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The ownership, operation and management chain surrounding any ship can involve many countries and ships spend their economic life moving between different jurisdictions, often far from the country of registry. There is, therefore, a need for international standards to regulate shipping.

The first maritime treaties date back to the 19th century. Later, the Titanic disaster of 1912 spawned the first international safety of life at sea – SOLAS – convention, still the most important treaty addressing maritime safety. In 1948 an international conference in Geneva adopted a convention formally establishing IMO (the original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, or IMCO, but the name was changed in 1982 to the IMO).


Be advised that a number of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life as Sea (SOLAS), the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and the 1988 Load Lines Protocol entered into force, or took into effect, from 1st January 2014.

Read more about SOLAS and MARPOL amendments

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