Greenpeace boards single-hull tanker in Gibraltar

Press release - 20 January, 2003

Gibraltar authorities detain a Greenpeace inflatable following a Greenpeace protest against the single hulled oil tanker Vemamagna anchored in Algeciras Bay, Gibraltar today.

Greenpeace activists this morning boarded the single hulled oil tanker Vemamagna (1), anchored in Algeciras Bay to highlight the permanent presence of single hulled ships in the area. Activists from the Greenpeace vessel MV Esperanza who climbed the Vemamagna's mast have displayed banners onboard the Vemamagna that read "Oil Hazard" in both English and Spanish.

Gibraltar authorities have detained two inflatable boats the Greenpeace activists were using when they began their protest. Onboard these boats were a total of 12 journalists and eight activists.

"Since the sinking of the Prestige, European policy regarding the transport of hazardous substances has not changed substantially," stressed Juan Lopez de Uralde of Greenpeace. "Another catastrophe can occur at any time and Algeciras Bay is literally a time bomb waiting to explode. Greenpeace demands an urgent and total ban on single-hulled tankers and the establishment of a new regime of unlimited responsibility."

According to Spanish government data, in 2001 over 56.670 merchant ships crossed the Gibraltar Strait. Furthermore, 10% of all international maritime traffic crosses the Strait. Around 5000 oil tankers travel the same route per year-about 10 to 15 oil tankers a day. Approximately 20 million tonnes of oil products are transported annually through the bay.

"Gibraltar's complicity with the oil industry is unacceptable. Gibraltar is playing Russian roulette with the marine environment allowing high risk practices as those being carried out by the Vemamagna and by avoiding a ban on single-hulled vessels.

Greenpeace is demanding full and unlimited liability throughout the chain of responsibilities, including the owners, managers and operators of a vessel and of any charterers or owners of the cargo. Additionally, Greenpeace is demanding that the EU immediately ban the use of single hulled tankers and exclude ecologically sensitive areas from shipping routes.

Notes: (1) The Vemamagna belongs to the Vemaoil Company based in Gibraltar. It is a Maltese flagged vessel built in 1978. It is 246 meters and has a capacity of 87.290 tonnes.