The European Parliament and the European Commission are trying to put an end to the impunity of illegal dumping of waste oil in the face of the Council of Transport Ministers’ reticence.
Spain is the only country that has shown support for the proposal.
Ireland, which will hold the European Presidency during the first six months of the year, has indicated to Oceana its willingness to look into the organisation’s proposals.
The European Parliament’s approval of a Resolution to implement a Directive to apply penal or criminal sanctions to companies and individuals involved in the illegal dumping of hydrocarbons at sea –along the lines proposed a few weeks ago by Oceana in a report submitted to European parliamentarians and the Commissioner for Transport of the European Commission- could pave the way to putting a stop to the more than 20 million tonnes of waste resulting from tank washing, bilges, oil and used fuel which is generated each year by maritime traffic sailing in European Union waters.
More than 3.6 million tonnes of this waste is produced by oil tanker traffic in Spanish ports. In addition, hundreds of illegal dumping operations take place close to Spanish waters, due to its proximity to two of the main global oil tanker routes. Each year, more than 3,000 illegal dumping operations are detected in European waters, but these are thought to be just a small fraction of those that actually take place.
The European Parliament has included in its resolution many of the points set forth by Oceana in its report “The dumping of hydrocarbons from ships into the seas and oceans of Europe. The other side of oil slicks” which was presented to the European Commissioner for Transport, Loyola de Palacio, and the spokespersons of the European Parliamentary Groups.
“We are pleased to see that both the European Commission and the European Parliament have upheld their support for this Directive and have included the problem of the inadequacy of port reception facilities, the need to establish and improve surveillance systems at sea, and the enforcement of sanctions on law-breakers”, declared Xavier Pastor, Director of Oceana for Europe. “In addition, we should not rule out the possibility of placing observers on board oil tankers, which is already the case with some fishing boats, in order to monitor compliance with international agreements”, he added.
Oceana has congratulated the European Commission and the European Parliament and hopes that the proposals will be upheld at future meetings, impeding the EU Transport Ministers from relaxing the measures passed.
At the moment, only Spain has supported this resolution while Ireland, which will hold the European Presidency for the first six months of the year, has indicated to Oceana that it will look carefully at the report containing the proposals put forward by this international organisation dedicated to the research, protection and recovery of the oceans.
The report “The dumping of hydrocarbons from ships into the seas and oceans of Europe. The other side of oil slicks” is available on the Oceana website www.oceana.org and from our offices.