George demands action to protect seabirds
The MP for the West Cornwall and Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives, Andrew George, is stepping up his campaign to stop pollution incidents which are killing thousands of seabirds; by seeking Parliamentary support for motions he has submitted to the House of Commons this week.
Mr George has already made representations to Ministers, the UK Major Ports Group and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) about the need to regulate and prosecute ships which discharge pollutants following the recent incidents of birds being stricken by Polyisobutylene (PIB). He is also working with the UK Chamber of Shipping and the RSPB.
He has now tabled two Parliamentary motions calling upon the Government to introduce a voluntary code of practice to require tankers to declare at each port they enter that their excess PIBs will be handled by portside waste handling facilities and not discharged at sea. Mr George is also calling for an urgent review into the legal classification of PIB through the International Maritime Organisation with a view to banning its discharge at sea altogether.
Mr George said: “The discharging of PIBs should be banned. But that may take years to achieve through international negotiation. That’s why, in the interim, I’m calling on Ministers to support my proposal for a voluntary code between the shipping and port sectors to ensure that all waste PIBs can be handled by port waste facilities.
“It’s important that we press for this voluntary code. It could be used to deny port access for those ships which refuse to sign up to an undertaking that they will land their polyisobutene and other pollutants as a hazardous waste, rather than polluting the seas by discharging it there.
“Unfortunately, and as we have seen, unless something is done it seems that a minority of ship captains believe they have a licence to pollute. At the same time, these recent incidents must be investigated. The Government must ensure that proper protections are put in place and those ships which continue to flout the rules are identified and prosecuted.”
The text of the motions are set out below:
PROTECTION OF SEA BIRDS FROM TANKER DISCHARGES (EDM 140)
That this House shares the concern of wildlife and marine organisations about the impact of the recent discharge by chemical tankers of polyisobutylene (PIB) and the consequent death and stranding of thousands of sea birds on the coasts of Cornwall and Devon; recognises that this matter is difficult to police and that the process of achieving necessary alteration in the International Maritime Organisation’s Prevention of Pollution Convention would take many years, if indeed it could be agreed; and therefore calls on the Government to work with British port authorities – the United Kingdom Major Ports Group and the British Ports Association – and its European counterparts to introduce an interim voluntary code of practice which would require tankers to declare at each port they enter that their excess PIBs will be handled by portside waste handling facilities and not discharged at sea.
PROTECTION OF SEA BIRDS FROM TANKER DISCHARGES (No. 2) EDM 154
That this House welcomes the response of wildlife and UK shipping organisations to the recent pollution incident which resulted in the death and stranding of thousands of sea birds around the coast of Cornwall and Devon; believes that polyisobutylene (PIB) has no proper place in any quantity in our oceans and seas; and calls on the Government to conduct an urgent review of the legal classification status of PIB under the MARPOL convention, based on full consideration of environmental impacts, with a view towards reclassifying PIB to prohibit its discharge at sea altogether.