Project Tangaroa Potentially Polluting Wrecks

Safeguarding Our Oceans


Globally, there are over 8,500 wrecks classified as ‘potentially polluting wrecks’ (PPW), mainly originating from World War I and II, containing oil, chemicals and munitions. There is an increasing risk of pollution and disastrous impacts on the ocean environment and coastal communities, due to climate change, structural break-down and a lack of proactive management of these environmental ‘ticking time-bombs’.

Responding to pollution from PPW is reactive and expensive and is not coordinated globally. Without proactive actions, it is estimated that dealing with pollution from these wrecks could cost up to $340 Billion, with immeasurable environmental damage, threats to marine life and potentially disastrous impacts on ocean economies and coastal communities.



Pollution from PPW is a cross-border problem, affecting global society, the environment and economies. It has serious threats and negative impacts on wildlife, marine ecosystems, coastal communities (food, livelihoods and habitability), human health (Hazardous and Noxious Substances, munitions, chemicals) and locks in high costs for emergency response and remediation. Pro-active action on PPWs will reduce costs and reduce the risk and impact of these threats.

Currently, action on the management of pollution risks from PPWs is not coordinated or proactive. A strategic, coordinated, approach is imperative and will reduce the pollution risk and impact on ocean communities, create substantial cost savings and increase certainty for blue finance and investors. Action on the issue of PPWs is directly linked, and aligned, to international ocean stewardship targets and preserves important cultural heritage.



  • Develop an International Standard for assessment and intervention of PPW to create a framework for proactive management of PPW and provide due diligence and increased certainty for all stakeholders.
  • Expand current R&D work on PPW, assessment and intervention methods. Identify technology gaps to meet the challenge.
  • Open up funding pathways to proactively manage the pollution risk to make the necessary R&D happen and support proactive PPW management and ocean stewardship.
  • Increase stakeholder collaboration and data sharing to overcome cross-border challenges and improve PPW management to prevent pollution and preserve cultural heritage.
  • Raise political and public awareness of the PPW problem to drive positive, proactive action.


Find out more about Project Tangarao here.