By Dr M. Sommer
Only 50 years ago the sea was still largely a virgin natural space. Today, however, pollution, which in proportion to more or less than 80% comes from land-based activities, is a threat to the health of the oceans, particularly the coastal areas, which are the most productive of the marine environment.
* Prestige-SPAIN: "lacking coastal planning for orderly development, this situation urgently calls for an INTEGRATED COASTAL MANAGEMENT (ICM) initiative".
* The oceans and their coasts continue in a process of deterioration 21 years after the signing of the Convention on the Law of the Sea agreed to protect them.
* Only 50 years ago the sea was still largely a virgin natural space. Today, however, pollution, which in proportion to more or less than 80% comes from land-based activities, is a threat to the health of the oceans, particularly the coastal areas, which are the most productive of the marine environment.
* If the ecological needs of coastal ecosystems are forgotten; the deteriorating state of the marine environment will become an impediment to sustainable development rather than a resource for it.
- Why did the Spanish Government show so much irresponsibility and insensitivity to the Prestige catastrophe? Shown in the actions of those responsible in times of crisis?
- Why did Spain lack an Integrated Coastal Management Program, having observed what happened with the Erika ship off the coast of Brittany and Pays de la Loire?
- Why has the government done practically nothing to control the maritime traffic of toxic and dangerous products through jurisdictional waters?
- Why did the Spanish Government remain inactive, hoping that the oil would not reach the coasts?
- Why have no positive lessons been learned (five accidents in the last thirty years)?
- Why do the governments of the world continue to allow the transportation of oil at sea to be governed by a network of shell companies?
- Why is the Prestige sailing in a particularly sensitive marine area?
- Why does Spain lack ships with fuel suction pumps and spilled fuel collection tanks?
- Why 14 kilometers of floats were deployed to protect the northwest coast of Spain? When it would have been necessary between 80 and 100 kilometers of protection barriers.
- Why does Galicia, due to its history of claims and because it is one of the places in the world with the highest traffic of dangerous goods, has a single tugboat with the capacity of 3,500 horsepower?
- Why is Spain a signatory to the Marpol international agreement not complying? This agreement obliges each signatory country to have the means and equipment to face the fight against pollution.
- Why did the company that owns the cargo (Crown Resources) of the damaged ship off the Galician coast pay $ 20,500 the price equivalent to that of a double-hull tanker, 50% more?
- Why was the cargo of the ship insured at 12 million euros, double that of the ship?
- Why was the final port of destination unknown, - the Prestige had to wait for orders in Gibraltar?
- Because there was an important chain of intermediaries and, with it, commissions (the shipowner hired a manager, Universe Maritime, who with the intervention of a London broker closed the agreement for the freight with Crown Resources)?
- Why hadn't trained personnel been trained with adequate equipment?
- Why was so much ineffectiveness shown in the placement of the anti-pollution barriers?
- How is it possible that this happens, given the antecedent of having received the Prestige, two sanctions for presenting security breaches?
- Why were you sailing so close to the Galician coast (20 miles)?
- Who or who will be responsible for the damage caused?
- What will happen to the 4 thousand Galician fishermen and the more than 20 thousand people employed in industries associated with fishing on the Galician coast, (these figures rise to 119,874 people if we include direct and indirect employment, 12.2% of total Galician employment), who will probably be without jobs?
- Until when will the aid be maintained if the fleet is forced to remain moored for a long time?
- What will happen to the 50 thousand tons of oil that sank?
- How long will it take for the Prestige to pour all its poison to the surface?
- How many Prestige tanks are intact?
- Why can't charterers using single-hull vessels be held responsible?
- Why is it accepted that shipowners transport oil with such inadequate insurance?
- How can the identity of the Prestige shipowner be known?
- Who is responsible in SPAIN and the European Union for the lack of demonstrated political will, not having taken effective and urgent measures against this accident?
- How can you find out the origin of the oil that the Prestige had on its panels?
- Why don't politicians go after those responsible for these disasters?
On November 19, 2002, the Prestige oil tanker in a condition to be scrapped, under the Bahamian flag, Greek shipowner and Anglo-Swiss charterer, broke in two and sank 133 miles off the Galician coast, with 50,000 tons of fuel heavy known as FUEL n ° 6. in their tanks. To date, 20,000 tons have been released from the ship, generating a true ECOLOGICAL, ECONOMIC and SOCIAL catastrophe in a region eminently dependent on the sea.
