Hidden Shipping Activity Equals Hidden Pollution from Toxic Scrubbers

January 11, 2024
Public Relations

Hidden Shipping Activity Equals Hidden Pollution from Toxic Scrubbers

A new study has revealed that we don’t have an accurate account of the number of emissions including toxic scrubber effluent quantities being released daily. The numbers could actually be higher than previously thought.


The report noted that from 2017 through 2021, at least 75% of the world’s industrial fishing vessels and more than 25% of the transport and energy vessel activity, which includes tankers, bulk carriers, passenger and container vessels, were not publicly tracked. In fact, numerous vessels, referred to as “dark vessels,” that did not broadcast their location, manipulated their location coordinates, and/or were not detectable by public monitoring systems such as the Automatic Identification System (AIS) were found conducting illicit activity in marine protected areas (MPAs) through new satellite imaging and machine learning software.


Two of those marine protected areas included the Galapagos Marine Reserve and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in which both areas showed, on average, more than 5 and 20 hidden vessels per week, respectively.


While we don’t have comprehensive data, yet, showing how much more lethal scrubber discharge and greenhouse gas pollution has been emitted into our atmosphere and our oceans given this new information, we can safely assume that more has been when it shouldn’t have been in the first place. Now that we have the technology to help us track these dark vessels, we can start to hold the parties responsible for marine pollution accountable.



1. Satellite mappingreveals extensive industrial activity at sea | Nature

2. Newresearch harnesses AI and satellite imagery to reveal the expanding footprintof human activity at sea - Global Fishing Watch

3. Shipping‘blind spots’ revealed by global tracking study | TradeWinds(tradewindsnews.com)

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