Oceana concerned over possible spill from Costa Concordia wreck

Proximity to largest Italian National Park could damage critical marine species and habitats.

Press Release Date: January 19, 2012

Location: Madrid


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Oceana is calling for increased security measures to minimize waste generated by stricken ship.

Oceana is concerned by the effects of a possible spill from the wreckage of the Costa Concordia cruise ship on the nearby Tuscan Archipelago National Park. Fuel spills, oil and sewage could seriously affect the protected area, which is the largest marine park in Italy and an area of great importance due to the presence of cetaceans, corals and seagrass beds.

The wreck’s proximity to the shore, and hence to the numerous species inhabiting the rocky island of Giglio, including corals, molluscs and sea fans, and the western stretch of seagrass Posidonia oceanica, an endemic species of the Mediterranean, raises further concerns.

“The tragic wreck occurred in a protected area that is home to many endangered species, so a spill would cause severe damage to organisms such as cetaceans, sharks and coral,” said Ricardo Aguilar, research director at Oceana Europe. “This disaster demonstrates the need for enhanced security measures for cruise ships. Even if no accidents occur, discharges generated by these floating cities can have a devastating impact on marine habitats and organisms. A cruise can generate more than a thousand tons of waste per day, including grey and black water, oily liquids and toxic substances.”

The National Park, which encompasses part of the waters of the island of Giglio, is one of the ecological gems of Italy, and its rich diversity of species has made it a strong tourist attraction for divers. The park is home to a stable population of bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans, such as sperm whales, striped, Risso’s and common dolphins as well as lesser-known species of great ecological interest, such as the Aplysinia cavernicola sponge, which is protected by the Barcelona Convention. Oceana documented the area as part of the 2006 Ranger expedition.

Nearby areas, like the island of Giannutri, which is protected by the National Park, may be affected because of the currents. It’s also worth noting that this area was damaged in 1999 when massive colonies of Gorgonians near Portofino died from a wave of bleaching caused by climate change.

More information: The Corals of the Mediterranean. Cruise ship contamination