Spain, a country endowed with abundant natural resources, has not only a high potential to generate wealth but also a geographical position that offers the most varied diversity of ecosystems, fertile lands and abundant rainfall, factors that make it a privileged country.
But despite having all these advantages, with the accident and sinking of the Prestige 270 km from the coast of Galicia, the lack of planning for an orderly development has been demonstrated, this situation urgently calls for an INTEGRATED COASTAL MANAGEMENT initiative (ICM) . The objective of the MCI is clearly consistent with national and international commitments for the sustainable development of all environments (terrestrial and marine), whether or not they are subject to multiple jurisdiction, from the upper basins (hydrographic basins), to the outer limits of the zones. exclusive economic.
The integrated management of coastal systems is nowadays a mandatory reference element in the treatment of coastal issues in the context of sustainable development policies. A substantive part of this integrated management is the form of organization of such management and, more specifically, the frame of reference: the coastal ecosystem.
The effect, the coastal ecosystem constitutes the fundamental environmental unit where the physical environment and human activities interact and allows to have a global vision of the processes related to the coast.
We must face enormous challenges with the increase in population, much of which is concentrated in coastal cities. For an economic activity to develop to sustain the inevitable process of coastal urbanization, a productive environment is required. If we adopt a management system that reduces the burden of our demands on natural resources globally, several opportunities could present themselves. We need a change in our value systems that we can apply in coastal development planning.
In Spain 600 oil tankers cross the Strait of Gibraltar every day and sail through Spanish waters, bordering the Coast of Death (Galicia), which represents 10 percent of international maritime traffic. In the last 30 years, the community's coastline has suffered seven of the eleven major maritime disasters in Europe. Galicia has not taken note of this information and reality has insisted on showing, once again, that it does not have the technical means or the training to face a tragic episode that is repeated approximately every four years.
According to the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics in Bremen (Germany) of the 7,894 oil tankers in operation, 3,077 have reached their 20s and 1,500 are over 50. And this despite the fact that the statistics on annual tonnage lost from 1988 to 1998 indicates that the risk of sinking is multiplied by 25 when the ships are more than 20 years old. But ships are not modernized due to manufacturing costs, competition for the sake of lower freight rates and lack of regulation. Only 2,077 have double hulls, and the other 5,243 are monohulls. From 1970 to 2002, more than 1,500 oil tankers suffered accidents, having spilled nearly five million tons.
The "Prestige" freight had an extra cost of 50% for transporting very toxic fuel, Crown Resouces, the company that owns the cargo of the damaged ship, disbursed $ 20,500 per day, the price equivalent to that of a double-hull tanker. The cargo was insured for 12 million euros, double that of the ship.
Accidents worldwide in 1993 forced the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations body, to establish that tankers manufactured after that date had to have double hulls. The existing ones would have to, upon reaching the age of 25, be equipped with greater security measures to extend their life, and stop being used at the age of 30. However, this regulation does not affect all oil tankers - only those of more than 20,000 tons for crude oil and more than 30,000 for refined or chemical petroleum products are required.
The flagging in countries such as the Bahamas, Malta, Liberia, Honduras or Cyprus, allows significant savings, which can reach 30%. Furthermore, technical inspections are less rigorous. In any case, the savings are guaranteed with the payment of less taxes and worse working conditions for the crew. With flags of convenience, apart from increasing profits at the cost of safety, they also try to avoid responsibilities in the event of an accident.
The oil slick produced by the Prestige ship affects more than 85 percent of the Galician coastline: 913 kilometers of the 1,121 that make up the Galician coastline. Fuel oil is affecting areas of very important ecological value, most of which are protected and classified for their environmental, landscape and wildlife interest. The Costa da Morte, the Corrubedo and Baldaio wetlands, the mouth of the Anllóns river, the Traba lagoon, are just a few examples of the affected areas, which are also among the richest ornithological areas in Europe. Also affected are the Sisargas Islands and Cape Vilán, where the last colonies of common murre (Uria aalge), shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis), tridactyl gull (Rissa tridactyle), etc. are found.
