EMSA 2021 report notes 466 less casualties in 2020 compared to the previous year

The European Marine Safety Agency (EMSA) has published its 2021 Annual Overview of Marine Casualties and Incidents consisting of analysis of marine casualties or incidents accidents reported until 31 December 2020 by the EU Member States in the European electronic database (EMCIP).

2020 was a positive year considering the decrease or stabilisation of most of the indicators, such as the number of occurrences, ships lost, fatalities or injuries. However, consequences of COVID pandemic are very likely to have affected the area of marine casualties and incidents, taking into consideration its significant impact on shipping in 2020: reduced traffic in general, cruise ships and ferries activities heavily disrupted, etc.

In 2020, 2837 occurrences were reported. A reduction of 466 casualties in comparison with the year 2019 was recorded, after a 6-year period of stable number of occurrences (average of 3282 casualties between 2014 and 2019). The total number of occurrences stored in the EMCIP database has reached more than 22500 in 2020. In order to draw objective comparisons between the different types of ship, ratios between the number of occurrences involving each type of ship and its corresponding fleet size over 2014- 2020 were calculated. Due to data unavailability regarding non-EU flag ships, calculations were limited to ships carrying an EU Flag, and with an IMO number when it related to cargo ships, passenger ships and service ships.

The report notes that the overall average occurrence indicator was 1812, while it was reported that it reduced from 216 in 2015 to 131 in 2020, meaning a reduction of 39.4%.

At ship categories level, both passenger ships and cargo ships had their average indicators above the average, namely 350 and 214.

The occurrence indicator about fishing vessels was 84 over the period. However, it was noted that it continuously increased from 2014 (58) to 2020 (137) and therefore, safety level related to fishing vessels has negatively evolved during the past years. With a total of 106, fishing vessels remain the category of ships with the highest number of ships lost over 2014-2020. Namely, in 2020, the number of occurrences involving fishing vessels continued increasing; however, the number of ships lost reduced to six (in comparison with 15 in 2019) and the number of injuries remained stable, around 220.

After a peak of 110 very serious casualties reported in 2018 and a total of 81 in 2019, the number of very serious marine casualties was 46 in 2020, showing a reduction of 43.3% in one year. A similar evolution regarding the number of ships lost was noted: after an increase of up to 35 in 2018, a decrease in 2019 was recorded, with 22 ships lost. Only 9 losses of ships were recorded in 2020.

During the 2014-2020 period, 367 casualties resulted in a total of 550 lives lost. After a continuous important decrease until 2017 when 46 fatalities were recorded, an increase up to 72 was recorded in 2019.

In 2020, 38 fatalities were recorded. 89.1% of the victims were crew members. The main event resulting in fatalities was collision, when it related to a ship, and slipping / falls when it related to a person.

Download the full report: EMSA 2021 annual overview report

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