At a conference exploring the use of Port Reception Facilites, Seas At Risk has made a plea for the removal of existing economic disincentives for ships to discharge their waste at EU ports in order to turn Europe into a hub for handling ship waste.

At a conference exploring the use of Port Reception Facilites, Seas At Risk has made a plea for the removal of existing economic disincentives for ships to discharge their waste at EU ports in order to turn Europe into a hub for handling ship waste.

At the event organised by Euroshore, the European Sea Ports Organisation and the European Community Shipowners Association, Policy Officer Chris Carroll called for European ports to implement 100% indirect fee across the region so as to ensure that ship’s have no economic disincentives to discharge their waste at a PRF.

In many European ports, ships have to pay directly for the amount of waste they deliver. This provides an incentive to reduce the amount of waste held on board and with no adequate means of policing the seas outside of Port State Control, the easiest option for a shipper is to dump their waste at sea.

During the conference, Stolt Tankers declared that they dump at sea as much as 65 million US dollars worth of slops (oily waste) a year, because International law allows for it. Although it is harder to do so in Europe because of the status of some waters, the announcement makes it clear that the cost of using reception facilities is a key deterrent.

During the panel discussion on the review of the PRF Directive, it was made very clear that port authorities, waste handling companies and the shipping community want a more harmonized system but there was little consensus amongst the industry groups, nor within their own networks, as to how such a scenario could be achieved.

SAR has been calling for the roll out of a 100% indirect fee, or otherwise known as a No-Special-Fee, across Europe for many years. In the Baltic region such a system has been implemented in part and with some success, and where ships in many instances delay discharging their waste over long voyages so as to make use of the economic benefits in the Baltic region.

For instance, the recent EMSA report on different cost recovery mechanisms indicated that recovering costs through use of indirect fees in North East Europe had led to significantly less discharges of oil in the Baltic region.

However, in many ports across Europe, indirect fees are charged to a shipping company but only for certain types of waste and for certain volumes of waste delivered. Thus, although the procedure might be more beneficial than a direct payment, there is still the incentive to reduce volumes for discharge to a PRF by dumping waste items such as oily waste and sources of marine litter at sea.

It is now expected that a Proposal by the Commission on the development of the PRF Directive will be made public in early 2013.

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