The Spanish Ornithological Society estimates the number of birds killed or severely affected by the oil slick at 17,000. The affected area is, without a doubt, in addition to a huge tourist attraction. The Costa da Morte, the coastline and the Galician estuaries are tourist reference places due to their landscape, natural environment, and ethnographic peculiarities, which is why it was intended to become one more economic asset for the inhabitants of the area.
The coast also has an extraordinary wealth of species of fish, molluscs and marine crustaceans (horse mackerel, octopus, clams, mussels, barnacles, spider crabs, crabs, etc.) of great value in the market for human consumption. This situation is aggravated by the fact that, in the polyaromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals present in the oil of this ship, they present serious problems for the environment and human health (skin irritations to cancer, damage to the system nerve and marrow, which can cause anemia, and other disorders in the blood and eventually leukemia. Aromatic hydrocarbons can enter the body through three routes: respiratory, skin and digestive. The respiratory route is now presented as the most problematic, to In the long term, it will be necessary to control the accumulation of these hydrocarbons in living organisms.Benzene can also cross the placenta and affect a developing fetus.
Of course, the obvious and extremely serious biological and ecological impact cannot be separated from the economic impact, which will last for a long time. It is necessary to take into account both the economic effects on the productive activities directly or indirectly linked to the sea (market goods and services), as well as the economic effects on the goods and services that are not object of commercial exploitation but that are essential for the economic and ecological sustainability (non-market goods and services), such as natural heritage and the loss of the wealth of unique marine ecosystems of the European Union in the North Atlantic.
There are 41,600 people who work directly in Galician extractive fishing, 18,400 of them in the province of A Coruña, almost all of them currently affected by the oil slick; furthermore, 9,200 people work in shellfish farming and 13,422 in aquaculture (these figures rise to 119,874 people if we include direct and indirect employment, 12.2% of total Galician employment). The Galician fleet is 8,811 vessels, of which 6,000 are artisanal and more than 2,000 are also engaged in coastal fishing, which are the fleets most affected by the disaster. Galician fish production accounts for around 40% of that of Spain, being the leading fishing region in Europe. The destruction of the marine environment will also affect other sectors that live and work directly from them (networks, carriers, port handlers, shipyards, supply providers, traders ...), or the rest of the economy (hospitality, commerce, real estate, tourism…). To this must be added the loss of quality of life, due to the destruction of the environment and the landscape and even the very culture of the Galician people, since it has been linked to the sea since time immemorial.
Integrated coastal zone management is a dynamic, multidisciplinary and interactive process aimed at promoting the sustainable development of coastal zones. It encompasses an entire cycle that includes information gathering, planning (in the broad sense of the word), decision-making, management, and application control.
Integrated coastal zone management makes use of the informed participation and cooperation of all interested parties to assess the social objectives of a given coastal zone (Galicia) and adopt the appropriate measures.
The integrated management of coastal zones aims to balance, in the long term, environmental, economic, social, cultural and recreational objectives, within the limits established by natural dynamics.
Development inevitably involves environmental changes. The challenge for coastal and marine zone management is to balance the needs of development in the short term, with the long-term sustainability of ecosystems, habitats and resources, in such a way that the margin of alternatives and opportunities available to future generations is not diminished by the consequences of sustainable development decisions.
Our level of environmental awareness is a function of our educational base and philosophy on the role of humanity. There are those who feel that human beings must dominate their environment; that pollution is a necessary evil and that degradation caused by coastal urbanization is inevitable. There are others who think that humanity has an interactive and supportive role to play in ecosystems and that inputs such as pollution should be reduced. Efforts to establish synergy between coastal urbanization and the environment can only be achieved if we prioritize the environment. This approach will reduce conflict between competitive coastal zone users, because all will be bound by a compromise that exceeds the individual interests of any one user.
The ability to apply Marine Sciences in Spain to manage coastal resources is significantly lagging in relation to the management of terrestrial and freshwater systems. It should be understood that as the physical and biological resources of coastal areas deteriorate, opportunities for sustainable economic activity are also reduced and social conditions worsen.
