Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Greenpeace seek Holliday assurance on Single-Hull

Greenpeace International is awaiting a response from DTI minister Joe Holliday to confirm a meeting with him on the question of single-hull vessels that call at Gibraltar or its waters.

Senior Greenpeace activist Martin Besieux met yesterday with the Shipping Registrar Captain Cliff Brand and Greenpeace say that it has learned that the Rock does not have sufficient resources to check potential offenders that may anchor in the Bay. But Captain Brand told the Chronicle last night that he had met Greenpeace on Friday and referred them to Mr Holliday. Captain Brand said:

“Gibraltar has never been better resourced to carry out Port State Controls.

Last year we exceeded our quota (25%) by 3%. What Greenpeace say is totally untrue.”

He said he did not wish to pull Greenpeace down since they serve a purpose but he could not accept their claims.

Greenpeace Vessel Arctic Sunrise in Bay of Gibraltar
The Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise was in the area patrolling for single-hull vessels as new legislation fell into place yesterday that will see these ships phased out over the next five years.

M Besieux told the Chronicle yesterday that this protest is not related to bunkering but to the aim of having single-hull vessels removed. And he says he is hoping to get permission to host an open-day in Gibraltar on Saturday inviting the public aboard Arctic Sunrise to explain Greenpeace’s projects.

“Greenpeace International want to say hello to the people of Gibraltar,” he said.

Today he will be approaching the Algeciras authorities on the same issues.

Yesterday the International Maritime Organisation - the United Nations’ specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships – saw measures for the phasing out of oil tankers and a new regulation banning the carriage of heavy grade oil in single-hull oil tankers enter into force.

The measures were adopted in December 2003 as amendments to the MARPOL Convention following the November 2002 sinking of the oil tanker Prestige off the Spanish coast.

Under the phase-out schedule, “Category 1” single-hull oil tankers will not be able to trade after 5 April 2005 or after their anniversary date in 2005 (for ships delivered after 5 April 1982). Category 1 oil tankers, include oil tankers of 20,000 tonnes deadweight and above carrying crude oil, fuel oil, heavy diesel oil or lubricating oil as cargo, and tankers of 30,000 tonnes deadweight and above carrying other oils, which do not comply with the requirements for protectively located segregated ballast tanks.

Category 2 oil tankers, which have some level of protection from protectively located segregated ballast tank requirements will be phased out according to their age up to 2010. The year 2010 is also a final cut-off date for Category 3 oil tankers which are generally smaller oil tankers. Also banned is the carriage of heavy grade oil in single-hull tankers of 5,000 tons deadweight.

Greenpeace say that in the past month 28 single-hull petrol vessels have visited Gibraltar and 12 Algeciras. Of those that visited Gibraltar they say four would today be classed as illegal worldwide and three have been banned from EU ports since 2003.

They believe some 4,000 to 5,000 petrol tankers cross the Strait of Gibraltar each year and 20 million tonnes of petrol is handled in the Bay.

“We have met with Gibraltar authorities to ask for an explanation as to why these vessels called and urged them to follow UK and the EU,” said M Besieux who is responsible for the Greenpeace campaign against toxic substances.

“We are waiting to see if Mr Holliday will welcome us into Gibraltar. Tuesday was a happy day as it means we have world legislation against these vessels,” he explained.

After a meeting with the Shipping Registrar Captian Brand the Greenpeace spokesman said he detected a willingness to comply with the law. But M Besieux says Gibraltar lacked the human resources to inspect all vessels that may be offending.

According to Greenpeace, Gibraltar fails to inspect the vessels that anchor in its territorial waters - an action that would lead to enforcing the demise of these vessels.

Arctic Sunrise is hoping to sail in at noon today. “If we are not allowed to sail in after that time we will find it suspicious,” said M Besieux.


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