Ship Source Pollution In UAE


The history of human race is marked with indifference or arguably apparent disregard for the environment in general but for the welfare of the oceans in particular. However, over the course of recent decades, preceding statement may no longer hold valid, much to the delight of environmentalists, leading minds and friends of this planet; position has changed and there is clear evidence of appreciation of the inherent beauty, leisure, economic, conservation, sustainability, strategic and environmental benefits which the world oceans and seas can offer, so much so and to such an extent that their protection and preservation have become a priority for most intellectuals, responsible states and statesmen, a concern that is gathering pace with each day passing.

In so far as Marine Pollution is concerned, ship source pollution such as oil, hazardous and noxious forms of pollution, sewage, air and garbage are generally governed by International Convention, an international response to major marine disasters in latter part of last century which helped to lay the foundation for a legal framework for determining the right and compensation available for pollution by/from ships.

It has long been evident that oceans and seas are continuously polluted from various sources and through different kinds of pollutants. Majority of the pollutant if not all, could be traced back to shipping operations, dumping at sea, sea-bed activities, land-based activities and the atmosphere. Some of these pollutants involve intentional activities, for example dumping at sea and the discharge of bilges, oily water, etc. and others probably are unintentional. In any event, it is estimated that most marine pollution, reportedly estimated at 75%, derives from land-based operations and from the atmosphere. Therefore, remarkably land-based operations including aviation, are the major contributors to environmental pollutions.

Nonetheless, whenever there is a mention of pollution, crude oil is definitely the one and only pollutant that springs to one’s mind. This is of course due to major tanker incidents and resulting pollution which created worldwide news and evoked such a public outcry that its colossal impact reverberated across not only boardrooms of oil majors and major shipping companies but also corridors of power in Europe, America and Asia.

It should be noted that oil is also a heavily traded commodity and virtually all is carried by sea, either directly from source or as part of a multi modal transportation, and consequently but regrettably occasional oil spills have become part of the contemporary maritime experience. Crude oil can certainly cause great damage as evidenced by countless images of suffering inflicted and well documented but it may be argued that it is not the most toxic substance, it can be broken down by marine bacteria and removed, same however cannot be said for radioactive materials and certain chemicals for example heavy metals, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), DDTs (chlorinated hydrocarbons), etc. These pollutants are absorbed into marine life, almost impossible to remove and may leave “dead spots” in marine environment for a prolonged period and therefore exhibit grave and lasting impact on marine environment.

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