In Spain, a sectoral approach is practiced to the management of coastal areas, as demonstrated by the sinking of the Prestige oil tanker, to such an extent that there are several national and local institutions that deal with the different resources (water, land, fisheries, enforcement of the law, etc) in the same area. Integrated Coastal Management in Spain should assess the situation of its coastal zone and determine priorities for action at the regional, national and local levels.
The coastal zone of Spain faces serious problems of habitat destruction, water pollution, coastal erosion and depletion of resources. The pollution of its coasts and the destruction of habitat go hand in hand. Several areas of the coast have been used for industrial and urban purposes or are saturated with port infrastructure, the social pressure to keep coastal waters clean is minimal, since there are no direct and immediate functional damages on the already consolidated economy of the aforementioned activities. Industries, ports, and housing developments can continue to operate without major problem, even with severely polluted coastal waters turned into sewers. To a lesser degree, something similar happens with beach tourism. The beaches are bathed by polluted waters, either at certain times of the year or intermittently throughout the year.
Coastal erosion, the most visible consequence of which is the disappearance of the beaches in 2002. The construction of dikes, breakwaters and marinas, the pollution suffered and the destruction of the seabed prevent the beaches from being able to defend themselves from storms. Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community have been the most affected in 2002. In that year there were 33 new marinas and 31 extensions of commercial ports.
Spain continues to accumulate sanctions from the European Community for non-compliance with the quality regulations of its waters. To the pollution caused by ports and by submarine outfalls - long pipes that go into the sea through which sewage comes out, sometimes poorly or non-purified.
In 2002, twenty-six beaches presented very poor quality in their waters and despite the fact that tourism is one of the main sources of income in the Spanish State.
The mass media promote the concept that prestige increases with consumption. This influence can be counteracted by creating an influential "citizens for tomorrow" prototype, possessing inherently sensitive attitudes towards a balance between coastal urbanization and conservation. The benefits for future generations are often confronted with the need to create jobs in the short term. Many factors contribute to driving away investment capital, generally poorly planned coastal urbanization, a high rate of crime and crime, excess pollution, deteriorated landscapes, loss of habitats, etc.
The world's population has doubled in 50 years and could double again in another 50 years. Within that period, many more people will live within the perimeter 10 kilometers from the coast than in any other situation. Many of the scenic beaches, coral reefs, and coastal parks will disappear as coastal populations increase. It can be argued that tourism, which generates employment for some 300 billion people worldwide, considers aesthetic conditions to be highly valuable. But in order to achieve a balance between man and nature, we need to put the environment in the foreground when planning such development projects. In short, it is necessary to put into play a new way of thinking that puts the marine environment in the foreground.
The International Maritime Organization adopted in 1991 the concept of Particularly Sensitive Marine Areas (PSSA), - areas vulnerable to damage by international navigation activities - that need special protection due to their ecological, economic, cultural or scientific significance. PSSAs are marked on international nautical charts, and sailors require extra care when navigating through them. The real tragedy is that in the 11 years since the PSSAs were introduced, only 5 have been designated globally. The Galician coastline is one of them.
Spain could also have adopted additional protective measures for the Galician coast and safeguarded it against particular risks associated with international navigation. Including the prohibition of circulation of single-hull vessels, the identification of areas that should be avoided and recommended routes, the requirement on board of experienced pilots when the boats pass through the coast of Galicia and the requirement of a mandatory report when they vessels transit in sensitive areas.
The hypothesis that orderly development (fishing, beach, tourism, etc.) naturally results from adequate action in each sector, is largely denied in all countries where it has been applied, even if the laws and regulations are properly complied with. The dynamics of the whole is something more than the sum of the parts, and integrated management requires an overall and long-term vision, encouraging the preparation of municipal plans to zoning and ordering the territory and accepting resources and consistent rules of the game to build the new reality, site by site and with local participation, seems to be the key mechanisms of Integrated Coastal Management.
The close links (by human and physical processes) between the marine and terrestrial components of the coastal zones require that their management always take into account both aspects, as well as the corresponding hydrographic basins. Since the extent to which land-sea interaction is observed depends on the area in question, it is not appropriate to establish a general a priori geographical definition of "coastal areas". Indeed, it is often the case that major forces or impact zones are located in other administrative units, probably far from the coast, since several of the systems that influence coastal zones (transport networks, demographic flows, changes in the use of soil, pollution transport systems, etc.) are physically dispersed. In the case of small islands, the management of the coastal zones will in principle be synonymous with the planning and management of the entire island and its marine environment.
