• Search
    Latest News
  • No to Eastside Bunkering – GSAC Statement

    Gibraltar Sub-Aqua Club
    BSAC 888
    Parson’s Lodge
    Rosia Road

    Date: 27th May 2011 Re: East Side Marine Bunkering

    The GSAC is opposed to the expansion of marine bunkering activities to the east side for the following reasons:

    1. Anchor and chain damage. Every time an anchor is dropped onto a reef or other underwater formation, it damages these structures by breaking pieces away, eventually demolishing them to nothing.

    The ship at anchor releases a length of chain which is approximately 3 times the depth of the water at that point. Once there is a change of tide the chain scrapes a radius along the bottom, destroying and removing all marine life on the bottom and that attached to any formations.
    Eg: the kelp forest at ‘el lomo’ (a popular dive site on the East side) has been depleted to almost zero because of this. Removal of kelp results in a loss of sheltered habitat for immature marine creatures and the loss of a critical breeding ground. This loss leads to lesser fish stocks in the area and also less biodiversity. Although not an environmental consideration, there is a reduced fish stock for local fishermen.

    The chain and anchor damage also destroys fish egg deposit grounds, in particular the cephalopod (molluscs) family and species of dogfish. Hence population recovery takes even longer.

    The removal and cleaning up of reefs also reduces entanglements otherwise experienced by Spanish trawler fishermen, thus further creating an incentive for netting and the destruction and capture of the few remaining marine life.

    All scallops and other shellfish living above the surface of the sand are also damaged and destroyed by the chain action.

    The amount of anchoring now is already excessive and if one considers the total surface area which the radius of a 100m chain can describe at it moves, then even if there is just a small increase in anchoring, the reefs will soon be depleted to levels which can only lead to a recession of life with no chance of ever regenerating.

    2. Oil spillages in the top part of the watch column will undoubtedly affect spawning success rates as many eggs/sperm will be contaminated.

    Local fish stocks depend on surface migratory crabs and small fish to feed on. These always travel on the surface. They will die from feeding on contaminated particles and/or subsequently contaminating the fish that eat them.

    If in the event of an oil spill, dispersants are used, the globules formed will sink in the water column and over the years will destroy the reefs and kill filter feeders (ie. shellfish) in the sandy areas outside the reefs. In effect it destroys reef and non-reef sandy area marine life.

    Marine life in the coastal water column is destroyed by the continuous deposits of oil slicks – no matter how small these are.

    Oil is many times observed on the seabed by divers. This oil takes the form of balls ranging in size from a tennis ball to a handball. This no doubt kills sensitive plant life and corals besides being a disgusting eyesore.

    Surface oil and other contaminant slicks damage expensive diving equipment and present a hazard to the diver. We can presume that these slicks are also hazardous to bathers.

    Oils are harmful to passing cetaceans.

    3. Every time a vessel anchors, rubbish is dumped overboard. As divers we encounter this at the bottom quite frequently.

    4. Bay waters are often out of bounds for divers because of heavy maritime traffic, and we prefer the East side. Increased traffic here is clearly a hazard to submerged and decompressing divers.


    The social marginal utility gained from this increase in commerce is clearly outweighed by the social marginal disutility brought on by the environmental risk exposure. At what social and environmental cost will this relatively small % increase in GDP be enjoyed?
    £ is not the scarce resource – our waters, marine life and coastline are.

    Chris Riddell

    Vinod Khiani