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BirdLife International lobbies European Commission

…to help prevent future oil spills such as the Prestige disaster…

BirdLife International calls on European Commission to urgently adopt new measures to help prevent oil spills..
BirdLife International is today calling on the European Commission to urgently adopt new measures that strengthen marine safety and liability regulations to help prevent future oil spills such as the Prestige disaster.The Prestige oil spill shows that it is imperative the European Commission urgently adopt new measures that strengthen marine safety and liability regulations to help prevent future oil spills such as the Prestige disaster, said Miguel Naveso, Head of BirdLife International European Community Office in Brussels. Approximately every three years the coastline of Europe is being devastated by a major oil spill. On this basis we will have to suffer another four spills before single-hulled tankers are due to be phased-out in 2015, he said.The European Union has adopted regulations and directives to strengthen European legislation on marine safety, which, if implemented would improve on existing International Marine Organisation standards and guidelines. These make up the so-called Erika Package which covers immediate actions (Erika I) and long-term measures (Erika II). BirdLife has contacted the EC Commissioner for the Environment calling for the urgent adoption of the Erika II package to increase controls on high risk ships in EU ports and regulatory companies that inspect ships and determine seaworthiness and security standards, to ban tankers with single hulls in EU waters by 2005 at the latest, rather than the 2015 date promoted by the IMO, and to improve liability and damage compensation caused by pollution by re-launching a proposal for a Compensatory Fund for Oil Pollution within EU waters.BirdLife also wants the EC to approve immediately the proposed new Environmental Liability Directive, which covers oil spills. The environmental costs of the Prestige oil spill have provisionally been estimated at ?42 million by the Spanish Environment Minister, but this only includes beach restoration costs. The general cost to ecosystems is difficult to evaluate. Already two important Natura 2000 network areas in Galicia, Costa de la Muerte (11,885 ha) and the Corrubedo dunes and beaches (9,302 ha), have been seriously damaged by oil. The Costa de la Muerte itself has several important sites for birds, including the Sisargas Islands and Vil?n Cape (containing the two last Spanish breeding colonies of nationally threatened Guillemots and Kittiwakes), Traba lagoon, Baldaio marshes and Insua Bay. An estimated ?100 million in economic losses are also thought to have resulted from damage to fisheries resources and tourism. In addition the Prestige salvage operation costs have not yet been disclosed.

4th July 2014