WWF demands pilotage for sensitive marine areas

Freighter accident at the Great Barrier Reef calls for more safety at sea

The Great Barrier Reef from Space © NASA
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The environmental organization WWF has called for compulsory pilotage in particularly sensitive marine regions in response to the sinking of the Chinese coal freighter Sheng Neng 1 at the Great Barrier Reef. In addition, there should be a ban on the particularly environmentally hazardous heavy oil as a ship's fuel.

The Great Barrier Reef Reef in eastern Australia is already classified by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a so-called PSSA (Particular Sensitive Sea Area), a particularly sensitive marine area. Only around a dozen marine areas worldwide, including the Wadden Sea and parts of the Baltic Sea, enjoy this protection status. Nevertheless, important protection measures have not yet been implemented. In 1998, for example, only 60 tons of heavy oil escaped from the colliery of Pallas' timber carrier before Amrum, but this killed at least 16, 000 seabirds and oiled another tens of thousands. "Not only oil tankers but also simple freighters can become an ecological time bomb with their heavy oil in the tank, " explains Stephan Lutter from WWF Germany.

Due to the accident of the Chinese coal freighter Sheng Neng 1, the Great Barrier Reef is now threatened by an oil spill. For the WWF, the accident once again shows the lack of safety standards at sea. "Ship safety must be urgently increased in view of increasing traffic, even in sensitive marine areas, " says Lutter. He demands pilotage for areas like the Great Barrier Reef. This reduces the risk of accidents. Moreover, the particularly toxic heavy oil should be banned as marine fuel. "Nobody would come up with the idea of ​​walking on fine carpets with muddy shoes, but at sea you know little scruples, " says Lutter. Heavy oil may not be used on land as a fuel, but must be disposed of as hazardous waste.

The Great Barrier Reef is a natural treasure trove of more than 14, 000 animal and plant species. To endanger this natural paradise by recklessness and lack of security regulations is Russian roulette. The WWF reminded in this context of the economic value of intact coral reefs. They protect the coasts from storm surges and are regarded as the nursery of countless fish species. If one adds to these benefits of the reefs the income from the diving tourism, then economists assume an annual economic achievement in the amount of 170 billion dollar.

The Great Barrier Reef is visited annually by eight million tourists. display

More about the accident in our special

(WWF, 07.04.2010 - NPO)