The number of containers lost at sea fell to the lowest level in 16 years, according to a survey by the World Shipping Council.

Out of 250m transported annually, only 221 containers were lost last year, which is the lowest number since the survey began in 2008.

It is also sharply down from the previous lowest loss of 661 containers in 2022.

One-third of the lost containers were recovered, the report notes.

"The reduction in containers lost at sea in 2023 is a positive development, but it does not diminish the urgency of our work,” said WSC chief executive John Butler.

“Every container lost at sea represents a potential hazard, and our commitment to preventing these incidents must be unwavering.”

Safety protocols and preventive measures have been introduced to prevent losses at sea.

New mandatory reporting requirements for containers lost at sea have been adopted by the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee and will take effect on 1 January 2026.

Other regulatory enhancements include the revision of safety guidelines, such as the Safety of Life at Sea Convention and the Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units.

Efforts are also being made to provide industry best practices, updated safety, container and lashing standards, guidance and recommendations for regulatory updates.

These will be published in a final report by the Marin TopTier Joint Industry Project, which will focus on training material on how to avoid and manage different kinds of dangerous parametric rolling.

WSC has been reporting on the number of containers lost at sea since 2011, with data starting from 2008.

“The progress achieved so far serves as a foundation for further action and continuous improvement,” it said.