Estonia shares Europe's concern about ship-generated waste discharges

  • 2022-02-17
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The government on Thursday approved Estonia's positions on the public consultation launched by the European Commission in December to update the regulation on the illegal discharge of ship-generated waste into the sea.

The Commission wants to review the Ship-Source Pollution Directive and bring its provisions into line with the requirement for ships to deliver their waste to port reception facilities.

It is essential for Estonia that databases for better cross-border cooperation and reporting be harmonized at the European Union level. The oil spill monitoring and vessel detection service CleanSeaNet has improved the effectiveness of monitoring and reduced administrative costs, while allowing better detection of polluters. Sharing pollution modelling systems and harmonizing databases would further improve the situation, Estonia believes.

Minister of the Environment Erki Savisaar noted that Estonia currently reports its data to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the HELCOM Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area.

"A common format would be needed so that countries do not have to report the same data to several organizations. One-stop reporting would have a positive impact on the administrative burden of the state," the Estonian minister explained.

Ship-source discharges and other pollutants that damage the marine environment continue to be discharged into European seas. Applying uniform penalties to the discharge of all pollutants listed in the Annexes to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) would ensure compliance with the directive on port reception facilities for the transfer of ship-generated waste.

Savisaar expressed hope that uniform effective penalties will reduce intentional pollution, which in turn would have a positive effect on Estonia's reputation as a maritime country.

In Europe, the number of oil spills has decreased over the last 30 years. Between 2010 and 2019, five medium-sized oil spills of seven to 700 tons and three major oil spills of more than 700 tons were detected in European seas. Although the area of ??satellite monitoring has increased, the average number of pollution cases detected per million square kilometers has decreased, confirming the reduction of pollution.

In parallel to the development of possible regulatory and non-regulatory measures outlined in the consultation, there is also a need for a streamlining and better systematization of Estonia's domestic management of maritime affairs, in particular of the legal framework related to oversight.

The revision of the law of the sea by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the drafting of the Marine Environment Protection Act being prepared by the Ministry of the Environment provide an opportunity for this, the spokespeople added.