Brussels, 12th December 2013 -- On the 14th anniversary of the 'Erika' shipwreck and four years after the adoption of the Erika III Package, Surfrider issued a ‘White Paper on Maritime Safety’ to provide food for thought on the need to bring about a new legislative package on maritime safety in Europe.

In the wake of the Prestige oil tanker disaster off the coast of Galicia in 2002, Surfrider Foundation Europe (SFE) decided to focus on the fight against pollution from maritime transport. For over 10 years, Surfrider has been protecting European coastlines through its programme to prevent accidental water pollution, through its lobbying of public decision-makers and by developing its legal action strategy against discharges by vessels.

On a European and international level, numerous laws and regulations have been adopted to make maritime transport safer. Unfortunately, these are all too often the result of an environmental disaster.

In November 2012, SFE published a report on maritime safety in Europe, aimed at maritime transport stakeholders and at the general public. The goal of the report was to highlight the shortcomings and discrepancies in existing law, and to encourage all concerned parties to be more proactive with regards to the risks. The report was approved by the European Commission and has been consulted by more than 2,500 people. It is available for download in English, French and Spanish at www.prestige10th.com.

On 22 and 23 November 2012, to mark the tenth anniversary of the sinking of the Prestige, SFE organised a transnational conference on maritime safety. NGOs, scientific and legal experts and representatives of local communities who have suffered maritime pollution were given the opportunity to shed light on the topic and share their expertise. The event was one of the first in the process of informing a new legislative package on maritime safety in Europe. Following on from the previous ‘Erika packages’ (EU legislation on oil transport safety), Surfrider has initiated an enhanced dialogue with the various stakeholders, in particular with the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions.

Based on the recommendations resulting from the November 2012 conference, several think tanks and editorial working groups were formed in order to participate in the drawing up of a white paper on maritime safety. The aim of the draft ‘towards an Erika IV package’ is to put maritime safety back on the European agenda.

This initiative would only be the starting point of a pan-European project, which would involve member states’ authorities, the European Parliament and Commission, and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds. One of the main objectives is to achieve greater consideration of ecological factors.

The white paper deals with four separate topics: consideration of ecological priorities; consideration of human factors; emerging risks; and the idea of a European flag for shipping.

You can see the current white Paper on Maritime Safety from SFE here here. It is also available in French.