Shipping is an international mode of transport which is regulated at the global, EU and national level. The aim of regulation is to improve safety in maritime operations and to protect the marine environment.
The basis of international regulation is formed by a number of conventions, codes and recommendations adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) concerning maritime safety and security, the prevention of pollution and related matters.
The most important convention on maritime safety is the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which covers a wide range of topics such as subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations, fire protection, detection and extinction, life-saving appliances, radiocommunications, safety of navigation, carriage of grain and dangerous goods, nuclear ships, management for the safe operation of ships, and safety measures for high-speed craft.
Other safety-related conventions adopted by IMO include the International Convention on Load Lines (LL), the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, the Convention on International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREG), and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue.
The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) has been revised twice, in 1995 and in 2010. The latter amendments are currently being incorporated into Finnish legislation.
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships and the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments are the most significant among the IMO conventions on pollution prevention.
The aim of EU regulation is to safeguard free movement of goods and people within the EU. However, most of the actions on community level with respect to maritime transport have been taken as a response by the member states to changes in the international maritime environment. Such changes have mainly been caused by marine accidents and oil spills. A good example of EU regulation is the Port State Control Directive which targets substandard ships.
International agreements and EU regulation are not sufficient. National legislation and national regulations on shipping and waterborne transport are also required. For the most part, national maritime regulations of Finland contain technical requirements for different types of vessels engaged on domestic voyages.