Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Maritime transport

Maritime transport enables trade and tourism between countries. It provides and ensures energy, food and exportation/importation products. Each year, more than 400 million passengers embark and disembark in European ports and almost 90% of the EU external freight trade is seaborne. The rise in intensity of this activity affects the economy, society and marine environment. The EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy aims to protect maritime resources, encompassing all aspects of maritime transport’s relationship with the seas and oceans.

Maritime transport is crucial for economic development as it represents a competitive alternative to road transport and related congestion problems.  In this sense, the European Commission is promoting short sea shipping which is highly efficient in terms of environmental performance. The EC is promoting a new European intermodal maritime-based logistic system known as the “motorways of the sea”, a more efficient, inclusive and sustainable approach than currently possible for road transport. 

However maritime transport is not without its costs and several environmental impacts are associated with it including the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms by ballast water and biofouling, gas emissions, oil pollution, sludge, sewage, garbage, transport of dangerous goods, antifouling coatings and underwater noise. Furthermore, transport vessels, excluding military ships, are responsible for almost the 80% of the energy demand of the international registered fleet.

Today’s policies and strategies promote less dependency on fossil fuels, fostering fuel efficiency and the use of biofuels, among other options for improved sustainability. Maritime transport should be in a position to cut CO2 emissions by 40% by 2050 in comparison to 2005 levels. Moreover, the potential impacts of climate change on maritime transport will require new strategies for freight transport networks and facilities and even more technology-led efficiency improvements

VECTORS research focus:

  1. Characterise the EU member states’ fleets and international vessels navigating in EU waters
  2. Determine the main maritime transport related environmental pressures and their impacts
  3. Establish the extent to which vessels are complying with IMO standards

Lead Author

Matej David

Explore other research themes under the categories below:

The content of this website may be subject to copyright, if you wish to use any of the information or figures please contact the attributed author(s).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

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