What is Maritime?
The term “maritime” refers to anything related to the ocean, sea, and rivers. Maritime includes the ships, ports, companies, and individuals that are involved in the industry.
The maritime shipping industry is essential to the global economy. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated that in 2021, 80% of international trade items were transported via the seas. While shipping volumes slipped slightly in 2022, UNCTAD estimates that it will experience 2% annual growth through 2028.
What is Maritime Law?
Maritime law, or admiralty laws, is a collection of laws, conventions, and treaties that were put together by international bodies, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO), to regulate all aspects of maritime trade. It encompasses a wide range of legal matters concerning the use of oceans, seas, rivers, and other waterways, as well as the rights, responsibilities, and liabilities of individuals and entities involved in maritime activities.
Maritime law is essential for regulating and resolving disputes that occur on the high seas. For example, maritime law regulates contracts and agreements related to shipping. When disputes arise over terms or performance of contracts, maritime law offers the framework for resolution. Accidents at sea are another area covered by maritime law. Liability for ship collisions, oil spills, and personal injuries are all governed by maritime law.
Understanding Maritime Traffic
Maritime traffic, which refers to ships on the water, has increased significantly over the years for a number of reasons:
- Global trade: the increase in manufacturing, consumer demand, and supply chains is driving an increase in the movement of goods by ship
- Population growth: more people means increased demand and consumption, which leads to the need for more transport of raw materials, food, and products
- Resource exploration: offshore oil and gas exploration to meet the world’s growing needs increase traffic on the world’s oceans
- Affordability and convenience: it’s an affordable and convenient way to ship goods – much cheaper than air shipping, for instance
Maritime shipping allows companies to provide their goods at an affordable price. But, there is a dark side to this increase in traffic, including:
- Environmental impact: increased traffic leads to more air pollution, oil spills, and other detrimental environmental events
- Navigation safety: more ships lead to higher port congestion, which increases the risk of collisions
- Criminal challenges: more ships on the water makes it more difficult for police and government agencies to monitor ships and prevent IUU fishing, deceptive shipping practices, oil smuggling, and other crimes
The Importance of Maritime Shipping
Maritime shipping plays a pivotal role in facilitating international trade, ensuring the availability of essential goods, and connecting nations across the world. It is the primary mode of transportation for international trade and serves as the cornerstone of the global supply chain.
While maritime shipping does have an environmental impact, it is significantly greener than alternatives, such as air transport.
Different Types of Vessels Used in Maritime Shipping
There are many different methods for transporting goods on ships, depending on the type of cargo and the desired level of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The best method for transporting a particular type of cargo will depend on a number of factors, including the type of cargo, the desired level of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and the distance to be traveled.
Here are just a few examples of how different types of ships are used to transport goods:
- Container ships: used to transport a wide variety of goods, including food, clothing, electronics, and machinery
- Bulk carriers: best suited to transport grain, coal, iron ore, and other raw materials
- Tankers: used to transport oil, gas, and chemicals
- Roll-on/Roll-off: also known as ro/ro ships, these are used to transport cars, trucks, buses, and other wheeled cargo
- Refrigerated ships: for transporting fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy products
The Biggest Threats to Maritime Security and Trade
The biggest threats to maritime security come from a lack of visibility on ship activity beyond individual countries’ ports. With minimal regulation and enforcement on the high seas and unreliable data, this gap is exploited by terrorists, criminals, and those seeking financial gain. The sheer volume of ship activity, exemplified by over 9,000 cargo ships and tankers entering Europe in a single month, makes it nearly impossible to detect specific threats without advanced technology.
This lack of visibility poses a number of significant problems for maritime security.
- It creates an environment where illegal activities can go undetected, potentially allowing terrorists, criminals, and other illicit actors to operate with relative impunity
- It facilitates the violation of international sanctions, as ships can engage in prohibited activities, such as smuggling or trading with embargoed entities, under the radar
- It hampers the ability of nations to protect their borders effectively, as ships originating from anywhere in the world can impact a country, even those with no prior history of transgressions
When it comes to trading, false positives – incorrectly flagging a vessel ineligible for trading – are a heavy burden on business. Unfortunately, false positives are often simply accepted as part of the job of conducting due diligence.
Maritime Tracking with Artificial Intelligence
The best way to improve maritime security is by possessing as much information as possible. This includes the ultimate beneficial owner, the crew, cargo, containers, and routes, port stops at sanctioned countries, and more.
Monitoring all this data manually is an impossible task. An AI-based Ocean Freight Visibilityplatform is up for the challenge. It is capable of capturing and analyzing millions of data points from numerous sources. As a result, it can offer actionable insights into the complete maritime industry ecosystem, enabling law enforcement to prevent serious crime and organizations to make trades with complete confidence
There is much that can be done to fight false positives and boost business. When screening vessels, one of the best ways to do this is by applying domain expertise to vessel screening according to the type of commodity and the regime in question. By doing so, the system can help reduce the number of false positives and prioritize the ones that point to the higher risks.