Get your voice heard on environmental issues

Support our work for the health and safety of Nautilus members, and the sustainability of their jobs.

A greener shipping industry isn't just good for the planet – it should be good for the health and safety of Nautilus members, and the sustainability of their jobs. But there's a lot of work to be done to prevent environmental regulation from having some damaging side-effects.

The issues

The environment is a big issue for shipping, and Nautilus works nationally and internationally to lower the levels of harmful emissions from seagoing and inland waterways vessels. We also promote the adoption of the international Ballast Water Management Convention (BWM) to stop the spread of invasive marine species.

Although shipping is the most energy-efficient way to shift large volumes of freight, emissions from the industry have doubled since 1990 and have been forecast to increase a further 50% by 2020. The industry is therefore under increasing political pressure to cut its environmental impact, and the International Maritime Organisation is under pressure to put agreements in place quickly or face EU or UN intervention.

A sustainable industry is crucial not just for employment, but also for the health and safety of seafarers. However, it's also vital that new regulations do not increase workloads, raise the risk of seafarer criminalisation or inadvertently put safety at risk.

What Nautilus is doing

Nautilus is working to ensure that targets for emissions reduction protect the jobs of our members and do not create an unfair employment situation where some countries opt out and are therefore able to significantly reduce costs.

By helping to curb harmful emissions from shipping, Nautilus also aims to address key health and safety concerns affecting members – not least the risks of exposure to dangerous gases and particulate matter in exhaust emissions. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked to lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems.

But the Union is also seeking to ensure that well-meaning measures do not have inadvertently damaging effects. We have opposed moves at the IMO to reduce the engine power of ships – potentially compromising their ability to cope with adverse conditions at sea. And we are working with shipping companies and maritime administrations to tackle concerns over the potential dangers and health risks associated with certain methods of ballast water treatment.

Nautilus is also opposing the introduction of new regulations, new technologies or onboard systems that create increased workloads for already overworked crews. Masters and officers have had to deal with a vast increase in paperwork over the past 20 years, and the Union is acting to ensure that 'green' rules and equipment do not add to this burden.

We are also continuing to lobby at national and international level to protect seafarers from an increased risk of criminalisation (i.e. being held criminally accountable for a mistake or something outside their control). For example, we might highlight the dangers to seafarers of poorly framed legislation on ballast water sampling, or unreliable pollution prevention equipment.

How you can help

Let us know if you have concerns about practices onboard your ship. Nautilus has supported whistleblowers who have revealed illicit activities on their vessels – and we can ensure that evidence is treated in confidence, handled with sensitivity and taken to the right authorities.

Let the Union know if you are facing extra work or responsibilities arising from new pollution-prevention equipment, new systems or new regulations. We can use this to support claims for increased crewing levels or extra pay to reflect additional responsibilities.

The Union's Professional & Technical (P&T) Forum regularly debates global legislation and its effect on the industry. If, as a member, you have experience or views to share, come along to the next P&T Forum.

If you work in the maritime industry and are concerned about the way the IMO and member states are dealing with environmental issues, but you are not a Nautilus member, join now to ensure that your voice is heard.

Become a Nautilus member today