Frontline World

SPAIN - The Lawless Sea, January 2004

Related Features THE STORY
Synopsis of "The Lawless Sea"

Interactive Atlas

Troubled Waters

The Case of the Prestige

Regulation, the Environment, Labor




Links and Resources

• General Background
• The Prestige
• Regulatory and Inspection Agencies
• Flags of Convenience
• Safety, Labor and Environmental Issues
• Shipping Industry Media

General Background

The Nautical Institute
The institute is one of the world's leading international professional organizations for qualified mariners. It has 38 branches worldwide to improve the standards of those in control of seagoing craft and publishes a monthly magazine for its members. The organization is also open to students and those involved with yachting. Their Web site includes information on training and service options for those interested in the maritime world, as well as a guide to nautical acronyms and abbreviations.

Links to Companies in the Maritime Industry
Review this comprehensive list of major shipping companies, cruise lines, ferries and shipyards, then click on their homepages to learn more.

Lloyd's Register-Fairplay World Shipping Directory
The register claims to be the world's largest database of marine company information available on the Internet. The Web site is updated daily and contains details on more than 60,000 marine-based companies.

International Chamber of Shipping
The ICS acts as a consulting body to a variety of international maritime organizations and currently represents more than half of the world's merchant fleet. Their Web site includes specific information on their purpose and membership. It also includes access to their news publication, Mariscene, which provides useful and current information on a range of shipping issues.

Admiralty and Maritime Law Guide
This guide is written and published by Todd Kenyon, an admiralty attorney, and offers a wide range of information on maritime law, focusing on U.S. cases and courts, and serves as a practical resource for maritime lawyers and professionals with links to ship registries, ports, classification societies, and numerous maritime associations and organizations in the United States and around the world. It is also an excellent guide to international regulations and agreements.

Anarchy at Sea
This story in The Atlantic Monthly by William Langewiesche discusses the complex and lawless nature of the shipping industry. The article offers a detailed description of how international shipping is regulated and emphasizes weaknesses in the current system. (The Atlantic Monthly, September 2003) (Registration required)

back to top


The Prestige

The Prestige Disaster: One Year On
This 40-page report published by Greenpeace International in November 2003 discusses the impact of the spill on the local environment of Galicia. It also includes information on the spill's commercial effects, food safety concerns, and repercussions for tourism and the fishing industry. The report proposes how to improve maritime safety and prevent future disasters.

"A Seeping Tanker Turns Spain's Beaches Into an Oily Sandbox"
This New York Times report by Dale Fuchs provides an overview of the current situation on the beaches of La Coruña, Spain. Published almost a year after the spill, the article hints at the long-term implications of the disaster. (The New York Times, Aug. 31, 2003) (Registration required)

Prestige Salvage Case
Lloyd's Salvage Arbitration Branch offers detailed and reliable information to facilitate the salvage arbitration process for shipping incidents all over the world. Clicking on the Case Reports tab provides access to a series of accounts, presented chronologically going back to November 2002, of the ship's sinking and its aftermath.

Nautile Submarine
The French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea (IFREMER) is a French government organization that owns the submarine Nautile and is currently cleaning up and removing oil that remains inside the Prestige. Their Web site contains photos of and technical information on the submarine, the cleanup of the Prestige (in French) and the rest of the IFREMER fleet.

"Analysis: Vulnerability of Single Hulls"
This BBC report includes diagrams of the structure of the Prestige, an explanation of how she sank and a discussion of the problems common to all single-hull oil tankers. ( BBC News, Nov. 19, 2002)

"EU to Ban Single-Hull Tankers"
This BBC update reports on the European Union's response to the Prestige oil spill and their intention to ban, by 2010, single-hull tankers from entering European ports. (BBC News, Dec. 2, 2002)

"UN Brings Forward Global Single-Hull Tanker Ban"
This Reuters article reports on the International Maritime Organization's decision to shorten the period before starting a ban of single-hull tankers. The new deadline is April 2005. The article gives background on the Prestige and discusses how the accident influenced the change in policy. (Reuters, Dec. 5, 2003)

"When a Tanker's in Trouble, Where Can It Go? Nowhere"
The International Herald Tribune reports on international concern about providing safe havens for ships that develop serious problems at sea. The story examines the Prestige oil spill and explains the reasons behind Spanish authorities' refusal to allow her into a Spanish port in November 2002. (International Herald Tribune, March 7, 2003)

Nunca Mais
In the wake of the Prestige disaster, residents of Galicia, and throughout Spain, responded by forming a movement called Nunca Mais ("never again") in Gallego, the local Galician language. The group has been organizing protests, demanding compensation for damages afflicting the Galician coastline, and advocating for reform of the maritime system to prevent another Prestige disaster from happening. The Spanish-language Web site includes updated reports, press releases, and information on protests and activities.

American Bureau of Shipping
Learn about the ship classification society that inspected and certified the Prestige for sail. ABS, based in Houston, Texas, is one of the world's largest classification societies. Their Web site provides ship classification standards and requirements. It also includes the company's press and public statements on the Prestige.

