The U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has released its 2001 survey of reported discharges attributed to vessels and Offshore Oil and Gas Installations operating in the United Kingdom pollution control zone.
This report compiled annually by the Advisory Committee on Protection of the Sea (ACOPS) has shown that both the number of incidents of pollution from vessels has reduced as has the amount of oil released into the sea.
Following analysis of 1,616 incident reports
· 678 accidental or deliberate polluting discharges were identified from vessels and offshore installations operating in the United Kingdom Pollution Control Zone and national waters. This is a reduction of 8.7% over the previous year’s total of 743 discharges.
· Offshore oil & gas installations were identified as the source of 71% of the confirmed discharges. The statistics for fishing vessels, general cargo vessels, oil & chemical tankers and offshore support vessels were 11%, 5%, 4% and 2% respectively. Comparisons between the 2000 and 2001 statistics showed marked reductions in the numbers and proportions of discharges attributed to tankers and non-tanker vessels.
· Estimated volumes of discharges were recorded in 554 incident reports. The largest estimated spillage of 157 tonnes of diesel oil from the Motor tanker `Averity’ at Stanlow Dock on 26 September was caused by human error during a cargo loading operation. Sixteen discharges of 2 tonnes or more were reported during 2001 including 7 attributed to offshore
oil & gas installations. The corresponding statistics for the previous year were 27 and 14 respectively.
The overall geographical distribution for oil discharges was similar to previous years. Clusters for vessel discharges to near shore waters and the open sea were again evident off the Norfolk & Suffolk coastline, Dover Strait and its approaches, mid-Channel area, off the south coast of Cornwall, eastern Irish Sea and North Channel. In total, 72% of all discharges were reported in the open sea and 20% in ports and harbours.
Crude oils accounted for 39% of the identified types of mineral oil discharges. Bunker, diesel and gas oils were discharged in varying quantities from vessels and offshore installations on 233 occasions in all enumeration areas.
Ten successful oil pollution prosecutions were concluded during the year, including 2 for offences committed during 2000. Total fines imposed by magistrates’ courts for oil pollution offences amounted to £52,250 with a mean value of £5,806. The authorities brought four further cases for offences other than marine oil pollution. The skippers of 2 fishing vessels were fined £250 and £400 for illegal discharges of garbage in actions brought by the Poole Harbour Commissioners and Milford Haven Port Authority respectively.