Integrated planning and management is a process that develops and evolves over the years or decades. The integrated management of coastal zones does not guarantee the immediate resolution of all their problems, but rather seeks to advance towards the integration of policies, programs and activities to gradually solve or avoid specific problems. Providing adequate information is the basis for understanding, awakening motivation and mutual trust that will result in cooperation and collaboration, ultimately leading to shared responsibilities and true integration. The integrated coastal zone management process requires control that allows for adjustment and modulation, as problems and knowledge evolve.
It is not possible to do the same thing everywhere. The law in nature is diversity. Diversity is one of the greatest attractions in tourist activity and is a source of business advantages. The current processes of economic development and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources are increasingly contributing to the degradation of the natural environment and the risk of extinction of the most vulnerable species. Specific solutions to the problems of coastal areas must respond to specific needs and given the diversity of the potential of the coasts in Spain, it is convenient to have simple criteria to select the areas where to focus the effort of planning:
(1) Areas that currently support intensive uses, or that are and will be critical to sustain or expand economic activities in the long term.
(2) Areas that currently directly receive the impacts of different economic practices and activities and whose function should be to cushion the undesirable effects.
(3) Areas that are currently protected or that present relevant opportunities for the conservation of essential natural assets and functions (resource conservation anchors) and that can accept low intensity uses.
(4) High risk areas against the impact of natural events.
Measures taken at Community level must be flexible enough to respect diversity. This principle also implies the need to ensure that adequate data and relevant information, including informal traditional knowledge, are collected and provided to those responsible. Related to both terrestrial and marine components of the reference coastal areas.
The natural processes and dynamics of coastal systems constitute a continuous, sometimes unexpected flow. By working with these processes, and not against them, and by respecting their limits (or "maximum capacity") imposed by natural processes, we make our activity less damaging to the environment and more profitable in the long term.
Spain has demonstrated to the world that it lacks a strategy based on these principles for the Integrated Management of the Coastal Zone:
# A broad approach (thematic and geographical).
# A long-term perspective.
# Ensure flexible management as part of an ongoing process.
# Reflect local needs.
# Use natural processes.
# Participation of the parties involved.
Mobilize the support and participation of all relevant administrative bodies.
# Use a combination of instruments.
It is about incorporating the perspectives of all stakeholders (including maritime interests, recreational users, fishing and aquaculture communities) into the management process. Collaboration enables real issues to be identified, leverages local knowledge, and leads to commitment and shared responsibility. It can reduce conflicts between stakeholders and lead to more practical solutions. Extensive information campaigns may be necessary to convince certain stakeholders of the direct benefit that they will gain from their participation. The time and effort that will be required to achieve participatory planning should not be underestimated.
Macrozoning studies should contribute to a basic requirement in Spain to advance coastal planning. Macrozoning is an orientation tool that provides us with elements and data to define the planning of the coastal territory and its uses. The main goal is to project a vision of the coast in the medium term with this information:
a) Visualize changes in land use in the last 30 years.
b) Register the physical characteristics of the coastal edge.
c) Visualize the bathymetric curves.
d) Register the risk areas due to the effect of natural events.
e) Register the distribution of the population and industry.
The methodology that should be followed can be divided into three stages:
I. Systematization and integration in digital format of the available cartographic and statistical information.
II. Characterization of changes in the coastal zone based on the information collected.
III. Consultation phase. These should be done by:
# Interviews with business leaders, politicians and experts in coastal issues to obtain different views of the situation and expectations in each department.
# Workshops with educators, authorities, leaders, businessmen, etc. Here you can determine the characteristics necessary to promote a change.
Although it is essential to involve local authorities in the Integrated Coastal Zone Management process from the beginning, the commitment of all levels and sectors of the administration is also necessary. To solve the problems of the Prestige on the Galician coast, it will be necessary to have a linked set of planning and management measures adopted at different levels.
