Threat of major spills in Adriatic Sea relatively small

NEWS 22.05.2018 20:54
Source: Dino Stanin/PIXSELL

The threat of considerable pollution of the Adriatic is relatively small despite heavy traffic, even though the north-eastern wind Bora increases the number of maritime accidents up to 30 percent, said the assistant to the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Transport, Sinisa Orlic, on Tuesday.

“The threat of any major spills is relatively small despite the fact that some 75 million tonnes of high-risk cargo enter the Adriatic Sea every year. Only about 10 percent (of that cargo) ends up in our ports, and the rest goes to Trieste or Venice,” Orlic said to the press on the first day of the international civil protection exercise, Adriatic 2018, which aims to link and coordinate authorities in Slovenia, Montenegro and Croatia, to ensure the safety of their seas.

The project involves the organisation and implementation of a joint at-sea and on-shore oil spill pollution exercise, as well as on-board firefighting operations.

Around 3,200 ships sail into the Croatian harbours, and about the same amount sail out every year, he said, and added that smaller spills, those up to 5 tonnes of diesel or non-persistent oils, were the actual cause for concern.

From June to September, some 180,000 ships, yachts, and other vessels sail the Adriatic, he said.

“When each of these ships releases just one litre of diesel or something similar, it is roughly about 150 tonnes of fuel which ends up in the sea,” Orlic said, and added that many maritime accidents depended on the weather conditions.

“When we have a calm season without Bora, maritime accidents are reduced by some 30 percent, and with Bora, the number of maritime accidents grows. We can very easily reduce maritime accidents by 30 percent just by listening to the weather report,” he said.

Bora is a very cold northeastern wind in the Adriatic Sea. It can reach speeds of well over 100 kilometres per hour, making sailing extremely dangerous even for the experienced.

Last year, some 8,000 traffic violations in the Adriatic were logged, resulting in about 3.5 million kuna (€474,000) in fines.

Asked whether the fines for those who violate the rules of maritime traffic would be increased, Orlic said that changes to the port authority law and the maritime statute were under way, and they would attempt to bring the punishments in line with the changes.