Around half of the global crude oil production is carried by sea. Much of this navigation is taking place in relative proximity to the coasts of many countries, in some cases transiting through constrained areas or chokepoints, such as narrow straits and/or canals. At the same time, the steady growth in the size and carrying capacity of ships transporting cargo of any type means that significant quantities of heavy bunker fuel are carried across the oceans and along coastal zones. With many coastal or small island developing states' economies heavily dependent on income from fisheries and tourism, exposure to damage arising from ship-source oil pollution incidents poses a potentially significant economic threat.
As concerns oil-pollution from tankers, a robust international legal framework is in place to provide significant compensation to those affected. However a number of coastal states, including developing countries that are potentially exposed to ship-source oil-pollution incidents, are not yet Contracting Parties to the latest legal instruments in the field. To assist policy makers in their understanding of the international legal framework and in assessing the merits of ratification, a new UNCTAD report has been published.