Following the MSC Zoe disaster, both the Netherlands and Germany are both halting the ‘southern route’ via the Islands in bad weather
Translated by Thomas Ansell
The Waddenvereniging, which represents the Wadden Islands, has said that it is “hugely pleased” by the Dutch government’s decision to introduce regulations against using the MSC Zoe’s route during bad weather. The MSC Zoe is a near-400 metre long cargo ship that lost a large part of its cargo (342 containers) north of the Wadden Islands on January 1, 2019.
As reported by the Omrop Fryslân, the Dutch government is following guidance from the Onderzoeksraad voor Veiligheid (Safety Research Board). Also reported by the Omrop Fryslân, Germany has taken similar steps in the region around its Wadden Islands. Ellen Kuipers, of the Waddenvereiniging, says “in hazardous circumstances all ships in the area will be told that the routes over the Islands are unsafe. The Netherlands will contact the ships heading East, whilst Germany will now also warn ships coming from the East.”
The ‘southern route’ won’t be completely closed: “if you were to send all ships via the northern route, there are lots of disadvantages too. The route is much smaller and narrower”, says Kuipers. “Both routes are really unsafe. The Safety Research Board has said that the Dutch government isn’t protecting the Wadden Islands well at all. The government needs to have a more active role, and they’re moving towards that.”
Other measures for safety will have to be agreed at an international level, for example regulations to make the biggest cargo ships safer, and better controls on loading and container safety. Following the MSC Zoe disaster the Netherlands, Germany, and Panama (the home port of MSC) have all upped their regulations to try and make shipping safer.