Spain has shown that the management of the coastal zone in Galicia was not and is effective because it has been seen that it has not been supported by all levels of the administration and by all sectoral branches of the administration. This support should have been willing to adapt, where appropriate, the legislative, regulatory and financial instruments and provide the necessary institutional capacity for support and data collection, maintenance and documentation of the facts and consequences of the accident (Prestige). It is essential to develop actions of mutual support and links between the different levels and sectors of the administration, as well as the coordination of their policies. It is necessary to ensure that the different administrative and legal instruments that influence coastal zones are compatible and consistent. The collaboration and participation of the different administrative instances does not necessarily imply the creation of new institutional structures but rather the adoption of procedures and methods that allow the cooperation of current structures and institutions.
Based on the macrozoning study, information will be obtained with which a work agenda can be drawn up. The agenda will identify the priorities for action and the policy to be followed for the conservation and restoration of marine ecosystems.
This agenda could focus on:
a) Urban development zone on the coast. Maintain urban use in already established areas. Control and minimize unplanned development in communities and cities where the necessary services do not exist. Periodically adjust the standards for urban and industrial discharges of liquids, solids and gases. Minimize discharges of untreated sewage and solid waste (especially plastic) into marine waters.
b) Ports and navigation channels. Protect and maintain current water-dependent uses. Internally zoning the area and ensuring the continuity of activities associated with navigation (shipyards, access, etc.). Minimize the impacts of dredging to protect the natural quality of the environments.
c) Tourism. Maintain the beaches for intensive tourist use and provide them with the necessary basic services.
d) Residential development, selective and low intensity tourism. Define and implement suitable withdrawal areas. Maintain public access to the beaches. Develop practices for the location and construction of housing and infrastructure, including conservation areas of medium and small scale that maintain the landscape characteristics of these areas.
Integrated Coastal Zone Management requires the use of multiple instruments in the face of the ecological catastrophe produced by the Prestige oil tanker, including a mix of legal measures, economic instruments, voluntary agreements, provision of information, technological solutions, research and education.
Regulations and economic interventions can be important instruments to resolve conflicts between activities. However, the correct mix in a specific area will depend on local problems and the institutional and cultural context. In any case, coastal zone management should ensure consistency between legal instruments and administrative objectives and between planning and management.
Macrozoning studies to be successful must take the following actions:
1. Structure an Agenda of the Spanish Government for coastal management in this decade.
2. Link macrozoning decisions with the proposed policy for Sustainable Development. The concept of sustainable development implies that the present use of the marine environment and its resources should not harm its use and enjoyment for future generations. Past practices that have denied this principle are the root cause of many of today's environmental problems.
3. Establish the municipal ordinances of the coastal territory and the mechanisms for public consultation for their modification, as a precondition for the municipalities to apply the special Coastal Management fund. Analysis and scientific knowledge are essential to evaluate the effectiveness of management actions that seek to protect the ocean. Accordingly, a comprehensive protection strategy must incorporate scientific principles; however, since decisions often involve additional considerations, it is essential that close interaction be achieved between scientists and decision makers.
4. Prepare a calendar with incentives for the municipalities that prepare and approve their strategic plans, the ordinances for their application and the mechanisms for public consultation to modify the plans.
If Spain improves the use of its resources and goes from sensible practices that are not so good to others that are, it could be that it is on the road to sustainable use. If you turn the current disorder into an arrangement carried out by the municipalities, more zoned spaces will be achieved so that investments are made with fewer conflicts and so that one use does not affect another.
The advantages of macrozoning are:
I. It directly influences the level of growth of the coastal zone and consequently improves the quality of life of its inhabitants.
II. Focus for government leaders at all levels, from Universities, businessmen and the population; on the goals and challenges of the coastal management agenda.
III. Investment priority in favor of production and productivity.
IV. Development of mechanisms that promote planning and responsibility in governments and users regarding coastal resources.
V. Gradual recovery of favorable environmental conditions in the long term for current investments and for their diversification.
Macrozoning is a complex job that must cover the needs of the coastal provinces, talking directly with users and authorities. In each department, the people who support the coastal resource management project will coordinate the information and convene workshops. In one of them, the reaction of the people to the information collected is received and in the second place it is to ensure that the information and insights collected are correct.
The success of the Integrated Management of Coastal Zones in Spain depends on seeking local solutions to local problems, within a global framework. Stakeholders at the local level will always be at the center of any measure that is adapted to improve the condition of coastal regions, but in order to achieve the best for them, it is necessary to coordinate the activities carried out by these grassroots actors with the policy makers at regional, national and European level. Integrated Management will have short-term costs, but its benefits in the medium and long term will be much greater.
