Maritime polluters beware!
A new global initiative launched by the United Nations is working to coordinate the fight against oil and other forms of marine pollution around the world.
Codenamed "30 Days at Sea," the joint UN and INTERPOL led mission involved 276 law enforcement and environmental agencies, 122 national coordinators, and police, customs and environmental officers in 58 countries. The coordinated sweeps resulted in 5,200 inspections, and uncovered more than 500 marine offenses, including illegal discharges of oil and garbage from vessels, breaches of ship emissions regulations, and pollution on rivers and land-based runoff to the sea.
“Criminals believe marine pollution is a low-risk crime with no real victims,” explains Jürgen Stock, the According Secretary General of INTERPOL. “This is a mistake and one which INTERPOL and our partners are addressing as demonstrated by this operation. Marine pollution creates health hazards worldwide which undermine sustainable development and requires a multi-agency, multi-sector cooperative response within a solid global security architecture.”
Erik Solheim, the head of UN Environment, who spearheaded the effort, said that the issue of illegal marine pollution is one that global communities may well be able to tackle successfully in the next decade. “But we need the help of our law enforcement partners to make sure that there is no impunity for the perpetrators of marine pollution crime."
From Germany to Ghana, 30 Days at Sea proved that concentrated effort by enforcement agencies is an effective way to catch criminals and prevent further disaster. In Albania the operation successfully prevented 500 liters of oil from being spilled from a sinking vessel. The operation also made use of satellite imagery, aerial surveillance, drones, and night vision cameras to detect criminal acts.
This global effort followed the globally coordinated effort called "30 Days of Action," led by INTERPOL in June 2017, which took on the illegal disposal of hazardous waste in 43 countries around the world. This effort resulted in 483 individuals and 264 companies being charged with illegal dumping and environmental violations, involving more than 1.5 million tons of illicit waste.
30 Days at Sea expands this global enforcement model to the world's oceans and reflects a growing awareness that harm to the marine environment is a crime that impacts everyone on earth. We’re excited to see what comes next!