Three major incidents mean more than double the number of shipping containers were lost in the last four months than the total lost in an average year.
Cargo vessels lost a total of 2,979 shipping containers between November 2020 and March 2021. The unusually high number is due to significant losses from the ONE Apus, Maersk Essen and Maersk Eindhoven in November, January and February respectively.
Around the world, an average of about 1400 containers are lost every year. Yet the ONE Apus disaster alone saw 1816 containers crash into the ocean in November last year.
The Maersk Essen lost 750 containers on 16 January, while the same company’s ship the Eindhoven lost 206 containers on 17 February. Other smaller incidents led to the loss of the other 153 containers, Marine Insight reports.
The Apus, Essen and Eindhoven all lost their containers in the Pacific Ocean. However, similar losses have also occurred closer to Europe. For example, when the MSC Zoe lost 342 containers in the North Sea in January 2019.
As a result of the MSC Zoe disaster, Dutch fishermen continue to collect records amount of waste in their nets.
Shipping containers can hold dangerous goods. And waste lost at sea can wash up on beaches, threaten fishing fleets and poison the ocean.
When disasters strike, it is often coastal communities and municipalities who have to deal with the consequences. And have to clean up the mess.
KIMO International has been calling for stronger laws to reduce risks and increased protections for marine life and coastal livelihoods for many years.
Measures, such as improved planning, updated construction criteria, rules around stacking, and better maintenance regimes, could all help.
At the same time, laws should ensure the liability for lost containers is clear. And financial penalties and compensation must cover the cost of retrieving and disposing of container waste.
Last November, the North Sea Commission and KIMO adopted a joint resolution calling on the European Union and the International Maritime Organisation to take action to prevent the loss of the shipping containers, and to protect coastal communities.
KIMO International is a network of local governments, working together for healthy seas, cleaner beaches, and thriving coastal communities. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and sign up for our email updates.