The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks is now being enforced ensuring shipwrecks are removed promptly. The Convention places strict liability on owners for locating, marking and removing wrecks deemed to be a hazard and makes state certification of insurance compulsory for ships of 300 gt and above. It also provides states with a right of direct action against insurers.
A legal basis will now exist for states to remove wrecks that pose a danger to navigation or that may be expected to damage the marine environment or the coastline. The Convention also applies to a ship that is about, or may reasonably be expected, to sink or to strand.
Other 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 state to warn mariners and other states concerned of the nature and location of 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 will be required to maintain compulsory insurance to cover liability.
The Convention will come into force for Malta on 18 April 2015 and for Tuvalu on 17 May 2015.