2023 GS2 Answer

Q. ‘Sea is an important Component of the Cosmos’ Discuss in the light of the above statement the role of the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) in protecting environment and enhancing maritime safety and security.

Question from UPSC Mains 2023 GS2 Paper

Model Answer: 

Sea’s Importance

The sea, covering over 70% of the Earth’s surface, plays a vital role in the balance of the Earth’s ecosystems. It is a crucial component of the cosmos, not just as a habitat for marine life, but also in terms of climate regulation, carbon sequestration, and supporting human activities such as transportation, fishing, and recreation.

Role of IMO in Protecting the Environment

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the sea’s importance is recognised and safeguarded through various measures aimed at protecting the environment and enhancing maritime safety and security.

Emission Control: The IMO has implemented regulations to control air pollution from ships, such as the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). For instance, it has set limits on sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions from ship exhausts to reduce their environmental impact.

Ballast Water Management: The IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another, thereby protecting marine ecosystems.

Anti-Fouling Systems: The IMO has also set regulations on the use of harmful anti-fouling systems on ships, which can have detrimental effects on marine life.

Marine Litter: The IMO works to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from ships, including regulations to prohibit the disposal of plastics and other forms of litter at sea.

Role of IMO in Enhancing Maritime Safety and Security

The IMO plays a crucial role in enhancing maritime safety and security through various measures.

Safety of Life at Sea: The IMO’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is the most important treaty addressing maritime safety, including the safety of merchant ships, passenger ships, and cargo ships.

Maritime Security: The IMO has established measures to prevent and suppress acts of terrorism against shipping. The International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, for example, provides a framework for assessing maritime security risks and developing security plans.

Training and Certification: The IMO sets standards for the training and certification of seafarers to ensure that ships are operated safely, efficiently, and environmentally responsibly.

Marine Casualty Investigation: The IMO provides guidelines for conducting marine casualty investigations, with the aim of preventing future marine accidents.


In conclusion, the IMO plays a vital role in preserving the sea as an important component of the cosmos. Through its various conventions and codes, it works tirelessly to protect the marine environment from pollution, enhance maritime safety, and ensure maritime security. However, the effectiveness of the IMO’s measures relies heavily on the cooperation and compliance of its member states and the shipping industry. Therefore, continuous efforts are needed to promote and enforce these measures to ensure the sustainable use of our seas.

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