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    The ESG read the report by the Gibraltar Maritime Administration on the Samothraki accident with keen interest and strongly welcomes the recommendations contained in the document.

    The Gibraltar Port Authority is recommended to:

    1. Consider a port control policy aimed at providing a navigational assistance service.

    2. Consider establishing a Southerly limit to the Eastern anchorage

    3. Consider requiring all vessels anchoring within 3 miles of Gibraltar on the Eastern side to report to GPA with anchor position and basic ship information

    4. Consider establishing an exclusion zone in the vicinity of Europa Point, up to 1 n.mile from the shore.

    5. Consider requiring off-port limits transfers to be completed further offshore, and to the South East of Europa Point

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    The group has long campaigned for similar measures to be put in place to protect the marine environment and address the risk potential from an increasingly congested Bay and Straits of Gibraltar. It has called for tighter controls and best available technology to be introduced to manage the 24hr bunkering service provided by the Gibraltar Port which also claims to be the busiest bunkering port in the Mediterranean.

    To learn that we do not have navigational equipment to assist in safe shipping movement in the Bay is of deep concern as is the fact that eastside anchoring is completely out of Gibraltar’s control. The lack of a port control policy is also surprising given that the Minister of the Port, Joe Holliday, has often stated that the shipping and port standards practised in Gibraltar are among the highest in the world. This is clearly not the case.

    While it is clear that ship operators are duty-bound to follow best health and safety standards, also recommended in the report, the ESG believes it is Gibraltar’s responsibility to safeguard our environment and supervise all activity within our territory.

    It is hoped that the recommendations made by the Maritime Administration are acted upon quickly by Government ahead of any possible ecological disaster. The New Flame which collided with another vessel and then reefed herself off the Europa Point just a few months after the Samothraki accident indicates that such a disaster could occur at any time under the present circumstances. This must be avoided at all costs.