HC Deb 12 November 1971 vol 825 cc285-6W
Mr. Simon Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what further progress has been made in the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation on measures to prevent pollution of the sea, and to improve safety at sea.

Mr. Anthony Grant:

The Seventh Assembly of the Organisation, meeting in London from 5th to 15th October, took a range of decisions for the improvement of safety at sea and the reduction of marine pollution. Several were of particular importance to this country.

The Assembly adopted an amendment to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, 1954, which will limit the size of cargo tanks in tankers in order to limit the quantity of oil likely to be spilt if the ship is damaged in a casualty. The limitation will affect new tankers ordered on or after 1st January, 1972, and the Assembly recommended Governments to implement it as soon as possible without awaiting formal entry into force.

Secondly, the Assembly adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1960, which render mandatory the observance of traffic routeing schemes approved by I.M.C.O., including the scheme in the Dover Straits. Here too the Assembly recommended Governments to implement the requirement for their own flag ships as soon as possible. This step arose from the United Kingdom proposal which I described in the Adjournment Debate on 28th July.

Thirdly, the Assembly decided that the International Conference on Marine Pollution to be held in 1973 should have as its main objective to achieve by 1975 if possible, but certainly by the end of the decade, the complete elimination of wilful and intentional pollution of the sea by oil and other noxious substances and to minimise accidental spills. The Organisation will now give priority to the preparations for this Conference The Assembly urged Governments meanwhile to implement the 1969 amendments to the 1954 Oil Pollution Convention with- out delay.

Finally, in addressing the Assembly I criticised the long delays before Governments bring into force the important agreements reached through the Organisation. Other delegations shared this view and the Assembly decided to initiate work on the revision of the procedures for bringing decisions into force with a view to reducing these delays.