International Maritime Conventions Volume III: Protection of the Marine Environment
Nairobi International Convention on Removal of Wrecks 18 May 2007
Wrecks of sunken ships and parts thereof may not only be dangerous for navigation, but also to the marine environment. Oil and other hazardous and noxious substances may be released from a sunken ship even years after the casualty. Whilst their removal within the territorial waters of a State belongs to the jurisdiction of such State, if wrecks lie beyond territorial waters their removal is not and its law is not applicable. Nor has that State any specific obligations to care for the marking and removal of such wrecks or right of action against their owners. The Nairobi Convention was adopted with a view to filling this gap in international public maritime law. Although the majority of wrecks lie within territorial waters, there are in fact wrecks beyond them that may constitute a hazard to navigation as well as a threat to the marine environment; this would certainly be the case for sunken tankers and, generally, for the bunker oil of any ship. As of July 2014, the Convention has been ratified by 11 States and, the instrument of ratification of the tenth State having been deposited on 14 April 2014, the Convention has entered into force on 14 April 2015.