"As the legend of King CANUTO shows, it is almost always futile to endeavor to dominate the sea. Modern coastal management techniques, since they try to work in harmony with nature rather than fight against it".
- The "Prestige", a ship in a condition to be scrapped, sank on November 19, 2002 at 3,500 meters from the coast in the Atlantic, after being adrift for six days and losing about 20,000 of the 77,000 tons of industrial fuel oil ( very toxic and prohibited in many parts of the planet) that it initially transported.
- Until catastrophes occur, institutional and individual irresponsibility seem to be safe from legal and political controls.
- Crown Resouces, the company that owns the cargo of the damaged ship off the Galician coast, disbursed $ 20,500 per day, the price equivalent to that of a double-hull tanker.
- In the last 30 years, the Galician coastline has suffered seven of the eleven major maritime disasters in Europe. The Spanish coast has not taken note of this data and reality has insisted on showing, once again, that it does not have planning for an orderly development, nor the technical means, nor the training to face a tragic episode that is repeated approximately every four years; This situation urgently calls for an INTEGRATED COASTAL MANAGEMENT (ICM) initiative.
- Neither in Galicia nor in Spain does it have anti-pollution vessels (vessels with fuel suction pumps and spilled fuel collection tanks).
- The Alonso de Chaves tugboat stationed in the region has only a capacity of 3,500 horses.
- The Integrated Management of Coastal Systems is today a mandatory reference element in the treatment of coastal issues in the context of sustainable development policies.
- The ability to apply Marine Sciences in Spain to manage coastal resources is significantly behind in relation to the management of terrestrial and freshwater systems.
- The sinking of the Prestige took place inside the Galicia Bank: a mound of the sea or an underwater mountain, with a high biodiversity that had been proposed as a Marine Protected Area by the WWF.
- The prohibition of fishing on the coast affects: 16,000 sailors, 6,000 boats and 5,000 shellfish fishermen who are directly affected, not counting the many families who live by providing services.
- "The hull of the sunken ship has 14 cracks."
- "The estimate that the scientific commission handles at this time is that approximately 80 tons per day are coming out from the bow, and about 45 tons from the stern."
- "The fuel oil is rising upwards and it takes about a day to reach the surface."
- The volatile substances in fuel oil have an immediate toxic effect that affects both birds, which die, as well as people, and he recalled that there have already been pictures of "asthma among volunteers. The toxicity has long-term effects even of carcinogenicity ".
- The sinking fuel oil constitutes "a serious problem, because they settle on the sediment and kill all the fauna and flora at the bottom of the sea." The part of the spillage that remains deposited on the surface of the water is dangerous for the birds, which, upon landing on the sea, "become impregnated with the substance and this alters their natural thermal regulation system or causes irritation and they end up dying" .
- The real tragedy is that in 11 years since the PSSA (Particularly Sensitive Marine Areas) were introduced, only 5 have been designated worldwide. The Galician coastline is one of them.
- Volunteer teams have already found some 18 species of oil-coated seabirds. It is considered that the Balearic Shearwater, a marine bird, is subject to a very serious danger since there are very few specimens. Crustaceans like mussels, for example, are drowned by oil when they take refuge in shallow water, or are suffocated when contaminated water passes through their food apparatus and their very delicate gills.
- The fuel that permeates the beaches also causes the death of many barnacles and other organisms that live attached to the rocks or inhabit the sand.
- "The fuel oil still contained in the tanks of the Prestige ship would take between five and 39 months to empty, to date between 17 and 20,000 tons of fuel oil have been dumped into the sea and that in the tanks of the sunken ship at 3,500 m depth still 56,000 tons remain. "
- Fishing areas will be affected over 10 years and the impacts on the environment may be evident during the next 20-30 years; And as if that were not enough, if the 50 thousand tons of oil that remained in the ship are not contained, the successes will be catastrophic.
- The damage will be greater than 3,000 million euros, so far EUR 265 million of various funds have been enabled for the recovery of Galicia, which includes aid for those affected and the rules approved to prevent catastrophes of this type from repeating themselves .
e-mail: [email protected]