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GSD and Together Gibraltar call for tougher action on ship pollution

The GSD and Together Gibraltar have highlighted the need for a close review of shipping practices in the Bay of Gibraltar after an anchored vessel was filmed emitting dark, sooty smoke from its funnel.

Images of the vessel were shared online, with many social media users raising concerns about air pollution and the impact this could have on people.

The Government of Gibraltar said it was satisfied with the way the Gibraltar Port Authority handled Wednesday’s incident, when it ordered the vessel away if this continued.

But the GSD’s spokesman for the environment, Trevor Hammond, said: “This incident is entirely contrary to our Parliamentary declaration of a climate emergency and direction our environment policy should be heading in.”
“Incidents like this happen too often and highlight the need for a close examination of practices to be reviewed regarding shipping in the Bay.”

Mr Hammond said he has been calling for an independent review of bunkering practices to ensure enough is being done but in the past has been told this is not necessary.

“This is not directly associated with bunkering although the ships are presumably here for bunkers so a connection exists,” Mr Hammond said about Wednesday’s incident.

“Sanctions need to be severe when this occurs, and it seems to happen several times a year.”
“The whole industry needs to be reviewed.”

For her part, Together Gibraltar leader, Marlene Hassan-Nahon, commended the move by the GPA to order the vessel away if it did not stop with the emissions, adding if the port has the means to take action on infringing vessels.

“In light of the recent climate emergency announcement, what action has the Government taken to tackle one of our main polluting areas and contributors to greenhouse gases?” she asked.

With regards to vessels berthed in the bay for bunkering, consideration should be given to prevent the use of heavy or dirty fuels and limit usage to the cleaner diesel variant, Mrs Hassan-Nahon said.

She explained how some countries use tug boats to help position vessels for bunkering, and added: “Gibraltar should also be giving careful consideration to minimum separation distances between vessels in the anchorage and our shoreline.”

Mrs Hassan-Nahon said the anchor point in Rosia Bay should either be moved back or removed.

She called for more provision of renewable energy, and said: “A green port will in itself attract business from the increasing number of companies with a green focus and will bring users financial savings.

“Encouragement should be given to suppliers to provide cleaner fuels and reduce resulting carbon emissions by at least 50%,” she added.

“The problem is there for everyone to see, smell and ingest.”

“The health implications are well documented and the time for action is now.”