According to a new complaint, the UK capital’s insurance industry is partly to blame when fishing vessels “go dark” at sea by turning off their mandatory satellite tracking equipment.
Guardian reports that in a filing to City of London watchdogs, the ocean conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation has argued that EU-flagged vessels operating in the Indian Ocean that go dark are in likely breach of international, flag state and coastal state law, and that the UK insurance industry is “enabling” them by continuing to provide cover, thereby putting seafarers’ lives at risk.
The complaint, made to the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulatory Authority, is based on analysis of what the charity calls “highly inconsistent” use of AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) by 46 EU fishing vessels over four years, mostly owned by Spanish and French companies.
According to the article, it pointed the finger at three British firms – the Britannia Steam Ship Insurance Association Ltd, British Marine and MS Amlin – for insuring the vessels despite the AIS problems.
Overall, switching off the AIS is a common way of “busting” sanctions prohibiting trade with certain countries, as it reduces the likelihood of the vessel’s location becoming known. Switching off tracking devices should raise “red flags” with insurers because it may cover illegal fishing activity and endangers crew members’ lives. In July 2021, BIMCO had issued a new charter party clause to help tackle potential abuse by sanctions busters of the AIS which is mandatory for all ships to use under SOLAS regulations.