BIMCO position statement 10: Smuggling


BIMCO's position has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.


The occasional unwitting involvement of merchant ships in smuggling drugs, weapons, wildlife and other goods can constitute a serious problem to the involved seafarers and the shipowner. Although there is excellent cooperation and communication between the shipping industry, national custom/border control authorities and the World Customs Organization, there have been instances where innocent seafarers and companies have been held responsible for illegal goods placed on board their ships. For involved shipowners, detention of ships and arrest of crews are not uncommon and the potential for large fines and penalties is very real as is the potential confiscation of assets including the ship.

BIMCO’s position

  • Firm and prompt action should be taken by states against those using merchant ships for smuggling purposes.
  • Confiscation of ships used for smuggling cannot be accepted, unless a fair trial finds the shipowner guilty of direct involvement in the crime.
  • BIMCO  supports campaigns to raise awareness of and reduce and prevent smuggling, such as the United for Wildlife Transport Task Force (UWTTF).

  • Based on a shared interest, shipowners, operators, charterers and other industry stakeholders should co-operate in combating all elements of smuggling.

  • Custom authorities should establish concepts to incentivise shipowners, operators and crew, who proactively cooperate to prevent and deter smuggling. Such incentives could include priority access to flexible customs processes, minimising any delays caused by investigations and mitigating of statutory fines. Countries like Mexico, where shipowners and crew are likely to experience unfair treatment by authorities, will be prioritised in discussions regarding establishing an incentive scheme.

  • Shipowners are encouraged to exercise the highest degree of care and diligence in preventing contraband such as drugs, weapons, plastic waste and wildlife from being placed on board and to assist and guide shipowners, customs authorities should clearly describe the preventative measures necessary to this end.

Jakob Paaske Larsen
in Copenhagen, DK

VPS Bunker Alerts

Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) publish regular Bunker Alerts based entirely on fuel samples and have kindly permitted BIMCO’s Members to access this information.

The Bunker Alerts are not intended to be an evaluation of overall bunker quality in the port or area concerned, but usually highlight a specific parameter within the fuel which has raised a quality issue.

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