WWF calls for improved maritime legislation after Seli 1 oil spill

Posted on 06 September 2012
Oiled penguins in holding pens waiting to be cleaned after an oil spill.
© Martin Harvey / WWF
In light of the recent Seli 1 oil spill, WWF-South Africa (WWF-SA) calls on government to urgently enact the International Civil Liability Convention (CLC) and Fund Convention into domestic legislation as a measure to increase protection of vital marine resources.

WWF-SA welcomes the swift response of Cape Town’s Disaster Management teams to clean the oil spill at Dolphin Beach, near Blouberg. Oil from the Seli 1 wreck began to leak last Friday, when rough sea conditions broke the ship into three parts. As a result of the oil spill, more than 100 endangered African penguins have been affected.

“This latest oil spill recalls similar incidents off our coast, such as the Treasure Spill in 2000 which affected some 40 000 penguins, and reminds us of our vulnerability, as we are situated on a major shipping route,” explains Dr. Samantha Petersen, Senior Manager of WWF-SA’s Marine Programme.

Petersen adds, “WWF are deeply concerned that South Africa is financially unprepared to deal with a major oil spill disaster. This could have catastrophic implications for our marine ecosystems.”

Petersen says that 16 years ago the South African government was advised to urgently adopt the CLC and FC. “It took eight years to ratify the First Layer Fund Convention (FLFC), but no progress has been made eight years on.”

“If a major oil spill disaster were to happen today, we would only be able to claim R180 million from the ship’s owner or insurer. The public would then have to foot the rest of the bill. However, once ratified into legislation, the FLFC would provide about R2.5 billion while enacting the Supplementary Fund Convention (SFC) would provide R10 billion. This funding is derived from a levy charged to the world’s oil industry and amounts to approximately 3c/tonne.”

WWF calls on government to urgently enact the Conventions into domestic legislation. By doing so, it would allow the implementation of the Convention and give access to the funding should we need it. Without this level of protection, our fragile marine ecosystems remain in a precarious position. 
Oiled penguins in holding pens waiting to be cleaned after an oil spill.
© Martin Harvey / WWF Enlarge