Vessel Pollution Investigation Workshop Held In Honiara

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme Honiara, Solomon Islands

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 resulting in a big oil spill along the Alaskan Coast is familiar to many of us because of its coverage in the media.

Images of marine life covered in a thick sludge of oil were splashed across television screens world-wide.

While the Exxon Valdez is a well known case of marine pollution, the ugly truth about many ship-based pollution events is that they are deliberately being done without any witnesses.

For many Pacific Island Countries, shipping is a vital part of our living, bringing goods to our shores as well as exporting local products to international market.

When ships cut corners and do the wrong thing like discharging pollutants directly to the sea, the health of our ocean suffers. Marine species and sea birds die from polluted seawater, as seen in the Exxon Valdez case.

The challenge for many Pacific countries is to know how to stop ships from illegally discharging pollutants and to investigate when incidents take place.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), in partnership with Interpol, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the International Maritime Organisation and the Government of the Solomon Islands is hosting a three-day training workshop for 20 participants in Honiara from 2-4 October, on investigating shipping pollution violation.

The workshop was opened by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Melchior Mataki, who thanked SPREP, AMSA and partners for the training. He noted that the growth of the Solomon Islands economy relies heavily on shipping.

"The Ministry of Environment is one stakeholder when it comes to protecting our biodiversity from the impacts of pollution," says Dr. Mataki. "We cannot do this on our own."

He encouraged participants to do what they can to help deal with this issue.

"We owe to our people to develop our country sustainably," he adds.

The training is attended by representatives from many sectors including health, police, private sector, environment, fire department, media, customs and the Solomon Islands Maritime Safety Administration.

The training organiser, Anthony Talouli, SPREP's Marine Pollution Advisor, said that this is the sixth training activity that he has run in the Pacific.

"We have run this training in Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Marshall Islands and Nauru. We are pleased to work with our partners Interpol, IMO and AMSA to provide support to Solomon Islands," says Talouli.

Participants expressed hope for strong internal collaboration, coordination and awareness especially on key laws to protect Solomon Islands as an outcome of this training.

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