Sea Pollution in 2014

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Oil pollution in 2014
16/04/2015
Sea Pollution in 2014
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In 2014, a total of 37 marine pollution spills were observed in and around the Belgian marine areas.

In 2014, the remote sensing aircraft of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences carried out a total of 251 flight hours at sea in the framework of the Belgian North Sea aerial survey programme. Most of these flight hours, i.e. 224 hours, have been executed above and near the Belgian marine areas (so-called ‘national’ flights). 209 hours thereof have been performed for surveillance tasks in the framework of the Belgian Coastguard: 169 hours were dedicated specifically to pollution control flights, 40 hours to fishery control flights and 15 hours to scientific observation flights. Besides these national flights, 27 additional flight hours were conducted for international missions in the framework of the Bonn Agreement.

During these national surveillance flights, a total of 37 marine pollution spills were observed and detected in and around the Belgian marine areas in 2014:

  • 3 were probably operational oil spills (2 of which in Belgian and 1 in nearby Dutch waters; from the 3 spills, 2 spills were found not far from the location of the Baltic Ace shipwreck);
  • 18 accidental oil spills (of which 17 could be linked to the Baltic Ace wreck and 1 to the wreck of the Spiros Amanakis, all situated in nearby Dutch waters);
  • 2 night detections of an unidentified substance;
  • 14 operational spills of harmful substances other than oil (so-called liquid noxious substances or LNS – MARPOL Annex II); 4 of these LNS spills could be linked to a vessel but in each of these cases it was concluded to be a legally permitted discharge.

Finally, during transit, take-off and landing procedures, 11 oil slicks were observed in Antwerp port, 1 in the river Scheldt close to Antwerp and 1 in Ostend port. All information collected on these observations was systematically reported after each flight to the competent police authorities for follow-up.

As shown in the figures, a contradictory trend in operational ship discharges found at sea is observed over the years. On the one hand, the very low number of operational oil spills found nowadays at sea confirms the significantly decreasing trend observed since the 2000s. On the other hand, the results of 2014 confirm an increasing trend of operational spills of other harmful substances (LNS) found at sea in the last couple of years.

Click on the graph to see the other graph.

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