After 28 Hours, Greenpeace Protest against Floating Dustbin Ends

Press release - 5 December, 2002

Greenpeace activists, who yesterday attached themselves to the mooring lines of the oil tanker Byzantio, have now ended the protest. A Netherlands judge has ordered the activists to cease upon a penalty of 250,000 per day. According to the judge hearing the case, the Byzantio complies with all maritime regulations and in his opinion, it is highly unlikely the ship will sink.

There is definitely something wrong with a system that allows substandard ships to sail and that, indeed, allowed even the Prestige to sail, said Marrietta Harjono, of Greenpeace. This is one clear example of why the system needs to change and new, stricter regulations need to be adopted. These types of vessels should not be sailing the world's oceans.

During the afternoon, Greenpeace activists painted the message EU Act Now on the hull of the Byzantio in a direct communication to EU Transportation, Telecommunication and Energy Ministers meeting tomorrow in Brussels. Ministers will be discussing maritime safety, among other issues.

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.

The Byzantio is a 26-year old, single hulled vessel sailing under a Maltese flag. It has been chartered by Crown Resources the same Russian company that chartered the Prestige. The Prestige sank off the coast of Spain in the middle of last month, but the ill effects of that disaster will be affecting the ocean s environment for years to come.

At one point during the day s events, Greenpeace held talks with Aegean Shipping Company the operator of the Byzantio asking them to make a blueprint for an unlimited liability formula for the Byzantio (1), but the proposal was turned down when the company went to court.

Greenpeace is also carrying out a cyber action requesting visitors to their website to send letters to the International Maritime Organisation, the Secretary General of the United Nations calling for an end to flags of convenience and a clean up of shipping regulations. Over 10,000 letters have been sent in the past 2 weeks.

VVPR info: John Novis, Greenpeace Picture Editor, ++31 6 53 81 91 21Lucy Clayton, Greenpeace Video Producer, ++ 31 6 53 50 47 21

Notes: Greenpeace was asking the ship s operators to use the Byzantio as an example of how the maritime safety system should work by accepting a formula of unlimited liability