Dáil Éireann - Volume 538 - 14 June, 2001

Written Answers. - Marine Accidents.

61. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the extent to which he and his EU colleagues have taken steps to avert disasters at sea resulting in pollution and environmental damage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17614/01]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. Fahey): Owing to the international nature of the shipping industry, continued attention is required at national, EU and international level to prevent pollution of the marine environment.

My Department has consistently taken a full and active part at EU and international level in this regard.

Ireland led the campaign at the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, to have the Irradiated Nuclear Fuels, INF, Code made mandatory and following this, the EU adopted a directive requiring all vessels carrying such materials bound for or leaving a Community port to comply with strict notification and controls. In accordance with the EU directive on port state control, inspections relevant to pollution prevention, safety related matters and crew ability and competence are carried out on foreign vessels including tankers entering our ports. When deficiencies are noted, the vessel may be detained until the problems have been rectified.

The Erika incident in December 1999 off the coast of France served as a timely reminder of the importance of effective preventative measures. Since then, Ireland has participated in drawing up a number of measures which include [423] the phasing out of certain single hulled tankers in favour of double hulled types, improvements in liability regimes, enhanced inspection of foreign ships, more effective ship reporting arrangements, very stringent condition assessment of certain older tankers and the fitting of data recorders, black boxes. EU member states, including Ireland, have been prominent in obtaining agreement at the IMO to have those measures which are appropriate applied also at international level.