to the coastline or related interests of one or more States. The Convention also applies to a ship that is about, or may reasonably be expected, to sink or to strand, where effective measures to assist the ship or any property in danger are not already being taken.

Provisions in the Convention include:

  • a duty on the ship’s master or operator to report to the “Affected State” a maritime casualty resulting in a wreck and a duty on the Affected State to warn mariners and the States concerned of the nature and location of the wreck, as well as a duty on the Affected State that all practicable steps are taken  to locate the wreck;
  • criteria for determining the hazard posed by wrecks, including depth of water above the wreck, proximity of shipping routes, traffic density and frequency, type of traffic and vulnerability of port facilities. Environmental criteria such as damage likely to result from the release into the marine environment of cargo or oil are also included;
  • measures to facilitate the removal of wrecks, including rights and obligations to remove hazardous wrecks, which set out when the shipowner is responsible for removing the wreck and when the Affected State may intervene;
  • liability of the owner for the costs of locating, marking and removing wrecks – the registered shipowner is required to maintain compulsory insurance or other financial security to cover liability under the convention;
  • settlement of disputes.

The Convention was adopted by a five-day International Conference at the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), Kenya, in 2007.

The States Parties to the treaty as at 14 April 2015 are:  Antigua and Barbuda, Bulgaria, Congo, Cook Islands, Denmark, Germany, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Liberia, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Morocco, Nigeria, Palau, and the United Kingdom.

The Convention will come into force for Malta on 18 April 2015 and for Tuvalu on 17 May 2015.​


IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Web site:

NZ rejects phosphate mining on chatham rise

New Zealand’s environmental protection authority has declined an application to mine phosphate on the chatham rise in a move that sets a precedent for deep sea mining in other parts of the world including the Cook Islands.

The company wanted to mine three 10 square kilometre blocks per year; mining would have been at depths of up to 450 metres.

The authority’s decision said the mining would cause significant and permanent adverse effects on the seabed environment. This included rare ecosystems including stony corals.

The authority said there would have been destructive effects from the extraction process, as well as from the deposit of sediment from the mined area.

It said the economic benefit to New Zealand from the mining proposal would be modest at best.

The rejection highlights potential issues that the Cook Islands needs to take into account when considering proposals for deep sea mining of minerals in Cook Island waters. This is particularly true because of the importance of tourism to the Cook Island economy, anything that jeopardises the Cook Islands reputation for sparkling crystal clear waters must be considered carefully.


In a report produced jointly by IPEN and Biodiversity Research Institute entitled Global Mercury Hotspots, alarming levels of mercury were found in humans in 14 countries. “Fish and human hair from around the world regularly exceeded health advisory levels,” said Dr. David Evers, Executive Director at the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI). “The results demonstrate the need for a mercury treaty that mandates true reductions of mercury emissions not just to air, but also to land and water as well.”


As a Cook Islands public-interest NGO, ISACI took part in this IPEN-BRI project that analyzed mercury in hair and fish samples from 14 countries. Far from industrial sources and with little economic activity other than fishing and aquaculture for black pearls, the Cook Islands hair samples showed comparatively high levels of mercury. The most likely explanation for this result is that mercury is easily transported by wind and sea to remote, pristine environments where it enters the food chain.


“I am glad that a Pacific Islands country participated in this project,” said Lowell Alik, General Manager of the Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Authority at a presentation to governments on 16th January 2013. “But I also wonder what the levels in Marshall Islands might be, if we took part in a similar study. I have seen the film about the terrible health impacts of mercury contamination on the Minamata community in Japan, and I think our people would want to know.”


The dangers of mercury poisoning have been known for centuries. Exposure to high levels of mercury can permanently damage the brain and kidneys. Mercury can also be passed from a mother to her developing foetus and this can result in brain damage, reduced intelligence and mental retardation. Unless there is a meaningful effort to curb these sources, global mercury pollution looks likely to increase.


Some countries at the negotiations have pushed to eliminate obligations to reduce or eliminate mercury releases to land and water. Without such big reductions, global levels of methyl mercury (the organic form of mercury that pollutes fish and sea food) will increase. This is particularly important for Small Island states (SIDS) who main source of protein is fish.


Reversal of marine pollution has been successful in regions like the Baltic Sea, and Chesapeake Bay. “Clean-up of mercury in the Pacific Ocean would need large reductions by global emitters of their mercury emissions to air and releases to water and land,” said Imogen Ingram from ISACI. “Only then will contamination of our migratory fish be reduced.  SIDS may find that the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, in particular its London Protocol dealing with marine pollution, may be the long-term solution that the Mercury Convention has not provided.”


Given that many foreign countries are fishing under licence in the Pacific, and exporting large volumes of fish to the global market, it is likely that consumers in the big countries of the world would also like to know.


Imogen Ingram

Island Sustainability Alliance CIS Inc. (“ISACI”)

Introducing Island Sustainability Alliance CIS Inc.

 The Society is established under the Incorporated Societies Act 1994 (hereinafter called “the Act”) for the object of :  

2.1 To work with government, private and community sector organisations to develop initiatives that strengthen the community, protect natural resources and human health drawing on traditional knowledge where appropriate.  

2.2 To advocate and promote waste management strategies that assist organizations and innovators with new ideas for utilizing recovered materials and to switch from wasteful and damaging methods to value-added resource recovery systems that help build sustainable local economies.    

2.3 To advocate, encourage and promote local community enterprises in areas such as eco-tourism, habitat protection, adaptation to climate change, energy efficiency, recycling  and minimization of waste, reduction or elimination of air, water and soil pollution.  

2.4 To research local and international trading opportunities between community enterprises and to look beyond traditional growth models to identify local resources and ways to protect and enhance the environment and create sustainable wealth.  

2.5 To address the problem of unsustainable resource flows through such strategies as cleaner production, product dismantling, remanufacturing, re-use, recycling, composting  and export for proper disposal.

2.6 To promote, adapt and disseminate information about technologies and processes that will provide effective alternatives to destructive and/or harmful technologies through the appropriate use of best available technology and best environmental practice.  

2.7 To assist with achievement of sustainable local development outcomes by assisting community organizations with project proposals, and the management and distribution of funds for community benefit