The London P&I Club
The London Club is one of the world's oldest protection and indemnity clubs and one of the leading members of the International Group of P&I Clubs, which together insure the vast majority of the world's merchant shipping and handle claims ranging from crew sickness to cargo damage to the cost of major oil spills and other disasters. The London Club insured the Prestige. Their Web site includes a detailed history of how P&I clubs developed, a search engine to track down specific ships, and copies of the London Club's quarterly publication, "StopLoss Bulletin," which discuss developments in maritime insurance.

back to top


Regulatory and Inspection Agencies

International Maritime Organization
The IMO is a London-based U.N. organization with a staff of 300 dedicated to improving safety at sea, specifically by regulating the shipping industry. The agency was created in 1948 "to provide machinery for cooperation among governments ... and facilitate the general adoption of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning maritime safety, efficiency of navigation and prevention, and control of marine pollution from ships." Their Web site contains meeting documents, regulations and standards, and press reports.

Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control
The Paris MOU organizes the inspection of foreign-flagged ships sailing within the waters of the European coastal states and the North Atlantic basin from North America to Europe and publishes detention lists of ships that have violated international safety, labor and environmental standards. It also maintains a blacklist of the countries it rates as having the world's worst fleets.

The U.S. Coast Guard
The U.S. Coast Guard decides which vessels coming into the United States are to be boarded and inspected. Using a complex boarding matrix, the Coast Guard assigns points according to the ship's owners, its flag country and classification society, its history and its type. Any ship that receives an above-average score will be inspected. This Web site explains how the matrix works and also includes information on detained ships and ship registries with high detention rates.

back to top


Flags of Convenience

The International Transport Workers' Federation
The ITF is one of the world's oldest and largest labor unions. Created in 1896, the federation now represents more than 5 million workers in 137 countries. For 50 years, it has campaigned against the flags of convenience system, which allows owners to register their ships in foreign countries that have lax labor laws and regulations. In addition to its annual report on the system, ITF publishes reports containing information on the world's largest fleets, fleets with the highest detention ratings, and the status of the union's campaign to change the flags of convenience system.

University of Cardiff Flag State Audit 2003
This report, published by the Seafarers International Research Center at Cardiff University in Wales, is the result of three years of research and focuses on 37 countries identified as being open register/flag of convenience nations. Using a specially designed rating system, the report assesses the quality and effectiveness of a selected nation's shipping register, to provide "a comprehensive, independent and critical guide to the shipping registers of the world."

The Bahamas Ship Registry
Learn more about the registry that flagged the Prestige.

The Liberia International Ship and Corporate Registry
This is the homepage for the 55-year-old Liberian ship registry. Its Web site includes information about annual fees and pricing based on tonnage.

The International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize
The Belizean ship registry's Web site includes regulations, registration guidelines and contact information.

Panamanian Ship Registry Office
The consulate general of Panama in New York provides information about one of the oldest ship registries.

back to top


Safety, Labor and Environmental Issues

"Al Qaeda's 'Navy' -- How Much of a Threat?"
The Center for Defense Information is a nongovernmental think tank focusing on defense and security issues. This August 2003 report discusses the current status of suspected al Qaeda-linked ships described in the Washington Post and other media reports over the past year.

"Protecting America's Ports"
This Fortune magazine story by Philip Siekman examines efforts to tighten security at U.S. ports after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Siekman reports how shipping systems in the United States historically have been designed for efficiency, reliability and speed, not security. (Fortune, Nov. 10, 2003)

Labor -- Sweatships
War on Want is a nongovernmental organization devoted to campaigning for social justice and equity. This report, prepared in conjunction with the International Transport Workers' Federation, highlights problems faced by cruise ship employees.

Seamen's Church Institute
The New York-based organization advocates for the rights and well-being of the world's merchant mariners. Its Center for Seafarers' Rights provides legal research, education and assistance to merchant seafarers and seafarers' agencies worldwide.

"Pirate Fishing Plundering the Oceans"
This 2001 report by Greenpeace International offers a comprehensive look at the problem of fish piracy. (PDF format)

Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators
Learn more about the campaign to stop illegal fishing of the toothfish. The COLTO Web site provides a complete list of vessels known to be engaging in illegal toothfishing, along with photos and information on where they are flagged.

International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds
The intergovernmental IOPC Funds provide compensation to individuals, companies and states for oil pollution damage resulting from oil tankers. The Web site includes information on the origins and history of the IOPC Funds and on how their compensation system works.

back to top


Shipping Industry Media

Journal of Commerce
The journal publishes shipping news, analysis, case studies and perspective pieces for business executives. Nonsubscribers can browse white papers, research projects, studies and other reference materials related to international shipping logistics, trade and transportation.

Lloyd's List
Lloyd's List is the "world's leading source of maritime business and information." Lloyd's publishes numerous newspapers and journals related to shipping. The complete text of many articles is available only to members, but the front page provides insight into current maritime issues.

This British international shipping weekly provides business news and in-depth analysis of recent developments in the world of shipping. Full access requires a subscription.

back to top