Thursday, April 07, 2005

Holliday meets with Greenpeace

Dominique Searle reports

• Gibraltar ‘fully compliant’ on single-hulls - Government

Joe Holliday the DTI Minister will meet with Greenpeace International representatives this morning in what follows a day of calm tension with the environmental campaigners who claim Gibraltar should increase ship inspections and the Government that has reiterated it is complying with all legal requirements.

Martin Besieux of Greenpeace is hoping that the group’s vessel Arctic Sunrise will be allowed in to Gibraltar’s Port and that shipping inspectors will join his team to meet with single-hull vessel captains and examine if they are conforming with international requirements. That is unlikely as Mr Holliday has already ruled out such an approach.

Mr Holliday reiterated the position stated by the Gibraltar Shipping Registrar Captain Cliff Brand stating that Gibraltar is fully compliant with single-hull legislation. He stated that:

- Gibraltar law follows EU directives, and bans those single-hulled tankers that are prohibited from entering European Union waters;

- there are no Category 1 single-hulled tankers on the Gibraltar Ship Register and flying the Gibraltar flag. The single hulled tankers that are Gibraltar ships are either Category 2 or Category 3 tankers and the first of these will need to be phased out in 2009, in accordance with Gibraltar law, EU Directives and IMO Regulations;

- the port of Gibraltar has increased its resources to closely monitor all ship arrivals to police compliance with the above rules.

“The Greenpeace ship, MV Arctic Sunrise, is welcome to enter the port of Gibraltar, as is every ship that is not a prohibited ship. It is impossible under the ISPS Code, and Gibraltar legislation that transposed the Code into Gibraltar law, to allow Greenpeace International inflatables to approach and have contact with any ocean-going ship in the port or anchorage of Gibraltar,” said Mr Holliday.

M Besieux said last night that the captains of vessels are the only frontline for reaching ship-owners as the vessels only show a PO Box in official registries. He says that the Greenpeace RIBs are compliant with Gibraltar law and hopes to use these to approach ships in the port and meet their captains.

He expressed bewilderment that Gibraltar had so far prohibited the Arctic Sunrise from sailing into port and that he would have to come to today’s meeting by car from Spain.

M Beseiux says he will be asking to be allowed to approach the vessels as well as seeking permission to open the Arctic Sunrise to the public. In addition he says he will use the opportunity to brief Mr Holliday on Greenpeace’s views on political matters which it does to other politicians in countries they visit.

Greenpeace will be reiterating their claim that Gibraltar needs to employ more inspectors.

The agreement to meet came whilst Greenpeace had set itself the deadline of 8pm before declaring Gibraltar a “suspect port”.

Their intention was to seek to close the port by pressing the British Government over what they say is the acceptance of illegal vessels including three that they say were allowed in last month despite being banned from the EU since 2003.

M Beseiux says the Gibraltar authorities have a duty to impose strict controls and ensure that vessels comply with the orders to be phased out or banned.

It is unclear what action Greenpeace may take if they are not satisfied with the meeting although it has been suggested that they will leave now but return to protest unannounced in the future.

Meanwhile the Junta de Andalucia stated that it will demand that the IMO norms on single-hull vessels is enforced. It said it believed Gibraltar to be a source of pollution in this area.


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